Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA, USA – 1 November, 1980
Disc 1: Born To Run, Out In The Street, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Independence Day, Factory, For You, Two Hearts, Jackson Cage, The Promised Land, Prove It All Night, The Price You Pay, The River
Disc 2: Badlands, Thunder Road, No Money Down/Cadillac Ranch, Hungry Heart, Fire, Candy’s Room, Because The Night, Fade Away, Stolen Car, The Ties That Bind, Wreck On The Highway, Point Blank, Crush On You, Ramrod
Disc 3: You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch), Drive All Night, Backstreets, [Stagger Lee/]Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)[/Hail To The Chief], Jungleland, Sweet Little Sixteen, Detroit Medley/I Hear A Train/Wabash Cannonball
This excellent show, sourced form a recently discovered Mike Millard tape, has already been reviewed in its Tarantura incarnation (The Live’r In The River) and readers are directed to my review of that release with regard to details of the show itself. This review will consequently concern itself with sound quality, packaging and bonus discs.
There is a difference in sound between the two releases. On Los Angeles 1980 3rd Night there is noticeably less hiss, though it is still present. To my ears, it seems that this has been achieved at the cost of a marginal loss of dynamics, though the difference really is insubstantial. As the hiss on the Tarantura version is most prominent on the quieter songs, some collectors may find this new version preferable, but neither release will disappoint.
The discs come in a thick jewel case with front and back inserts but no booklet. The blue design is contrasted with sepia-tinted onstage photographs. The shot on the back of the rear insert, featuring Springsteen and drummer Max Weinberg, also appears on the discs in a blue-tinted version. Although it is attractive, I find Tarantura’s card sleeve more aesthetically pleasing.
Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA, USA – 31 October, 1980
Disc1: Intro, Haunted House, Badlands, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Independence Day, Factory, Jackson Cage, Two Hearts, Out In The Street, The Promised Land, The Price You Pay, The River
Disc 2: Prove It All Night, Thunder Road, Out Of Limits, No Money Down/Cadillac Ranch, Hungry Heart, Fire, Sherry Darling, [Here She Comes Walkin’/]I Wanna Marry You, Wreck On The Highway, The Ties That Bind, Stolen Car, Point Blank
If you are fortunate enough to additionally acquire the limited bonus CD-Rs, you will find yourself listening to what Brucebase points out is an, “incomplete audience tape…missing the conclusion of the second set and the entire encore,” from the previous night’s show.
The show begins with Springsteen’s only performance of Johnny Fuller’s Haunted House (also recorded by Jumpin’ Gene Simmons), played after he is carried onstage in a coffin and chased by roadies wearing Halloween costumes. Attendee Robert Brand Jr. remembers:
“I remember everybody was really excited about it. We knew Bruce had made one of the guys in the crew drive several hours in each direction just to get the scary music that would be played as they carried him out in a Dracula shaped coffin.
They propped it up in front of his mic stand. After a few seconds the neck of his guitar popped out of the side of the coffin, then his head. The place was going crazy.
It was so cool. He climbed out and launched into ‘Haunted House,’ one of the best openings to a Bruce show ever!”
After this enjoyable but essentially lightweight beginning, the band rips into Badlands, following this muscular performance with a vivacious Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out and a gritty Darkness On The Edge Of Town. Independence Day and Factory, both prefaced, as so often, with stories about Springsteen’s problematic relationship with his father, are genuinely affecting. Paul Sanchez, reviewing the show for The Sundial, the newspaper of California State University Northridge, writes:
“The power of Springsteen’s stage presence is astounding. He punctuates his songs with stories, and he is not afraid to interject either seriousness or humor in them. When he speaks of his father, as he did in the introductions to ‘Independence Day’ and ‘Factory,’ he provides a background that adds to the heartbreak of the songs.”
Three of the up tempo numbers from The River follow – Jackson Cage, Two Hearts and Out In The Street, all of which are effective live numbers, before Springsteen returns to Darkness On The Edge Of Town material with The Promised Land. Then comes, as Brucebase tells us, the “live premiere of ‘The Price You Pay,’ an acoustic rendition with the original album lyrics. Bruce is accompanied by Danny Federici on accordion for the final verse. The alternative third verse would be premiered the following night,” and therefore it can be heard on the set to which this is the bonus. Before the song, Springsteen can be heard railing against the activities of ticket scalpers, something he also did the following night. The first disc ends with The River, with the brief piano introduction characteristic of this tour.
