Tuesday, June 13, 2017
ER Archives via JEMS
Soundboard Recording (equipment unknown)
JEMS Transfer: very likely 2nd generation reel to reel tapes > Otari 5050mkII azimuth-adjusted transfer (October 2012) > Sound Devices USBPre 2 > Audacity 2.0 (24/96) capture > iZotope RX click repair > Peak 6.0 with iZotope Ozone 5.0 (speed corrected) > resample 16/44.1 > FLAC
02 Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
03 Spirit in the Night
04 It's My Life
05 Thunder Road
06 She's the One
07 Born to Run
08 Incident on 57th Street (cuts)
11 Growin' Up
12 Saint in the City
13 Blinded By the Light
15 Rosalita (cuts)
17 Detroit Medley
18 Quarter to Three (joined in progress)
Welcome back to the fourth in a series of releases from the ER Archives, the collection of an active '70s taper and trader who stepped away from collecting, leaving his tapes pretty much dormant until now. We're still culling through the archive, but it is clear that it contains previously uncirculated shows as well as upgrades to circulating tapes, both audience and soundboard. ER used high-end tape decks and good tape, so his copies of even well-known shows may well be improvements.
Installment four is, for my money, a material upgrade of an under-appreciated show: the Allen Theatre, April 7, 1976. It is night No. 9 on the Chicken Scratch tour and the first soundboard recording of a post-75 performance (CORRECTION, THERE IS A PARTIAL SOUNDBOARD RECORDING OF APRIL 4). It was this show and recording of "Frankie" that I first fell in love with. I played this tape in heavy rotation when I first obtained a copy in the mid-80s.
It has been bootlegged a few times and torrented too, though it never seems to make any list of favorites which I find surprising. Why? Well, beyond being the best '76 recording of the sublime "Frankie," it captures another uber-rarity of the period, the resurrected "Blinded By the Light," which is utterly delightful. Bruce says they haven't done it in three years but will "for Kid Leo," the influential Cleveland DJ who was an early supporter of the band.
And there's more to like in this set list: the always passionate "It's My Life," "Incident on 57th Street" (played for the first time since September 1975; it cuts but what's there is great), a ripping "Backstreets" and a spirited duo of "Growin' Up" into a sizzling "Saint in the City."
So the set list can't be at issue, and the performance is strong, so perhaps it has always been the recording. This board tape has never been considered A-list, but I think the ER version (surely the lowest generation source to circulate) is excellent and as strong if not stronger than any other '76 board.
Close listening reveals bits of rarely heard off-mic chatter, unusual clarity in areas like the sound of Max's foot-pedal playing on the high-hat and one of the best Garry Tallent mixes on any '70s board. We did spend some time in the mastering lab pulling out clicks and taming what had always been overly bright sound. You can judge for yourself if it merits reconsideration. Samples provided.
There are a few cuts: "Incident" fades out after 6'15", the last few minutes of "Rosalita" were not captured and "Quarter to Three" is joined slightly in progress. But what is there is strong and some of it quite unusual, which is what has always made the Allen Theatre special to me, and I hope now to you as well.
Thanks to the ER Archive for opening up the vault doors and sharing this recording with the fans. Feel free to let him know how you feel in the comments.
The ER Archive will return.
Wayne Darlington for JEMS and the ER Archives