Rockin’ On And On (Jersey Devil Records JDR3)
Dane County Coliseum, Madison, Wisconsin, June 8, 1978
Disc 1: Badlands, Night, Spirit In The Night, Something In The Night, For You, The Promised Land, Prove It All Night, Racing In The Street, Thunder Road, Jungleland, Paradise By The “C”, Fire, Adam Raised A Cain
Disc 2: Mona/She’s The One, Growin’ Up, Backstreets, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Born To Run, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Quarter To Three
Bonus Tracks: Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA – 30 June, 1978: Darkness On The Edge Of Town, The Promise
Jersey Devil’s third Springsteen release brings us the twelfth show of the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour, which, to my knowledge, has not appeared on disc before. The source is a JEMS torrent, one of a short series of Darkness Tour concerts from venues outside of the usual big cities, which are “all upgraded,” according to the notes on Jungleland by “mjk5510 in partnership with JEMS & CB,” “from lower generation tapes out of the CB Archives…Brucebase describes the audience recording as having ‘plenty of edits’ but you will find none of that here. This is an excellent capture that appears to not have any cuts or music missing…there is an early excitement to these shows captured wonderfully in this new low generation source. CB could not recall if he received it directly from the taper or a colleague of the taper. “
Brucebase no longer features that phrase, as the site’s entry for the show has been updated, stating:
“Two recordings circulate. A complete upgrade from a low-generation source entered circulation in 2016 (JEMS/CB) without the edits found on past releases. A second incomplete source, missing the last six songs but containing patches, entered circulation as part of the ‘DS Archives Volume Nineteen’ (mjk5510).”
The Jungleland notes by mjk5510 additionally state that the patches on the DS version come from the “recorder 1 source,” i.e. the lower generation JEMS/CB source utilized here.
Echoing mjk5510’s reference to “an early excitement,” James McLinden’s review in the Wisconsin State Journal (the headline of which, “Springsteen rocks on and on,” clearly inspired the title of this release), highlights the sense of anticipation that preceded this show:
“The feeling at the Dane County Coliseum Thursday night was a bit like the old blastoffs from Cape Kennedy, when you knew there was going to be an explosion and you could really feel it even before you saw and heard the explosion. There was no calm before the storm.”
The show does indeed get of to an explosive start with an energetic, muscular Badlands and the excitement continues with the fast-paced Night. During the next song, Spirit In The Night, Springsteen, according to McLinden, “was jumping in the aisles and the audience was jumping to its feet…He was dancing on top of the piano, playing his guitar with such intensity he broke two strings, and singing in this kind of romantic howl that sends a thrilling chill up the spine.”
Something In The Night is exquisitely done and a highlight of this show. Springsteen introduces the song by stating that he had, earlier in the day, visited a record store where the guy behind the counter was looking at a map searching for the places mentioned in Springsteen’s songs and struggling to find Kingsley. Springsteen says that he lied and told him it was in the map, before informing the audience that Kingsley is not the name of a town but, of course, a reference to Kingsley Avenue in Asbury Park. Next comes a jaunty full-band For You, followed by a spirited, uplifting performance of The Promised Land.
Prove It All Night is also splendidly done, though it is rather less intense than some versions from later in the tour. It begins, of course, with what has come to be known as the ’78 intro and features a searing guitar part at its conclusion. Racing In The Street is beautifully performed, enhanced by Roy Bittan’s sensitive piano contribution, which also allows the song to segue into Thunder Road without the spoken introduction familiar from some other shows. Then a superb performance of Jungleland, the highlight of the show for me, concludes what McLinden calls, “an intense hour-long set.” The performance unsurprisingly garners extended applause from the audience and Springsteen rightly namechecks saxophonist Clarence Clemons for his excellent contribution to the song.
Clemons is also prominent in the second set’s opening number, the vivacious instrumental Paradise By The “C” and this is followed by the sultry Fire, without the mid-song pause for on-stage antics familiar from later shows. Springsteen briefly introduces the song by mentioning that it is on Roberts Gordon’s second album (Fresh Fish Special). Disc one then concludes with Adam Raised A Cain, less brutal and crushingly heavy than some other live performances, but effective nonetheless.
The second disc opens with a vibrant and exciting She’s The One, with Mona as a prelude and the usual animalistic noises from the band. The next two numbers both feature spoken interludes. The jaunty Growin’ Up features a variant of the familiar “spaceman story” and a notably impassioned Backstreets includes a version of the spoken “sad eyes” interlude. Rosalita, played with the usual roisterous energy, and complete with the band introductions, then draws the second set to its close.
The encore begins with an exhilarating Born To Run, after which, as McLinden reports, the house lights came up. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out maintains the excitement and an exuberant performance of Gary US Bonds’ Quarter To Three brings the show to its end.
The two bonus tracks are taken from the first of two shows at the Berkeley Community Theater a little later in the tour, sourced from volume 20 of the DS Archives and consist of a brooding Darkness On The Edge Of Town and a beautiful and heartrending performance of The Promise. The sound of the bonus tracks is extremely good, though there is some hiss.
Thee discs are attractively packaged in the standard Jersey Devil Records tri-fold card sleeve, adorned with numerous shots, both onstage and off, of Springsteen and the band. As with previous releases there is the standard single page insert and a four-page fold-over insert, which reproduces McLinden’s review and also features advertising for the show and a ticket.
This is a splendid early Darkness Tour show which I very much enjoyed listening to. A clearly impressed McLinden contends that Springsteen’s, “voice was stronger, and his guitar playing much improved – from good to brilliant – than during his last Madison appearance 16 months ago.” As the tour progressed the concerts got both longer and better and it would be churlish to pretend that this new release could compete with such classic performances as Passaic (19 September) and Winterland (15 December), which also boast superior sound. However, serious Springseen aficionados will surely want to add this fine new release to their collections and it will bring them much listening pleasure.