Train To Bethlehem (Unknown Label)
Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, PA, USA – April 26, 1981
Disc 1 (77:57) Motorhead: Intro, Ace Of Spades, Stay Clean, Over The Top, The Hammer, Leaving Here, Jailbait, Capricorn, Bite The Bullet, The Chase Is Better Than The Catch, Overkill. Good Rats: Beethoven, Icy Cold, Reason The Kill, New York Survivor, Mr. Mechanic, Victory In Spacve, Klaah-Ka-Bob
Disc 2 (70:30) Ozzy: Intro, I Don’t Know, Crazy Train, Believer, Mr. Crowley, Flying High Again, Revelation (Mother Earth), Steal Away (The Night), Drum Solo, No Bone Movies, Suicide Solution, Guitar Solo, Iron Man, Children Of The Grave, Paranoid
There was a taper in the 80’s who operated in the Western New York area who has released many of his master recordings via the Krw_co team on various torrent sites, the taper goes by the name Luvsufo. Obviously a fan of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, Luvsufo used decent recording equipment and was every bit the archivist as many of his recordings feature both headline and opening acts. This new release comes from a bootleg of European origin and features an evenings worth of music from The Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, NY featuring Ozzy Osbourne on his first solo tour plus opening acts Motorhead, who were also playing America for the first time, and Long Island Rock act The Good Rats who’s early 80’s line up featured future KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick.
The recordings of all three acts fall into the very good range, they are clear enough so instruments can be heard in the mix yet there is some distortion and boominess from the arena acoustics and like many 80’s recordings, the sound is a bit thin. Luvsufo has a nice position and captures the music close to its origin but without heavy crowd interference nearby so the atmosphere is well captured. This complete night of music has seen one previous release, the pro CD-R title Ozzy Osborne, Motorhead & The Good Rats – Bethlehem 1981 (Shades 1143), this title features the music in its correct running order, keen eyes will notice this new title features Motorhead’s set before The Good Rats on the first CD.
The performance by Motorhead is what we would expect, a full frontal assault. The band was certainly a relatively unknown act in the USA at this time, touring in the time between their seminal releases Ace Of Spades and No Sleep Till Hammersmith, their set is a pure joy to listen to. Opening with Ace Of Spades it is loud, brash, and a complete assault on the senses. The response from the crowd after the song is complete silence, the band respond with the excellent Stay Clean, afterward you begin to hear some cheers as Eddie asks for equipment adjustment, they hammer out Over The Top, an album B-side of the Bomber album. Lemmy then gives specific instructions to the audience, telling them to get out of their seats and come down to the floor in front of the stage, he demands an audience. A song dedicated to their drummer “Phillip Taylor” comes next, The Hammer is simply bludgeoning and finally they begin to get the response they want, Lemmy says “See that’s much better your having much more fun down there aren’t ya?”. The band gets deep with an early single Leaving Here and Jailbait is introduced as being about “her”, obviously a young female Metal head is down front. Great version of one of my favorites Capricorn, certainly the mellow song of the set complete with a heavy wah pedal solo from Fast Eddie. Two more from Ace Of Spades follow, Bite The Bullet and The Chase Is Better Than The Catch, Lemmy thanks the audience and they finish with the excellent Overkill, the song ends in a haze of feedback while sounds of a Bomber plays on the loud speaker, incredible set.
The Good Rats get the actual opening spot and play a short 35 minute set, the announcer introduces them “Ladies and Gentlemen from New York, Columbia recording artist The Good Rats” and like Motorhead there is very little response. Being the opening act there were certainly not a lot of people in the 6,200 seat arena. Their sound is very much early Eighties Hard Rock, kinda remind me of Sammy Hagar and Y&T a bit, solid high energy music and obviously accomplished musicians. Nice to hear some Bruce Kulick, he gets in some really nice leads, always enjoyed his playing with KISS and he shines in this recording. The band get good reaction from the crowd, certainly what they would expect from a Rock band, quite unlike Motorhead who certainly blew some minds. I did notice that there is a little bit of digital static at track changes, curious as I detect none during Motorhead or Ozzy’s sets.
