Bruce Springsteen: Passaic, NJ, Sept. 19, 1978 (1978/2019)

Wait, I really haven't had any Springsteen up here yet?  [Checks notes...]  Whoa.  Ok, Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town; both great.  You don't need me to say much more about those.

But how about some live Bruce?

Now, brief confession.  I am somewhat of a moderate Springsteen fan (having grown up on classic rock in the 70s and early 80s, how could I not be?) -- pretty crazy about his albums up through 1980's The River (and sure, 1984's Born in the USA is great, but given its radio saturation at the time time it's one I pretty much never play); intermittently interested in his subsequent work over the intervening decades (particularly some latter-day works like 2012's Wrecking Ball).  But I have never seen him live.  Never.  I did finally have tickets to see him a few years ago, when he was playing The River cover to cover, but I threw out my back at the gym that week (old fart that I am) and, given the notorious length of his shows, opted to throw the tix back into the pond.

Fortunately, Springsteen is one of the few artists from the classic rock era who has taken to regularly releasing live albums from his archives.  Sure, a lot of jam bands, like Phish and various Dead offshoots, sell live recordings of all of their shows as they happen, and a few other artists (The Who and Peter Gabriel come to mind) have similarly made recent tours available for sale.  But Bruce, in addition to a similar service for current tours, has been dipping deep into his archives, releasing shows (on CD or digital download) every few months from throughout his long career.

So here's one that just dropped this week -- Springsteen's legendary 1978 show at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey.  This has long been one of his most famous bootlegs (and one of the first boots I owned), as it was recorded for radio broadcast.  But the official multi-track recording renders the boots obsolete; the sound is phenomenal, certainly one of the best-sounding live recordings of a Springsteen show you're going to find. 

The '78 tour found the E Street Band performing the bulk of Born to Run and Darkness, so if you (like me) prefer that era of his music, this is the show for you.  (They also hit a few older favorites this night, like "Spirit In The Night" and "Rosalita.")  I don't know that I'd say this is the one you must own; that kinda depends on the tours you like best (and alas, this was a show without "Growin' Up," generally my favorite part of any Springsteen show).  But it's great, and they've done a remarkable job mixing the sound.

You can preview the show at this page on, as well as download the show in various formats (anywhere from mp3 to high-definition audio) or order the CD.

By the way, you can catch a grainy video of the entire show the following night (which has also been officially released) right here: