Bruce Springsteen – Chimes Of Freedom (No label)

Chimes Of Freedom (No label)

Masonic Temple, Detroit, Michigan, USA – 1 September, 1978

Disc 1: Good Rockin’ Tonight, Badlands, Streets Of Fire, Spirit In The Night, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Heartbreak Hotel, Factory, The Promised Land, Prove It All Night, Racing In The Street, Thunder Road, Jungleland

Disc 2: Lost In The Flood, Candy’s Room, Adam Raised A Cain, Chimes Of Freedom, Mona/She’s The One, Growin’ Up, Backstreets, Intro to Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Disc 3: Born To Run, Because The Night, Quarter To Three

 Bonus tracks: Bayfront Center Arena, St. Petersburg, FL, USA – 29 July, 1978: Oh Boy, Badlands, 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), Around And Around

The 1 September 1978 concert from Detroit’s Masonic Temple is presented here complete for the first time on disc.  As far as I am aware only one song, Bob Dylan’s Chimes Of Freedom, which provides the title for this release, circulated on LP, being included on the compilations Who’s Been Covered By The Boss? (JOUR Discs), Live Rarities (Butterfly Records) and The Future Of Rock & Roll (no label).  The song has also appeared on CD twice; on its own on Live Rarities (Leopard) and with three further songs from the show (Heartbreak Hotel, Lost In The Flood and Adam Raised A Cain) as a bonus on Crystal Cat’s Winterland Night.  More recently, the show has been torrented in different versions under the titles Darkness At The Heartbreak Hotel and Wild Cathedral Evening.

The concert opens, like many shows on the Darkness Tour, with a classic oldie in the shape of Good Rockin’ Tonight.  I have argued on more than one occasion that opening in this fashion dilutes the emotional intensity of the first set, a significant contributory factor to why I hold the Passaic show of 19 September, where this does not occur, in such high regard.  However, it must be said that this performance makes for an exciting opening which I suspect encouraged a good proportion of the audience members out of their seats immediately.  As Mike Taylor of The Michigan Daily writes, “a great song, a great singer, a great band – the place went wild.”  Springsteen and the E Street Band then tear into an exhilarating Badlands, which is succeeded by a taut, muscular Streets Of Fire.  Taken together, these three songs constitute an explosive beginning to the show.

Spirit In The Night adds its customary touch of sleazy good humour, slowing right down as usual for the section where the song’s protagonist makes love in the dirt with Crazy Janey, and eliciting huge cheers and applause from the audience at the end.  Then comes a stark, emotive Darkness On The Edge Of Town.  Unfortunately, Springsteen then inserts Heartbreak Hotel between Darkness and an atmospheric Factory, crudely interrupting the emotional continuity that would otherwise bind those two songs together.  It is an enjoyable performance, but it would have been better placed in the encore.  Factory is succeeded by a stirring rendition of The Promised Land, with a fine sax solo from Clarence Clemons, which in turn gives way to the usual expanded version of Prove It All Night.  The piano and guitar introduction is a mid-length one (Brucebase gives timings of 4:48 for the intro and 3:06 for the solo).  The guitar solo is particularly effective and this version also includes a prominent solo from Danny Federici on the organ.

A superb rendition of Racing In The Street is, as always, enhanced by Roy Bittan’s mellifluous piano part and before Thunder Road Springsteen inserts the same reference to a journey through the Nevada desert that can be heard during the Passaic show, among others: “we came upon this house that this Indian had built from stuff that he’d scavenged all…all off the desert and he’d built into some sculpture and out in front it had a big picture of Geronimo, over top it said ‘Landlord.’  Then there was this big white sign he’d painted in red.  It said , ‘this is the land of peace, love, justice and no mercy,’ and it pointed down this little dirt road that said ‘Thunder Road.'”  The first set and disc one then end with an excellent performance of the epic Jungleland.

