Thursday, October 04, 2018

Scratch Afire: Retroperspective

Pardon my Prog, but we're gonna kick off October with a reconstruction of one of those all-time classic Seventies concerts, enjoying its 40th birthday today.
When we were kids before the internet, we'd listen to the six songs from this show -- the only excerpts that ever ended up being broadcast -- and get all sad, pining pathetically for the rest of it.
Having seen a million unforgettable shows over the intervening years in the old Bottom Line on West Fourth Street in downtown Manhattan, we always fantasized how there'd someday be some sort of official issue of the full deal.
There never was -- the artist in question was never much for retrospectives anyway -- and the fact that the record this show supported was and remains one of my favorites by any artist, ever, only added to the frustrations.
But then, a few years back, our special new friend Mr. Internet gave us one of his innumerable and magical gifts: the pre-FM King Biscuit reels of both sets from October 4, 1978 -- the vast preponderance of which had never seen the light of day -- surfaced and began to circulate.
It immediately became obvious why it had never been broadcast beyond the little fragment that aired on KBFH and WNEW-FM in NYC way back in the prehistoric days.
These live sets from this legendary venue always had sound and recording problems -- there's a Bruce Springsteen Bottom Line set from 1975 that would be the Holy Sepulchre of Boss Boots, were it not more compressed and thin sounding than a Dictophone tape --and this extravaganza was no exception. It took the majority of the entire first set for the engineers to get something coming off the board that resembled cohesively-captured live music.
The second set went a lot more smoothly, thank goodness gracious. But the triple-disc bootleg of the raw reels was always a fragmented and frustrating listen, with those first set sound issues rearing their ugly head.
Sadly, no one had ever taken the time to excise the usable portions of the whole deal to make a cohesive, assembled concert experience out of them. No one had.... until this past weekend, anyways.
If I do say so myself, what we have here now must surely be the definitive audiological document of the finely cultivated mayhem that was Peter Gabriel's 1978 tour.
It still has its odd spots, but I distilled both sets into something that might resemble a full show from back then, utilizing Audacity to crossfade things together seamlessly enough to where the uninitiated ear would never know it wasn't a contiguous, organic performance... something like the hour-and-three-quarters-long working reel that KBFH would have sent out to radio outlets for broadcast, actually.
Peter Gabriel
Bottom Line
New York City, NY

01 Me & My Teddy Bear
02 On Presuming to Be Modern
03 On the Air
04 Moribund, the Burgermeister
05 Perspective
06 Humdrum
07 A Wonderful Day In a One-Way World
08 Home Sweet Home
09 D.I.Y.
10 Waiting for the Big One
11 White Shadow
12 Mother of Violence
13 Slowburn
14 Flotsam & Jetsam
15 I Don't Remember
16 Indigo
17 Solsbury Hill
18 Modern Love
19 All Day & All of the Night
20 Here Comes the Flood
21 The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

Total time: 1:45:07
disc break goes after Track 11

Peter Gabriel - vocals, keyboards & percussion
Timmy Capello - saxophone, keyboards & vocals
Larry Fast - synthesizers
Tony Levin - bass, Chapman Stick & vocals
Jerry Marotta - drums & percussion
Sid McGinnis - guitars & vocals
Robert Fripp - guitar (Tracks 18-20)

composite of the early & late sets, sourced from the raw KBFH pre-FM reels and edited together by EN
This is now, if I do say so, the best that may ever exist of this insane night from four decades past, unless you wanna hold your breath for an official release that will never materialize.
I will return soon to blow up October with autumnal goodies befitting the upcoming five-year anniversary of this page, you can bet your last money on it.
But for now, any PG-rated enthusiasts -- and most definitely all those heretics that prefer the 1978 "Scratch" platter -- will want to pull my little reconstruction job down and hear what these events were really like. Because we all need a new Perspective every 40 years or so, right?--J.