May 12, 2019

Collecting log: Devil With The Blue Dress Medley (live) from NO NUKES 1979 (a.k.a. the MUSE concert), a U.S. custom promotion-only 12" disc released as the 100-numbered 33⅓-speed limited edition (Part 4 of 4)

Released late in 1979 (or early in 1980?), the U.S.-only 12-inch 45 rpm single of Devil With The Blue Dress Medley (Asylum AS 11442) is the first ever analog disc in this form for promotion-only use, and the second ever among his entire catalog of this large-format single of gramophone record, following the Holland-only regular issue of Rosalita (CBS 12.7753). Despite the exclusive contract with Columbia Records, this live recording of his staple encore performance is licensed under Elektra/Asylum Records, which makes it his first non-Columbia release. The vinyl disc, backed with Jackson Browne's Before The Deluge (probably the best choice of non-Springsteen performances from the album NO NUKES), comes in a white die-cut sleeve with a custom-designed sticker pasted on the front. Any of these could be a good reason to add this promo vinyl, albeit rather common, to your collection. However, what makes it really a stand-out collectible is the presence of the alternate, extremely rare 33⅓ rpm edition limited to 100 numbered copies, as already mentioned on Part 1 on the subject.

Obtained a long time ago from a Californian retail shop at US $16.50,
way cheap according to the current market pricing.
It has been long said that this particular vinyl edition was specially pressed at the request of David Geffen, the President of Asylum Records back then, who distributed these limited pressings to friends of him. I heard of (or read) this background tale sometime in the 1990's. Strangely, however, I cannot recall from where I got this information. Moreover, I have not been able to find any official source that documents this. Although I guess that the most probable source might be the Backstreets Records, so far I fail to locate any pieces of evidence to support the possibility in their publication, catalogs, flyers, or my archived e-mails from this fanzine site. As another probable source, I could mention LuckyTown Digest, the fan-based Springsteen mailing list (operating back in the late 1990's to early 2000's), but I'm totally not sure. Does anyone has any clue or lead on this?

There are no differences in label printings except for record turn speed. Take note that the combo name is typed as THE "E" STREET BAND. Jenny Take A Ride is a medley of C. C. Rider and Jenny Jenny although most bootlegs rather list these two songs separately or simply name the entire performance as Detroit Medley.
 
Comparison of the matrix numbers on Side A featuring Devil
With The Blue Dress Medley
, between the 33⅓ rpm edition
(upper) and 45 rpm promotional disc (lower).
The two versions look identical. Then, aside from playing speed, what respects do they exactly differ from each other?  Consistently, every limited 33⅓ rpm edition I have checked through a quick internet search (5 copies plus mine) had two hand-written numbers which were made in the same manner (a given number / 100) with black marker: one just below the reddish brown sticker on the front sleeve and the other on the upper-right empty space on the record label of Side A (Springsteen's side). There are no more differences in the die-cut sleeve between the two versions. However, further differences are apparent in the details of the record labels. The label paper used for the limited edition seems somewhat to be of higher quality than that for the usual promo version. Its background color is not plain white but slightly cream toned, with sharper text printing and denser black fills on the label (see the pic above).

Different playing speed means that the two types of 12" singles were pressed from different stampers. So, what are inscribed on the dead wax space were also expected to differ between them. The followings are matrix numbers on each side of each disc:

 45 rpm edition
    Side A:  ASS-41442  A  AR   (45)    B-14707
    Side B:  ASS-11442-B  AR    ASS-41442-B  AR    (45)    B-14708

 33⅓ rpm edition
    Side A:  ASS-41442 A-1  AR    (33 1/3)    B-14709
    Side B:  ASS-41442 B-1  AR    (33)    B-14710

By the way, the Japanese version of the triple LP (Pioneer/Asylum
P-5186-8Y
) comes with two additional folded inserts, one for the
translation of the excerpts from the booklet and the other for lyric
transcription for the album.
There are at least two interesting facts on these matrix codes. One is that the catalog number (AS-11442) is mistakenly hand-etched on all the four sides. Note that the corrected matrix number on Side B of the 45 rpm disc still contains an error "ASS". The other fact is the presence on all sides of the hand inscription "AR" which almost probably stands for Allied Record Company, a pressing plant/manufacturer in Los Angeles, California. If so, unlike NO NUKES triple LP from which both A- and B-side tracks are taken, these promotional 12" discs were not pressed at any of the three major Columbia Records' pressing plants (see Part 3 on the album's pressing plants). This "AR" code is also printed in the parenthesis below the catalog number on the record labels of both editions. Finally, I have no idea as to what the other matrix codes B-14707/8/9/10 refer to. The numbering may reflect the order of vinyl pressing and manufacture, though (45 rpm fast and then 33⅓ rpm).

Now blogging on this subject is a bit longer than I initially thought. Back in high school days, this version of Devil With The Blue Dress Medley provided me with the very first listening experience of Springsteen's live performance, which was a sort of baptismal moment, to say exaggeratedly. The recent live archive release of NO NUKES 1979 concerts reminded me of this so much.

