September 18, 2004



I was driving home Thursday night when I got stuck in traffic. Trying to pass the time, I turned on NPR, only to hear a fascinating story about the discovery of a lost Bruce Springsteen recording from his youth.

As the story goes, an Episcopal priest in 1967 recorded a band called the Castiles at a teen club called The Left Foot in Freehold, New Jersey. In the group was the then-17-year-old Springsteen.

Father Fred Coleman's reel-to-reel deck ultimately captured The Boss' first live recording.

To my surprise, I heard at the end of the piece that it was Mark Urycki from station WKSU reporting the story. I met Mark during a seminar he and I attended in July. I liked Mark a lot. He was intelligent, seemed to be a great listener and asked really good questions during our sessions.

I e-mailed him on Friday to ask about the story. I asked how pumped he was about getting to hear the tapes firsthand:

It was pretty cool getting my hands on that old Castiles stuff but a long story in fixing them....

Fred Coleman sent the tapes out to a lab to be burned onto CD and at first just brought us the disc. The left channel of the recordings were completely muddy, which I thought at first was just a problem in recording them. They were taped on a stereo 1/4 track machine so that both sides of the tape would be used. Two tracks in either direction - four total - like a cassette. We don't have anything here that could play that.

But I started to get suspicious that the muddy left channel was a problem in tape head alignment so I asked our production director here to take the tapes to
his home reel-to-reel deck, which could play them. He dubbed them onto a DAT recorder.

Fred agreed to part with the tapes and sure enough the left channel was as crisp as the right. It does have some dropouts but overall sounds pretty good for 37 year old tape.

A little bonus was that Fred also had an old reel of Springsteen live at the Akron Civic Theater from 1975, where he actually got to meet with Bruce backstage after not seeing him for years. I've burned both tapes onto CD for him. God, this was a lot of work tracking down clips - like that first studio recording.

I did a longer version here for WKSU that includes a bootleg song from 1996 too.

To listen to the report and read the story about the tapes, click here. I'm not a huge fan of Springsteen - I like his music but have never been to a concert. Still, it's a great story that any rock fan can appreciate.

Posted by Jeff at September 18, 2004 12:02 AM | TrackBack