The Fox (JEMS & Slowburn)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

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MP3 (.RAR)

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Available Until 01.07.2012

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  • Brucebase Info (30.09.1978)

Regional live FM broadcast simulcast by about twenty radio stations throughout the south-eastern United States. This was a make-up show that had originally been slated for July 23, but which had been postponed (along with three others) due to Bruce coming down with a throat infection. On the audio Bruce can be heard apologizing for being sick and missing the original date. Excellent radio broadcast released on CD 'Fox Theatre Presents The Boss' (PPL), 'Here's To Ya, Pts 1, 2 & 3' (Turtle Records) and in best quality as 'Same Old Played Out Scenes' (Doberman). In August 2011 a pre-FM recording titled 'The Fox' (JEMS) emerged - a major upgrade over the FM broadcasts. Unfortunately this recording is incomplete, missing the encores, around six minutes of "Prove It All Night", and the start of "Racing In The Street". On the flip-side "Backstreets" is now complete, and several spoken segments are no longer missing. The quality of this recording is peerless, and an essential listen. This upgrade is also available on three-CD set 'The Definitive Atlanta' from Masterpiece Records and 'Everybody's Rockin' Tonight' from Godfather. The gig contains the only known Springsteen performance of James Brown's “Night Train” (while the stage is cleared of the fake snow that fell during "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town"), and stand-out renditions of "Independence Day" and "Backstreets". Thanks to Robert for details.

 
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The Fox

JEMS & SLOWBURN

 

30.09.1978 - Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA

 
Disc 1

01. Good Rockin' Tonight
02. Badlands
03. Spirit in the Night
04. Darkness on the Edge of Town
05. Independence Day
06. The Promised Land
07. Prove It All Night
08. Racing in the Street
09. Thunder Road
10. Jungleland

Disc 2

01. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
02. Night Train
03. Fire
04. Candy's Room
05. Because the Night
06. Point Blank
07. Not Fade Away / Gloria / She's the One
08. Backstreets / Sad Eyes

Disc 3

01. Rosalita
02. Born to Run
03. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
04. Detroit Medley
05. Raise Your Hand

 
Notes:

Without question, a significant factor in what makes the Darkness tour Bruce's greatest in the minds of many is the series of live FM broadcasts he did from July to December 1978.

These sublime broadcasts reached listeners who had only heard tales of how good Bruce and the band were in concert and now they could hear it for themselves. Those who were already fans considered the Agora or Winterland wonderful gifts and surely hundreds if not thousands recorded them off the radio as they happened and played them again and again like the rest of us because they sounded so good. For an entire generation of fans, the Darkness tour broadcasts were the catalyst to deeper devotion, especially in Europe.

That's because those off-air recordings provided the source tapes for major bootleg releases like Piece De Resistance (9/19/78) and Live in the Promised Land (12/15/78). It has been suggested that as many as 50,000 copies were sold of the three-LP Piece. And there's a plausible, long-standing theory that Springsteen's fanbase in Europe was ignited by these bootlegs. Remember, in 1978 Springsteen didn't tour Europe (it would be another three years before that happened), and he played a mere four shows there in 1975. For fans starved for Springsteen in England, Italy, Sweden or Germany, the Darkness tour bootlegs confirmed the legend and expanded the base.

And while The Roxy, The Agora, Passaic and Winterland have become so iconic as to be treated as proper nouns, there were five radio broadcasts in 1978, not just four.  So why isn't The Fox another capitalized term in the Springsteeen Dictionary?

September 30, 1978, a mere 11 days after the Passaic broadcast blasted out of radios throughout the northeast, the E Street Band rolled into the Fox Theater in Atlanta for the first of two shows (rescheduled from July after Bruce came down with a throat infection) that marked the end of the first long leg of the Darkness tour. Night one was broadcast live across the southeast on 20 or so radio stations according to the indispensable Brucebase Wiki.

As legend has it, on the night of September 30, storms rolled across the region and the bad weather is blamed for reception problems with the radio broadcast. Unlike Passaic where masses recorded, it seems but a few folks in the south had their tape decks rolling as Bruce took the stage at the Fox, and tapes of Atlanta have never been as good as the other four '78 broadcasts.

The best bootleg source to date, Same Old Played Out Scenes (Doberman), describes the recording problems in its liner notes: "major reception problems and resulting sound defects for most people recording [are] the principle [sic] reason why this concert has become something of a rarity on unofficial releases over the years as the sound quality was just not as good as the other [broadcasts]." So much so that the Atlanta show never even made it to bootleg vinyl, which is amazing when you consider how widely bootlegged the other four shows were.