P.S.  Speaking of the live archive download, I have noticed that the Backstreets.com, when reporting the NUGS release of the October 1975 show at the Roxy last year (December 7, 2018), featured on their web site the pictures of an old AIN'T NOBODY HERE ... vinyl bootleg in my possession, apparently taken from my blog page (May 5, 2018) without my permission!  Check the JASRAC sticker on the upper left corner of the shrink wrap. I'm not complaining about that, of course. Just thrilled to know that someone at the "authoritative" website probably read my blog articles.


May 4, 2019

Collecting log: Devil With The Blue Dress Medley (live) from NO NUKES 1979 (a.k.a. the MUSE concert), a U.S. custom promotion-only 12" disc released as the 100-numbered 33⅓-speed limited edition (Part 3 of 4)

Both test pressing and white label promotional copies for NO NUKES LP shown here were pressed at the Santa Maria pressing plant in California, as each side of vinyl has a hand-etched two-letter code (1S) that specifies where these discs were pressed. The pressing plant is also known from an abbreviated code CSM (Columbia Santa Maria) in a parenthesis that is found beneath the catalog number-side indication (ML-801-E) on the white label. According to Discogs, there are two more code variations, CP and CTH, referring to Columbia Pitman and Columbia Terre Haute, respectively. Thus, this soundtrack album (yes, this album is classified as the soundtrack for the NO NUKES documentary movie) was pressed at the three major Columbia Records' pressing plants even though it is an Elektra/Asylum release.
 
Report on the Nov. 24th 1979 issue of the Billboard magazine 
as to the forthcoming MUSE concert live LP. Inset is the album
advertisement on the back cover of the Dec. 15th issue. Note that
Billboard has put the magazine issues into the public domain by
releasing them to Google Books and The Internet Archive.
Later in the month*, a more pressing circumstance came up. The MUSE concerts were being released, as a double disc live album; pressured by Jackson Browne, Bruce mixed the song they had sung together, a version of the Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs' hit "Stay," in only a few days. Then it was decided that in order to better represent all of the artists who had appeared, it was necessary to make the album a three-record set. But if there was more than enough obvious material for two records, it was harder to fill up a third. 
*October 1979.
Excerpted from Born To Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story, Dave Marsh, 1981, Dell Publishing Company.

The executive notes the quick turnaround required to get the album out before Christmas has not only tested the skills of his staff, but of the artists involved, many of whom mixed and selected the cuts they wanted. "We're dealing with a group of artists who don't exactly operate at rapid speed," Smith** wryly. 
**Joe Smith, the then Elektra/Asylum chairman.
Excerpted from the 11/24/1979 issue of the Billborad magazine.

Red/blue writings on one of the white covers of the test pressing 
were apparently made by the U.S. seller (retailer) but not at the
pressing plant. The promotional copy (far left) is
distinguished 
from the regular release by the front sleeve
red/white sticker
and white labels on each wax.


As quoted above, and with the commercial release slated for early December (of the live performance recorded late September of the same year), the manufacturing schedule for NO NUKES album (US Asylum ML 801) was so tight that its production was hard-pressed to keep up with the plan. The test pressing in my possession came with the photocopy of the rear sleeve design and fact sheets listing track information, indicating that it is close to or almost a finalized form of the regular release. It is apparent from the labels and dead-wax matrix inscription that the vinyl discs were pressed at the Columbia Records' Santa Maria plant. The matrix numbers on each side are as follows:
 
Comparison of the matrix numbers on Side 6 between test pressing
(upper) and white label promo (lower) copies. In addition to
Santa
Maria
's specific code 1S on the left of each picture, another code
CSM
for this pressing pant is inscribed on the right
.
    Side 11S    ML-801-A-16  (RE) 
    Side 21S    ML-801  B-17  RE  CSM
    Side 31S    ML-801-C-  CSM
    Side 4:  1S    ML-801-D  CSM
    Side 51S    ML 801  E-1  CSM
    Side 61S    ML-801- F-15-  (RE)  CSM

What caught my attention was the huge difference in the master cutting number between Sides 1/2/6 and 3/4/5 as indicated by the matrix number suffix. Although I own only several test pressings of Springsteen titles such as GREETINGS ... and BORN TO RUN, I have never seen such high cutting numbers as those around 15 to 17 for test pressing. Then, the question arises as to who are on these playing sides?  An interesting fact is that these sides feature Jackson Browne (on Side 2), Graham Nash (on Side 2 as solo and Side 6 as Crosby, Stills & Nash), and Bonnie Raitt (on Side 1) as main performers, and that these artists are the core members of MUSE and credited as producers of the album. So, I guess that using their position in album production, they repeated mastering and cutting of lacquer masters that included their performance thoroughly until they were satisfied with the outcome.

Comparison of the matrix numbers on Side 5, which contains
Springsteen's two live tracks, between test pressing
(upper)
and white label promo (lower) copies. In contrast to the
frequently found "1S" code, I have never seen any vinyl copies 
of Springsteen with the code "CSM" among those pressed at
the
Santa Maria factory (i.e., from GREETINGS... to THE RIVER).
On the other hand, this important process for vinyl production was carried out in much less time for the other sides including Side 5 with Springsteen's contribution, probably only once when test pressing was made (as indicated by E-1), and only a few cuttings in the end, according to the matrix numbers found on the white label promo discs, as listed below. 
 
