Bruce Springsteen – Live At Joe’s Place (Godfatherecords G.R. 672)

Live At Joe’s Place (Godfatherecords G.R. 672)

Joe’s Place, Cambridge, MA, USA – 6 January, 1974

You Mean So Much To Me, Growin’ Up, Let The Four Winds Blow, Intro, Zero And Blind Terry, Blinded By The Light, Intro, For You, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)[/Shotgun], Joe Spadafora Talks/Intro, Twist And Shout

This show was the last of three concerts at Joe’s Place on consecutive nights.  Springsteen played two sets and Godfather here presents the first complete release on silver disc of the soundboard recording of the second set.  According to the Brucebase website a soundboard recording of the first set exists, though it “has not surfaced into the mainstream.”  The first set consisted of New York Serenade, Spirit In The Night, Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?, Walking The Dog, It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City, Kitty’s Back And Thundercrack – a set list which makes me fervently wish for the surfacing of the soundboard tape. Four of the songs from the second set (two soundboard and two audience-recorded) appeared as bonus tracks on the Wonderland Records four-disc set Greetings From Liberty Hall TX. and readers are directed to my review of that issue for further details of previous releases of songs from the show.

The opening song is You Mean So Much To Me, originally a Bruce Springsteen Band number.  The Lebanese Tribute To Bruce Springsteen website maintains that, “it was in this incarnation that the song is carried off best, with a wall of sound in the shape of huge female backing vocals.”  (A Bruce Springsteen Band performance from the Guggenheim Band Shell in New York’s Damrosch Park on 23 June 1971 can be heard on Summertime In New York City.)  The song was included on Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes’ debut album I Don’t Want To Go Home, in the form of a duet between Southside and Ronnie Spector.  As was customary with E Street Band performances, the version heard here is slower than performed by the Bruce Springsteen Band or by Southside Johnny. The song starts with a three-minute instrumental introduction, featuring Springsteen’s guitar and Clarence Clemon’s saxophone.  This atmospheric performance begins in a jazzy, laid-back fashion, enhanced by Springsteen’s fine vocals, though the first of the further instrumental sections features some frenzied guitar. Clemons also gets a further solo spot and a final guitar solo from Springsteen at the end of the song is slower and quieter, reminiscent of the instrumental section heard in live versions of Thundercrack.  Overall, this is a superb version of the song, marred only by some problems with the sound during the first instrumental section, where the sound temporarily becomes harsher and less well-balanced.

The second number is Growin’ Up, which is given a vibrant performance without the appearance of a mid-song story.  It was first released by Godfather as a bonus track on Mountain Of Love.  This is followed by Let The Four Winds Blow. In my review of the Wonderland release, I stated that, “the boisterous performance of Roy Brown’s 1957 hit Let The Four Winds Blow (later recorded by co-writer Fats Domino) is…a delight, with an extended instrumental section which begins with a jaunty piano solo from David Sancious and takes in a none-too serious two-note piano solo from Springsteen before the rest of the band kicks in.”  The song ends amidst enthusiastic applause from the audience.  The next song has also been issued before. My review of Mountain Of Love, on which it appeared as a bonus track,  concluded that Zero And Blind Terry is,“an excellent rendition…superior to the now-familiar version that first appeared on the LP Fire On The Fingertips.”  Similarly, when it appeared as a bonus track on another Godfather release, Does This Bus Stop At Max’s?, I commented that, “this is a better performance than the studio version.”  The song is preceded by an intro, which is tracked separately.  It consists of Springsteen answering a request for Rosalita with, “we’re gonna get to that,” some instrumental noodling and a lengthy spoken intro during which Springsteen, less than seriously, tells the audience of the band’s ambition to appear on television, so that he wrote a song “that housewives could relate to.”He then rambles on at some length about school dances and compulsory school physical education.  The latter, he claims, consisted of the nuns playing a record over the loudspeakers in the school yard, while the students had to perform the bunny hop!

Next up is the opening song from Springsteen’s debut album.  My Wonderland review noted that, “Blinded By The Light is an excellent performance, fast-paced and full of energy, though Springsteen adopts a curious affected vocal style at the start of the song.”  As with previous releases on Greetings From Liberty Hall TX. and Deep Down In The Vaults, we only hear around forty-five seconds of the slow instrumental intro which precedes this up-tempo song.  The Bruce base website states that the full intro lasted three or four minutes.  However, the fade-in is handled so skilfully that the cut is barely noticeable.  At the end the audience is once again highly appreciative of the band’s efforts.  Springsteen sticks with the first LP for the next song, For You, which is played in a wonderfully effective solo piano rendition.  Springsteen does, however, have to restart the song, seemingly having been distracted by a female member of the audience (he seems to say, “anyone drag that chick into the next room or something?”).  As with Zero And Blind Terry, the intro before this song is tracked separately and concerns Springsteen telling the story of how he acquired his first guitars, one with the proceeds of a house painting job and one as a Christmas present.

The band returns for Rosalita (Come Out Tonight).  In my review of Mountain Of Love, on which the song appeared as a bonus track, I noted that Springsteen played, “a version of Rosalita which, as with several other shows at this time, incorporates a brief but frenetic excerpt from Junior Walker & The All Stars’ 1965 hit Shotgun just before the band introductions.”  This concludes the second set, which is then followed by a single encore song.  As I stated in my review of the Wonderland release, “finally, we hear, at some length, club owner Joe Spadafora encouraging the audience to demand an encore, which is delivered in the form of a raucous Twist And Shout.”  Though spirited, this version is relatively short at four minutes.

As mentioned above, this release contains the soundboard recording of the concert’s second set, and we are treated to full, clear dynamic sound, the sole glitch being the brief problem encountered in You Mean So Much To Me.  Brucebase notes the “excellent quality” of this soundboard, which it states first emerged on 2007.  The CD is housed in Godfather’s customary tri-fold sleeve with some splendidly effective black-and-white photographs from the era, all but one being onstage shots.  One of the inner panels movingly contains a tribute to the late Clarence Clemons, together with a more recent photograph the Big Man himself.  In my review of Greetings From Liberty Hall TX., I argued that, “the four songs from Joe’s Place are welcome, but their inclusion underlines the need for a full silver release of this show.”  Godfather has now given us the entire circulating soundboard and this fine new release is well worth acquiring.

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