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Preview: Boss Tracks

Boss Tracks

Updated: 2016-12-16T02:12:19.144-08:00


Back to Business



Well sort off. I have launched a new blog.

I haven't been active much on Boss Tracks in the past year or so. While it was fun to do, it was also very time consuming. Boss Tracks had many rewards like interviewing Eddie Floyd and Southside Johnny, getting an actual mention on Springsteen's official web-site and having many appreciative readers.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find the time any more to this blog right. Every interview literally took days to weeks of work of getting it together, preparing and making them into something you could read. Even the regular posts took many hours of research and writing. Unfortunately, it soon proved to be impossible to keep up with my ambitions for this blog, especially since it was a one man operation.

I recently started from scratch, with a few friends, on a new blog, the Upper Shelves. This blog is a lot less ambitious, just a place to share some cool 45s we've found and like to play at parties. I think the average Springsteen fan is going to find a lot to enjoy over there. Most of the 45s are exactly the kind he likes to cover so much or at least the kinds Stevie likes to play on his radio show and the ones Southside Johnny like to collect.

I hope that everybody who enjoyed this blog will come over to check it out.

A big thank you to all my readers here,

I've had a blast,


Boss Tracks, Boom Boom, John Lee Hooker


Arthur Conley arguably was one of Soul's most tender stars. Arthur's star shone short but bright, immortalizing himself with the smash Sweet Soul Music. The genre's anthem, one of those songs everybody knows and knows how to shake their hips to. Few might know Conley sang the damn record, but everybody knows how to participate in its joy. You'll find few, if any, folks who do not like that particular song. The song might have been a blessing to the buying public, one might wonder if it was such a blessing to Arthur. Sweet Soul Music defined the path his career was going to take. After hitting big once Arthur was surrounded by people who wanted to see him repeat that success. It locked a few doors Arthur might have taken and ultimately was one of the reasons why his career stalled.Arthur started out as Otis Redding protégé, cutting sides for his Jotis label. But pupil or not, Conley was clearly the better singer. His voice was clearer and had a much better range than Otis'. Anybody who's heard "Let Nothing Separate Us" on the Sweet Soul Music album will adhere to that. Arthur was a mighty fine Deep Soul singer, able to instil a fragility in his testimonies, an honesty in his ache that was quite rare in the macho world of Soul. Arthur was one of those artists that gained an enormous respect amongst his peers. This was reflected in his inclusion in the Soul Clan, the only Soul super group the sixties ever knew. The Soul clan consisted of Solomon Burke, Wilson Picket, Ben E. King and Joe Tex. In sales Conley was a light weight compared to those, in talent he was their equal. But with his career being pushed in the direction Sweet Soul Music had taken, this talent never fully materialized.Conley was never cut for the music business , a sensitive Soul who just wasn't up to the harsh realities and strain the record biz brought. On top of that Arthur was a homosexual man in the masculine world of Soul, something he hid from his peers. After Otis, his rock of Gibraltar, died, Conley soon left the business. First living in Brussels and London, he finally found the love of his life in Amsterdam in 1981, a Dutch carpet weaver, who had no idea who Arthur Conley was, and miraculously had never heard Sweet Soul Music.But before Conley said farewell to live and recording music for good he had something of a hidden comeback on the wrong side of the track in Amsterdam. In 1979 Conley lived in Amsterdam under the name of Lee Roberts. Conley formed a band under that name but was uncovered by drummer Dick Baars who happened across one of the band rehearsals. All though Conley refused to admit it at the time, Baars was sure it was Conley as he had just bought a record of his that same day. Here was the man on the cover!! Baars convinced Conley to join his band the Sweaters on the fact that he claimed to have a real Hammond b-3 organ and horns!Robert Lee & the Sweaters would ultimately perform four evenings in the ghetto of Amsterdam at a small cultural centre. The first night drew few people, without exception all from the former Dutch colony Suriname, where Conley had been a big star. The second night some returned with album sleeves to make sure. Although Robert Lee denied to be Conley the word spread like wild fire. By the final night the tiny cultural centre had people standing outside the door. Somebody in the audience was so smart to record this show, resulting in a live release under the name of Robert Lee in '88. Arthur Conley simply didn't want to be associated with the name that brought him fame.Although the sound is raggedy, Arthur Conley and the Sweaters is one of Soul's greatest live albums. The atmosphere is reminiscent of Sam Cooke at the Harlem Square club. The backing band is far from tight but pure and raw Soul. Arthur's voice hovers somewhere between the raucous vocals of Otis and the near perfection of Sam Cooke. As the evening progresses and Arthur gets deep into the great Soul hits (none of his own) you can feel the excitement and the tension building. The crowd is almost visible hanging[...]

