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Bruce Springsteen – Paid The Cost To Be The Boss (no label)

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Paid The Cost To Be The Boss (no label)

The Palladium, New York, NY, USA – 4 November, 1976

Disc 1: Murray The K Introduction, Night, Rendezvous, Spirit In The Night, It’s My Life, Thunder Road, Mona/She’s The One, Something In The Night, Backstreets, Growin’ Up

Disc 2: Bomb Scare Announcement, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Jungleland, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),  Baby I Love You, Walking In The Rain, Be My Baby, 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Born To Run

This concert was the last of a six night stand at the Palladium (28 October-4 November) which ended the first leg of what has become known as the Lawsuit Tour, due to Springsteen’s legal entanglements with outgoing manager Mike Appel.  The Brucebase website calls it “quite a unique show,” citing the presence in the audience of Carl D’Errico, co-writer of It’s My Life and the guest appearance of Ronnie Spector, who sings three of her Ronettes-era hit songs, Baby I Love You, Walking in The Rain and Be My Baby.  The concert also features the faux-Miami Horns in the shape of  Ed De Palma (saxophone), John Binkley (trumpet), Steve Paraczky (trumpet) and Dennis Orlock (trombone).

The show appeared on the 3-LP set Last Night In New York on Rocklands Records.  A single LP, Paid The Cost To Be The Boss, containing  Rendezvous, It’s My Life, Something In The Night, Growin’ Up and Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) is credited by The Killing Floor Database to the Hangman label, based on the picture on the label, though the rear of the sleeve bears the same logo and catalogue number as “E” Ticket, an album of 1974-75 outtakes originally released by Ruthless Rhymes.  Palladium 76 (Blockhead Records) was a copy of Paid The Cost To Be The Boss with decidedly inferior packaging.  Toasted Records’ New York Palladium 1976 reproduced the same five tracks on a single LP, but additionally included an orange vinyl seven-inch single with We Gotta Get Out Of This Place plus a performance of Action In The Street from the Boston Music Hall on 25 March 1977.

The show has only had one previous CD release, Great Dane’s two-disc set We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, which contains the introduction but which omits the bomb scare announcement.  Five songs, however, appear as bonus tracks on Godfather’s Home Of The 76ers, these being We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), Be My Baby, Walking In The Rain and Baby I Love You. 

The four-disc boxed-set Cover’s Story vol. 1 (Finfagel) also features four of those songs, the exception being 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).  More recently, a torrented version has appeared under the title A Streak Of Light Through The Tunnel.  Posters on the Stone Pony London message board claim that Crystal Cat planned to issue the show as Palladium Night (with one poster presuming that A Streak Of Light Through The Tunnel would be the source), but then cancelled its release.

The show is introduced by radio DJ Murray the K (Murray Kaufman).  Described by writer Tom Wolfe as, “the original hysterical disc jockey,” Kaufman  is perhaps best known for his early championing of, and friendship with The Beatles, leading him to be known as “the fifth Beatle.”  Kaufman is given his own introduction as ”the fifth Beatle and the twelfth E Streeter,” who influenced Springsteen with the music he played.  Kaufman assures the audience that they are “in for a really fabulous evening.”

The show gets of to a terrific start with a frenetic Night from the Born To Run album, followed by a vivacious Rendezvous, a song which, according to Dave Marsh, in Bruce Springsteen: On Tour 1968-2005, “zinged straight out of the British Invasion, Bruce singing in the mode of Manfred Mann lead singer Paul Jones, Steven [Van Zandt] and he carrying the tune with spitfire guitar.  To that point ‘Rendezvous’ represented Bruce’s most clearly and simply articulated melodic rock song – a sure hit, one would have thought.”  This is followed by a splendidly buoyant Spirit In The Night, a most enjoyable performance, full of good humour, earthiness and vitality.

Then we get a definite highlight of the show in the shape of the first of what Lynn Elder, in Bruce Springsteen: You Better Not Touch, calls “two monster covers,”  a performance of The Animals’ 1965 song, It’s My Life.  It begins with Springsteen’s lengthy reminiscence of his relationship with his father, told over an incredibly atmospheric instrumental backing featuring guitar and glockenspiel.  The story is the familiar one of Douglas sitting in the kitchen after a day at work in one of his dead-end jobs, “real pissed off, drunk…with a six-pack and cigarettes,” waiting for Bruce to come home and relishing the opportunity for confrontation. 