    Side 11S    ML-801-A-16  (RE) 
    Side 21S    ML-801  B-16  RE  CSM
    Side 31S    ML-801-C-1  CSM
    Side 4:  1S    ML-801-D4  CSM
    Side 51S    ML 801  E-3  CSM
    Side 61S    ML-801- F-17-  (RE)  CSM

Although the cutting numbers are different (i.e., E-1 versus E-3), I cannot recognize any difference in the sound of Springsteen's tracks between test pressing and white label promo copies.
— To be continued.


Apr 27, 2019

Collecting log: Devil With The Blue Dress Medley (live) from NO NUKES 1979 (a.k.a. the MUSE concert), a U.S. custom promotion-only 12" disc released as the 100-numbered 33⅓-speed limited edition (Part 2 of 4)

Note that the second post on this topic also constitutes the latest part of a featured blog series Classic Vinyl Bootleg Revisited.

Clockwise from left: HUNGRY HEART 3-LP (U.K. May & June 1981 shows), THE PRISONER OF ROCK & ROLL 3-LP (April 10th, 1985, Tokyo) and NO NUKES 2-LP (September 21st, 1979, New York City). I believe these bootleg records are of Japanese origin (in addition to some other BORN IN THE USA tour bootlegs, though not shown here). The NO NUKES bootleg has variants such as multicolored vinyl editions with custom labels (which were probably not pressed in Japan; see below). However, I am almost certain that the black vinyl/blank label copies are the original pressing. Shown in inset is the matrix number found on the trail-off area of Disc 2/Side 4 (NK-L-4-D; the other three are NK-L-4-A/B/C).
Although the officially released Devil With The Blue Dress Medley (live) was exciting enough for me at the first listening, I did not know that it was not the intact performance from the concert, with a major edit in the midst to eliminate the instrumental break and health hazard warnings from Springsteen. It was Dave Marsh's Born To Run semi-authorized biography from which I knew how the edited version was produced and came out on the NO NUKES album. Then around late in 1981, I was able to imagine what the actual live performance looked like, when I obtained and listened to my first copy of LIVE IN THE PROMISED LAND (a.k.a. WINTERLAND, 1978) that contained the earlier 1978 version (with the instrumental part and his oral warnings, but no Devil With ... reprise before the medley was concluded).

According to my collecting log, I purchased this bootleg
through mail order from the bootleg shop in
West Shinjuku,
Tokyo
on the 16th of August, 1983. The price was 4,980 JP
YEN (= US $20.97 based on the then exchange rate).
It was summer 1983 that I was finally able to listen to the non-cut version of this live performance through the magic of bootlegging (Note that back then here in Japan, tape trading was not as commonly used as in the U.S., and at least to me, it had never been the major route to get his unofficial recordings). Although incomplete and missing a few songs, Springsteen's first night performance was captured in soundboard quality on a double bootleg LP called NO NUKES 9/21/79 AT M.S.G. NY where the mixing of Stay and Devil With ... was apparently different from that of the released version on NO NUKES, but very close to that of the recent archive release. Having bought this bootleg 36 years ago, I still believe it was originally pressed and manufactured by Japanese bootleggers who run the then-most-famous bootleg shop in Japan, located in West Shinjuku, Tokyo. A series of bootleg records they produced, at least of Springsteen's, are generally characterized by cheap, non-full color thin sleeves. This bootleg is not the exception.

An example of the multicolored vinyl edition
with custom labels which I recall appeared
in the late 1980's (not in my possession).

In addition, if you play Side 3 on Disc 2 of this particular bootleg, you'll strangely hear a brief segment (a few seconds) of a Japanese female song between Devil With ... and the subsequent Rave On. How could this happen? Probably when making the master for this bootleg, the bootleggers dubbed the two live tracks individually and sequentially over the used tape that had already recorded this female vocal. Maybe the dubbing process was sloppy and introduced a short gap between the two tracks, which might cause the annoying female vocal that has remained unerased (So, these two tracks are not consecutive but interrupted shortly on the bootleg vinyl). I don't know if this short Japanese "signature" is still heard on the later pressings such as multi-coloured versions of this bootleg because they are more like independent pressings (= bootlegged bootleg) rather than repressed copies of the original black vinyl version (Can anyone check the matrix numbers of the multicolor version?). Although the entire second night performance (Sept. 22nd show) became available from Great Dane Records as one of the early CD bootlegs in 1990, this concert was issued in CD format much later (and long after I stopped collecting these unofficial CDs).

Also, I used to enjoy listening to the other live recordings that are featured on this bootleg. The rocking Rave On from the same night was (and still is) one of my favorites among his cover songs. It's My Life and Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street? got my vote for its passionate performance and Roy's rolling piano play during the interlude, respectively (both from the December 30th show at Tower Theater, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, during the BORN TO RUN tour 1975). I still prefer this penultimate concert to the last night performance (Dec. 31st show) that was released some years ago as part of the live archive series.
— To be continued.