Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Actually this boot article was to've appeared about three months ago but other things more "pressing" (like real life, or what's passing for it these days) got inna way like they usually do. But fortunately the recordings in question popped back into my life after all these months, and if I do say so myself it's sure nice to re-acquaint myself w/the whole buncha 'em even if I might not be totally copasetic with every nuance and sound that is emitted from their digitized grooves. And, while I'm at it, I should also mention that even after all these years it's kinda heartening to know that bootleg discs, even if in the dreaded Cee-Dee format, remain relevant to the collector scum in us all especially in the cold cyborg early 21st century when we're supposed to be oh-so-sophisticated about our tastes in music and how we "approach" the form 'n all. True, even I shuddered during all of those early-eighties boot busts that used to get hefty GOLDMINE magazine coverage to the point where even they were rejecting ads for these savory items and by the time the clamps came down good during the late-nineties (when my fears that the CD format would eventually do these illicit wonders in were finally assuaged), I dreaded that the entire bootleg "industry" for wont of a better term was going the way of the Edsel but like a case of the clap the things just keep coming back to the point where I'll betcha we'll be seeing bootleg neural implants sometime in the year 2525! Yes, bootlegs sure have come a long way from the days when they'd pop up in the bins of those creaky outta-the-way record shops back inna seventies, and I'll bet that if those ol' record dens of iniquity are still around there would be a few boots here 'n there for some unsuspecting blootch to snatch up, take home, and complain about the poor sound quality natch!

Anyway, here are some boots that I came across (source discreetly hidden in order to ward off eagle-eyed FBI agents!) those few months back that I think you might wanna know more about. In fact, you may wanna purchase one or maybe even all of these and if you do may I just hint that obtaining 'em could be as easy as a stroke of the keypad to your nearest on-line agent for whatever ails ya. And if the cops come callin', I never saw ya before.

The Velvet Underground-AFTER THE WHITE HEAT 2-CD set with bonus CD-R (Nothing Songs Limited)

Velvets exhumations seem to be slim pickins these days (and really, I know that the release of any future Velvets rarities on the legal market has been held up by a nasty lawsuit directed at one Mr. Lou Reed, but if there really are all of those 1965 rehearsal tapes on reel-to-reels like John Cale sez, why not give an avid Velvets fan a few tapes and a player and have him comb through the things for that all-important "historical significance" anyway and have the bootleggers take care of the rest? I mean, with that lawsuit goin' on it ain't like anyone'll be LOSING money!)...uh, ahem, like I said there probably won't be any previously-unheard Velvets material floating our way anytime soon, so boots like these really do come in handy! And here's something that will fill the proverbial bill, a ltd. to 500 wonder I think'll tickle your fancy complete with the entire Woodrose Ballroom show from May '70, the rehearsals for the Max's Kansas City gigs and for you earlybirds a bonus platter featuring previously-heard gems which at least have been gathered together in one nice li'l blop in case you're thinking about saving space in your abode so you can buy that hydraulic vibrator you've always been thinkin' about, and personally I think this one is a definite HIGHLIGHT of 2007 which might be being premature, but frankly if this one don't rank up as one of the top spins of the year come December 31 heck, I'll even eat Jay Hinman's hat grease and all that's how cocksure I am about this 'un!

Gotta say that I've been avoiding that long-circulated Woodrose Ballroom tape for quite some time, not outta choice but because I had so little faith in the thing, so this was was like a newie to me and I'm glad I waited because it 's good to refresh oneself like this on occasion. Now many people don't seem to care for the '70 version of the Velvets but I gotta say that I now find the band during their last days just about as exciting as they were during their birth. And (as many reviewers pointed out at the time, which you can read about for yourself in ALL YESTERDAY'S PARTIES) the late-Velvets were in many ways influenced by their early selves, at least to the point where LOADED has this early-Velvets heroin-mypoia charm to it and in fact if I didn't know better I woulda sworn it was recorded by some 1967 wannabes who just copped that first elpee and swiped more'n a few ideas from it themselves, perhaps mixed with a good dose of such other sonic influx as the Stooges and maybe even Creedence. Let's face it, the '70 Velvets may have been a "dance" band, but they were a durn good 'un, just as avant-punk as the '66 model in many ways and maybe if you listen to it this way you'll wash your latterday prejudices outta your system just like I have.

That Woodrose recording is really the cat's pee-jays 'n more'n just anudder warmup for the infamous Max's residency like I'm sure a small number of Velvet wonks out there might think. It sounds great (despite its typical 1970 Flintstones portable cassette recording limitations) thanks to the fact that digitalization of old analog tapes make 'em sound all the more jucier, and not only that but the performance is a total wild ride through the furthest reaches of Velvetism that I'll bet thrilled not just every Jonathan Richman, but every Wayne McGuire as well. The band starts off with this great jam that sounds like a massive four-way crash of "White Light/White Heat," "Sister Ray" and whatever other two Velvets maulers you happen to fancy at this moment (maybe "Move Right In" as well!) before some nerk of an announcer stops the proceedings about three minutes into the set to introduce the band if you can believe that! From there it's a Suicide Sally as the Velvets careen through a set featuring mostly tracks from their previous 'n upcoming ones and it's all hot-to-trot high energy rockin' that I'm sure the stuck-up Cat Stevens fanciers (and their modern-day apologists) never could fathom, but the sixth-graders sure could! Well, at least an astute sixth-grader in 1970 who knew about the Velvets would unnerstand perfectly, and really, if you can't listen to rock & roll through sixth-grade ears then what kinda fan are you anyways???

Disque #2 is that Max's rehearsal where Lou and band settle back and seemingly have a pretty good time cranking out melodies both old and new sounding surprisingly relaxed for that matter, like Lou was actually enjoying himself for that matter unlike all those rumors you've heard about Lou at the time. You've probably got most of these rehearsal tracks on that FLOWERS OF EVIL boot that came out '03, but if you don't it's all here and sounds particularly enticing especially with that interesting made-up-onna-spot ditty about Mickey Ruskin and his fabled watering-hole.

Lucky buggers who happened to get one of the first hunnerd or so copies of this'll be in for an added treat: a selection of Velvets and related rarities that are crammed onto one CD-R and presented for your aural excitement. Nothing outta-space here, but it's nice hearing those takes of "Ride Into The Sun" crackles 'n all again as well as that hokey promotion "jingle" with that soft and soothing voice hyping the Velvets as if they were James Taylor! And what makes this one so special is that even those wop-a-dago bands who were included on that Eyetalian magazine EP covering VU classics sound good enough to be...Le Stelle di Mario Schifano? Yeah, this package might be the bootleg surprise of the year which I doubt no real BLOG TO COMM fan (all THREE of ya!) would want to be without!
Patti Smith-CBGB's "THE LAST STAND" 3-CD set (Chapter One)

As a good portion of you readers already know, the latterday Patti Smith recordings have pretty much left me colder'n an eskimo in a pair of Jillery's underwear. Oh yeah, I can really dive straightforward into a spinning of HORSES even this far down the line ('n I gotta credit both Patti and the Velvet Underground for saving me from a future awash in piddling progressive muzak and low-quality electronic bleeps) while the heavy metal of RADIO ETHIOPIA still shatters most of the HM pretenders at large from fifty paces, but after that I can pretty much forget it other'n the classic "Fire of Unknown Origin" side and perhaps a few other shootbacks to Patti at her earliest goo goo muck. Those later records never did appeal to me on a garage band/lowbrow basis...too slick and refined for my tastes, but then again everything that came out on the majors began having this thick layer of goosh all over it like wax on linoleum so maybe I shouldn't just blame Patti herself.