“I’d stand there in that driveway, afraid to go in the house,” says Springsteen, “and I could see through this screen door, I could see the light of my pop’s cigarette and I can remember I just couldn’t wait till I was old enough to take him out once…We’d always end up screaming at each other.  My mother, she’d always end up running in from the front room crying, and tried to pull him off me, trying to keep us from fighting with each other, and I’d always end up, I’d always end up running out the back door, pulling away from him, pulling away from…running down the driveway screaming at him, telling him…telling him…telling him how it was my life and I was gonna do what I wanted to do.” 

During the latter part of the monologue, the instrumental backing, now featuring glockenspiel, saxophone and piano rises and swells magnificently, complementing the anguish in Springsteen’s voice.  The rendition of the song itself brilliantly conveys the bitterness and anger that had emerged in the spoken introduction and Brucebase rightly contends that, “Bruce delivers one of his finest-ever performances of the song.”  Marsh states that the Palladium shows, “peaked when Bruce tore more deeply than ever into himself for ‘It’s My life,’ then followed with the affirmation of ‘Thunder Road.’”  Indeed, the life-affirming qualities of the latter song are clearly inherent in this performance.

Mona is used as the introduction to She’s The One for only the second time, the first having been during the previous evening’s concert, and there is a lengthy, guitar-dominated instrumental introduction.  As with the version heard on Godfather’s release of the show from 30 June, Land Of 1000 Dances, there is effective use of tubular bells on the energetic performance of She’s The One. Three versions of Something In The Night were played during the tour, of which this is an example of the third.  (See my review of the Godfather release for further details.) 

At this time the tune was a little different from that of the later recorded version, and featured Steve Paraczky, to great effect, on trumpet.  Marsh calls the song, “a stark piece of singer-songwriter music that acquired a jazz edge when arranged to feature trumpet.”  Springsteen’s vocals are also excellent and the performance is superb.  An intensely emotional Backstreets follows, complete with an early version of the spoken “Sad Eyes” interlude, again including tubular bells.

The first disc concludes with Growin’ Up, into which Springsteen inserts a story of how his ’63 Impala gets a flat tyre while driving down a backroad at night.  Trying to find their way through a forest, Springsteen, Clarence Clemons and Steve Van Zandt encounter an “old gypsy lady” who decides to use her magic powers to make them appear presentable (“we looked like a bunch of bums”). 

Instantly, Van Zandt and Clemons are standing there respectively decked out in a red suit and a white suit.  Springsteen, however, remains unchanged, which the gypsy lady explains by saying, “Don’t work all the time.  Some people gotta work at being bums; others are born that way.”  Convinced by Springsteen that she now owes him one, she offers to make him a king, an emperor or even the owner of his own Pizza Hut, but, after a little reflection, Springsteen, of course, decides he wants to be “a rock and roll star!”

Disc two opens with a rather lame attempt by Clarence Clemons to tell a joke, Springsteen seemingly having been called away.  He returns with a bomb scare announcement, during which he advises the members of the audience to check underneath their seats. Then comes a tremendous version of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, enhanced by the playing of the horn section, and a fine performance of the epic Jungleland. The main set concludes with a frenzied version of Rosalita, which, as usual, contains the band introductions, and is enhanced by the contribution of the horn section.

Ronnie Spector then joins Springsteen and the E Streeters for the first encore, which consists of very enjoyable performances of Baby I Love You, Walking In The Rain and Be My Baby.  Elder states that, “she sounds great and her contribution makes this show historically significant.  It does, however, diminish from the normal intensity of a Springsteen show.” 

This is not the only show to feature Spector that can be heard on disc; she joined Springsteen onstage at the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland on 17 February 1977 to perform the same three songs plus her forthcoming single, the Billy Joel song Say Goodbye To Hollywood, which featured the E Street Band and which was produced by Steve Van Zandt.  The four songs appeared as bonus tracks on the Unbelievable Music CD Action In The Streets and the Doberman CD-R Higher And Higher.

The second encore opens with the wistful 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), which gives Danny Federici an opportunity to shine on accordion. Next comes what Brucebase calls “a stunning cover” of another 1965 song by The Animals, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.  Although Springsteen and Nils Lofgren performed the song with Cats On A Smooth Surface at the Stone Pony on 10 June 1984, the version heard here is usually stated to be the only E Street Band performance. However, the Killing Floor Database mentions a fan who recalls hearing the song at Dane County Coliseum, Madison, WI on 20 February 1977.  It is an intense performance and Elder argues that it is, “played with such determination you might be convinced Bruce wrote it.”

