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A Night for the Vietnam Veteran at 40


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REVIEWhttps://cantfindtickets.wordpress.com/2021/08/20/retro-e-street-review-august-20th-1981-los-angeles-ca-los-angeles-memorial-sports-arena-a-night-for-the-vietnam-veteran/

Well, it's August 20th here in the UK, and that means it's the fortieth anniversary of one of Bruce and the Band's greatest shows. I wasn't around when it took place (it happened about 16 years before I was born) and it even took a while for me to learn about it when I thought I knew "everything" as a young Springsteen fan. And from that moment of learning about this night, its reputation and mythos has only seemed to grow. A momentous moment in Bruce's live legacy, I expect in another ten years we'll still be talking about specific song performances and the shame it is that it was never professionally recorded. Until then though, here's to the 40th of August 20th, 1981! 

WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN / PROVE IT ALL NIGHT / THE TIES THAT BIND / DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN / JOHNNY BYE-BYE / INDEPENDENCE DAY / TRAPPED / TWO HEARTS / OUT IN THE STREET / THE PROMISED LAND / THE RIVER / THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND / BADLANDS / THUNDER ROAD / HUNGRY HEART / YOU CAN LOOK (BUT YOU BETTER NOT TOUCH) / CADILLAC RANCH / SHERRY DARLING / JOLÉ BLON / WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY / RACING IN THE STREET / CANDY'S ROOM / RAMROD / ROSALITA (COME OUT TONIGHT) / JUNGLELAND / BALLAD OF EASY RIDER / BORN TO RUN / DETROIT MEDLEY / TWIST AND SHOUT

The concert is a benefit for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and the first night of six in Los Angeles. The outstanding 29-song set features passionate versions of many songs, including "The River", "Who'll Stop The Rain", "Prove It All Night", and "Darkness On The Edge Of Town". Also, includes a stunning tour one-off performance of The Byrds' "Ballad Of Easy Rider". Springsteen stops singing during "The River", either due to overwhelming emotion or to shake hands with the veterans seated around the stage - opinion is divided. An outstanding "Detroit Medley" includes snippets of "I Hear A Train", "Land Of 1000 Dances", "Sweet Soul Music", and "Shake". "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" also includes a brief "Sweet Soul Music" during the band introductions. Widely considered one of Springsteen's finest shows, with some justification.

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Finest moment of his career. 

It could only have been bettered if he'd performed that stunning version of Deportees which debuted the following night (I think). I guess at the time it was a toss up between that and Ballad OER, and the Rider won.

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3 hours ago, Promise61 said:

Finest moment of his career. 

It could only have been bettered if he'd performed that stunning version of Deportees which debuted the following night (I think). I guess at the time it was a toss up between that and Ballad OER, and the Rider won.

Yes, a truly special moment.

I believe "Deportees" was played on 28/8, which is for many the best show of the LA stand - and one I would've blogged about had I stuck to my original plan in March of reviewing all six nights, haha.

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I know that we're not going to get this as part of the Archive series from multi-tracks but hopefully there may be a soundboard recording in the vaults. I haven't heard a bootleg of this concert, what's the quality like of the best one/s that are available? I've got the Easy Rider track as part of a bootleg Bruce Live compilation but it was painful to listen to because it was such bad quality. I must admit with buying most of the Archive concerts it's spoilt me a bit and I very rarely listen to the "old" audience recordings unless they are brilliant quality.

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2 minutes ago, Jump back Jack said:

I know that we're not going to get this as part of the Archive series from multi-tracks but hopefully there may be a soundboard recording in the vaults. I haven't heard a bootleg of this concert, what's the quality like of the best one/s that are available? I've got the Easy Rider track as part of a bootleg Bruce Live compilation but it was painful to listen to because it was such bad quality. I must admit with buying most of the Archive concerts it's spoilt me a bit and I very rarely listen to the "old" audience recordings unless they are brilliant quality.

 

With thanks to JimCT for uploading..

Here is the EV2 version - 1981-08-20 As Dreams Don't Mean Nothing (Ev2)

https://mega.nz/folder/jlARWYrZ#emU_yrV6QZ3X8KjuZqEV-g

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45 minutes ago, doesthisbusstop said:

 

With thanks to JimCT for uploading..

Here is the EV2 version - 1981-08-20 As Dreams Don't Mean Nothing (Ev2)

https://mega.nz/folder/jlARWYrZ#emU_yrV6QZ3X8KjuZqEV-g

I'm sure I had this particular copy in the past as I recognise the additional songs, but I forgot what the quality sounded like. As mentioned in the review I've been playing the Winged Wheel tape since I started planning this write-up, and while it doesn't sound great I've reckoned it was passable. 

After checking out "Ballad of Easy Rider" through that link I've clearly been doing my ears a big disservice by ignoring that EV2 version! 

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During the peak of my tape trading days I traded for this a couple of times hoping for a listenable version but I just couldn't get through them. As mentioned before there is no reason to believe that it was pro recorded. What a shame.

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I know this may be a quirky thing, or P61 is at it again, but threads over the years relating to this incredible show come and sadly go with relatively few responses.

But, start and pin a thread about Laker's cats and dogs and it stays number one in the hit parade, pop pickers.  Go figure.

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20 minutes ago, Promise61 said:

I know this may be a quirky thing, or P61 is at it again, but threads over the years relating to this incredible show come and sadly go with relatively few responses.

