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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:10 pm
by Adam Blake
Like most record collectors, I have always been fascinated by bootlegs: forbidden fruit, strange records on unfamiliar labels, with unfamilar artwork, misleading information, stuff youŕe not meant to be able to hear etc. etc. etc.

I´ve been coming to Amsterdam since 1974 because my favourite cousin lives here and one thing I always loved was the way that record shops and stalls here just included bootlegs in their regular stock like it was perfectly normal to sell flagrantly illegal music as a matter of course.

Sometime in about 1974, Harlequin Records (as was) in Oxford Street got a large consignment of jazz bootlegs in stock. Amateurishly printed covers with nothing on the reverse, minimal information, enigmatically uninformative labels. They sold them for 1.49 apiece - just a bit too much for me to take a punt. I didn know much about jazz then, but I wanted to know, and I tried to interest my dad in them but he had other things on his mind at the time. I never did manage to get him to come down and spend Dad Money on a couple so I could see what they were like. Needless to say, they eventually all disappeared.

But today, I found one, in a shop in Amsterdam. A Johnny Hodges collection on the Énigma label, featuring a very young John Coltrane. For six euros, I have taken the punt I wanted to take nearly 40 years ago. There is no turntable here so I will have to wait till I get home for the proof of the pudding but itś just such cool thing to have (I know, I know, bear with me, my idea of what iś cool is perhaps not unknown to the denizens of SoTW).

Anyway, I wondered what memories (if any) other forumistas have of bootleg vinyls and the delights and disappointments they may have brought.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:05 pm
by will vine
The Stones Live At Altamont. I bought it under plain white cover at The Roundhouse one Sunday afternoon. I half expected to get it home and find it to be a fake or some old Dave Clark five record or something......but no, I wasn't ripped off, though you wouldn't say much good about the recording quality. It's still here somewhere. I must dig it out.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:53 pm
by AndyM
Christmas 1979, my first proper boyfriend gives me the bootleg of demos for the first Sex Pistols album, 'Spunk'. (There is, I am well aware, a dodgy rude joke if I worded that sentence differently.)

I was impressed that he'd found it and I gratefully listened. But it sounded like a less interesting version of Never Mind The Bollocks, though I know many disagree.

Five or so years later, with that boyf long gone, financial angst prompted me to sell it. Can't say I missed it, or have been minded to buy the CD issue of it that came out some time afterwards.

I was never persuaded by the alleged allure of bootlegs. Call me corporate, but I prefer proper records, though some kind friends have made me copies of a few, and they are always interesting as curios.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:17 am
by Adam Blake
No-one is asking you to choose, Andy. Bootlegs are AS WELL as proper records! In addition, even! Even more Beatles, Bowie, Stones, Dylan, whatever you could not get enough of...

Spunk was exciting because it came out slightly ahead of Never Mind The Bollocks and was under-produced instead of over-produced. But have any of the Sex Pistols records really aged well?

Will - The Stones were not that great at Altamont (I wonder why?) but I have the set in the archives on a cd bootleg (but cd bootlegs could never be as exciting as vinyl bootlegs.) The Rolling Stones were a particular favourite because their greatest period as a live band was never properly documented officially. This is where bootlegs could be really useful.

(Sorry to start yet another thread about old records but I dont think we have been down this particular road before.)

Some bootlegs have mythical status for good reason: Bob Dylans 1966 Albert Hall Concert (that was not recorded at the Albert Hall), David Bowie Live at Santa Monica etc. Most, if not all of them have seen official or semi-official release over the years, sometimes as part of expensive box sets or in dodgy pirate editions that come and go just like the original bootlegs. But I still find it exciting to find an original vinyl edition. (Jeez, I suppose you have to really like records...)

Also, with a truly favourite performer, it could be fun to chart their career via unoffical recordings (I am thinking of that band from Liverpool...) maybe it is just me, but over the years I seem to have collected a large catalogue of bits and pieces, odds and ends, items rescued from the cutting room floor. Often, I prefer the original demo of a song to the finished artefact. Similarly, I often prefer sketches to paintings. Different strokes and all that, I suppose.

With jazz though, where the performances are nearly always more or less live and straight off the top of the deck anyway, it is the fact of the bootleg record existing at all that makes it interesting - unless it is a historical document of something that was otherwise not recorded, like ẗhe Dean Bennedetti archive of Charlie Parker recordings. Just the fact that someone somewhere in the early 1970s was enough of a Johnny Hodges fan to make a bootleg LP of a couple of more or less random radio broadcasts from the early 1950s is enough to me smile.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:12 pm
by will vine
Seems I was mistaken about my album - LiveR Than You'll Ever Be was put together from 1969 performances in Oakland California. Just put it on -first time this century probably- and turned it up to 11....Got through Midnight Rambler and Little Queenie, everything seemed to be going splendidly....that wonderful mixture of roughly in tune, terrible acoustics, strong rhythm section, and Jagger managing to somehow make it all user friendly.
Honky Tonk Woman..."We want you all to help us on this one. We're a little hoarse and it's got a lot of high notes the chicks can all get into." Ah! the poetry of the age.

Couldn't get through Street Fighting Man. I know it epitomises the spirit of the age but I never liked it as a track and by now the sound on this bootleg was too bad.

As an artifact it's all there, the heavy vinyl with an anonymous centre and a plain white sleeve with LiveR than you'll ever be stamped on it, ruined only by some terrible ink- scribbled track listings and jottings which probably renders it valueless.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:21 pm
by Adam Blake
Will - Trivia note: The brisk under the counter sales of LiveR Than Youĺl Ever Be was the reason Get Yer Ya Yas Out was issued.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:38 pm
by DavidM
Here's something from a London bookseller whose newsletter I occasionally get sent. I wonder if this qualifies as a proper bootleg;

A most notorious film



We have recently obtained one of very few contemporary, theatre-quality prints of what is surely the most famous unseen film of all time: Robert Frank’s Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues. The film’s release was blocked by the band; it remains unreleased to this day. Contemporary prints such as this one, in its original box with 1970s BOAC and BEA flight tags still attached, are decisively rare.

For more information about this item, see our blog

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:02 am
by kas
I remember being a teenager and keenly aware of the allure of bootlegs. I lacked the opportunity or luck to grab any. Two of my mates, however (brothers), were big fans of the Doors and they had a bunch of Doors bootlegs - and one good live bootleg by The Police, I still have that on tape somewhere.

Most of the Doors discs were pretty poor live stuff as you might expect. One especially lousy quality album noted that most of the tracks came from "matrix". We, teenage knowitalls as we were, assumed they came from the matrix discs of some mysterious unreleased album. It later transpired that the tapes were some tapes from their sessions in a rehearsal studio called Matrix. The quality sounded like the tapes were recorded through the kitchen door...

The allure has stayed with me somewhat though (not that of the Doors stuff but generally speaking), and I've seen some curious borderline stuff lingering in cut out boxes here and there. Reggae and especially early Wailers seem to be a notorious case in point. And there's a strange cd & DVD release of just-before-Live-Rust material by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Found that in a local department store that frequently stores cheap records of uncertain origin.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:55 pm
by Alan Balfour
Here's a couple of "classic" Chess blues bootlegs (U.S. label that for obvious reasons the stuff was let out the back door of the Chess vaults claimed being of Canadian origin. Ditto below)

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:49 am
by Adam Blake
Sorry, wot wiv one fing n anuvver I have deserted my thread here. Unacceptable!

Thank you folks, for your contributions. Alan, Ive got one of those bootlegs! A Sonny Boy Williamson album with a bunch of out-takes on it and one absolutely sublime live track. Iḿ away from home so I cant check the details but memory suggests itś a take of 23 Hours Too Long recorded in Bremen, Germany in 1963. Whatever, itś worth the price of admission on its own.

I have often found that with bootlegs there will be one track that is really worth having and the rest is disposable. I wonder if the mainstream record industry were influenced by this as they seemed to adopt it as an official business model sometime in the 90s.

(This Dutch keyboard has weird apostrophes...)