This would be Luvsufo first time taping Ozzy, from what I have seen he would go on to recording him again in August 1981 at Music Mountain, this recording is found on South Fallsburg 1981 (Zodiac 363), he also captures Brad Gillis’ first show in 1982 in Binghamton, NY which would make an excellent release. He certainly upgraded his gear in early 1982 as evident of the sound quality of the aforementioned 1982 Ozzy show. He recorded Ozzy three times in 1984 in Binghamton, Philadelphia and Bethlehem, his recording of the latter would be released as Bethlehem 1984 (Zodiac 434), his last Ozzy recording that I see is again from Bethlehem in 1986 that, like the 1982 recording, has not been bootlegged. Needless to say Ozzy fans owe a debt of gratitude for Luvsufo for his contribution to the unofficial live catalog.
The recording begins just as the lights go down and the mics are positioned as the crowd cheers, then Carmina Burana is played over the PA system, the band hit the stage with I Don’t Know, the set list is standard during this tour and this concert is early in the run of dates. The playing is really nice, while there is a bit of high end distortion in the recording you can really hear the detail in Randy’s playing and his effects used. There is precious little video footage of him with Ozzy but he plays effortlessly and this is easily the case here. Crazy Train is played almost non stop afterwards, the band is very tight and obviously well rehearsed, the band convinces early. Ozzy introduced Believer as being from his new recording that would be released later in the year, Rudy’s bass thunders, Tommy’s drums pummel and Randy’s guitar is so heavy, really love these early live versions of the song. The tempo sounds slightly slow and the recording speed may be off by 1 or 2% yet Randy’s solo sounds right, his playing is really incredible especially during the solo’s during Mr. Crowley. Ozzy is also in fine voice and actually hits some high sustained notes in Mr. Crowley that kinda shocked me.
Ozzy gets the crowd to do an impromptu cheer between songs, not getting the response he wants he tells the guys to squeeze their balls harder, it obviously works as I laugh hilariously, he then introduces Flying High Again to no fanfare, the audience would not know the unreleased material. Ozzy mumbles the introduction to Revelation (Mother Earth) as the band begin, the interplay between Randy and keyboard player Lindsey Bridgewater is really nice, this song is unique in the Ozzy catalog all due to Randy’s playing that seems more like English Progressive Rock than Heavy Metal. He adds a lot of small flourishes that accentuate the music, never overpowering it, the Gothic feel is dark yet beautiful certainly influenced by Randy’s studies in classic music theory. If Revelation is darkness, Steal Away (The Night) is pure light, just pure Rock and Roll, the song segues into Tommy Aldridge’s drum solo, there is a cut at the 41 second mark due to a tape flip.
No Bone Movies is another all out Rocker, certainly the subject of dirty movies is near and dear to their hearts, the tape speed sounds better after the tape flip, I wonder if the batteries were changed or if it was a tape issue. Randy Rhoads is featured during Suicide Solution, he gets his solo spot that is short and sweet, he makes ample use of his spot to showcase his incredible playing. The last two songs of the set are from his Sabbath days beginning with Iron Man, it’s widely report Randy wasn’t a fan of the Sabbath material but you would not know it from his playing, he breathes new life into the material, especially Children Of The Grave which (as usual) smokes with energy. The band are locked in and just go for it, Randy’s solos are spectacular and differ during the early 1981 to later 1981 and into 1982, a bit of improvisation from the young master. A tape pause during the encore break leads to the band returning to the stand for the final song, you guessed it Paranoid. The sound is a bit different, less distortion and way better bottom end yet slightly muffled as a result. Paranoid is really good (i know it’s getting old) again it’s Randy who really brings it, he sounds like he wanted to keep going in his solo but the band pulls back the reigns, very well played concert.
First off all hail to Luvsufo for this and his other recordings, it’s a privilege to listen to these pieces of history he captured. The packaging is really nice, a gatefold sleeve with the CD’s house in plastic trays. The front and rear cover is minimalist, the interior features pictures of all three bands in the live settings, there is a cool backstage shot of Ozzy and Lemmy as well as a picture of the gig poster. Always glad to add a new Ozzy silver to my collection, the fact that this title includes rare sets by both Motorhead and The Good Rats make this title a no brainer.