The Bottom Line: August 13 1975 Late Show (no label)
The Bottom Line, New York, NY, USA – 13 August, 1975
Disc 1: For You, Tenth Avenue Freeze-out, Spirit In The Night, Intro to When You Walk On The Room, When You Walk On The Room, Intro to Night, Night, Growin’ Up, It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City, The E Street Shuffle, Born To Run, She’s The One, Thunder Road
Disc 2: Intro To Kitty’s Back, Kitty’s Back, New York City Serenade, Intro to Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Intro to 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), Quarter To Three
Springsteen played two shows at the Bottom Line on 13 August 1975, at 8:30pm and 11:30pm, of which this is the late show. There is no circulating audio of the early show, nor a setlist, with only two songs known to have been played, Thunder Road and When You Walk In The Room. The Bottom Line shows are of great significance in Springsteen’s career, as the Brucebase website explains:
“Opening of an historic five-night (ten-show) residency at the club. Springsteen & The E Street Band had previously played a three-night (six-show) residency here in July 1974. Bottom Line co-owner Allan Pepper was offered the chance to host Bruce and the band at the club by Sam McKeith (Bruce’s booking agent at William Morris) one morning by phone. Columbia Records bought a quarter of the 500 tickets [per show] available for the stand, a perfect opportunity to expose employees and journalists to the upcoming talent of Springsteen.”
The most well known of the shows is the early show from 15 August, broadcast on WNEW-FM, which has a venerable history on both vinyl and silver discs. I have reviewed the latest release of this show, Vintage Broadcast ’75, and my review give some further details of the background and historical significance of the Bottom Line shows. An audience recording of the early show from 14 August has also appeared as Runaway American Dreams (Doberman), which also has some bonus tracks from the early shows of 16 and 17 August.
The show presented here opens with the slow version of For You, with Springsteen accompanying himself on the piano. Notes regarding the original recording on the Jungleland website explain how this quiet and atmospheric opening is the starting point for what develops into a tremendous rapport with the audience: “Bruce seems to just appear behind the piano and gets a single reaction from the crowd as he opens solo with ‘For You.’ It is evident how he captures the crowd more and more with each song. By the time he hits the 20 minute versions of ‘Kitty’s Back’ and ‘New York City Serenade’, he has them in his hands.” This is the first confirmed performance of For You from the tour, though this is by no means certain because, as stated above, some set lists are incomplete.
After the subdued start the temperature rises immediately with euphoric versions of Tenth Avenue Freeze-out and Spirit In The Night, the latter clearly seeing Springsteen interacting with the audience during the slow section. Next up is When You Walk On The Room, the Jackie DeShannon song more famously recorded by The Searchers. It received its first known performance by Springsteen during the early show and the rendition heard here is the first known recording. Then Night receives its first confirmed live performance. Despite being tracked separately, the introductions to both When You Walk In The Room and Night are very brief.
Growin’ Up provides its usual seductive account of youthful rebellion, heard here unadorned with the fantastic tales of teenage werewolves heard elsewhere. The braggadocio of It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City, also from debut album Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., provides a perfect partner, and an extended instrumental section at the end takes the song to nearly five-and-a-half minutes.
The E Street Shuffle is heard here in the slow version, which one member of the audience recognizes, shouting, “do the E Street Shuffle!” and thereby eliciting cheers and applause. The audience claps along through much of the introduction, which omits the fictionalized story of how Springsteen met saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Thing move uptempo again with enthusiastic renditions of Born To Run and She’s The One, the latter prefaced with a spoken intro which is muffled and difficult to comprehend. Disc one then concludes most effectively with the slow version of Thunder Road with Roy Bittan on piano and Springsteen on harmonica and vocals.
Disc two begins with two songs which both last for around nineteen minutes. The first is Kitty’s Back which, as usual at this time, becomes a long loose jam with extended soloing (including an excerpt from Van Morrison’s Moondance, which emerges clearly during Roy Bittan’s piano solo). Springsteen also interpolates the chorus of Stevie Wonder’s Nothing’s Too Good For My Baby, a song from his 1966 album Up-Tight Everything’s Alright, into the second half of the song. The second lengthy number is New York City Serenade. Brucebase states that, “this is the last recorded and confirmed performance of ‘New York City Serenade’ until the 1999/2000 Reunion Tour when it was resurrected with a slightly more sensible running time.” I could not disagree more with this implied criticism, being immensely fond of the long, languorous and atmospheric performances from the first half of the 1970s.
The main set concludes with a rollicking performance of Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), featuring the usual band introductions (including a snippet from the Theme From Shaft to represent Clarence Clemons). The encore opens with the wistful, nostalgic 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), which garners laughter from the audience when Springsteen mentions the angels riding Harleys, and then the concert concludes in suitably riotous fashion with Springsteen’s take on Gary U.S. Bonds’ big hit from 1961, Quarter To Three.
Brucebase gives the following details for the audio of this show: “Audience tape (by ODoc55), remaster available (Goody)…There is no circulating audio of the early show on this opening night, but in 2012 an audience recording of the late show finally emerged into the trading pool” The original notes on the Jungleland website give further details: “This is the first recording of one of the late shows to surface. It is the first night and this tape captures all of the ambiance of this intimate club. You can hear each breath and whisper from Bruce while dishes and glasses are shuffled on the tables.” Goody’s notes on Jungleland state: “The speed of the source was quite slow, causing the pitch to be approximately 30 cents flat. That has now been fixed. The mono tape transfer caused the right channel to be favored, so phase correction and level balancing centered the sound and automatically focused it as an added benefit, resulting in a soundstage and instrument presentation that is more defined, with much sharper detail. The tape was stopped after each song to conserve tape, so very short fades have been added in order to make the listening experience less jarring at most of the transitions, (to the best of my ability.) Some of these attempts had better results than others…Hopefully, you’ll find it all good, regardless.” The Goody remaster is what we hear on this release and the work done on the tape helps to make it an enjoyable listen despite its obvious limitations. There are some glitches such as For You cutting in and missing the first few notes, a more substantial cut at the start of Born To Run, which excises the first line of the lyrics, and tape slips in The E Street Shuffle and New York City Serenade (where, in both cases, some music seems to be lost) but there is nothing here that is too off-putting and, as the original notes contend, the “ambiance of this intimate club” is captured in a way which enhances the listening experience.
The packaging is simple, the front insert to the slimline jewel case being only a single sheet, but it is most attractive, featuring several shots of Springsteen, in some cases with Clarence Clemons, taken by Eric Meola for the Born To Run album. The rear insert also features a torn ticket for the show and the inlay cards from the taper’s cassettes. There are notes on the rear of the front insert, but unfortunately these are only in Japanese.
This is the second mid-70s show to come my way recently, the other being Godfather’s Run South, Young Man and they are most welcome additions to the unofficial Springsteen catalogue. Although the more casual fan interested in these historic Bottom Line Shows may wish to delve no further than Vintage Broadcast ’75, the more dedicated Springsteen collector will definitely want this release.