Kas - I was never a big enough fan of The Doors to collect their bootlegs but I did pick up a cassette of a performance of theirs from March 1967 at the Matrix in San Francisco. It is hilarious in that you can hear the snootiness of the SF hip crowd in their dismissal of this bunch of plastic bullshit from LA. There is virtually no applause at all as Morrison does his best to actually sing the songs as best he can (something he rarely did later on) and the band rattle through material from the first two albums. A bonus is a version of Afro-Blue that they later nicked for Universal Mind. Also Morrison shouting FUCK-KILL throughout The End which rouses one or two members of the audience to respond.

David M - I dont know anything about film bootlegs but I should imagine that if this actually is what it says it is on the tin then it will go for serious money. I think bits of Cocksucker Blues are up on YouTube but theyǘe probably been taken down by now.

Anyway, back to the story: At school in 1974 there was a bloke in the sixth form with long hair and who smelled of patchouli who had found an advert in the back of a copy of IT for bootleg records. He had started an enterprise whereby he would act as middle-man for anyone interested in purchasing any of these records. He didnt charge a mark-up, his perk was that he got to tape them before handing them over. I wish I still had the original catalogue he showed me. They were 1.75 apiece and 3.00 for doubles. It was time to recruit my dad. I succeeded in interesting him in this enterprise and he put up the money to buy four - on the tacit understanding that, although the records would belong to him, I would steal them at every opportunity. They could not be loaned out to my horrible friends, though, and they officially lived with my parents records and not mine. I called this equitable. He also got to choose the records from the catalogue (curses!) But I cajoled and recommended, offered unsolicited advice and persuasive arguments until a list of four was arrived at:

Beatles - L.S.Bumble Bee
Beatles - Tokyo 66
Beatles - Get Back Sessions
Traffic - Jam

Of these four I still have two. But I remember the excitement when they arrived. Me and dad listened to them together. L.S.Bumble Bee was terrible. The first track was an amateurish recording of Peter Cook and Dudley Mooreś single of the same name - nice enough but nothing to do with The Beatles. The rest of the side was taken up with the rehearsal section of the Let It Be film. Side two had what must have been McCartneyś demo for Love Of The Loved, and a section of rehearsals for Hey Jude which was kind of fun. There was also the full boradcast of All You Need Is Love which was the same as the record except for George Martin saying Stand By at the beginning. All in all, a dud. But the cover and labels were exciting. I wish I still had it, but I dont.

Tokyo 66 was much better. A pretty decent live recording of a gig from Tokyo 66. The Fabs were thoroughly fed up with touring by then and this shows in the tiredness (stonedness) of the performance. Highlight was a group rendition of Yesterday that Ive never heard anywhere else and John and George singing what sounds like Stoned, Iḿ really Stoned on the chorus of Iḿ Down, Slim pickings. I still have that one.

Get Back Sessions ran too fast. Only real point of interest being a version of Jimmy McCracklinś The Walk - which isnt very good - and the pre-Spectorised Long And Winding Road, which I never liked much anyway (Macca at his soppiest, IMHO)

Traffic Jam was a microphone in the crowd jobbie of a random gig off Trafficś 1972 US tour. Pretty ropey quality but some lovely playing if you like that sort of thing (which I did and do).

Was I deterred by this somewhat disappointing haul? Not a bit of it. Later that same year I went to Amsterdam for the first time (Oh my God! City of sin! Let me loose in there!) and found a whole stall selling nothing but bootlegs LPś in the flea market. Bliss! Over the next two years I would visit the city of sin three times (ostensibly to visit my cousin - as I am doing now) and would scrimp and save whatever I could to blow it all on the bootleg stand when I got here.

Over that period I got:

Fleetwood Mac - Merely A Portmanteau. Side One of this was THE STUFF. Decently recorded live material of Peter Green letting rip on such immortal gems as Rattle Snake Shake and The Green Manalishi. Sterling stuff which I played over and over. (nb, the information on the sleeve was wrong, as I discovered many years later, this material came from a 1970 BBC In Concert) Side Two was unlistenable crap.

Traffic - Live, On By The Way. I had a teenage crush on Traffic and this album was also pretty decent. Another BBC In Concert recording from 1970 - around the time of the John Barleycorn album. Some great versions of things like Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring and No Time To Live.

