Loose As A Goose (Tarantura TCDBoss-1)
Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA, USA – 29 October, 1974
Disc 1: Incident On 57th Street, Spirit In The Night, Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?, The E Street Shuffle, Cupid, It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City, Jungleland, She’s The One
Disc 2: Kitty’s Back, New York City Serenade, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Band Introduction, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), A Love So Fine
With this release, Tarantura presents the Boston Music Hall show of 29 October 1974 complete for the first time on CD; indeed, the show has had no full release on LP, though a couple of CD-R versions have appeared. The first CD-R release was Doberman’s 1998 set Flesh And Fantasy and there has been a more recent Anubis issue, in a numbered limited edition of ninety-nine copies, entitled Cupid. There has also been a torrented version, Walking Tall (Ev2), together with a second Ev2 edition, Walking Tall Vol. 2, of which Brucebase states: “This show was recently circulated from the famous Boston taper Steve Hopkins’ master recording, great sound and a big upgrade over previous releases of the show.” A post by ern on the Stone Pony London message board states of the original Ev2 edition that, “‘Walking Tall’ wasn’t from master (but not a high gen tape either).” Contradicting Brucebase, the Ev2 artwork website suggests that the upgraded version is hardly revelatory, stating: “Now edited from master source, sound not much better but some I guess.” Anubis clearly also uses the Hopkins master cassette, as a note on the sleeve states that, “this set has been released from the original master tape.” Tarantura’s new version, conversely, has been remastered from the earlier Doberman release.
This could be considered quite a historic show, being Springsteen’s first performance at the Boston Music Hall. Springsteen was the headliner, with support coming from Dr. John. The show dates from the relatively brief period during which the E Street Band featured the violin and backing vocals of Suki Lahav, and she is heard almost immediately on the first number, Incident On 57th Street. The performance is very similar to the one from the famous Main Point concert (already reviewed in its Crystal Cat incarnation, Main Point Night) and opens with Roy Bittan’s piano. After a few bars the audience rocognize the song and it receives a great ovation, unsurprisingly, perhaps, as the album it appears on, The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle, was, despite being a year old, still at that time Springsteen’s most recent release. As Fred Mills writes in his review of the Anubis version of this show in the Spring 2010 issue of Backstreets magazine, “it boasts an uncommonly yearning vocal that’s abetted not only by Suki Lahav’s gently swaying/weeping violin filigrees but her sweet backing vocals as well.” The stage-prop police siren which appears at the end of the Main Point performance is absent here.
Spirit In The Night receives a wonderfully vibrant performance, with much input from Clarence Clemons’ saxophone. Just before the then-usual swirling, sax-dominated introduction, there is a sudden lurch in the audience sound which would seem to indicate a momentary cut. This occurs exactly when track two begins and is not present in the Doberman or Anubis releases. Also, Springsteen adds a brief harmonica part near the beginning, which does not enhance the song. At the end of the slow, quieter section someone in the audience shouts “boogie,” not the last of his oafish interjections. Next up is a brilliantly exuberant Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street? which again features a long introduction featuring Clemons’ sax. Indeed, in this period, with Springsteen being the band’s solitary guitarist, Clemons’ role in the live shows was at its most prominent.
The E Street Shuffle is played in its slow incarnation, complete with the lengthy instrumental introduction. Overall, it is similar to the familiar Main Point performance, though there is one major difference from that version in the absence of the spoken “rap” and when Springsteen comes in on vocals he does so quietly. Clemons again shines in the instrumental section and, as with the opening Incident On 57th Street, the performance is immensely atmospheric. As with the Main Point version Springsteen adds a brief spoken section immediately after the lines, “As summer nights turn to summer dreams/Little Angel picks up Power and he slips on his jeans,” He is crudely interupted three times by the aforementioned audience member bawling, “then he says ‘boogie!'” Without interrupting his flow at all, Springsteen replies by saying, “no, he don’t say that yet.”
Then we have a rarity in the shape of, as Brucebase states, “the last known version” of Sam Cooke’s 1961 hit Cupid. The only other version I am aware of is from New York’s Avery Fisher Hall on 4 October 1974, though as a fair number of concerts from this period have unknown setlists it may well have been performed on other occasions. This is an enjoyable, bubbly performance with Clemons again to the fore throughout and also taking a solo. Garry Tallent’s bass part is also prominent during this song (and elsewhere on this release) and it remains so during the next, a vivacious rendition of It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City which features a substantial instrumental coda.
