Bruce Springsteen – Love Soul (Scorpio (UK) – 65)

Bruce Springsteen - Love Soul

Love Soul (Scorpio (UK) – 65)

ASU Activity Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA – 5 November, 1980

Disc 1: Born To Run, Prove It All Night, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Independence Day, Factory, Jackson Cage, Two Hearts, The Promised Land, Out In The Street, Racing In The Street, The River, Badlands

Disc 2: Thunder Road, Intro/No Money Down, Cadillac Ranch, Hungry Heart, Fire, Candy’s Room, Sherry Darling, Intro/Here She Comes [Walkin’], I Wanna Marry You, The Ties That Bind, Stolen Car, Wreck On The Highway, Point Blank, Intro, Crush On You, Ramrod

Disc 3: You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch), Drive All Night, Backstreets, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), I’m A Rocker, Jungleland, Detroit Medley[/I Hear A Train]

Bonus tracks: Reunion Auditorium, Dallas, Texas, USA – 8 November, 1980: Yellow Rose Of Texas; The Summit, Huston, TX, USA – 15 November, 1980: Fade Away; The Centrum, Worcester, MA, USA – 25 February, 1988: Walk Like A Man

Brucebase notes that Springsteen has played six shows at this venue, giving the name as the ASU Activity Center for this fourth show and the subsequent one in 1984.  For the first three concerts, in 1975, and the final one in 1996 the name given is the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium.  Since then the name has been become the rather snappier ASU Gammage and the venue’s website gives some very interesting details of the building’s history:

“In 1957, ASU past President Grady Gammage had a vision to create a distinct university auditorium on the campus of Arizona State University (ASU).  He called on close friend and famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright to assist with the project.  As luck would have, Wright had a design prepared for an opera house in Baghdad, Iraq that did not come to fruition that he decided to use for this theater.

…Wright worked on the sketches for the building during the last two years of his life.  His most trusted aide, William Welsey Peters, brought his plans to finished form.

Neither Wright nor Gammage lived to see the transformation of the blueprints, but their vision instantly became an iconic venue.”

With three thousand seats on three levels, none being further than 115 feet from the stage, the auditorium opened on 18 September 1964 with a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy.  In addition to classical concerts, musical theatre productions and dance company performances, this remarkable building has, over the years,  hosted performances by a wide variety of popular music artists which includes B.B King, Neil Diamond, Tony Bennett, Johnny Cash and Elton John.

To my knowledge, only one song from this show, No Money Down, appeared on an unofficial vinyl release, on The Lost Live Tapes (no label).  It emerged again on the 2-CD release Rock & Roll Is Here To Stay (Eagle Records) and on the 3-CD boxed set Cover’s Story Vol. 2 (Finfagel).  Badlands, of course, was included on the official release Live 1975-1985 (shorn of its brief but politically sensitive spoken intro) and also appeared on On Stage Records’ Backstreets, described by the Killing Floor database as a, “useless pirate item clearly copied from the ‘Live 1975-1985’ box set.”  The complete concert was released by E. St. Records, with a limited edition in a handsome black wooden box (made from black ash according to Greasy Lake poster riverdude2), as Heart & Soul, with two bonus tracks in the shape of On Top Of Old Smoky (Portland, OR – 25 October, 1980 and, according to Brucebase, “sung in reference to Mount St. Helens, which erupted in May 1980”) and The Price You Pay (New York – 27 November, 1980).  There has also been a CD-R release, Live In Tempe 1980 (Palace Records), without bonus tracks.  An upgraded torrented version, Love, Soul & A Broken Heart (Ev2), serves as the source for this new release.  As a soundboard, Tempe is a rarity for the River Tour.