Disc two kick off with the first set’s penultimate number Prove It All Night, without the ’78 intro heard on the next two nights. The set then concludes with a full-band Thunder Road, “one of two standouts of many…even surpassing the recorded versions,” in Sanchez’s estimation.
The second set opens with Springsteen’s only performance of The Marketts’ 1963 instrumental single Out Of Limits. The track listing gives the song’s title as Outer Limits, as in the TV show, and first pressings of the record carried that title. Band member and song writer Michael Z. Gordon stated in an interview that, “I wrote ‘Outer Limits’ and submitted it to the TV show producers, but because the riff was too close to ‘Twilight Zone,’ they turned it down…We had to change the name of the song after Screen Gems threatened a lawsuit.” Then comes boisterous a Cadillac Ranch, with, as on the next night, Chuck Berry’s No Money Down acting as an introduction. As with the performance on the main discs, Hungry Heart has an extended intro but no audience singalong. Fire features the usual mid-song pause for onstage antics and Sherry Darling is splendidly high spirited.
Things slow down with an excellent rendition of I Wanna Marry You. It begins with an extended instrumental intro and a spoken introduction in which Springsteen ponders the nature of love. This then gives way to the familiar Here She Comes Walkin’ prelude before the song proper finally begins. A poignant rendition of Wreck On The Highway follows. “”With the ease of a true craftsman,” writes Sanchez, “Springsteen can…quiet down and sing a ballad with a conviction that is out of the reach of most singer/songwriters.” It is the second of his “two standouts of many.” A vibrant rendition of The Ties That Bind is succeeded by a third slow number from The River in the shape of Stolen Car, before the recording ends with Point Blank. This song, which features the dramatic intro characteristic of this tour, unfortunately cuts out suddenly at 6:48. However, the concert did not end there. Sanchez’s review reveals that Growin’ Up, containing a mid-song telling of Springsteen’s alien encounter story, was played, making it a tour premiere. Other songs performed are unknown, though Sanchez comments that Springsteen played sixteen songs from The River – two more than we hear on this recording.
Sanchez was, as comments above indicate, mightily impressed with the show, writing:
“Monday night’s concert was a triumph of the best kind. Instead of offering an evening of mindless entertainment, Springsteen turned the concert into the kind of celebration that only comes after a hard fought battle…
Throughout the evening, Springsteen never let the audience forget that they had paid the price to rock ‘n’ roll.
And rock ‘n’ roll is exactly what Springsteen did. For over four hours, the audience was involved with some of the best rock ‘n’ roll music ever as performed by the man who may be the best entertainer in the field…
Working as musical co-conspirators, the E Street Band was just as exceptional as Springsteen. Best of all was saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who compliments [sic] Springsteen with an incredible stage presence of his own.”
The source is a torrent entitled Halloween Night In Los Angeles, part of a series with the overall title of River Flood. Notes on Jungleland state. “Please note that a lot of the boots being made available as part of this project, whilst best available for each date are essentially designed for completists. Quality of a lot of the shows in this era are not of great quality.” Overall, this is a fair audience recording, a little distant and with a degree of audience noise at times. The sound is generally quite clear, though it is unpleasantly boomy and overloaded on several songs, with Badlands being the most prominent example. Also, during The River the sound drops out and comes back in several times in a manner which might suggest that the tape has been chewed up. There is also some noticeable hiss from Wreck On The Highway onwards.
The discs are housed in a slimline double jewel case with a front insert only, bearing an black-and-white onstage photo of Springsteen and Clemons on the front. The reverse features the track listing and a small colour onstage shot superimposed over the photograph of Springsteen which adorns the cover of The River.
Overall, Los Angeles 1980 3rd Night is another fine “no label” Springsteen release. This is a recording which should grace every Springsteen collection and whichever version you decide to acquire, listening to the show will give much pleasure. Additionally, the bonus discs which accompany this release may well prove desirable to more serious Springsteen collectors as, despite the incomplete recording and the rather limited sound, they feature a very enjoyable performance and two unique songs.