Bruce Springsteen and his management have just announced that they will be releasing on CD and video the complete No Nukes concerts from Madison Square Garden held in 1979. Every generation has their own protest movement. That has never been more true than it has recently in the past couple of years with all the protest movements we’ve seen lately. Yet rock ‘n’ roll was very much involved in protests in the 1960s with artist’s anti- Vietnam songs and concerts that were almost a daily occurrence. In the 1970s after the Vietnam War ended, their were a few years where there was really not much to protest. Life has changed dramatically for the nations youth as disco, hard rock and drugs pretty much dominated pop culture. However, in the late 70s their seemed to be a new threat, that was taken very seriously by some and ignored by others. That threat was nuclear power and the power plants that were being built and put on line to provide that nuclear power. In the wake of the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania, and movies like the China Syndrome, more people were becoming aware of the dangers of nuclear power. That awareness fueled a new protest movement called No Nukes.
On the pop culture front, especially in the music business, the No Nukes Movement was led by a group of musicians and songwriters who spoke out against the proliferation of nuclear power plants and the dangers that they posed to society. They did so in a way in which they felt they could most achieved their voice being heard. They did it through their music. Not necessarily through songs that they wrote about nuclear power, but simply concert performances in which they would raise awareness through the spoken voice. These were called the No Nukes concerts. The concerts were held in September of 1979 at New York’s famed arena called Madison Square Garden. The multi night shows featured Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt, John Hall, James Taylor, Carly Simon ,The Doobie Brothers and the much loved Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.
The No Nukes concerts were labeled officially on record as the No Nukes: The Muse Concerts For a Non-Nuclear Future. The word Muse stood for Musicians United for Safe Energy. Highlights from the concerts were released on a two record set released not long after the concerts had been recorded. A film was also released called No Nukes- The Experience. While the film was distributed nationally, it was mostly shown at art theaters and at midnight shows at certain national chains. I saw the film when it was first released in Huntington New York at a movie house called the Balcony Theater which has since been renovated and turned in to a successful concert theater called The Paramount. When my friends and I as well as countless other Bruce Springsteen fans saw the film, we were completely blown away for multiple reasons.
For the first time, Bruce Springsteen fans were able to see Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band on the silver screen, or any screen for that matter. This was 1980 before MTV. No one had ever really seen Bruce Springsteen perform before on any sort of screen unless it was in some news footage or they had caught a live concert. Seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on the large movie screen live was a mind blowing experience for Bruce Springsteen fans. It was very difficult to get Springsteen tickets in the 1970s. He sold out everywhere he played so they were millions of Bruce Springsteen fans who had never seen the guy in the flesh.
Bruce Springsteen’s first appearance in the film was also a jaw dropping moment for Bruce Springsteen fans as the Boss performed a song we had never heard before called “The River.” I can still remember the chills that ran through my body as I heard him perform that stunning song for the first time. We were always starved for new Bruce Springsteen music back in the 1970s as the man took a long time in between releases, so this was a moment to cherish. Of course it only got better as we were all treated with Bruce Springsteen’s greatest song of all time called “Thunder Road,” next in the film. The final performance shown in the film was Bruce Springsteen’s traditional show closer called “Quarter to Three.” The No Nukes film then ender with an appearance by The Doobie Brothers of Taking It To The Streets at New York’s Battery Park.
The two record said that was released showcasing the No Nukes concert had a selection of different Bruce Springsteen performances on the vinyl. Bruce Springsteen was not releasing “The River,” on that album. No, he was saving that one for his new album which was also called The River and have not been released yet. The No Nukes two record vinyl set had no original Bruce Springsteen songs on it. What it did have though was the classic encore set that Bruce Springsteen have been doing throughout his Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour in 1978 called the Detroit Medley which had been originally released by Mitch Ryder. It was a thrill to finally get a recording that was not a bootleg of Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band’s performances of the Mitch Ryder Medley. In addition, the No Nukes live album also included Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band’s performance of Stay with Jackson Browne.
On November 19 2021, Bruce Springsteen fans will finally get the opportunity to view and listen to the Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band’s performances from the No Nukes concerts. Labelled “The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts,” the release will feature ten performances by the band that has never been seen by anyone who were not at the original shows. Bruce Springsteen and his record company will release the music in multiple packages including one with two audio CDs and a DVD, or two CD audio set with a Blu Ray of the show included. The release will also be offered on a two LP vinyl set. It will also be available for digital download. This is ione we can’t wait for as it brings us back to the last days of the 1970s and a time that seems like another life.
The performances included in the film and audio set will include the songs “Prove It All Night, Badlands, The Promised Land, The River, Sherry Darling, Thunder Road, Jungleland, Rosalita, Born To Run, Stay, Detroit Medley, Quarter To Three,” and Buddy Holly’s “Rave On.”
Bruce Springsteen Set To Release Complete No Nukes Concerts article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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