Furthermore, the show was  filmed, as Brucebase relates:

“This show was professionally filmed in its entirety by producer/director Howard Lamden (who also served as Executive Editor).  Lamden had previously filmed Pink Floyd and was the Director of Jackson Browne’s early ’80s Downtown documentary.  Unfortunately the film of this show remains in Springsteen’s vault and is not circulating among collectors.  It is likely that the very brief snippets of River Tour performance footage seen in the promotional ’10 Years Burning Down The Road’ advertisement for the Live 1975-85 box set emanates from the Howard Lamden film of this concert – although that is not 100% certain at this point…Another tantalising snippet believed to be from this show can be seen in the 2012 documentary Wrecking Ball: A Conversation With Bruce Springsteen.”

The show begins in spectacular fashion with an exhilarating performance of Born To Run and an impassioned Prove It All Night.  “Oh yeah?  Oh yeah, huh?” Springsteen says to the audience after the searing guitar work which concludes the latter song, sounding for all the world like a man determined to produce the most exciting performance imaginable – and the vibrancy and animation of the next song, Tenth Avenue-Freeze Out, with its added sax solo, would seem to illustrate that determination.  An intense Darkness On The Edge Of Town follows a promise that it will be, “a real long show.”

After all this excitement a heart-rending Independence Day is preceded by a substantial spoken intro:

“I grew up in this town, was about an hour, hour and a half south of New York City and uh,and I can remember that when I used to go to school…I never did good in school, never did good and they always figured that if you’re not smart in school, it’s because you’re dumb but…and I always felt that I never, I never really learned anything or learned anything that was important to me till I, till I started listening to the radio back in the early 60s.  And it seemed that the stuff that I was hearing off the radio in all those, in all those great songs was stuff that if they knew how, they’d be trying to teach you in school….but, but they just didn’t know how to, they didn’t know how to, they always talked to your head, they could never figure out how to talk to your heart, you know, and it seems that, like all those singers and all those groups, there’s one thing that they, they just knew what it was about. And when I started listening, I found out that the first time, that instead of like the fantasies that you have when you’re a little kid that I had, I had different, I had dreams now and that they were different, it was different, and that if…and that it was possible that I didn’t have to live my life the way that I was, that things could be better, if you just go out, take a chance, find out what’s going on.  Anyway, so if you’re out there and if you’re out there away from home, this song’s for you.”

An equally poignant Factory is prefaced by a much more succinct introduction which contrasts Springsteen’s father’s experience with his own: “My old man never got many chances and for most of his life he only knew one thing.”

After this, the up tempo pairing Jackson Cage and Two Hearts are despatched with zestful abandon and are followed by a stirring rendition of The Promised Land and an ebullient Out In The Street.  Pianist Roy Bittan shines, as so often, in a beautifully restrained performance of Racing In The Street before adding this tour’s customary intro to a touching performance of  The River.  The next song, a particularly ferocious version of Badlands is introduced by Springsteen’s reaction to Ronald Reagan’s victory in the presidential election: “I don’t know what you guys think about what happened last night but I think it’s pretty frightening.  You guys are young, there’s gonna be a lot of people depending on you coming up, so this is for you.”  The first set then ends with  a full-band Thunder Road, which is unfortunately separated from the rest of the set, appearing at the start of the second disc.

At the start of the second set, Chuck Berry’s No Money Down acts as an introduction to a vivacious Cadillac Ranch, which is followed by a curiously pedestrian rendition of Hungry Heart.  Fire, which features the customary mid-song break for some crowd-pleasing stage antics, is succeeded by a blistering Candy’s Room, which in turn gives way to a gleeful and highly enjoyable Sherry Darling, which is the first of ten consecutive songs from The River (the same ten played at the Seattle show already reviewed, in virtually the same order).