Same Old Played Out Scenes itself is a composite of "four different source tapes," per the liners, "with the great bulk of the material taken from a previous CD release called Here's To Ya, which remains, as far as we know, the best sound quality source tape of this concert, though with certain songs that were either edited or suffer major disruption replaced by the best possible alternate recording."

 

Isn't this the point in the notes where I write "until now"?

 

Earlier this year, JEMS acquired several tapes from a kind and generous soul who, while not a collector, had a number of interesting recordings land in his lap back in the day. The tapes had not been played in more than three decades. In the box were two cassettes of the Atlanta show. As luck would have it, they weren't merely an upgrade of the broadcast but a pre-FM recording of the show dubbed from 15 IPS reels.

The sound quality of the pre-FM source is truly first rate, lacking the heavy compression of the over-the-air broadcast and boasting much wider stereo separation than any extant FM source. The pre-FM also corrects most of the speed issues with the previous bootlegs. And we do pick up some previously missing audio bits. These includes a few sentences spoken by Bruce before "Santa Claus" and, more significantly, the 40 or so seconds that were missing from the start of "Backstreets" plus some band member intros after that song. That being said, the cassettes were in less-than-ideal condition and required re-shelling and baking for playback. Experienced ears might pick up on very minor fluctuations (e.g. on the tape flips) that couldn't be corrected.

 

In short, what we do have sounds awesome. However, because it is Atlanta, we're still snake bit. The pre-FM source is missing the entire encore (presumably a lost third cassette, and yes, we've asked if it might be hiding behind dresser or something), needs a long patch (6+ minutes) from halfway through "Prove It All Night" through the start of "Racing in the Street" (we had hoped tape baking would fix this damaged part but it didn't), plus a tiny patch at the very end of "Because the Night."

But even that bad news has a silver lining, as JEMS also found--gathering dust in its own archive--a 7-1/2 IPS reel to reel of the full broadcast from WINZ-FM Miami that we feel is superior to what's found on Same Old Played Out Scenes, having a more natural, less processed and compressed sound. This new reel was used to patch the longer missing bits (e.g. the "Prove It" to "Racing" chunk noted above) in the pre-FM and provide the encore.

The only material flaw in the WINZ source are a few short (one second or less) dropouts in "Raise Your Hand" that, while unfortunate, aren't particularly annoying, they're just there. After experimenting with using SOPOS to patch the dropouts, we decided that the "repaired" version sounded worse than the original as the gaps are so short, the change in sources is jarring. So we've left "Raise Your Hand" from the WINZ tape intact, with dropouts, but also included an extra file of "Raise Your Hand" with no dropouts from Same Old Played Out Scenes. You can choose which you prefer.

The end result is not perfect, but it is 100% complete, for the first time ever, and it is the best-sounding Fox Theater recording by a wide margin, especially the 85% of the show that's now pre-FM, including the show's one-off cover of James Brown's "Night Train." Brown grew up in Georgia which would explain this inspired cover choice. Bruce and the band perform the instrumental complete with a James Brown-style intro and we can only presume what dance moves he gave the crowd during this one.

The fresh, azimuth-adjusted transfer of both sources was done last month and JEMS' longtime colleague Slowburn handled the patching and prepping which was a lot of work so kudos to him too. Samples provided. We hope you enjoy the latest in our on-going upgrade series.

 

So here is The Fox, finally ready to take it's rightful place in Springsteen bootleg history.

 

- Wayne "Night Train" Darlington

 

 

'Remastering' information:

 

A JEMS Archive Upgrade in association with Slowburn

 

Source 1: 1st generation Pre-FM cassettes ; Cassette Transfer: Nakamichi CR-7A (azimuth adjusted) --> Sound Devices USBPre2 audio interface (24/96) --> Audacity 1.3 capture

 

Source 2: 1st generation WINZ-FM broadcast recorded on reel to reel at 7-1/2 IPS ; Reel Transfer: Otari 5050 mk2 --> Sound Devices USBPre2 audio interface (24/96) --> Audacity 1.3 capture

 

The two sources were edited together in Adobe Audition 3.0 multitrack at 24/96. Converted to 16/44 for this release. Traders Little Helper used to convert to FLAC. There is no mixing of the sources. What you hear is Source 1 with the exceptions noted below.

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