Bittan Bits

Live might

Bittan Bits

"Thunder Road"

Hammersmith Odeon, London '75

The Born to Run green light opens Springsteen's UK bow in duet with Bittan, whose ripe touch falls like snow atop the frontman's lighthouse harp and beacon supplication. A full concert unearthed on DVD for the LP's 2005 reissue and subsequent 2-CD spin-off, Hammersmith Odeon's band of gypsy pimps and hustlers remains the only complete/official documentation of the BTR era.

"Jungleland"

Live in New York City

Nine gothic minutes of debut reboot "Lost in the Flood" and 20 more of Bittan-driven revival meeting "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" (featuring Boss intro "The secretary of intelligence, the dean of the University of Musical Perversity, professor Roy Bittan!") vie for definitive, but in BTR closer "Jungleland," 10 minutes on both searing DVD and edited CD become a lifetime of meeting across the river.

"Backstreets"/"Racing in the Street"

Live/1975-85

Triple-CD summation of the E Street Band's dynastic New Society, bookended by "Thunder Road" and "Jersey Girl," keyed by "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," and barrelhouse of God on everything from "Raise Your Hand" and "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" to "Badlands" and "Darlington County." Two of Bittan's finest showcases miss only their designation, "Streets of Fire." Essential.

"Ramrod"

Live in Barcelona

"Let's roadhouse!" hollers the preacher as the deacon's boogie-woogie baby grand mobilizes this River nugget into the first encore's bench-clearing raunch. You haven't converted to Springsteen's "Ministry of Rock & Roll" until you've witnessed a soccer stadium full of Spaniards from this concert chronicle of 2002's The Rising singing patriot missile "Born in the U.S.A." next and finally "Thunder Road." DVD only, but none the poorer for it.

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