Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 (2CD)
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75 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2006
In 1975, the weight of the world was on young Bruce Springsteen's shoulders when he and the E Street Band headed for London for the very first time. Constant touring and rave reviews hadn't translated into record sales and his label, which had taken a gamble on him when they signed him in the first place, was about to dump him. Worse, every night he had to face skeptical crowds who wanted to see why critics kept calling this young ruffian from New Jersey "the future of rock and roll." Such was the case in 1975 when they walked out on the stage at the Hammersmith Odeon.

With everything on the line, Bruce and the boys played like they had nothing to lose. They were lean, young, and hungry. They played with heart. They played with passion. They played with urgency. And, on this night, they were untouchable. This CD captures that show in its entirety (a DVD of the show is included in the 30th Anniversary box set of Born To Run).

Few bands can match the versatility that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band display here. Witness the opening tender, wide-eyed rendition of "Thunder Road" followed by a feisty, swaggering version of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out." Or "She's The One" which goes from a slow simmer to a full boil in a mere five minutes. Or "Born To Run," which Bruce plays with all of the blue-collar grit and youthful defiance that would later make the song a classic. Or how 'bout the "Detroit Medley," in which the band absolutely ROARS through Mitch Ryder's "Devil With A Blue Dress On," "Good Golly Miss Molly," and "Jenny Take a Ride"? He follows THAT with a heartbreaking reading of "For You" before revving things up again, ramrodding through a rollicking version of Gary U.S. Bonds' "Quarter To Three." Are you KIDDING me?

I didn't even mention the absolute insanity of the 17+ minute version of "Kitty's Back," in which Bruce and the guys go out of their freaking minds, did I? Heck, I didn't even mention "Jungleland," my favorite song in the entire Springsteen catalog. No, I didn't mention most of the songs here, because I want you to experience this show for yourself. PLEASE -- do yourself a favor and BUY THIS CD NOW! You won't regret it, I promise.

(By the way, some other reviewers were wondering about the absence of "Pretty Flamingo" from this CD. This show is from November 18, 1975 -- their first show in London. They played a second show at Hammersmith Odeon on November 24, 1975 and THAT was the show that contained "Pretty Flamingo." By most accounts, the second show was even better than the first, if you can imagine that, as Bruce performed 22 songs in nearly three hours.)
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon February 28, 2006
When Bruce Springsteen performed this concert in 1975, he wasn't a rock superstar, but he was on the cusp of becoming one. Long renowned as a live act and a critic's fave, he had yet to match that prowess on the charts and was in danger of being dropped by Columbia. Born To Run changed that and he became a phenomenon landing on the covers of Time & Newsweek simultaneously. This show at the Hammersmith Odeon has long been a favorite of bootleggers and this version superbly remastered for a fantastic sound. Unlike many live albums, this is not a compilation of performances from various shows, but a complete show as it was originally performed. The performance captures what it must have been like to see the E Street Band in its glory days. From the opening with a subtle "Thunder Road" that spills into a fiery "Tenth Avenue Freezeout" and continues into a free form jazzy "Spirit In The Night" you see three unique and distinct aspect of this versatile band. Lost In The Flood" has a burning intensity while "She's The One" has a slow build into a rollicking, rootsy rocker. "Born To Run" was not yet the anthem it was to become thus it was played early on in the set. "The E Street Shuffle" is virtually unrecognizable from the album version. It is slowed down to shuffling Jersey soul beat and throws in verses from Sam Cooke's "Havin' A Party". It is a great example of how Mr. Springsteen reinvents many of his songs for his concerts thus not just recreating album versions on stage. "It's So Hard To Be A Saint In The City" has a gritty, street-smart vibe and "Backstreets" has a mournful tone. "Kitty's Back" also has a jazzy feel and in this version the band pays homage to an influence of theirs, Van Morrison by including snippets of his "Moondance". "Jungleland" is played with laser sharp focus and practically burns up the disk while "Rosalita" balances off the intensity with a light-hearted, feel good mood. "4th Of July, Asbury Park" is played with a rustic charm that transports one to boardwalk on a summer night and the infamous "Detroit Medley" is a soul rave-up that the band gives a real workout on. They charge straight into a killer version "For You" before ending the show with a faithful take on "Quarter To Three". Hopefully this album will spur Mr. Springsteen to start releasing other concerts much like the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers. All Springsteen fans would rejoice.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2006
My first serious exposure to Bruce Springsteen was with Live 1975-85. While that set still remains my favorite Springsteen album (and favorite album of all time), I now understand the frustrations among longtime fans about its limitations and flaws. While many of the indivdiual tracks might be definitive versions of that particular song, it doesn't really succeed in capturing one of Bruce's shows, and there's precious little material from the 1975 that appears in the title. It seems like a huge waste that it took nearly 30 years into his career for Springsteen to release a full, unedited concert on CD (there's the fine Barcelona DVD, but the audio for that has never been released as of this writing). And so the inclusion of the video of this concert on the remastered Born to Run set was huge news for Springsteen fans, most of whom will take live material in any form we can get. And now we have it on CD in pristine sound. I know a lot of people see this release as unnecessary, but I am glad to have it in this format since I don't have the knowledge or the desire to rip the audio from the DVD.