I Wanna Marry You is enhanced by the Here She Comes Walkin’ prelude and a spoken introduction:

“There’s a lot of pretty girls in this town, you know.  Must be the weather, it must do something to your genes or something.  Me and Clarence, we used to sit on my porch, oh, let me see, 31 – 11,12 years ago, and, uh, we used to watch this one girl go by all the time, she used to, I guess she used to work downtown, and she was, she seemed like a lot older than we were, she had a couple of kids and we used to just watch her and sometimes, sometimes there’s people that you only see for a little bit, you, you don’t forget ’em for some reason, people that you’ve only seen for…driving by in a car or who walk by you on the street and, uh…remember that one girl, Big Man ?”

Things move up tempo only briefly with The Ties That Bind, before we experience the emotional impact of the combination of Stolen Car, Wreck On The Highway and Point Blank.  Greasy Lake poster Promise61 is rightly impressed, writing:

“The ‘dark’ 3 song mini set of,

Stolen Car
Wreck On The Highway
Point Blank

in the second set is stunning.  And very brave too.”

Not everyone is in agreement, however, the concert listing section of the Backstreets book Springsteen: The Man And His Music summing up this trio of numbers as, “the most depressing segment of any Springsteen show ever.”

Next we hear a trio of rockers.  The first, Crush On You, is prefaced by a brief, jocular account of a “fine” and “sweet” woman who escapes Springsteen’s unwanted attentions by locking herself in her car!  Ramrod and You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) follow creating a frisson of excitement in a live setting, despite their essentially insubstantial nature.  The latter song, which kicks off the third disc, contains the extended coda, also heard in otherperformances at this time, during which Springsteen repeatedly expresses his intention of going downtown to buy a gun.

Things slow down again with an utterly gorgeous rendition of Drive All Night, featuring a beguiling sax solo from Clarence Clemons.  Brucebase states that there are, “many highlights in this show, including perhaps the definitive performance of Drive All Night.”  Echoing this comment the Killing Floor database contends that this is the, “definitive performance of Drive All Night…Drive all night worths [sic] the price alone.”

Greasy Lake poster Early New Jersey makes the following observation regarding the latter seven of the ten River numbers: “Again to me the beauty of The River.  Bruce, over the course of 4 hours would take you to a dark place, and then follow that up with a 3 shot rock and roll party adrenaline rush of Crush On You, Ramrod and You Can Look…then Drive All Night…He had the audience in the palm of his hands.”

Then a brief wordless vocalise introduces Backstreets, less impassioned perhaps than at some shows, but a fine performance nonetheless.  After this a frantic Rosalita, with the usual band introductions, closes the second set in impressive style despite an onstage mishap as reported by Dave Marsh:

“Bruce made one of his patented leaps to the speakers at the side of the stage. But this time he missed. The crowd just kept on cheering, but back at the sound-board where Jackson (soundman Bruce) and I were sitting, the tension was thick. Bruce might do anything, but this was weird; the band was holding the chord, and the chords of ‘Rosalita’ are not meant to be held for five seconds, much less fifteen. It’s a good long drop from the speakers, two feet high, to the floor, a good eight or nine feet away. All there was between Bruce and the hard concrete floor was the band’s monitor mixing board, but as he tumbled down, roadie Bob Werner reached out and broke the fall. (He sprained his wrist in the process.) Neither the band nor the crowd could see any of this. The next thing any of us knew, the guitar appeared, tossed atop the speakers. Then a pair of hands and at last, Springsteen’s head, with his silly-faced-little-boy grin. He shook his head, pulled himself the rest of the way up, and strapped on his guitar, went back into action as if nothing had occurred.”

Desspite Marsh’s contention that the audience saw none of this, Greasy Lake poster skooter, a first-time attendee at a Springsteen show, writes:  “What I remember most of the Tempe show was Bruce falling off the PA during Rosalita.  If you listen to the boot the band holds a note longer than usual during the song and that is because they were waiting for Bruce to reappear.”

 A gleeful I’m A Rocker is followed by a splendid performance of the magisterial Jungleland, featuring a particularly fine sax solo from Clarence Clemons.  The show then concludes with a frenzied Detroit Medley which includes the I Hear A Train section.

