Bruce Springsteen – Follow That Dream (Godfatherecords G.R. 719/720/721)

Follow That Dream (Godfatherecords G.R. 719/720/721)

Johanneshovs Isstadion, Stockholm, Sweden – 7 May, 1981

Disc 1: Follow That Dream, Prove It All Night, Out In The Street, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Independence Day, Who’ll Stop The Rain?, Two Hearts, The Promised Land, This Land Is Your Land, The River, Badlands, Thunder Road

Disc 2: Cadillac Ranch, Sherry Darling, Hungry Heart, Fire, You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch), Stolen Car, Racing In The Street, Backstreets, Candy’s Room, Ramrod, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Disc 3: Born To Run, Detroit Medley (inc. High School Confidential and I Hear A Train), Rockin’ All Over The World

Bonus Tracks: Scandinavium, Gothenberg, Sweden – 3 May, 1981: Run Through The Jungle, The Ties That Bind, Because The Night, Wreck On The Highway, Can’t Help Falling In Love

Springsteen and the E Street Band performed five Scandinavian shows in early May 1981, one each in Denmark and Norway and three in Sweden, including two concerts on consecutive nights at Stockholm’s 8,000-plus seater Johanneshovs Isstadion (now known as Hovet or The Court).  The second of these shows, under the title Teardrops On The City, appeared on the Godfather label some three years back (see my earlier review) and the first show now appears to accompany it.  The concert first appeared on vinyl on the Swedish 3-LP set Follow That Dream, which came as a limited edition of five hundred copies in a handsome gatefold sleeve.  Not surprisingly, as Chris Hunt states in Springsteen: Blinded By The Light, “originals are very rare.”  Later US copies featured a different photo on the inner side of the sleeve.  Another release, Movin’ Up To Stockholm, despite consisting of three records, only included twenty of the twenty-seven songs.  Nine of the show’s songs also appeared on the double album As Requested Around the World (CESCO records), together with performances from 1972, 1977 and 1978.  The whole show, together with the next night’s show, appeared on the 6-LP set The Stockholm Tapes and there have also been several shoddy single disc releases (largely derived from The Stockholm Tapes).  The two previous CD releases, on the Boss Records and Golden Stars labels, have, like the Godfather, reverted to the original title of Follow That Dream.  As with Teardrops On The City, both these releases use vinyl as their source.  In the case of the Golden Stars version, the Killing Floor Database comments, “recorded from vinyl. But the vinyl is better.”  A CD-R version, Follow That Dream Revisited, appeared on the Piggham label and there has recently been a torrented version, Warm Welcome In Stockholm (Ev2), which Brucebase notes is “in improved quality.”

The concert begins with a slow number, the atmosperic Follow That Dream, a song which appeared in the Elvis Presley film of the same name and on the accompanying soundtrack EP.  Dave Marsh writes in Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen In the 1980 that, “Springsteen reinvented the song…keeping just the basic melody and the chorus…Springsteen’s version was slow, echoing like a haunt until he reached the new verse he’d written for himself.”

After this striking start the concert explodes into life with Prove It All Night.  The song no longer features the long piano and guitar introduction that had been so effective in 1978, so that it more closely resembles, both in sound and performance, the version from Darkness On The Edge Of Town. However, as with Teardrops On The City, there is a longer coda with a short organ solo and a more extensive guitar part.  The conclusion of the song is greeting with much clapping and cheering from the audience and the upbeat mood is maintained with wonderfully exuberant performances of Out In The Street and Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.  Then the mood darkens with a sombre, powerful rendition of Darkness On The Edge Of Town.  This is followed by a superbly poignant performance of Independence Day, which is prefaced by a lengthy spoken introduction which, though rooted in the cliched concept of finding salvation through music, goes far beyond the platitude to become genuinely moving:

“I grew up in this, in this little town and as I got older, I started looking around me and it didn’t seem like there was…there was any way I was gonna get out of there, ’cause I looked back at my father and the only time he’d ever gotten out of that town was, was to go to World War II and then when he come out, come out of the army, he got married and he settled down and he went to work in a plastics factory there.  And his father had the same thing and it seemed that, that the one thing that we had in common was that we didn’t, we didn’t have enough information, we didn’t have enough knowledge about the things and the forces that were, that were controlling our lives and I watched my old man end up, end up a victim and he didn’t even know it and he didn’t even know of what.  Now, back in the 60’s then people were asking a lot of questions about, about those kinds of things, but the only place that I ever heard, was I’d hear it at night when I was listening to the radio.  I’d lay up in bed with the radio underneath my pillow and at the time there was a lot of great, there was just so much great stuff on and it seemed like in those songs by the Drifters and in those songs like by Smokey Robinson, there was a promise and it was just a promise of a right, a right to a decent life – that you didn’t have to, you didn’t have to live and die like my old man did, working in some factory till he couldn’t hear what you were saying to him any more.  And when I go back I see there’s friends of mine that when we were young, they were strong and had, had…they were tough inside, they had strong hearts and they had, they had dreams and slowly, these days, that stuff gets beat, it gets beat out of you and you get run down and you get weary and you get tired and the only place, the only thing that kept, when I was, when I was young, kept me from giving up was that in the rock and roll music that I heard, there was a promise that there was a meaning in life, a meaning in living  But it’s a promise that, that gets easy, easy broken today and, and there´s nobody but yourself, I guess, that can make that promise come true and it´s been broken too many times so you gotta stay hard, stay hard inside.”