However, I found that some of the latterday Patti boot offerings like the stuff she did with Dylan in the mid-nineties had some rather interesting moments, so why not latch onto this recent endeavor of the complete recordings from the final night at CBGB when Patti and band gave that fabled club a special send-off which just happened to be broadcast live via Sirius satellite radio. That accounts for the excell-o sound but what I wanna know is who was responsible for the rather lackadazical performance here, not to mention Patti acting like yet anudder Big Time Rock Star (y'know, "Get that $#%&#* camera outta my face!" belched at some hapless papparazzi) and the general slipshodness of Patti who I thought woulda known a whole lot better'n she does on this broadcast.

Not that Patti hasn't been the object of such criticism ever since that article in DENIM DELINQUENT where Jymn Parrett lambasted her for having a rock star attitude that seemed a little too frightening considering how Patti herself came from a fan's POV which permeated not only her music writings but her music as well. But if you thought she was already over the hill back during her late-eighties comeback (or if you thought that thirty-year-old rockstars were bad until you saw 'em hit forty/fifty/sixty) you kinda wonder where she is now when she has to read her old poems 'n lyrics offa sheets o' paper because she forgot 'em and kinda mutters about as if she actually did become a teach like she wanted and you're stuck in her third-grade class after school. Maybe if she didn't drop outta teacher's college and is now spending her day counting the weeks until planned retirement they woulda gotten a whole buncha the bands who used to play CBGB to reform and thus re-enact those great Summer and Christmas Festivals of yore during the final days, but hey we're stuck w/Patti and maybe we should make the best of it!

Some nice moments (like with Richard Lloyd on guitar) plus a lot of this is just plain ol' smooth going down which at least counteracts the closing night jitters. And the close-knit intimacy of the band does help a bit (that is, if you can be intimate in front of a capacity crowd), but overall there's just something here that makes me think that those final days coulda been celebrated in a much better way'n having Patti hog the whole stage. But I guess what was done was done and maybe someday this three-disc farewell will grow on me. But right now, I woulda preferred a Kongress reunion complete with a stage burning just ripe for a visit from the fire dept. At least that would've been a much more fitting farewell even if Jim Carroll probably wouldn't've attended it on a bet!
Pink Floyd-HYPNON: VISIONS OF DOMINO 2-CD set (no label)

I gotta say that even during my mid-seventies Floydian Pinkie days I wasn't as much a rabid Pink Floyd fan as the local boxboy pothead types you'd see all over the place with acne galore encrusting their inbred complections. Oh yeah, I certainly could osmose myself in THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN and shudder in abject fright while listening to disc #2 of UMMAGUMMA, plus I shall admit that even DARK SIDE OF THE MOON got hefty raves from this kid who maybe should've known better but didn't. And yeah that might seem like a totally embarrassing admission in this day and age but Jymn Parrett sheepishly 'fessed up to the fact that not only did he like that one but a myriad assortment of Floyd bootlegs of that time period as recounted in the pages of DENIM DELINQUENT, and if he could admit such an unspeakable crime and still look "cool" in the eyes of fanzine maniacs everywhere then maybe so can I! (But then again, maybe not!) But as far as the rest goes...well, I recall that MEDDLE was OK in spots but that side-long track entitled "Echoes" really didn't go anywhere, while what I did hear of such platters as ATOM HEART MOTHER and OBSCURED BY CLOUDS seemed so halfway-there piddling, as if they were recorded by some previously-unknown upstarts on the prog road to wherever and not an established act on a major label with a half-dozen elpees under their belt! But then again, once you get down to it almost all of this prog stew was pretty yawn-inspiring and one's gotta wonder whether any of these groups would have gotten as far as they did w/o the advent of psychotropic drugs that would alter ones perception at least with regards to the purse-strings.

Still, on a never-ending quest to refresh myself as to whether or not late-sixties/early-seventies progressive rock was as bad as I remembered, this humble blogschpieler actually snatched this bootleg 2-CD set up thinking that maybe the Floyd might have had some good sense to 'em somewhere during the 60s/70s cusp when most of these tracks were recorded. And for a guy who nowdays couldn't go near DARK SIDE OF THE MOON if you paid me, this was a strange task indeed. I mean, the money I did spend on this could have been put to much better use feeding a flock of starving kids in Bangladesh or wherever, but for the sake of curiousity I latched upon this live set mostly recorded at two Montreaux fests inna row, which should be some sorta tipoff as to the sounds to found herein because for all I know, Montreaux would never dare book a group like the Stooges, y'know.

