Bruce Springsteen Releases Latest Installment from Bootleg Live Series

The Live Series: Stripped Down features acoustic versions of songs captured between 1986 and 2005

Without much fanfare, Bruce Springsteen released another collection from his officially sanctioned bootleg live series on July 17. The Live Series: Stripped Down features 15 acoustic renditions of Springsteen tunes captured at seven shows in the U.S. and Europe between 1986 and 2005.

Other than short posts on Springsteen’s Facebook page and Twitter handle, there was no big announcement, and there does not appear to be a significant marketing push behind the album. That’s no longer necessary in the age of social media, especially when your target audience is your longtime fans, which I suspect is the case here. This is not about making a big buck. It’s also save to assume Springsteen is not a poor man.

Examples of previous releases of The Live Series (from left): Songs of Summer, Songs Under Cover, Songs of the Road and Songs of Friendship

In fact, had it not been for my music streaming service, I wouldn’t have known about this album! After searching the Internet, I found some additional background information on Alice Cooper radio show/station Nights with Alice Cooper and ABC News Radio, which are my main sources for this post.

The album combines Springsteen classics, such as Dancing in the Dark, Born to Run and The River, with deeper cuts/rarities like When You’re Alone, Cynthia and Seeds. Previous installments in the Live Series include Songs Of SummerSongs Under CoverSongs Of The RoadSongs Of FriendshipSongs Of HopeSongs Of Love, and Songs From Around The World. Let’s get to some music.

Here’s the opener Dancing in the Dark, recorded at a gig in Mountain View, Calif. in October 1986. Originally, the song appeared on the Born in the U.S.A. album from June 1984. I think I prefer this stripped down rendition over the studio version, particular the accordion work by Danny Federici and the female backing vocalist – not sure it’s Patti Scialfa.

Here’s Soul Driver, captured at a show in Los Angeles in November 1990. At the time of the performance, the tune was still unreleased and Springsteen announces it as a new song. It would appear on the Human Touch album from March 1992. Frankly, while I own that record, I haven’t listened to it in a long time, so didn’t recall that particular track. Spontaneously, again I would say I like this acoustic version better than the studio recording.

Bobby Jean is one of my favorite tunes from Born in the U.S.A., so I simply couldn’t skip it – another great acoustic rendition that sounds very Dylanesque to me. It was captured at a show in Belfast, Northern Ireland in March 1996. I feel Springsteen’s emotions come out better in this rendition than the original.

Adam Raised a Cain is the second tune on Darkness on the Edge of Town, the fourth studio album The Boss released in June 1978. This stripped back version was recorded during a gig at Springsteen’s elementary school in his home town of Freehold, N.J. in November 1996 – how cool is that! It’s an interesting contrast to the much more rock-oriented original.

Let’s do one more: This Hard Land, a Springsteen tune that first appeared on his first compilation Greatest Hits from February 1995 as one of four then-previously unreleased tracks. The version on this album is from a show that took place in Stockholm, Sweden in June 2005. The Boss is a great storyteller, and I feel this stripped down acoustic setting really serves him well.

Nights with Alice Cooper included the following quote from Springsteen: “It’s like you come out and you fall in love every night in some way. When you’re doing it right, it’s like a rebirth, y’know? It’s not a repetition — it’s a renewal — so that involves something happening every night for the first time. And, amazingly enough, it’s like your first kiss in that there’s something in playing. There were thousands of other times, but still when you come out there’s some element of the first time that’s very, very present. And it keeps you very open and present and it’s what people feel.”

Here’s the setlist:

Dancing in the Dark (Mountain View, CA, Shoreline Amphitheatre, 10/13/1986)
Seeds (Mountain View, CA, Shoreline Amphitheatre, 10/13/1986)
Born to Run (New York City, NY, Madison Square Garden, 5/23/1988)
Soul Driver (Los Angeles, CA, The Shrine, 11/16/1990)
Bobby Jean (Belfast, UK, King’s Hall, 3/19/1996)
Adam Raised a Cain (Freehold, NJ, St. Rose of Lima School, 11/8/1996)
Youngstown (Belfast, UK, King’s Hall, 3/19/1996)
Independence Day (Asbury Park, NJ, Paramount Theatre, 11/24/1996)
Two Hearts (Freehold, NJ, St. Rose of Lima School, 11/8/1996)
When You’re Alone (Asbury Park, NJ, Paramount Theatre, 11/24/1996)
The River (Grand Rapids, MI, Van Andel Arena, 8/3/2005)
Cynthia (Columbus, OH, Schottenstein Center, 7/31/2005)
This Hard Land (Stockholm, Sweden, Hovet, 6/25/2005)
All That Heaven Will Allow (Trenton, NJ, Sovereign Bank Arena, 11/22/2005)
Empty Sky (Trenton, NJ, Sovereign Bank Arena, 11/22/2005)

Sources: Wikipedia; Bruce Springsteen Facebook page; Bruce Springsteen Twitter handle; Nights with Alice Cooper; ABC News Radio; YouTube

15 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen Releases Latest Installment from Bootleg Live Series”

    1. Thanks! Are you sure we’re talking about the same collection?😀

      This latest release spans recordings from 1986 to 2005 from many different Springsteen albums including classics like “Born in the U.S.A.”, “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town”.

      Springsteen has released numerous previous installments in the “Live Series”. I’m wondering whether you may be thinking about one of the earlier installments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry for misunderstanding. I meant, the newest collection contains acoustic songs which are mostly dated to the “TGOTJ”/”D&D”-Tour and that is why I am a little bit disappointed.

        I’ve read about the earlier “Live Series”-collections but they couldn’t catch my attention.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. So I think I finally got what you said, i.e., most of these performances are from the “Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Devils & Dust” tours, not albums. I thought you referred to those two records. Oh, well, better late than never! 🙂

      I’m not a huge fan of these two albums either. In fact, if I see it correctly, this collection doesn’t include any tunes from them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it was my mistake as I typed the word “era” although I meant the tours %-)
        But Bruce Springsteen played lots of acoustic tunes during his live career – the last ones (“Wrecking Ball” in 2012/2013 and “The River 2016”) were beautiful.

        I like the album “Devils & Dust”, but I’m still struggling with “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. (It was a shock for me as a 13-years-old girl as she bought the newest album of his Boss, in expectation of a new rock album and then she only got quiescent, deliberate songs.)


  1. Good idea to do the pared down versions of Bruce’s songs. Because they have stories, any one of them can be done this way. I wonder why they chose the ones they did? I see they he did “The River” in Grand Rapids, MI, which about 50 miles from here. Cool! Thanks for sharing the info on the new disc. Looks like that whole series would be nice to pick up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. December 12, 1996, I saw him on that acoustic tour at the Ryman. It was fantastic and 4 years later I saw him with the E Street Band.

    This sounds like a winner. That is odd about the promotion or lack of… He does like the music to sell itself but if no one knows…it can’t…

    Liked by 1 person

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