Bruce Springsteen - vocals, guitar; Clarence Clemons - saxophone, vocals; Danny Federici - keyboard, accordion; Vini Lopez - drums, vocals; David Sancious - organ, piano, clavinet; Garry Tallent - bass, vocals, horn
Recorded just weeks after the release of his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., this historic opening set from Bruce Springsteen comes from a time when Bruce and the entire band could still (just barely) fit in one car. The E Street band, as Bruce's famous cast of backup musicians were called, came to encompass a particularly different and larger configuration, and the classic lineup from the mid-1970s only has two of the members from the backup band Springsteen plays with here.
Still, Bruce has always been The Boss, and this show is an unmistakable showcase of Springsteen and a very early configuration of his E Street Band. What makes this show particularly interesting and historical is that a few weeks earlier, Springsteen had actually been part of the very first King Biscuit Flower Hour, which was broadcast over three decades ago (February 18th, 1973). On that broadcast, Bruce only performed two songs and had to share the bill with Blood, Sweat & Tears and jazz-fusion pioneers, the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The unique and eclectic co-bill gained Springsteen enough exposure and positive response to warrant his own set on the soon-to-become popular radio series.
This show, recorded a month later, is the entire set that Springsteen performed as an opening act for Blood, Sweat & Tears in Berkeley, California. Apart from the debut King Biscuit recording, it is possibly the very first professional live recording of The Boss to surface. His Dylan-esque demeanor is very apparent, especially on the acoustic oriented material. Highlights include a very early version of "Blinded by the Light," a very fast-tempo take on "Does This Bus Stop At 82nd St?," and a passionate read of "Lost in the Flood," whose line, "Did ya hear that? His body hit the street with such a beautiful thud," remains one of the most visual lyrics in rock history.
Springsteen, of course, has gone on to become one of rock 'n' roll's greatest prophets, speaking to the working class masses as well as the musically enlightened, reaching enormous commercial and critical heights over the past 30 years. His 1975 album, Born To Run, secured him a place in rock's pantheon, and today he is credited as an influence to countless numbers of musicians.