mercoledì 25 settembre 2019
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Once Upon a Time in the East
Madison Square Garden
New York, NY
December 19, 1980
2013 Transfer: Maxell UD-XLII 90 first-generation cassettes via CB > Nakamichi CR-7A (azimuth-adjusted) > Sound Devices USBPre2 (24/96 Audacity 2.0 capture) > Peak 6.0 with iZotope Ozone (pitch corrected) > iZotope MBIT+ convert to 16/44.1 > FLAC
01 Prove It All Night
02 Two Hearts
03 Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
04 You Can Look But You Better Not Touch
05 Darkness on the Edge of Town
07 Independence Day
08 Who'll Stop The Rain
09 The Promised Land
10 Out in the Street
11 Racing in the Street
12 The River
14 Thunder Road
15 Hungry Heart
16 Cadillac Ranch
17 Sherry Darling
19 Candy's Room
20 Because the Night
22 Growin' Up (tiny gap during mid-song story)
23 Fade Away
24 Stolen Car
25 Wreck on the Highway
26 The Ties That Bind
28 Drive All Night
29 Rosalita (three short drop outs)
30 Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
32 Born to Run
33 Detroit Medley > I Hear a Train
34 Raise Your Hand
Once Upon a Time In the East is a major upgrade to An Evening at MSG, the common circulating copy of this show. This first-generation transfer is cleaner, sounds closer and I would consider it as good or better than any audience recording from the first leg of the River tour. The sequel to our recent release, This Is A Ghost Story (12/18/80), again comes courtesy of JEMS' friend CB.
Needless to say, as the last show before the three-night, year-ending run at Nassau Coliseum, Bruce and the band are playing at their peak and this marathon show serves as a great document of the first three months of the River tour. What I especially love about 12/19/80 (at one time a candidate for longest set ever) is how often Springsteen pushes his vocals to that higher note, that intense upper range, that emotional breaking point. It happens all over the set, from the opening "Prove It All Night" to "Darkness" to "Badlands" to "Because the Night" to "The Ties That Bind." Just listen to "I got the radio on and I'm just killin' time" in "The Promised Land" and you'll get the idea.
There are several sublime stretches I could wax on about, but I'd like to focus on two in particular. The first starts with a stunning "Racing in the Street" which showcases this recording at its best. You can hear every instrument distinctly, with full body in the low end--listen for the deep resonance in CC's baritone sax notes. That leads us down into "The River," and for my money, there are the performances of the song on the River tour and then there's everything else. "The River" is more haunting and elegiac circa 1980-81 than the years that followed, where the first-person narrator seems to grow more detached instead of being right in the thick of it.
But for me, the moment of the night is another one of those subtle little touches of musical brilliance that were the hallmark of this tour. It also provides us with our title. As "The River" ends, Roy Bittan borrows a passage from Ennio Morricone's theme for "Once Upon a Time in the West." As Bittan plays the simple melody through, Bruce strums his guitar, making short bursts of noise, angular, unsettled--something is building. Roy holds the final notes, Bruce strums again, then its "One, Two" and "Badlands" explodes. It's a goosebumps moment, and that dynamic, taking you down and then yanking you back up, is the signature of Bruce 1980.
The second sublime stretch is the one that starts with "Fade Away." If there's a better audience recording of this little-played song (Bruce has performed it all of 19 times with the E Street Band), I have not heard it. The mix is outstanding and you hear guitars ringing through crystal clear. "Stolen Car" follows and while there's some faint chatter, again something majestic is captured in this exquisite reading of what for me is Springsteen's saddest song. "Wreck on the Highway" makes sure our depression is deep set, but then, like in the first set, Bruce brings us back with a heartfelt intro about counting on the people around you before a roaring "The Ties That Bind."
What truly sets this recording apart is how clear and close up it sounds on the quietest songs. Our taper seems to have been very near to the PA, and the mix and his position combine to bring a sharpness not often heard in live recordings of "Factory," "Wreck," "Drive All Night," et al. Instead of being distant or much quieter than the loud songs, they are even more forward. And that's the result of the tape, not any mastering applied after the fact.
That being said, this tape did require a lot of work in the JEMS lab, to manage hiss levels as well as to remove a nasty hum present throughout the second set. I think the results on both counts were worth the extra cycles. There is a bit of chatter here and there (most of it entertaining, like "'Meeting Across the River' for Geno!") and a few slightly rocky passages (the intro to "Independence Day," the start of "Promised Land" after a tape flip to name two), but they are more than offset by how much of the show sounds excellent. Samples provided.
Thanks again to CB for providing the source tapes. Your generosity has been unwavering for years. When JEMS next returns to the River tour, we'll revisit the tour's least familiar territory, early 1981.