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - Live 1968. I was terribly excited by this and so disappointed when I got it home and realised it wasnt a live album at all. Actually, it was a bunch of BBC radio sessions and really not bad (most of it came out on the Unpeeled cd a few years back). A couple of tracks have never seen the light of day - an absolutely gorgeous version of Ready Mades, one of Neil Innes best melodies, and a good chunk of Vivian Stanshallś Brains opera. Stupidly, I taped the album and sold it in a huff so all I have are those two tracks on a barely playable Boots cassette (I digitized them as best I could but what a twit, eh?)

Led Zeppelin - Blueberry Hill. This was crap. I sold it to a guy in the year above me. I didnt even bother to tape it. Why did I buy it? It may have had something to do with trying to impress a GIRL.

Rolling Stones - Charlie Watts Live At Leeds. Fabulous recording from Leeds University, 13.3.71, and one of the Stones best albums. I still have this one, have worn it out and will never be parted from it.

Frank Zappa - Safe Muffinz. Pretty decent mic in the crowd live album from late 1970, early 1971. The Flo'n Eddie period which I was very into at the time (I WAS a teenager, after all). In hindsight, some very enjoyable playing from FZ himself and some material from Chungaś Revenge that never got issued in live versions as far as I know. But there are too many live Zappa albums in the world (although that wasnt true then).

There were so many I wished I could have bought but lack of money prevented me. The labels, the covers, the utter exoticism of it all. It was terribly important to me when I wa 15, 16...

A bit later on I found a similar stall a bit closer to home in Camden Lock where I found Syd Barrett - Unforgotten Hero that introduced me to such eternal flames as Scream Thy Last Scream and Vegetable Man, as well as the BBC recordings of Jugband Blues and suchlike. Not sure if these have ever been issued officially. Beat the hell out of The fucking Wall...

Jimi Hendrix - Never Fade. WONDERFUL! One album of BBC sessions (most, but not all of which have been subsequently issued offficially), a very good recording of the Experience live in Stockholm in 1967 where Jimi does The Burning Of The Midnight Lamp absolutely beautifully and a not so great recording of another gig from the following year.

Bob Dylan - Tough Songs. Also wonderful, being half the famous Albert Hall (not Albert Hall) concert and half a bunch of out takes from Highway 61, Blonde On Blonde and Bringing It All Back Home. Fabulous full colour cover too.

Sex Pistols- Indecent Exposure. A live gig from September 1976 thatś been issued at least a dozen times on dodgy labels over the years. It seemed terribly important at the time (1978) but turned out not to have been. Fantastic version of Problems, however, which captures perfectly what all the fuss was about. I mean, you couldnt really go back to listening to Genesis and Pink Floyd after that, could you? Also memorable for Rotten sneering at the audience - youŕe no fun, youŕe just funny - during No Fun.

Enough already! I better post this before it crashes on me.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:38 pm
by NormanD
Wot, no Dylan?

The only bootleg I've ever had was 'The Great White Wonder', which was a plain white double vinyl LP, in about 1970. I'd borrowed that one from a friend, and then had to give it back. Since nearly all those tracks have either seen an 'official' cleaned up release, or you can easily download them, the attraction has long passed.

I've since picked up various CDs here and there, of bootlegs of The Beatles, which have been a combination of boring (endless studio rehearsals/takes of not very good in the first place songs) or fascinating (alternative early takes (Like "Strawberry Fields"). There's not much else I'd especially be interested in now, maybe "Blond On Blond" outtakes..... anyone?

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:38 pm
by Adam Blake
Lots of Bob over the years, but this was the best one:

Adam Blake wrote:Bob Dylan - Tough Songs. Also wonderful, being half the famous Albert Hall (not Albert Hall) concert and half a bunch of out takes from Highway 61, Blonde On Blonde and Bringing It All Back Home. Fabulous full colour cover too.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:55 pm
by NormanD
Sorry for missing that, Should have re-read. It must be the heat.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:16 pm
by DavidM
Adam, you're a fan; have you ever seen that Rolling Stones film ? Is it really so debauched ? I'm curious now.

Re: Bootlegs

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:33 pm
by Adam Blake
No, I am afraid I have never seen it. Read descriptions of it in various books. Guess what? You see them and members of their entourage taking drugs and having sex with groupies!