The mood lightens somewhat with Springsteen’s fine version of the Creedence Clearwater Revival number Who’ll Stop The Rain?  This song was debuted at Madison Square Garden in New York on 19 December 1980, and afterwards featured in all but three River Tour concerts (those being two of the London shows and the performance in Largo, MD, on 5 August 1981). Things move further up-tempo with an energetic performance of the slight Two Hearts which in turn gives way to a stirring The Promised Land.  Then comes the show’s third cover version, a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land that here, as in other performances, is slower and less obviously folk-based than the original.  Springsteen prefaces this song with the well-known story of how he scaled the wall of Graceland in a failed bid to meet Elvis.  He links this story to the song by saying: “I used to think a lot and I used to wonder how it was that somebody that seemed, seemed like such a big winner could lose, lose so bad in the end, you know, and…’cause he deserved a lot better than what he got and, uh, but this song, this song is about living free, it’s about, it’s about not having to die poor after working in some factory, it’s about not having to die in some million-dollar mansion with a whole lot of dope running through you, it’s about feeling, feeling yourself strong inside, no matter who you are.”

As elsewhere on the tour, a short, simple but rather beautiful instrumental introduction leads into  an affecting performance of The River.  More unusually, a fiery performance of Badlands, which the audience claps along to vigorously, also begins with a brief piano introduction.  The first disc, and the first set, then close with the quintessential Springsteen number, Thunder Road.

Disc two opens with Cadillac Ranch, the best of the up-tempo songs from The River, which always comes across well in live performance.  The ebullient mood is continued with an vibrant Sherry Darling and a splendid crowd-pleasing rendition of Hungry Heart, which features the customary audience-sung first verse.  Fire contains the by now customary mid-song pause for onstage antics and features the audience clapping along from the restart until the end.  It is followed by an energetic rendition of the vacuous You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) which, as with the following night’s performance, contains a lengthy coda into which Springsteen inserts additional lyrics about going downtown and buying a gun.

Having whipped up the audience into a frenzy, Springsteen takes a more serious turn with serious with Stolen Car.  The song receives a restrained and poignant performance, which fully communicates the message of the lyrics.  “Quiet, distant, the song is the sound of a hollowed-out man,” writes Jimmy Guterman in Runaway American Dream: Listening To Bruce Springsteen, “driving in circles, lost forever from the woman he loves, hoping he gets caught in his stolen car so he is forced to connect with another human being, but he can’t even make that happen.”  We then get a musically beautiful and deeply moving rendition of Racing In The Street, enhanced by Roy Bittan’s splendid piano playing.  After this undoubted highlight, Springsteen’s wordless vocalising introduces the third of this trio of more serious numbers, an intense performance of Backstreets.

Moving towards the climax of the show we get a blistering Candy’s Room and a long, loose Ramrod, before Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), complete with band introductions, provides a barnstorming conclusion to the second set.  As so often, Clarence Clemons receives a special accolade as, “the king of the world, the master of disaster, the emperor of all things, big and small…his majesty, the Big Man, Clarence Clemons.”

Things remain at fever pitch with the three encore numbers, an exciting Born To Run,  a frenzied Devil With The Blue Dress Medley which is expanded to include Jerry Lee Lewis’ High School Confidential and the semi-spoken I Hear A Train section, and an appropriately jubilant version of John Fogerty’s Rocking All Over The World.  Together they constitute a terrific end to a most enjoyable show.

Godfather fills out disc three with five bonus tracks from the concert in Gothenburg four days earlier: Run Through The Jungle, The Ties That Bind, Because The Night, Wreck On The Highway and Can’t Help Falling In Love.  All of these songs were performed in Stockholm on  8 May and therefore appear on Teardrops On The City.  These performances from Gothenburg are essentially similar, but Run Through The Jungle has the advantage of being complete, whereas the Stockholm version is missing a substantial portion of the song as the taper missed the beginning. 

Enjoyment of the main show is enhanced by the impressive audience-taped sound quality.  Chris Hunt, in Springsteen: Blinded By the Light, rates the sound of the LP as “excellent,” and Brucebase calls this, “one of the best recordings of the tour.”  As with Teardrops On The City, all CD or CD-R releases ultimately derive from the LPs, the master tapes, it is believed, having been destroyed in a fire in the 1980s.   Despite Brucebace’s contention that the Ev2 torrent is “in improved quality,” smap1971, posting on the Jungleland site, states that, “I prefer the Piggham Records version of this show; ‘1981-05-07 Follow That Dream Revisited’.  The source of that remaster is an unplayed copy of the vinyl-release.”  Godfather states that it remastered the Piggham version of this show as it “was the best transfer,” cleaning it up to obscure its vinyl origins, and there is indeed no sign of vinyl pops or crackles.  I found the the sound of the newer release somewhat clearer and better-balanced than that of Teardrops On The City, and with less intrusive, more atmospheric audience noise, making for a very enjoyable listening experience.  The sound of the bonus tracks, though still entirely listenable, is clearly inferior to that of the main show, and these tracks also suffer from rather more intrusive audience noise.

This release comes in Godfather’s usual tri-fold card sleeve, which is adorned with appropriate onstage photographs which reflect the LP releases.  The front cover shot appeared (in black-and-white) on the inside of the gatefold sleeve of the original Swedish release.  The rear of the sleeve features the photo of Springsteen resting his chin on Clemons’ shoulder which appeared on the outer side of the sleeve of both the Swedish and American releases.  There is an insert which folds out to show a larger version of this on the outer side, while the inside reproduces the front cover shot and also features the standard “Joe Roberts” notes in very small print.  All in all, the packaging is most attractive and the references to the original LP sleeve is gratifying.

Overall, this is a very welcome release of what Brucebase calls “a wonderful show,” and it makes an ideal companion to Godfather’s earlier Teardrops On The City.

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