Brucebase calls this, “one of the finest, most intense shows of the River Tour, perhaps related to the fact that Ronald Reagan had been elected president the day before – which Bruce notes with displeasure during the show.”  Greasy Lake posters are equally impressed.  Skooter calls it, “an amazing night,” CmonMrTrouble (who claims he has never forgiven his parents for not letting him attend!) reckons it to be, “a great show,” and Adam Raised A Cain writes:

“Many of the songs from the concert are among the best of live songs;
Jackson Cage, Drive All Night & Badlands.
Live 75-85 albums “Badlands” are [sic] from Tempe and is the best live version of the song.”

The remastering info accompanying the Ev2 torrent states:

“Many pops/clicks removed one by one, mixed missing parts with another soundboard shows from 1980,
boosted audio levels on some quiet parts and so on. You’ll hear the difference.
+Many other improvements I never list.”

The songs with missing parts filled from other shows are The Promised Land, Stolen Car and Backstreets.  The other source is inferior and sounds very different, so that the changes in sound are jarring, particularly in The Promised Land and Backstreets, and in the latter case a few seconds of music are clearly still absent.  Whether this constitutes an improvement over the unfilled gaps on the old E. St. Records release is therefore debatable.  There is a brief cut in Rosalita which, while closed, remains unfilled here.

Graveyard-Boots comments on that, “to the best of my knowledge, this is the earliest known complete soundboard from The River Tour in circulation and Ev2 did a wonderful job with the clean up of the original E St Records release.”

The third disc is filled out with the same three bonus tracks which feature as part of the Ev2 torrent.  First up is Yellow Rose Of Texas, the performance of  which is obviously a nod to the show’s location.  The song was a big hit for Mitch Miller in 1955 and his recording also appeared in the film Giant, starring James Dean.  It is a traditional song, the earliest known published version of which appeared in Christy’s Plantation Melodies. No. 2, a songbook published under the authority of Edwin Pearce Christy, the founder of the blackface minstrel show known as Christy’s Minstrels, in Philadelphia in 1853.  The song was also popular with Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War.  Modern versions understandably and rightly eschew the mid-nineteenth century lyrics, in which the song’s protagonist, who describes himself as a “darkey,” pines for his “yellow girl” (a woman of mixed African-American and Caucasian heritage).  Springsteen’s brief instrumental performance of the song, which I would suggest is merely a curiosity with little musical value, was used as an introduction to Cadillac Ranch.

The second bonus track is a fine version of Fade Away, which, jarringly, follows Yellow Rose of Texas without a break.  Finally, we get a song from Tunnel Of Love played at the first show of the tour in support of that album on 25 February 1988 at the Centrum in Worcester, MA (the first of a three night stand at the venue).  Despite its incongruous inclusion among songs from 1980, it is good to have this fine version of Walk Like A Man, for, as Brucebase says, it, “includes a beautiful instrumental intro, played only once more, two shows later.”  The sound quality of the bonus tracks, while still very good, does not match that of the main show.

The three discs are housed in a tri-fold glossy card sleeve featuring a posed photo of Springsteen on the front and onstage shots of Springsteen and band members elsewhere.  The notes appear on one side of each of the three pinky-orange inner sleeves, with the label’s scorpion logo featuring on the other side.

Along with the recent releases of shows from Los Angeles and Seattle (which can be acquired together on the Original Masters Series release The River Live) this upgraded version of the Tempe concert demonstrates that Springsteen was consistently producing excellent performances during the early stages of the River Tour and consequently I was originally intending to complete this review simply by warmly recommending Love Soul  to Springsteen collectors.  However, it has now been announced that a multi-disc edition of The River is scheduled for release in December and the inclusion in that set of the professionally-shot film of the Tempe show on DVD or Blu-ray may perhaps decrease the appeal of Love Soul for some collectors.

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  1. Fantastic, insightful review. Thanks so much for your efforts.


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