December 16, 1975: Prettier Oswego (Review)



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1975-12-16 Prettier Oswego

Welcome back to the second in a planned series of releases from the ER Archives, the collection of an active '70s taper and trader who stepped away from collecting, leaving his tapes pretty much dormant until now. We're still culling through the archive, but it is already clear that it contains previously uncirculated shows as well as upgrades to circulating tapes, both audience and soundboard. ER used high-end tape decks and good tape, so his copies of even well-known shows may well be improvements.

This installment falls squarely into the "upgrades" category as it offers a material enhancement over the previously marginal recording in circulation of Oswego, NY, December 16, 1975.

The extant version, which circulates as Pretty Oswego, suffers from several problems including being pitched too fast, sounding muffled from generational loss and having cuts. This new version has been speed checked and corrected and is more complete. As a result it runs longer than Pretty Oswego. The clarity of this transfer is far superior to its predecessor as well--the recording has body, space and instrument separation that just wasn't there before and it sits comfortably next to some of the better (though perhaps not best) audies from 1975. Hence Prettier Oswego. Also, cuts previously found in "Pretty Flamingo" and "Detroit Medley" are gone, though there is a tiny piece missing near the end of an epic "Kitty's Back."

The pitch issues with this show proved deceptive as there are songs, like "Saint in the City," that are played at such a breakneck pace they felt like they still must be running too fast after we pitch corrected. But you'll hear that even as the band seems to be in overdrive, Bruce's vocals sound right on key.

Oswego is a strong show, a few weeks removed from the band's quick trip to Europe and 13 days removed from the two-night run at the Boston Music Hall JEMS presented earlier this year from Steve Hopkins' master tapes. The quality here isn't at Hopkins' level, but it is highly listenable both on quieter material like the piano-opening "Thunder Road" and the solo encore "For You," and rollicking passages like "Kitty's Back" and "Detroit Medley." Samples provided.

Thanks to the ER Archive for opening up the vault doors and sharing this recording with the fans. Feel free to let him know how you feel in the comments.

- Reviewed by Wayne Darlington -