As I said, I started listening to Springsteen immediately after the height of the Born in the USA days. I hadn't heard many live recordings from before the Darkness tour, so I wasn't really familiar with Bruce's sound prior to 1978. And honestly, I didn't really care for his vocals from anything recorded- live or stuido- in the 1970s. Too much Jersey street punk schtick, and it sounded like he was trying to deepen his voice by singing from the back of his throat. I generally considered Bruce to be at his vocal peak during the 80s, between "The River" and "Tunnel of Love". However, this concert overcomes any vocal limitations that Bruce may have had back then. This is Bruce and the E Street Band at their absolute finest. It's certainly different than the polished stadium rock sound or the twangy acoustic tone that he's taken on in the past twenty years. The band is leaner- no "wall of sound" from the past two E St Band tours where you have to wonder if a little fat could be trimmed- and the tempos are much faster. This is almost garage rock, with an emphasis on guitar and piano. Bruce also has a jazzier, bluesier sound, such as the harmonica opening for "She's the One", the Van Morrisonish "E Street Shuffle" and the extended jam of "Kitty's Back". Some songs like "Backstreets" and "Jungleland" haven't changed much over the years, but others like "Tenth Ave. Freezeout" and "Born to Run" sound considerably different. You get to hear these classics when they sounded fresh and before they had become the cherished but sometimes bloated anthems that we're used to. And we finally get to hear classic covers like the Detroit Medley (also available on the "No Nukes" soundtrack) and on "Quarter to Three").

So while I still prefer the era of Springsteen from the 80s on, this is an essential addition to his catalog. The only problem is that it adds to your frustration that there aren't more releases like it. We need similar sets for every tour he's ever done. Live 75-85 is still a classic, but it can't substitute for complete, unedited versions of his concerts. And given Bruce's frustrating tendency to focus his recent tours mostly in the Northeast part of the US, live releases like this are a nice concession for those of us who don't have access to 50 shows within a hundred miles of one another.

And regarding criticisms that this is an unnecessary release- I can't argue with that, but the easy answer is to just not buy it if you don't feel you need the audio from a DVD that you already own. There's nothing on here that isn't on the DVD- it's not like 18 Tracks where Bruce tacked on some extra songs to entice those of us who had already bought the full boxset. I'm glad that Bruce is finally loosening up and releasing a good combination of vault and new material- between April of 2005 with the release of Devils and Dust, and April 2006 with the Seeger Sessions, we will have had 5 releases from Springsteen in one year. We're all (hopefully) capable adults who can pick and choose what we want to buy and what we can skip. But if you're a Springsteen fan or someone who appreciates great music in general, DO NOT skip this concert in at least one of its forms.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Had this album been released back in 1975 or 1976, this very well might have been as significant as, say, Kiss "Alive" or the Who's "Live At Leeds."

In the first case, THAT album brought a worldwide audience to a group with only three previous, poor-to-average sales. This would have done the same.

