Listen To This Eddie is a bi-weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
Outside of the Grateful Dead, there are very few fanbases out there that inspire the same kind of obsessive devotion to live recording accumulation than Bruce Springsteen. The Boss himself clued into this fact several years back and teamed up with the concert cataloging site Nugs.net to officially release professional quality recordings of his shows for fans to purchase. A bulk of the material is from his more recent outings, but there are also a few choice selections from earlier in his career as well.
Earlier this month, the Springsteen-adoring world was left flabbergasted when news hit that the New Jersey rocker had managed to dig up two separate soundboard recordings from the first two shows of his 1977 North American tour. This was a major development for collectors, as the only documents that exist from this particular run were made by fans with tape recorders standing out in the crowd. These two shows, the first in Albany, New York on February 7, the second in Rochester, New York the very next night were captured by Chas Gerber, who was employed as Bruce’s soundman at the time, and was prescient enough to throw a couple cassettes into the mixing console and pressed record while the Boss tore it down with the E Street Band.
“I kept my tapes,” Gerber told Backstreets, the Springsteen-centric publication. “I never gave copies to anyone.” He always meant to transfer them to digital, but just didn’t get around to it, and hardly anyone knew they existed until they finally ended up back in the hands of Springsteen’s camp a few years back. As Jamie Howarth, the person charged with enhancing the fidelity of Gerber’s recordings said despite the fact the shows were recorded in mono, “The fidelity is surprising… the guy captured the drama.”