Tuesday, 28 March 2017

"Born To Run: 30th Anniversary Edition" by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN feat Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici, Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg, Miami Steve Van Zandt, David Sancious and Nils Lofgren (November 2005 Columbia CD+DVD Reissue - Bob Ludwig Remaster)

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"…An Opera Out On The Turnpike…"

Fancy hearing "Born To Run" with strings and a girly backing accompaniment - or Take 16 the album finisher "Jungleland" with a Springsteen guitar solo instead of Clarence Clemons' famous saxophone break? Well on this wonderful yet frustrating release - you can and you can't. Why is this?

It doesn't take a particular genius to work out from the track list on Disc 3 below (the actual album) that 'zero' amounts of outtakes or alternate versions have been made available to listen to as a 'separate audio track'. This is because the decision has been made to 'integrate' them into the footage of the 90-minute "Wings For Wheels" documentary - and I'd argue that in some ways this 30th Anniversary Edition is a better fan experience for it (others may disagree). But before we get into fisticuffs - let's get to the big-rimmed hats, sneakers hanging out of guitars and a 24-year old New Jersey boy's stab at romance...

Released November 2005 - "Born To Run 30th Anniversary Edition" by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E-STREET BAND on Columbia 82876 75589 2 (Euro Version) breaks down as follows:

Disc 1, DVD, "Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band - Hammersmith Odeon, London 1975":
Never before seen - over two-hours of live footage from the legendary concert in the UK recorded at the height of the Times and Newsweek covers hype ("London is finally ready for Bruce Springsteen" the posters boomed). Digitally restored from the original negatives and remixed in both Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound...

1. Thunder Road
2. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
3. Spirit In The Night
4. Lost In The Flood
5. She's The One
6. Born To Run
7. The E-Street Shuffle
8. It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City
9. Backstreets
10. Jungleland
11. Rosalita  (Come Out Tonight)
12. 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
13. Detroit Medley: For You / Quarter To Three

Disc 2, DVD, "Wings For Wheels: The Making Of Born To Run":
A 90-minute documentary film by THOM ZINNY on Thrill Hill Productions - includes indepth interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons (Saxophone), David Sancious (original keyboard player - on the "Born To Run" track), Ernest "Boom" Carter (original Drummer with the band - on the "Born To Run" track), Miami Steve Van Zandt (Guitarist), Roy Bittan (Piano, Fender Rhodes, Glockenspiel), Garry Tallent (Bass), Danny Federici (Organ), Max Weinberg (Drummer) Nils Lofgren (present Guitarist with The E-Street Band), Mike Appel and Jon Landau (Managers) and Jimmy Iovine (Producer of the album).

Bonus Features include:
Live at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles 1973 - Spirit In The Night, Wild Billy's Circus Story and Thundercrack

Disc 3, CD, 39:29 minutes:
1. Thunder Road
2. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
3. Night
4. Backstreets
5. Born To Run [Side 2]
6. She's the One
7. Meeting Across The River
8. Jungleland
Tracks 1 to 8 are the album "Born To Run" - released August 1975 in the USA on Columbia PC 33795 and CBS Records S 69170 in the UK

The long box set has 3 gatefold card sleeves inside (hollows) and a 48-page booklet with previously unreleased photos and a short set of lead notes from Bruce about the recording and how it changed his life and career and the lives of those around him. It's all very tastefully done - but there are real fireworks in the audio transfer and remaster of the material...

Digitally Remastered to stunning effect by BOB LUDWIG - the moment the beautiful opening piano of "Thunder Road" hits your speakers accompanied shortly after by his lead vocals - the warmth and clarity is fabulous. This disc leaves all those Eighties crap issues in the dust. Even better is "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" with the brilliant and street-funky Brecker Brothers Saxophones simply flooring you. To this day Bruce admits he doesn't know what the titles means and the documentary also reveals that after months of in-studio deliberation the key parts were arranged by cheeky Miami Steve on a whim. When it continues with "Night" and "Backstreets" you also begin to notice more ROY BITTAN whose musical flourishes on the keyboards contributed so much to every song. Bruce now says that "Born To Run" the album was 'all' written on the piano and not the guitar - and that's why most songs have big intros - setting the scene - sort of mini operas. There is hiss on "She's The One" and "Backstreets" but its not too much to distract. The density of "Born To Run" now seems opened up somehow, the sparseness of "Meeting Across The River" is eerie and the "Jungleland" finisher is massively improved. A superb job done by everyone involved.

The documentary is a masterclass in editing - old photographs, concert footage from the time, actual in the studio black and white film with Bruce and Iovine going at it over sound and mixes and not getting what he wants. It's interspersed with Bruce in 2005 on the piano (great versions of the songs), driving around in his car, in discussion with Jon Landau at mixing desks, shots of the actual master tapes, Columbia promo material, outtakes from the album cover....it’s really deep and brilliantly laid out. The concert is incredible too - tearing into lesser-heard stuff like "Lost In The Flood" and the Gary US Bonds covers that bring the set to a storming Rock 'n' Roll close.

Will we one day get those audio outtakes on a CD - another Anniversary issue probably. But for the moment - in 2014 - this 3-disc set is surprising cheap and a fitting tribute to the past and future of Rock 'n' Roll... 

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