The second disc begins with a rarity, the solo piano version of Lost In The Flood which was played a mere three times on the Darkness tour. It was the last known version of the song until the final show of the 1999-2000 Reunion tour at Madison Square Garden.  After this spare performance there is a dramatic tempo change with Candy’s Room, which is succeeded by an intense, heavy Adam Raised A Cain. The next song is a surprise, in the shape of Springsteen’s first performance of Chimes Of Freedom, rather different from and shorter than Bob Dylan’s original.  “I wanna do this song that once again I don’t know these words.  We had just thought about doing this last night and so I’m gonna read the words, ok ?…Wait till you get how ridiculous this next move looks.  Where’s that, where’s that thing ?…Where is it ? Get ready for this, get ready for, like, high school, alright ?  This is embarrassing.”  What Springsteen is referring to is revealed by Mike Taylor of The Michigan Daily, who writes, “a roadie brought out a ‘high school’ music stand.  Bruce set his book just right, and the band began to crank it out.  We were charmed by a lively, flowing version of Dylan’s ‘Chimes Of Freedom.'”

Mona acts as a prelude to She’s The One, complete with the usual calls and howls that sound like nocturnal forest creatures and there is a substantial guitar-led instrumental bridge between the two songs.  Then comes the youthfully exuberant Growin’ Up, which contains a version of the lengthy “teenage werewolf with the gold guitar” story, very similar to that from the Madison Square Garden show of 21 August which is contained in Godfather’s splendid boxed set History Is Made At Night (already reviewed).  The story is clearly familiar to the audience, which provides wolfish howls at a couple of points in that part of the  story which precedes the song.  Also, on two occasions when Springsteen mentions going to bed pianist Roy Bittan plays a snippet of  the French nursery melody Frère JacquesAn anguished Backstreets, containing the spoken “Sad Eyes” interlude, is succeeded by set-closer Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) which, rather oddly, begins with a brief whistled intro.  The song, of course, includes the band introductions, at the end of which drummer Max Weinberg keeps the beat going while the audience repeatedly shouts, “Bruce!  Bruce!”  The song is dedicated to “the guys from Creem” and the lyrics of the song are altered to, “It cost me enough bucks but it’s my big dream/I got my picture on the cover of Creem.”

The encores are on the third disc, kicking off with a breakneck Born To Run.  This is followed by superb Because The Night and a wild eleven-minute version of Gary US Bonds’ Quarter To Three.  The four bonus tracks are from the show played at the Bayfront Center Arena, St. Petersburg, FL on 29 July, 1978. They include two tour premieres. The first is the song which opened the show, Buddy Holly’s Oh, Boy!  This was played on only one other occasion on the tour, in Charleston, VW on 4 August and it was only ever played again when Springsteen joined Joe Ely onstage at the Mean Fiddler in Dublin, Ireland on 17 March 1996.  The second tour premiere is Chuck Berry’s Around And Around which, though it received numerous club performances, would only achieve one more E Street Band outing,  in Albany, NY on 13 December 2002.  The other two bonus tracks are an excellent rendition of Badlands and a wistful 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).

Chimes Of Freedom is sourced from the JEMS torrent Wild Cathedral Evening, which Brucebase describes as, “from the master cassettes – a considerable upgrade.”  It benefits from a full, clear, dynamic sound which is remarkable for its vintage.  Audience noise is quite prominent at times but it does add to the atmosphere.  Some listeners may find it more intrusive than I did.  When the sound is at its best and the audience quiet, as in Darkness On The Edge Of Town and Factory, the result is astonishingly good.  However, I found the sound of the encore songs rather less impressive than that of the main show.  The sound of the audience tape utilized for the bonus tracks is not the equal of that used for the main show and is a little muffled at times, though still good enough to be enjoyable.

The packaging is fairly simple, consisting of just front and back inserts with no booklet.  The front shows Springsteen on stage in a rather less than fetching jumper.   The rear has a posed photo of a rather moody looking Springsteen in black T-shirt and trousers, together with the track listing.  As with other Lighthouse-related releases the writing is small and in red, in this case against a brown background, which, if anything, makes it even harder to read than usual.  The inner sides of the inserts, also like other Lighthouse-related releases bear what look like alternative cover designs.  The picture of Springsteen from the rear insert is reproduced on the brown label sides of the discs.  The pictures and text on the front and back inserts are side-on, so that the image you see above has been rotated through ninety degrees.

Overall, this set contains what Brucebase rightly calls an “excellent show” from Springsteen’s finest tour, in splendid sound, supplemented by four very enjoyable bonus tracks.  Consequently, it is a release which Springsteen fans will want to add to their collections.

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