Suki Lahav is heard again in an early version of Jungleland. The performance is very similar to that from the Main Point, with different lyrics from the later Born To Run recording and with the first, faster instrumental segment dominated by Clemons’ saxophone and the second, slower one by Springsteen’s guitar and Lahav’s violin. Here, however, discreet and highly effective tubular bells enhance the early part of the song. The last complete number on disc one is a splendidly energetic She’s The One, which features, like the Main Point version, noticeably different lyrics from the official recording, including a couple of lines that would end up in Backstreets. Unlike the original Doberman, Tarantura’s first disc actually ends rather untidily, with the spoken introduction to Kitty’s Back and nearly half a minute of the song itself.
The full version of Kitty’s Back, which lasts for nearly twenty minutes, opens the second disc and it is a tremendous performance, full of life and energy and containing a long instrumental jam featuring organ, piano, sax and guitar. There is some occasional shouting out from members of the audience, including our boogie-bellowing friend, though it is not excessive enough to spoil enjoyment of the performance. The next song is also extended, being a twenty-minute version of New York City Serenade. Like the Main Point version is boasts a wonderfully atmospheric and lengthy quiet introduction and another violin contribution by Lahav. The overall effect of the song is stunning. The point in the song where Clarence Clemons’ beautiful sax part backs Springsteen’s singing of the lines, “Vibes man, jazz man in the alley, play me a serenade/Any deeper blue, you’d be blowin’ that horn in your grave,” is, at the time of writing, and for obvious reasons, almost unbearably poignant. The main set then ends with an appropriately rumbustious Rosalita, which contains the band introductions (separately tracked here).
The encore begins with the wistful and nostalgia-tinged 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), which features Danny Federici on accordion and Lahav on backing vocals. After this gentle interlude, we are treated to an upbeat conclusion in the shape of A Love So Fine. “This was a very popular song in the live shows [of the time],” states the Lebanese Tribute To Bruce Springsteen website, “a great rocker.” The performance here, vivacious as it is, does not quite match the ebullience of the Main Point version and Clemons come in too early at the start of the song.
Tarantura has mastered this new release from copies of the Doberman discs rather than utilizing the Hopkins master tape. Discussion of the provenance of the earlier tape seems to have been avoided; Brucebase for example does not mention its precise source. Indeed, the individual reponsible for releasing the Doberman title appears to be unaware of its exact source, though realizing is is not from Hopkins’ master cassette. The person who supplied Tarantura with copies of the discs states that the producer of Flesh And Fantasy says that he “got the tape from a contact on the West Coast, if the Hopkins tape has just surfaced recently…it can’t be the source for Loose As A Goose.” However, it would seem possible that the tape used by Doberman was, though not the master, a higher generation of the Hopkins tape. Listening to both one notices that as well as a similarity in the sound of the music, there is a great deal of assorted audience noise and other extraneous noise that seems identical. The Anubis alone features a voice right at the start loudly saying, “put the cigarette out,” though this of course could have been excised when a copy of the tape was made, or when the Doberman release was produced.
The notes accompanying Flesh And Fantasy contend that, “this particular show is notable mainly due to it’s [sic] surprisingly good sound quality, considering the age of the recording.” The person who provided Tarantura with the discs states that, “I know Doberman did a lot of remastering on the original title.” Mills agrees that the sound is impressive, stating that, “that title was very good sonically – remarkably hiss-free, with only some venue boominess and crowd noise in the proximity of the taper.” Mills appears unaware that Anubis uses the master tape, contending that, “Anubis didn’t need to do too much cleanup work for this new edition, essentially just making the bottom end punchier and giving the vocals more presence.”
Tarantura seems to have done some remastering from the original Doberman version, and the person who provided the discs has specifically noted the prominent bass, an attribute shared with the Anubis and which I rather like. Overall, when comparing the Tarantura with the Anubis, the difference in the sound of the actual music is fairly minor, although. to my ears, the sound of the Anubis is a little clearer. What gives the sound of the Anubis a distinct edge, however, is the absence of hiss, which is quite evident on sections of this new Tarantura release. As there is relatively little hiss on the original Doberman version, I presume this is a side-effect of Tarantura’s generally successful attempt to make the overall sound punchier.
This release comes in a thick card gatefold sleeve, the front and rear of which show Springsteen on stage with Clarence Clemons. The rear of the sleeve shows the track listing and band personnel. Inside, the sleeve shows four onstage shots of Springsteen from different shows and a backstage photo of Springsteen with Clemons and Steve Van Zandt. The discs themselves reproduce the front and rear cover shots. This release comes in a limited numbered edition of two hundred.
The first choice for a Lahav-era show remains the classic Main Point concert, which comes in very fine pre-broadcast tape/FM radio sound. However, this is a most enjoyable show which I would recommend as a valuable supplement to Main Point Night. Although the sound on the Anubis release has the edge, that is a CD-R release, which will doubtless make it unattractive to many collectors. However, the sound on Loose As A Goose is still very impressive for the era and, overall, this release is well worth acquiringIf you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)