Hear Joe Grushecky and Bruce Springsteen reprise Chuck Berry

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The October Assault Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers tour starring Bruce Springsteen lives up to its name.

Grushecky, Springsteen, and the band hit the road in October 1995, starting with a show at The Boss’s Field in Asbury Park, NJ. They did five concerts in five nights, ending the short term a few nights later in Chicago.

Springsteen soon set off on another adventure, starting his own tour in support of The ghost of Tom Joad, but two of Grushecky’s dates in his hometown of Pittsburgh have been recorded for posterity. The tapes were mixed and then classified.

Now 13 tracks from both performances at the now-closed Nick’s Fat City are included as part of a Grushecky’s 25th anniversary reissue American Babylon album, which was produced by Springsteen.

The collaboration was powerful, resulting in tracks like “Chain Smokin ‘” which remain in Grushecky’s sets to this day. Springsteen co-wrote two songs, in addition to helping his longtime friend hone and refine others. On the next tour he was noted (by Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune) that Springsteen “played more lead guitar than at any time since 1978 Darkness on the Edge of Town to visit.”

How much fun the couple had on the road together is evident in the live tracks included with the new version of American Babylon. After going through a material-focused set written by Grushecky, they performed a few favorite covers, including Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”. Their flashy take on Chuck Berry’s “Down the Road Apiece” often popped up during the show’s closing moments each night. You can listen to the song below.

Grushecky says do American Babylon with Springsteen was a lifeline he desperately needed at the time. “I was pretty much at the end of my rope,” he told UCR. “I was working to death. I felt like I had a new life making this record. It was really a boost for me, mentally and artistically. It was just a really positive experience. Bruce and I , we have a friendship that still lasts today. “

The updated version of American Babylon is now available on CD and on digital platforms. A vinyl edition will arrive in early 2022.

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