Lessee...nice Hipgnosis-like upfront snap reminiscent of the Golden Age of Album Covers back when it was worth your while to snatch up the elpees if only to frame the things on the wall of your bedroom. Otherwise this set is a total boring waste complete with tiresome redos of old Syd Barrett-era classics like "Astronomy Domine" and "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Toilet" (OK, that's an old Billy Miller joke rehashed), coupled with some of the more boring aspects of early-seventies British progsterisms that I'm surprised went anywhere given their natural leadeness. There's even some extended blooze flowing from the fingers of these cultured Englishmen who sound exactly like you'd think cultured Englishmen playing the blooze would sound like using state-of-the-art equipment 'stead of distorted electric guitars...meaning that Muddy Waters had more right to do the liner notes for the Sky Saxon Blues Band than he would this heaping pile which has about all the soul and verve of...white English guys mimicking black Amerigan moves from thousands of miles away both physically and spiritually.

What's really strange is, Pink Floyd perhaps could have delivered something worthy of your and my ears at this time since the band could (when prodded) pull a few rabbits outta their top hats at this time if they truly wanted to. I mean, even I will admit that I really like a lot of the the stuff that got slapped on a number of classic Floyd boots along the lines of THE MIDAS TOUCH, such as the obscure nicety "Crumbling Land" and that was recorded during their ATOM HEART MOTHER days, but danged if anything with a spark of energy or intelligence dares to rear its ugly rear here. Let's just chalk this one up to experience and go onto the next item worthy of your time and pleasure, at least after the air clears up a li'l bit around here.
The Kinks-SECRET SESSIONS 4-CD set (Phenonmynal Cat)

I'm pretty sure that the same folks who put out that Velvet Underground CAUGHT BETWEEN THE TWISTED STARS multi-disc wonder a few years back also released this equally stunning package complete with the same kinda glossy foldout cover and bonus booklet featuring an interview with Ray Davies and loads of furrin' color seven-incher sleeves. I really must say that I enjoy these obvious bootleg labors of love because it's nice to know that the FANS can do a much better job at presenting their rock & roll faves than a big label (one which usually has been misrepresenting its product in the stupidest ways imaginable for years on end) which is one reason why we should support these bootleggers while giving the majors the shaft, at least until they can do the job right w/regards to quality over profits (oops, just slipped twenny-five years back into my commie rat fink days...excuse the fox pass!). Anyway, even if you're not what I'd call a total Kinks-y nut (like I am not), you just might get a kick outta this package which can be obtained cheaply enough if you'd only try. Covering a good portion of the Kinks' long and varied career (at least the earlier portion), SECRET SESSION's got everything from the '64-vintage r&b rave up days via the BBC to the late-sixties intellectual stuff as well as a live disc recorded in the early-seventies at one of those hippie colleges which is "eh" if you ask me (for once audience quality is not up to snuff, as is the performance), but between the great material to the Island jingles as I like to call 'em, you get a nice slab of just what the Kinks were about when they were making the transition from British Invasion moptops to underground pop kings to rockstar royalty in the late-seventies. And although I'm sure the serious Kinks Kollektor would have all of this stuff awlready, the truly serious one would also need SECRET SESSIONS if only to clarify things a little more, y'unnerstan'???

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the fascinating boot
coverage, Chris.
By the way, I have a 1980's pirate
(I think) repressing of one of the Gudibrallan albums--I don't remember it that well (it's still
among my boxes and boxes of vinyl
in storage--I'm gradually working my way through each box slowly as I received a record player for my birthday this year), but it's nice to now have your perspective
regarding the band for when I do stumble across it again.
Keep up the good work.

Bill Shute
San Antonio, Texas