Springsteen Live At Hammersmith '75 DVD

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Rspaight
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Springsteen Live At Hammersmith '75 DVD

Postby Rspaight » Fri Mar 03, 2006 9:04 am

(An audio CD of this was just released, the only way to get the DVD is via the Born To Run 30th anniversary box, which is available at yourmusic for $18.)

I've got a fairly ambiguous relationship with Bruce Springsteen's music -- some of it I love (Darkness, Nebraska), some of it I find nearly unlistenable (Human Touch, Tom Joad). He's probably the artist I own the most records by who I don't consider myself a "big fan" of.

What keeps me interested, I guess, is the live performances. I've seen him twice (in '88 and in 2002), and the '02 show in particular was masterful. The '85 live box is full of thrilling performances. Now we have the release of this show, the first full-length Springsteen show released from the "classic" period of '75-'85.

This is highly enjoyable stuff. The 1975 tour was the first outing for the familiar E Street lineup, and they were still young and hungry. And weird. Springsteen wears a blue work shirt and a knit cap. Almost everyone else wears fedoras. Clarence Clemons is decked out in a blinding white suit, while Steve Van Zandt sports an amazing red pimp outfit (complete with white carnation) that is probably exactly what Silvio Dante was wearing in 1975. There's lots of hair and Gary Tallent has a beard George Harrison would envy.

But none of this is distracting, because the video is grainy, murky and poorly lit. I'm sure they worked hard cleaning it up, but the source was clearly in rough shape. The audio, however, is astonishing. The 24 track tapes were apparently kept in a Star Trek stasis field. The 5.1 mix is clear and powerful and sounds much better than most any early Springsteen studio album.

The performances are gritty and committed in a way lacking from recent tours. Don't get me wrong, Springsteen and E Street live is still a hell of a show, but here they pound out the bizarre street operas of the first three albums with a singular sense of purpose. It doesn't hurt that even the "oldies" here are just a few years old and hadn't been played into the ground yet. "Born To Run" is unleashed a half-hour into the set as just another track from the "new album," and is more impressive for it than any of the overblown encore performances of later years. (Even back then, though, Springsteen's catalog was imposing -- at the end of the two-hour show, fans call for unplayed songs like "Blinded By The Light" and "Growin' Up.")

At the bargain yourmusic price, it's worth picking up the BTR box for this alone. I haven't watched the documentary yet, but I spun the CD and found I liked it a bit better than the Mastersound, though I doubt that record will ever sound great. (Oddly, the CD is pressed on a Playstation-style black disc with a faux-LP label side. Maybe that's why it sounds good. :))

Ryan
RQOTW: "I'll make sure that our future is defined not by the letters ACLU, but by the letters USA." -- Mitt Romney

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Alexander Keith
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Postby Alexander Keith » Sat Mar 25, 2006 11:35 pm

I have yet to watch the documentary but the concert just blows me away. I am hoping things will continue with a "Darkness" set with a video from the '78 tour.
Barry

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MK
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Postby MK » Sun Mar 26, 2006 10:53 am

To be fair, most Springsteen fans don't like "Human Touch" or "Tom Joad" either. I consider myself a big fan and I don't either - I have one track from each on a compilation, but that's it. The rest I've heard and would prefer to do without.
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Postby Alexander Keith » Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:38 am

MK wrote:To be fair, most Springsteen fans don't like "Human Touch" or "Tom Joad" either. I consider myself a big fan and I don't either - I have one track from each on a compilation, but that's it. The rest I've heard and would prefer to do without.


It was a mistake to release the 2 albums at once (critically not financially). I still enjoy Lucky Town a lot but hardly play Human Touch any more (too polished and weak material).

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Postby MK » Sun Mar 26, 2006 3:57 pm

It's pretty generic, that's for sure. "Lucky Town" is still one of his lesser works, but taken on its own terms, it's still a fine album.
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Postby Rspaight » Sun Mar 26, 2006 4:36 pm

That's pretty much what I'd decided -- I avoided both for a long time, then later realized that Lucky Town was actually a solid album.

Ryan
RQOTW: "I'll make sure that our future is defined not by the letters ACLU, but by the letters USA." -- Mitt Romney

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Postby Rspaight » Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:24 am

The documentary is worth watching once. It actually has Mike Appel in it, which surprised me. It's too long and obviously padded, however, with way too many minutes of talking heads praising Springsteen and the album instead of talking about making it.

My favorite bit: Max Weinberg admitting that he couldn't figure out the nifty syncopated drum fill that "Boom" Carter played on "Born To Run" (in the bridge a few seconds after "everlasting kiss") and so just leaves it out when he plays it live. I listened to the version on the 75-85 box, and sure enough, no fill at all in that spot.

Ryan
RQOTW: "I'll make sure that our future is defined not by the letters ACLU, but by the letters USA." -- Mitt Romney