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NEW ARCHIVE RELEASE: Los Angeles 1978

posted Jul 6, 2018, 9:16 AM by Brandon Thompson
We kind of had a hunch that this legendary show would be released today. Considering that the 40th anniversary of this show is tomorrow, it is indeed a fitting release and one that Springsteen fans are for sure going to want to pick up. The infamous Roxy show from 1978 is now available to download from Springsteen's online store

I'll post below a great summary of the show as reported on Backstreets.com:

In short order, Bruce Springsteen's July 7, 1978 show in Los Angeles became known simply by the place where it happened: The Roxy. Select concerts earn that distinction — Sinatra has the Sands, the Grateful Dead have Cornell, the Who have Leeds — but Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town tour has this one, the Agora, Passaic, Atlanta, and Winterland, too. 

That's because Springsteen marshalled the power of radio that year. Each of these broadcasts had its own vibe, setlist, and geographic reach. Amplified thousands of times over by tape trading and its bête noire, bootlegging, they helped raise his profile in the U.S. and attract new fans overseas, too. 

Previous Springsteen concerts had gone out over the airwaves — one in 1975 originated from the same Sunset Strip nightclub — but this, the first '78 radio performance, has shock appeal like no other. Taking the stage, Springsteen asked for lights, apologized for a messy ticketing situation, then offered the biggest understatement of his career: we're gonna do some rock 'n' roll for you.

Historian Clinton Heylin wrote that Jon Landau wanted something big for Los Angeles. The timeline afforded plenty of opportunity: Springsteen played the second of two shows in Berkeley on July 1, rocked the Forum on July 5, and wasn't due in Phoenix until July 8. Camped out in Los Angeles, he mixed live recordings from Berkeley and conducted interviews for both radio and television. The seven-minute segment with Channel 7's J.J. Jackson included footage from both sets at the Forum and likely stands as the first TV news interview Springsteen ever granted.

The date at the Roxy came together quickly, though there was enough time for a mention to appear in the Los Angeles Times. With demand for tickets far outstripping supply, an FM broadcast was bound to register as a bona fide event. Paired with the TV interview, the tour's radio debut became a de facto unveiling of the personae and structure that carried Springsteen and the E Street Band at least through Born in the U.S.A., forged in the aftermath of alleged hype, litigation with his first manager, and the death of Elvis Presley.

Buddy Holly was very much alive that summer, in spirit anyway: Springsteen had taken in a showing of The Buddy Holly Story that week, jammed with the actor Gary Busey (who portrayed the young singer in the film), and at some point worked up a spot-on take of "Rave On" with the E Street Band, with which Holly had a hit in 1958. Debuted at the Roxy, it remains one of their more audacious and memorable starts: in an instant, they just took off, making good on the promise of rock 'n' roll, stated or otherwise. By the end of the first set, when Springsteen paired "Racing in the Street" with "Thunder Road," he'd hedged his bet on innocence, telling of a sign he'd seen in the desert West that read, "This is a land of peace, love, justice, and no mercy."

Springsteen and the E Street Band played 25 songs that night, nine of which, like "Rave On," were unreleased or previously unplayed, including the first public airings of "Point Blank" and "Independence Day." The entirety sounded monumental, yet it wasn't out of the ordinary for that tour, whether "Prove It All Night" with the instrumental beginning or a fiery "Adam Raised a Cain." And Springsteen invoked Presley in the second set: when tuning proved too lengthy a proposition, he dispatched the Esquire and summoned the King, delivering a knockout cover of "Heartbreak Hotel."

That was a moment where hard work paid off. Already steeped and practiced in music, Springsteen sounded equally adroit in the art of radio. Between songs, he essentially called on listeners to imagine what it was he was doing. The best example came early, when the band didn't fire at the beginning of "Spirit in the Night." Springsteen turned that miscue ("now wait a minute — see, when I do this… let me do it again… this is what's supposed to happen!") into a make-believe moment for everyone tuned in at home or in the car.

For most fans, today's release supplants tapes made from the KMET signal; Springsteen began the second set by instructing bootleggers to "roll your tapes!" They did just that, yielding titles like Hands Toward the Sky and Roxy Night; in 2013, the file-sharing era upgrade Out There in Radioland, sourced from first-generation quarter-inch reels recorded at 7½ inches-per-second, superseded most if not all cassette captures. Officially, Springsteen himself called on nine selections from this performance for his Live/1975-'85 retrospective, making it the single biggest source for the box set and its attendant B-sides.

This archival version coincides with the 40th anniversary of the broadcast and corrects many flaws, be it the occasional dropout, station ID, or the noise of telephone traffic as the sound traveled from the Roxy to KMET. It restores a notorious Live set edit, which excised the "Drive All Night"/"Sad Eyes" interlude in "Backstreets." Whether that served commercial, technical, or creative demands in 1986, it raised eyebrows and more than a few howls.

Fans invariably will compare The Roxy July 7, 1978 with the Live/1975-'85 set, one that Springsteen and his team of producers spent months assembling. Then, the Roxy material had to conform to a big '80s sound that framed the majority of the LPs' 40 tracks. Today, it only has to sound like we remember it: after 40 years of listening to what came over the air (or to recordings that arrived later) that's a heavy proposition, compounded by time and countless plays back. But if any set of music is up to that challenge, it's this one. - Jonathan Point reporting (Backstreets.com)



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