But, start and pin a thread about Laker's cats and dogs and it stays number one in the hit parade, pop pickers.  Go figure.

As WC Fields said, never work with kids or dogs, they'll upstage you.

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5 hours ago, doesthisbusstop said:

 

With thanks to JimCT for uploading..

Here is the EV2 version - 1981-08-20 As Dreams Don't Mean Nothing (Ev2)

https://mega.nz/folder/jlARWYrZ#emU_yrV6QZ3X8KjuZqEV-g

There is an error in the track titles on the download from this link.  "Detroit Medley" should have been named with the prefix "304", not "204", in order to place it in the correct playing order.

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49 minutes ago, Promise61 said:

I know this may be a quirky thing, or P61 is at it again, but threads over the years relating to this incredible show come and sadly go with relatively few responses.

I had my concerns about this when posting it last night. What else can people say about a Springsteen concert after 40 years, especially one that we'll never get officially released. 

I think the fact that a lot of us still want to talk about it after 40 years now is a testament to its part in Bruce's legacy. Even the songs that don't hit the spot in the same thematic sense as the likes of "Who'll Stop the Rain?", "The River" and "Ballad of Easy Rider" should be talked about for how enjoyable they are. 

Regardless of the fact I've hoyed a review link in here, I'd be happy to keep this thread active for as long as the mods will let me. 

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Love the signature PCS!!!!! My favorite from the album. 

I've loved Bruce for a long time, but just got into this crazy fandom a few years back. How can this concert be so legendary without a listenable recording? 

 

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A few months ago I recreated the poster, as well as a square cropped version for a cover. The poster is actually what Paolo used as the header image in his review.

Here they are if anyone wants them. As well as a secondary wallpaper sized image I made for fun.

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wide.thumb.png.c6f1007009861ca0bf9e03ed3465bcfb.png

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52 minutes ago, Jimmy James said:

Love the signature PCS!!!!! My favorite from the album. 

I've loved Bruce for a long time, but just got into this crazy fandom a few years back. How can this concert be so legendary without a listenable recording? 

 

Great song. I haven't listened to it enough over the last couple of months. 

And I have to say, even as a younger fan, that was kinda The River Tour in a nutshell over the years. Born to Run had Hammersmith from 2005, Darkness had the radio broadcasts, Born in the U.S.A. had a bulk of the Live box and a bunch of music videos etc. The River on the other hand had very little until 2015 onwards, and I think that upped the reputation and mythos I mentioned about in the OP that this tour and this show has in abundance. 1980/81 was about Bruce's changing worldview, from the death of Elvis in '77, to learning more about the treatment of veterans, to the different perspectives he gained from touring in Europe. August 20th, 1981 is arguably the culmination of all this, the night where he really stepped up in support of the marginalised, and man it shows in the recordings - as 'unlistenable' as they are - how much it meant to him and how it drove him for a performance that bursts out through the tinny, static sound of the bootlegs we have to admit we're lucky to have. 

I hope that answered your question, if not, I've copied and pasted a bit of my review conclusion. Hopefully that does the trick! 

Arguably the most emotional concert of Bruce Springsteen’s career, this Night For Vietnam Veteran sees Bruce give Los Angeles both a history lesson and a prayer for his country, one that highlights the mistakes made by his country, as well as his heroes: Elvis Presley and his father, Douglas, so that those mistakes can be learned from, never to be made again. Stressing his anger towards the fact they actually happened, and could happen again in mesmerising, all timer performances of “Who’ll Stop The Rain”, “The River” and “Racing in the Street”, it’s with the softer reflections of “Ballad of Easy Rider” where Bruce not only conveys the feelings of those veterans he was playing to, but the feelings he’d been expressing in his music since the very start.

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34 minutes ago, doesthisbusstop said:

I think regardless of sound quality, this show would have lost a lot of its legendary status had no bootleg been recorded. 

I agree with this. There are nights such as the late Cambridge '74 show that Mr Landau saw and the late August 15th 1975 Bottom Line show that are certainly notable, but with them having no circulating audio for us to listen to we could only ever count on the words of those who were there to tell us how good they were/what they were like.

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5 hours ago, Promise61 said:

I know this may be a quirky thing, or P61 is at it again, but threads over the years relating to this incredible show come and sadly go with relatively few responses.

But, start and pin a thread about Laker's cats and dogs and it stays number one in the hit parade, pop pickers.  Go figure.

And I was just thinking how many responses  this thread had got while i was asleep

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8 hours ago, doesthisbusstop said:

There are no fewer than EIGHT different versions of the show on the latest page of the bootleg collectors corner, if anyone wants to compare them to decide which one is the best sound quality. 

From Brucebase:

'Audience tape and partial (45 minutes of the first set) soundboard. All released versions come from the same source tape. Released on CD 'A Night For The Vietnam Veteran' (Winged Wheel), 'Written On The Wall' from a remastered tape and as a direct master recording on 'As Dreams Don't Mean Nothin' - A Night For The Vietnam Veterans' (Ev2) which for the first time has the complete "This Land Is Your Land" and "Twist And Shout" cut on the previous releases. Also released on 'A Night For The Vietnam Vets' (Scorpio). This release was previously thought to be a different source but it comes from the same source tape as all other releases. The incomplete soundboard recording, in many aspects, is not an upgrade over the audience tape. Bruce's Intro speech is used as part of a 1981 WNEW Vietnam Veterans of America Public Service Announcement.'

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