The Pequod Review:
This diary-formatted memoir from the co-founder of Rhino Records is full of a lot of inside baseball that will not be of interest or relevance to most readers. However, I enjoyed Harold Bronson's description of a 1970s and 1980s music scene that was radically different from today — serendipitous discoveries of unsigned bands, the centrality of the album as a recorded format, and the importance of record labels to the overall industry. He also saw an early Springsteen concert:
Wednesday, July 31, 1974
I like Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums, but the muddy mixes made his poetic lyrics less discernible. Both came out last year, and neither has sold well: Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (20,000 copies) and The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (30,000-plus). At the Troubadour tonight, Bruce introduced himself as a scruffy, scowling, moody figure whose physical emulation of early Bob Dylan (curly hair, dark glasses) was mirrored in his rhythmic, image-laden lyrics, his rough-hewn vocals and acoustic guitar accompaniment. Following a brief solo set, his full band (saxophone, organ, piano, bass and drums) joined him. Here his meaty style and grinding rhythms approached Van Morrison’s fiery brand of white R& B. Unlike the immobile Morrison, Springsteen dashed across the stage like Chuck Berry, breaking into engagingly wide grins. He seemed more natural fronting the band.
During his two-hour set, Springsteen, musically and lyrically, expressed the passions and hardships of the city, performing “Incident on 57th Street,” “The E Street Shuffle,” “Kitty’s Back,” “New York City Serenade” and “Jungleland.” Pulling a complete surprise, the band swirled into a driving, powerful wall-of-sound for the old Crystals hit “Then He Kissed Me.”
I had a good seat along a row, close to the stage. Sitting on the other side, a couple of places down, a senior executive from Springsteen’s label, Columbia Records, seemed more interested in chomping on the steak sandwich he had expensed on his record company tab. Bruce poured his heart out, the audience cheered in appreciation and this guy savored his steak sandwich.
Recommended for fans of classic rock.