Loading... Please wait...
FREE Shipping on all UK orders!



Posted by


Book review by Dan French

When Bruce Springsteen wrote ‘meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall’ in the lyrics of ‘This Hard Land’, with its geographical reference to the Rio Grande, he had to be thinking of Liberty Hall in Houston, the famous site of the (then as yet still unnamed) E Street Band’s first live performances in Texas in March 1974, early intimate gigs that would seal their relationship with the Lone Star State.

This was a formative time in the young band’s career, still struggling to succeed with record sales in the days before their ground-breaking ‘Born To Run’ album, but already accomplished as a live act, having paid their dues with regular touring and building a reputation as a must-see name.

Nicki just happened to be the right person in the right place at the right time, her photos capturing the band’s ‘wide-eyed glory’, its ‘innocence and nonchalance’ in 1974 before fame struck the following year. Bruce Springsteen himself lays out their wary expectations at the time in his foreword, recalling their amazement that their ‘East Coast rumble’ caused the Southern locals to go ‘insane from the first note’.

Robert Santelli adds further context to the story in a detailed essay, noting that the band had already played around 200 shows in 1973, driven relentlessly by manager Mike Appel, and were constantly dealing with exhaustion, hoping their gruelling efforts would pay off. Unconventionally, they chose to take a two-day train ride south to Houston, following their first nerve-wracking turbulent plane experience. Crucially, a demo of the unreleased ‘The Fever’ got heavy rotation on Houston radio and increased audience expectations in advance.

A local Columbia promoter was instrumental in bringing Nicki Germaine to the scene, a local photographer already familiar with the first venue. She was clearly impressed with the band’s professionalism and Bruce’s talent for stage dynamics, storytelling, and working the crowd. The engagement was almost doubled with extra sold out shows added after the initial response, and the buzz spread to the following Texan cities, Austin and Dallas. Tickets were as cheap as $1.00 in Austin, but even higher prices sold ‘briskly’.

Garry Tallent adds his own memories of that ‘pivotal’ period, thanking his now life partner Nicki for showing ‘our fatigue, our hope, the promise of a real shot.’ It was Garry who contacted her in 2011 initially about another Liberty Hall article on him, and the re-discovery of her portfolio led to the germination of the book idea in 2018.

Remarkably, it’s taken almost 50 years for most of these classic photos to come to light. Gloriously presented in both black and white and colour, giving the then bravely integrated half white, half black ‘Yankee’ band a larger-than-life quality, they put you right in that space and time with them. Front row action is framed with cigarette packs and beer cans on the lip of the stage. Nicki’s book is augmented with rare contemporary historical images, such as a tour poster and live review, to flesh out the vivid recreation of this time capsule. She portrayed their various characters off as well as on stage, ranging from reserved to extrovert, and a few of her pictures highlighted a Rolling Stone magazine feature on the Texan swing. Only a month later, Jon Landau’s famous ‘rock & roll future’ line would emerge, and the following history is well known.

Few Springsteen books have focused on a particular location and time, but those that have are very welcome, such as ‘Springsteen In Ireland’, ‘Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band 1975’, and ‘Live In The Heartland’. The most comprehensive publication previously documenting images of an early line-up of the band was by David Gahr. Now Nicki Germaine joins that select club, with a revelatory volume that genuinely deserves the label a labour of love, collecting many previously unseen photos of Bruce and the band at the exact time as they were making that first impact in the American South.

Bruce Springsteen - Only the Strong Survive review

Whatever people think of Bruce Springsteen, he’s certainly still able to surprise: witness in recent years ‘Springsteen on Broadway’, ‘Western Stars’, the ‘From My Home To Yours’ radio series – and now, another release no-one saw coming: a collection of 15 soul covers, ‘Only The Strong Survive’.Bruce announced the new album with an introductory video [...]

Read More »

RSD 2022 Delays!

Some of this years release's are now being released on 18th June... Please take the time to review this list especially if you are queueing.  Altered Images The Adventures Of Teen Popstars Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers In My Prime Beth [...]

Read More »


In 1979, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were between albums and tours, having completed the 1978 ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ tour and working on studio sessions that would become ‘The River’ in 1980, with the two-year tour that accompanied it. Midway in that period came the opportunity to perform two rare concerts on 21 and [...]

Read More »

​RENEGADES: BORN IN THE USA – book review by Dan French

RENEGADES: BORN IN THE USA – book review by Dan FrenchUNFINISHED CONVERSATIONS: It took a special connection for Bruce Springsteen to collaborate for the first time on a book. Perhaps in the wake of becoming an autobiographical author in 2016 with his own book ‘Born To Run’, his horizons were relaxed enough to join forces [...]

Read More »


SUMMER OF SORCERY LIVE! AT THE BEACON THEATRE – LITTLE STEVEN & THE DISCIPLES OF SOULLittle Steven is a man on a mission. Anyone who’s been listening to him in recent years will be aware he’s passionate about musical education, as witnessed by his ‘TeachRock’ programme of free resources for schools, and ongoing support for arts teachers. It’s no [...]

Read More »


Stevie Van Zandt’s fascinating memoir, written during what he referred to as the ‘pandemic of stupidity’, is subtitled ‘Odyssey of a Rock and Roll Consigliere (A Cautionary Tale)’, and that bracketed aside is a telling one. Although packed with details of his many works, Stevie is apparently torn between taking credit and downplaying his achievements. A typical self-deprecating comment, referring [...]

Read More »

Record Store Day 2021

Please note we CANNOT take pre-orders or reserve these items in accordance with official RSD rules! But we would like to know the titles you're interested in. Let us know via the contact form or click this link to send an email.RECORD STORE DAY 2021:As many as possible of these releases will be on sale [...]

Read More »

"Letter To You" album review by Dan French

THE GHOSTS OF TIMES PAST, PRESENT AND FUTUREIt’s important to remember that while many might believe ‘Letter To You’ is a ‘pandemic’ album, it actually predates Coronavirus-19, having been recorded live by Bruce and the E Street Band in just five days at home in New Jersey late in 2019. As with ‘Western Stars’, when we were actually hearing Bruce [...]

Read More »

Western Stars: Songs from the Film

WESTERN STARS: SONGS FROM THE FILM – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN Soundtrack review by Dan FrenchFour months after his ‘Western Stars’ solo album was released, Bruce Springsteen has now issued a soundtrack album as companion to the ‘Western Stars’ feature-length film, which captures Bruce and 30 supporting musicians performing the album live in its entirety in the roof [...]

Read More »

We Support:

Record Store Day Logo

Love Record Stores


Recent Updates

Sign up to our newsletter

Connect with us: Facebook Twitter Instagram