Boot Tracker, On The Tracks; May 9th 1974, Cambridge (E. St. Records)


With the Magic tour behind us, I decided to try and revamp the Boot Tracker a little by combining it with the On The Tracks feature for fan stories. One of the reasons I like to browse the message boards are the stories that find their way there from time to time. Those first shows people have seen and the impression it left, lucky encounters with the man himself or just plain fan boy craziness. Like this first contribution by Brian Hawkins, first posted on BTX. Brian picks an especially historic show, the one where Springsteen met Landau. The best thing is, that May 9th 1974 show was captured and still available on a very nice tape that carries over the show that made Landau fall in love with R&R again quite nicely.Got up to Boston a day early for the Foxboro Magic show, so I could see some of the city and soak up some history. And while I did indeed savor the Paul Revere house, the Old North Church, and Samuel Adams’ burial site, it turned out that Boston is also a cradle of Bruce history… and an adventure awaited! Pondering all things Bruce that morning, I suddenly realized that my Cambridge hotel was very close to the sacred ground of Harvard Square...particularly the Harvard Square Theater...the very spot where Rock and Roll saw its future in Bruce Springsteen so eloquently captured by Jon Landau. I set out on my pilgrimage and with a few quick stops on the T train, I rose from the subway. Feeling like something magical was about to happen, my eyes recognized the Church Street sign and I knew I was approaching hallowed ground: not only the site of the blistering life-altering 5/9/74 show, but the very pavement where a young wiry Bruce Springsteen and a doughy, be speckled Jon Landau had their first fateful meeting.Landau has often said in interviews that he saw Bruce reading “a favorable review” of the Wild and the Innocent album that he had written that was strategically posted on the window of the theater. They chatted and Landau has recalled Bruce saying how much he enjoyed the review. However, Bruce has since said that he thought it was only “pretty good." Like any new relationship, we can see that with those comments, one was enamored and one was more cautious. Thus begins 30-year dance of awkward miscommunication and compromises between Bruce and Landau that would some day culminate in Secret Garden being released both with and without strings. We all know the rest of the story...the bond, the friendship, the love, etc. that developed from those two crossed wires crackling over the course of 30+ years.As I stood on the sidewalk, my head was dizzy with 1974 images and figures (converse sneakers, floppy hats, bell-bottoms, tube tops, etc.). Needless to say, I was taking it all in as I walked up to the box office window. I literally felt as if I was back in time as my steps took me down the sidewalk to what appeared to be formerly stage doors. We viewed the top of the theater in a sky that was so blue and speculated that one end must have been the stage area given its distinct elevation. We walked to that end of the theater and witnessed another set of apparent stage doors and a ramp that led down into another set, imaging this area could have been where the trucks parked, groupies milled, and hundreds of fans anxiously anticipated the bounty of a searing Springsteen show that could not possibly include Bobby Jean. It was almost like we felt those kindred spirits of that show with us as we gazed upon this site...This sacred site. How could this get better?Then I saw it. Treasure!!! Piled high by the same stage door where Bruce tuned his guitar, Mike Appel greedily counted up proceeds, and Clarence cleaned his spit valve all those years ago, there they were: dozens of old vintage upholstered theatre seats! The very seats where the nubile Harvard co-eds of 1974 writhed with pleasure to the strains of Kitty’s Back. Seats stained with Tab spilled in exhilaration as Bruce kicked into Rosalita. Seats pockmarked with long-discarded plugs of Juicy Fr[...]