As in the second case, it demonstrates a whole new, but unbelievably powerful side to a performer mostly known for their studio work.

Simply put, this album shows that Bruce and The E Street Band were easily among the best live performers of the day. And now, thirty years on, it shows that they're amongst the best ever.

There is energy here that would shame the most hyperactive punk rocker.

There is musicianship here that would impress any elitist jazz critic.

There is drama here that would astonish any modern day film student. Yes, film. These performances play in your head like film. They're vivid, detailed. They have plot and characters. There's suspense and comedy.

This is the real deal, the whole magillah. This is an unbelievably satisfying listening experience.

The best thing about the record, besides the fact that such a well recorded document from such a legendary show even exists, is that we Bruce fans can hear the band tear through songs from the "Born To Run" album like we've never heard them before.

"Born To Run" is not a career highpoint yet, it's a call to arms.

My God..."She's The One" is a hurtling freight train, out of control; loud, fast and loose. It's thrilling.

The band isn't playing songs they've played a thousand times before. They are finding their way through new sounds and tempos and textures. All that creative energy comes RIGHT through your speakers.

Listen to Clarence's sax breaks...they're fresh and explosive.

Listen to Roy Bittan's piano...masterful chord works with finger-knotting flourishes.

Hear Miami Steve wailing along, dueling with the Boss himself on call-and-response guitar solos as if the two of them are facing off in an alley with knives in a gangfight.

Has Max Weinberg ever been as clean and crisp, yet at the same time thundering like no other?

The set list is a dream. Getting the Detroit medley and a rollicking "Quarter to Three" to end the show is a treat for rock fans, not just Bruce fans. "Thunder Road" regains its' poetry. "Jungleland" retains its' epic, widescreen quality. "Rosalita" remains a full-on party, as does an early-in-the-show "Tenth Avenue."

I think it's fine that this is available on video AND audio. I will probably listen to this more than I will re-visit the DVD, but they are BOTH nice to have.

And for a pathologic Bruce fan like myself, essential.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
(I meant to give 5 stars... now it won't let me correct that.)

There are some particular rock moments in time that have taken theor place in the pantheon of rock history, and which finally in recent years are becoming more and more available. Bob Dylan's "Judas" show in Manchester, England in May, 1966 is a prime example of those. Bruce Springsteen's show in London in November, 1975 is another one, and this show now is finally available on CD. This is the soundtrack to the DVD that was included in the "Born to Run" 30th Anniversary Edition release from last Fall.

"Hammersmith Odeon, London '75" (2CDs, 16 tracks, 125 min.) brings the Novmber 18, 1975 show in its entirety. Obviously the focus is on the then-just released "Born to Run" album (all but one of its tracks are performed). The highlights are many, but for me personally they include "Spirit in the Night", a 12+ min. "E Street Shuffle" (with a snippet from Sam Cooke's "Having a Party"), a truly epic "Kitty's Back" (with a wink to Van Morrison's "Moondance"), "Rosalita", and "Detroit Medley". You can feel the intensity and fervor of the band's playing throughout the entire set.

