Finally we have one of Bruce Springteen’s fantastic 1978 live recordings receiving an official, authorised release.
1978/08/09 Cleveland Ohio is a live album by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band performing at the Agora and which is sold through live.brucespringsteen.net.
This concert was originally broadcast on the radio and has been a very popular bootleg. It was also released unofficially through the loophole in the European Union copyright laws a few months ago – see Bruce Springsteen Agora Ballroom 1978.
Ignore everything else, this is the REAL DEAL!
Background To The Cleveland Release
Toby Scott found the seven Agora tape reels in a box that had been returned from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame. A comparison to other recordings of this concert showed that this had the best sound and could even be the original master tapes. These have since been cleaned up and the sound quality is terrific.
It is available as a digital download in varying qualities and also as physical CDs
Overall Rating For Bruce Springsteen Live At The Agora, Cleveland on 08/09/1978 – 29/30
I believe that this is one of the finest live recordings ever made available legally.
If it has been released close to the time or recording, I believe that this would be generally recognised as one of the greatest live albums along with The Who Live At Leeds , The Rolling Stones Brussels Affair 1973 and other classics.
Set List – Rating 9/10
It seems strange to only give this album 9/10 for this set but I’ll explain in a moment. This is incredibly harsh and whilst this is one of the greatest live recordings ever released, it is not perfect and therefore doesn’t deserve my full rating of 30/30.
First the songs that were played:
Set One – CD 1
- Summertime Blues – 3:20
- Badlands – 4:46 (originally on the studio album Darkness On The Edge Of Town)
- Spirit In The Night – 8:04 (Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.)
- Darkness On The Edge Of Town – 5:36 (Darkness On The Edge Of Town)
- Factory – 3:22 (Darkness On The Edge Of Town)
- The Promised Land – 6:00 (Darkness On The Edge Of Town)
- Prove It All Night – 11:49 (Darkness On The Edge Of Town)
- Racing in the Street – 8:58 (Darkness On The Edge Of Town)
- Thunder Road – 6:44 (Born To Run)
- Jungleland – 10:18 (Born To Run)
Set Two – CD 2
- Paradise By The “C” – 4:04
- Fire – 3:06
- Sherry Darling – 6:12 (later appeared on The River)
- Not Fade Away – Gloria – She’s The One – 14:53 (two covers plus a song from Born To Run)
- Growin’ Up – 13:02 (Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.)
- Backstreets – 14:02 (Born To Run)
- Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) – 12:51 (The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle)
Encores – CD 3
- 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) – 8:44 (The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle)
- Born to Run – 6:09 (Born To Run)
- Because the Night – 8:12
- Raise Your Hand – 6:37
- Twist and Shout – 7:24
By this stage Springsteen had released three terrific studio albums in The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town but the number of covers and unreleased songs means that there are many great songs that are excluded.
We are missing:
- 5 of the 7 songs from The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle – The E Street Shuffle, Kitty’s Back, Wild Billy’s Circus Story, Incident on 57th Street and New York City Serenade
- 3 of the 8 songs from Born To Run – Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Night and Meeting Across The River
- 4 of the 10 songs from Darkness On The Edge Of Town – Adam Raised A Cain, Something In The Night, Candy’s Room and Streets Of Fire.
I realise that I am being super-picky but I think some of these are serious gaps and in my opinion, Springsteen played some concerts with better set lists in 1978.
I believe that there is a better 1978 concert still in the archives and since I can’t fault the performance or authenticity, I have to knock a mark off on the set list.
Performance – Rating 10/10
Performing on the album are:
Bruce Springsteen – lead vocals, guitar
Clarence Clemons – saxophone, vocals
Roy Bittan – piano, vocals
Danny Federici – organ
Steve Van Zandt – rhythm guitar, vocals
Garry Tallent – bass guitar
Max Weinberg – drums
At this stage in 1978, the E-Street Band were probably the hottest, tightest performing group around and they prove it here. I also think it represents the peak time for the band.
The fluency, contrast and combination of sounds that the variety of instruments makes is outstanding. Often a band only has one lead instrument to carry each song and that means that the songs sound very similar but here you have the guitars dominating one track (or part of the track) and then the sax and then the piano or organ.
The songs are extended and in the majority of cases exceed the original studio versions.
Atmosphere & Authenticity – Rating 10/10
You can’t get better than catching one hot night for creating the “I wish I was there” feeling that all great live albums should give you.
The crowd is very enthusiastic and Bruce’s comments and song introductions are left in full.
The sound quality is generally excellent with each instrument coming very clearly.
Overall Rating – 29/30
If you like early Springsteen, you need this album.
I have no doubt that a 1978 concert recording or tour compilation should have been released 35 years ago. This is Springsteen and the E-Street Band at the very top of their game.
It makes an excellent companion to Hammersmith Odeon 75. It’s not a case of get one or the other, get both.
Will we get more 1978 concerts released by Springsteen? I hope so. I think four other nights were broadcast on the radio – Passaic NJ, Winterland in San Francisco, the Roxy in LA and Atlanta.
I’d also like to have a recording from the tour promoting The River in 1980/81. It’s past the peak but the album does have some very good songs that will benefit from being played live. (Update – we now have the Uniondale 1980 concert)
Buying Bruce Springsteen 1978/08/09 Cleveland Ohio
It is sold through live.brucespringsteen.net.
I found the transaction to be very easy and smooth. I did however fail the test to download the album in its entirety and instead, had to download each track individually.
What Are The Best Bruce Springsteen Live Albums?
The Springsteen best live albums poll has already received a lot of votes but I expect this to rise steadily as new voters have the chance to share their opinion.
What Are The Best Live Albums Ever?
Bruce Springsteen is too rocky for the singer-songwriters category so I include him in the classic rock poll. I’ve added this live recording to the Live 1975/85 and Hammersmith Odeon 75 albums that are already getting votes.
I think it’s ridiculous that Frampton Comes Alive is at the very top of this poll at the time of writing in January 2015 but that’s what the voters say.