Skip to main content

Reply to "Official Audience Tapes"


Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
featuring the Miami Horns
Richfield Coliseum
Richfield, OH
February 17, 1977
"Official Audience Recording"
Nothing to Lose: The 1977 Tour Revisited Vol. One
JEMS Archive

Lineage: low-gen cassettes > DAT (circa 1993-94 16/48 transfer)

JEMS 2014 Transfer: 1994 DAT > Fostex D-5 > Sound Devices UBSPre2 > iZtotope RX > pitch correction > iZotope MBIT+ convert to 16/44.1 .wav > Peak Pro XT (patch / volume smoothing / index) > xACT 2.21 > FLAC

Second Source: low-gen 1980's tape trade > Nakamichi CR-5A (azimuth adjusted) > MacBook Pro > Audacity > Peak Pro XT (pitch correction / index) > Patch

01 Night
02 Rendezvous
03 Spirit in the Night
04 It's My Life
05 Thunder Road
06 Mona > She's the One
07 Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (w/ Miami Horns)*
08 Action in the Streets (w/ Miami Horns)*
09 Backstreets*
10 Jungleland*
11 Rosalita (w/Miami Horns)*
12 Baby I Love You (w/ Ronnie Spector and Flo and Eddie)
13 (Walking) In the Rain (w/ Ronnie Spector and Flo and Eddie)
14 Say Goodbye to Hollywood (w/ Ronnie Spector and Flo and Eddie)
15 Be My Baby (w/ Ronnie Spector and Flo and Eddie)
16 Born to Run
17 Quarter to Three (w/ Miami Horns)

* second source

Known faults:
-She's The One: last few seconds cut

There can be no denying the power of the Darkness tour. And my first show ever was on the mighty River tour. But there's always been something extraordinary about the 1977 tour. The spirit of '77 might best be summed up by lyrics that would appear on the album that followed once the lawsuit with Appel went away:

Tonight I'll be on that hill 'cause I can't stop
I'll be on that hill with everything I've got
Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost
I'll be there on time and I'll pay the cost

It is difficult to recall our courtship in specific detail, but I think the first '77 show I heard, and certainly the one I played the most early on, was Toronto, February 13, recorded, as I would later come to learn, by J in JEMS before we got the band together, so to speak.

Then, once I heard Boston March 24-25, 1977, it was all over, the tour had its hooks in me. To this day, every time I hear Bruce open a show with "Night," I fully expect "Don't Look Back" to follow. And shouldn't it?

Two years ago, JEMS had the good fortune to be entrusted with the master tapes of all four nights from Boston, March 22-25, as recorded by the legendary Steve Hopkins, a passion project I had pursued for several years. Why? Well, not only does that four-night stand make a convincing case as one of the greatest runs in Springsteen's touring history, but Hopkins' work also represents the best recordings of the tour.

For you see, my theory on why the '77 tour is not held in higher esteem more broadly despite being loved by many is due to its lack of available soundboard or radio broadcast performances.

While one can presume that surely some soundboard recordings exist, locked away in the Thrill Hill vaults, we also know that on this tour and seemingly this tour only, Bruce's sound crew set up open mics at the board to make what some have called Official Audience Recordings. Instead of recording the Front of House mix from the board, they captured an ambient recording in the room, just like a taper would. Why this was done is pure speculation, but it may explain the lack of true '77 boards given how many we have from the tours immediately before and after it.

In the early 1990s, an active and well-connected SoCal trader told JEMS he had obtained four such official audience recordings from someone with ties to the '77 crew: Richfield, OH, February 17; Milwaukee February 22; St. Louis February 28; Towson, MD March 13. Those tapes were subsequently loaned to us, DAT copies were made and not only added to the JEMS archive but selectively traded back in the day. Given the era, copies eventually made there way to bootleggers and the Milwaukee set and parts of Richfield wound up on a bootleg CD.

Because of that, I had always presumed all four were widely circulating, but I have come to understand that is not the case. There's also evidence of a fifth official audience recording, New Haven 3/18. Given we had the original DATs in hand, three of our own masters from the tour, and some first generation DATs of other masters it seemed only right to launch a '77 series, with Richfield the kick-off.

Memories have faded as to why Richfield isn't complete, missing what feels like one 45-minute side of tape from the middle of the show. But what is there provides a good example of these '77 official audies, with rich, full sound, no nearby audience noise and a wide, consistent stereo image.

The set pulls you right in with a cracking "Night" rolling right into "Rendezvous," a lively "Spirit" and one of the tour's show-stopping highlights, the epic "It's My Life." The official audience source drops in the waning moments of "She's the One" and picks up at the start of the famous encore, with the E Street Band backing the legendary Ronnie Spector on three Ronettes classics (with vocal assistance from future "Hungry Heart" back-up singers Flo and Eddie), plus their recently recording collaboration (produced by Miami Steve), "Say Goodbye To Hollywood."

That encore makes this show an historic one-off and well worth a listen. JEMS had long had the missing 45 minutes from a second source, but we were pleased to learn our brother from another mother, mjk5510, was in possession of a much lower generation copy of the same second source markedly superior to our copy. Together, you get the entire show save for a few seconds of "She's the One" in very listenable quality, and giving us a fine start to our series. Samples provided.

Thanks to M and J from JEMS for pulling out these DATs and helping make new transfers, to the folks on Stone Pony whose thread sparked this series, and to mjk5510 who again provides essential expertise and collaboration.