The remastered sound is nothing short of spectecular. What really amazes me is that, as Springsteen writes in the album's liner notes, he had been sitting on these tapes for almost 30 years and he had not listened to them at all untill the end of the "Rising" tour. Wow... In any event, the release of this fabulous and historic show has long been overdue. There is no excuse not to buy this, whether you are a Spingsteen fan or whether you just appreciate standout music.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2006
I was at this legendary show and to this day clearly remember it as the most exciting Springsteen concert I've seen (and I've seen all his UK shows). Mainly because he was such an unknown quantity then and had yet to become the international stadium superstar. The album's sound quality is A1 and took me back to that November night when the little (next to Clarence) 27-year-old guy in the big woolly hat and baggy pants redefined what a live rock performance should entail (perfect musicianship mixed with a 'last chance power ride)'. I've never lost the memory of the change in pace from the frenzied Mitch Ryder medley to Bruce taking the stage alone to accompany himself on piano for the plaintive "For You". The atmosphere is captured perfectly on this album. Hard to believe for years Springsteen judged his incredible first night Hammersmith performance as one of his worst (mainly because he hated the record company hype that night). Nice to see in his liner notes that he acknowledges how wrong he was! I never saw Dylan at the famous "Judas" concert in 1966. But Bruce at Hammersmith in November 1975 will do just fine.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2006
Let me start by stating that this is one of the finest Live albums I have ever heard, comparable to the Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East. It's stunning to me that it was lost and never released. To this day Bruce and the E-Street Band remain tight professionals who can carry an arena or stadium as few can. But this, this is simply stunning. The raw passion and intensity behind both Springsteen's vocals and the band's jazz like jamming is just something I have never heard out of Sprinsteen. There are moments on this album that simply bring a smile to your face as you say to yourself can they have been this good. Some moments like the remarkably intense "Lost in the Flood" or the unreal Spirit in the Night make you want to start clapping as you are listening to it. Like the Allman Brothers and certain other bands, the E-Street Band in 1975 makes you understand how ridiculous all the bombast or tongue wagging or faux metal licks really are. It's about the groove, the passion and the soul. Ironically, while Born to Run is by far Sprinsteen's greatest album, I find the best performances on this album are the earlier songs, the jazzy Kitty's Back, the funky "Hard to be a Saint in the City", the simply relentless Rosalita. But there is not one bad track on this album. If you don't like this concert, you simply do not like rock music.

Had Bruce released this in the 70's it would, without question be considered one of rock's finest live releases. Perhaps Springsteen's younger fans will not understand the difference between theater Bruce and stadium Bruce, but any older fan of rock music will know. Buy this album immediately.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2006
Well, is it? There are other contenders always mentioned (eg James Brown Live At The Apollo) but for me this has to be it. No other artist gives me that lump in the throat meeting full adrenalin rush. I was there at the show. It was a night that changed my life and made me look at music and performance in a totally different way. I seem to remember Bruce and the band being introduced but this was edited out of the dvd and cd. It would have been nice to have it included but it's not really important. What is important is the music. I was in such a daze after the show. I remember thinking that I wish he'd played Saint In The City. Well of course he did as you can hear on this magnicent cd. The energy and passion just leaps up at you. Put this into perspective. Bruce as has been noted by another reviewer was not a superstar then. Who else was doing stuff like this then? Nobody. Who performed like this? Nobody. And 30 years later who is still out there and performing better than anyone? You know it. Play this loud and you can imagine you were there.

This is the greatest live album of all time!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2006
1. Buy this album...NOW

2. Do not look at the track listing.

3. Put the album on you stereo.

4. Raise volume to max.

5. Sit (if you can) and enjoy.

Listening to this album as it was performed 30 years ago will make you never want to listen to anything else ever again. Every record you have ever heard will sound cheap compared to this. Any band that has ever performed, whether they know it or not, was trying to sound like this. Songs that are now classics sound new and fresh on this recording. Listening to this concert will make you happy you are alive. No joke.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2006
This release could easily be construed as a cynical grab for cash coming so soon after the DVD of the same show was released as part of the 30th anniverary Born to Run box set.

That aside the fact that we have a release from this previously (commercially)unmined period of Springsteen's live career is cause for celebration.

Springsteen is one of the most bootlegged artists going around and this particular show has been circulated on numerous occasions. Few versions however can match this one for quality. Taken directly from the mastering and mixing efforts of Bob Ludwig and Clearmountain that featured on the DVD it has a crisp sound that captures the historic debut performance of Springsteen and the E Street band in London.

As for the show itself it is a classic.

Bruce arrived in town less than pleased about the media hype and backlash that came with the release of Born to Run. Pre-show he was tearing down his own flyers in disgust. This translated into a high energy show that, lets be honest, is typical of most every Springsteen show.

The artwork is virtually a retread of what came with the DVD which is a little disappointing and features the same liner notes written by Springsteen as well.

So it's nothing new. That's not the point. If it sells there is incentive for Bruce and the record company to continue to mine the rich vault of live performances and provide us with furure releases. Can you say "Springsteen:the live bootleg series"?

Don't buy it for Bruce....don't buy it for Sony.....buy it for yourself.
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