Springsteen discussed the influence of the two Animals songs in an interview conducted by Will Percy of DoubleTake magazine: “Up until the late seventies, when I started to write songs that had to do with class issues, I was influenced more by music like the Animals’ ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’ or ‘It’s My Life (And I’ll Do What I Want)’ – sort of class-conscious pop records that I’d listen to – and I’d say to myself: ‘That’s my life, that’s my life!’  They said something to me about my own experience of exclusion.  I think that’s been a theme that’s run through much of my writing: the politics of exclusion. My characters aren’t really antiheroes.  Maybe that makes them old-fashioned in some way.  They’re interested in being included, and they’re trying to figure out what’s in their way.” The concert then ends with an exciting performance of Born To Run.

The show was broadcast some time later by Boston radio station WCOZ-FM and this is the source for the bootleg releases, though this does not signify exceptional quality and Elder awards the Great Dane version a modest seven out of ten for sound. The torrented “KBMKeefer remaster” version, according to a note on the artwork, “combines 3 seperate [sic] sources for the best possible quality.”  Posting on the Jungleland website, dancing26 states, “this is a great one, with amazing sound the first 13 songs. I think that the source changes during the end of Jungleland, because the sound gets worse until the end of the show.” 

On the same site, magoo2 concurs, writing, “the first 90 minutes are from a new source, then it reverts back to Weve [sic] got to get out of this place released by Great Dane about 20 years ago.”  This release clearly derives from the torrented version and the changes in source tape are clearly audible.  Night sound slightly rough, with a slightly odd sound balance and there is a change in volume during the song.  The sound is then at least very good indeed and often excellent from Rendezvous until part way through She’s The One, where the sound suddenly becomes louder and much coarser and remains so for the rest of the song.  Sonic highlights include It’s My Life and Something In The Night, which sound superb, and Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out in wonderfully punchy with the horns coming across splendidly.  As dancing26 states, there is a change to an inferior source in Jungleland.  Comparative listening would seem to confirm that the inferior source is indeed the tape utilized by Great Dane.

The discs are housed in a slimline double jewel case. As with other Lighthouse releases, the single-sheet front insert is intended to be reversible. One side (as seen above) shows Springsteen on stage with Clarence Clemons and the other depicts Springsteen alone wearing a baseball cap.  The rear insert again has both Springsteen and Clemons, together with the track listing in small lettering which I found difficult to read.  The inner face of the rear insert, again like other Lighthouse-related Springsteen releases, has a picture which looks as if it is an alternative front cover design, showing a black-and-white photo of Springsteen leaning backwards off the stage supported by members of the audience, together with the release’s title and a list of band personnel, including the horn section. 

However, the horn players are mistakenly identified as the genuine Miami Horns, who had accompanied Springsteen and the E Streeters earlier in 1976.  The front and rear photos of Springsteen and Clemons are from one of the earlier Palladium shows in late October and have previously been utilized by Godfather for Land Of 1000 Dances (though the rear cover shot, used by Godfather on its front cover, is cropped to show Springsteen only).  The above front cover picture shows a sticker indicating that this release is a numbered limited edition, though my copy arrived without one.

Overall this is a terrific performance.  For the last show of the six-night stand and also the last of 1976, Springsteen, as Elder maintains, ”pulled out all the stops.” The concert has an unusual flavour with the inclusion of Spector singing her old hits, tremendous versions of familiar Springsteen songs such as Spirit In The Night and Backstreets, a horn section to enhance numbers such as Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, a magical alternative version of Something In The Night, and those “two monster covers” – a staggering It’s My Life and what is widely thought to be the only Springsteen rendition of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.  Consequently, despite the fact that the sound (though extremely impressive for much of the show) is not as consistently good as it should be for an FM radio broadcast, this release is well worth acquiring.

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Bruce Springsteen - Paid The Cost To Be The Boss (no label), 2.8 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

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  1. Avatar of cgil
    cgil says
    October 25, 2011, 12:22 pm

    I have the Great Dane release. A bit compressed sounding in the classic radio form. However,enjoyable listening to it for the historic aspect.

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