It seems Clarence Clemons has been playing a lesser role with each new Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band tour. It could be his faltering health (hip replacement, detached retina) or the fact that Springsteen is coming up with songs that don't seem to call for much sax anymore. Either way, Clemons gets plenty of blowing time leading his own septet. On Live from Asbury Park, he tackles three rare Springsteen originals; an instrumental version of "Small Things," the similarly unreleased "Savin' Up," and the rollicking showpiece "Paradise by the C." On the latter tune, Clemons seems to run out of breath a bit, and his bandmates don't seem to able to support him very well. This tune probably should have been left off. Clemons' originals vary between your average-but-fun bar band boogie ("C.C. Angel") and some moody ballads ("Livin' Without You"). Seems it was a fun night, watching the famous Clemons at a relatively intimate venue (it was outside though, not actually inside the Stone Pony), but the disc leaves you with the impression that fans were hoping for Springsteen to show up and jam (he did, a different night, and does not make an appearance on this disc). On a well-produced studio recording perhaps, this band could really shine.
AllMusic Review by John Duffy