BLOG TO COMM BOOTLEG BONANZA (budget style)!
Guess what fanablas, I'm gonna forego the typical Sunday megablitz review orgy I had originally planned (which was to have included a writeup of the Living Colour LIVE FROM CBGB CD as well as the latest Screamin' Mee-Mees disque, not to mention an appreciation of Ron Paul and all the good work he has done despite the greater 'n great odds out there in "politics-as-usual"-land) and in its stead, and for the sake o' variety, scribble on about some of them old bootleg discs (as opposed to disques) that I've been playing in the comfort of my own basement cubby hole as of late! As Dave E. once sang, "Maybe it's the rabies, or maybe it's the flu," but it's more likely the seasonal change to the cooler fall weather here in Western Pee-YAY! that, for who-knows-what reason, has affected my nervous system to the point where I have been having some mighty sweet nostalgic memories flashing back to my early bootleg scrounging days at the long-gone White Wing Records in Niles Ohio! That was the shop where, as astute readers of my various autobiographical reviews and whatnot would know, I first scarfed these suckers up (@ $4.99 for a single album [$5.99 if it had one of those "deluxe black & white covers"], $7.99 for doubles!) as if they were going out of style (or at least as if the FBI were hot on my trail...and yeah, it wasn't like I was gonna exactly expose any of these records to the public at large lest I get hauled in for accepting illicit contraband or somethin'!) and hey, call me an old fogey if you so wish but I can still remember that tingling thrill ol' booger-infested me got on a busy Friday night way back in '75 when I first mozied up to the boot bin at that store eyeballing such notable titles as the Beatles' LIVE AT ATLANTA WHISKEY FLATS and of course the Rolling Stones classic SUMMER RERUNS with that snazzo TV GUIDE spoof on the back thinkin' how great some of these things'd look in my own then-morsel-y collection!
Frankly, looking back from the vantage point of thirtysome years and thousands of dollars later all I can bellow is...boy was I an astute kiddo way back when even if I didn't have the moolah to get alla the tasty platters I so desired! It all kinda reminds me of that great J. R. Williams OUT OUR WAY cartoon from the twenties subtitled "Moments We'd Like To Live Over" only 'stead of the ten-year-old boy drooling over the brand-spanking-new pulp novels of the turn-of-the-century that were being hyped to him by some general store manager it was me all agog over those tattered white-sleeve with insert offerings that look as if they were just shipped in from Vietnam on the bumpiest B-29 still in operation!
A lot has happened in the wild and wooly world of bootlegs since those humble beginning days, and maybe a much older and perhaps not-so-wiser me now has enough of these clandestine wonders in my collection that I could easily make up a special boot-only bin and sorta half-heartedly re-live those great days by thumbing through my own long-lasting collection in the privacy of my own domicile just like I did in days gone by. (I'll even make up my own import and cutout racks up to browse through as well, and to heighten the all-'round effect even burn a lotta candles and incense to cover alla the marijuana smell made by minimum-wage clerks toking between customers!) But until I get up the energy to create such a personal fantasia I'll just amuse y'all with a few reviews of these boots that did grace my turntable as of recent memory.
Contrite me has gotta admit that not all of the bootlegs that I had lined up to listen to (the Ramones' AT YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY and TEENAGE LOBOTOMY amongst 'em) got their chance to shine in the sun, or at least on the record player, but hopefully I'll be getting to 'em and a whole slew more of these still-forbidden fruits in a month or two when another bootleg listening orgy rolls down the blogschpieler assembly line. But until that grand day comes here's been tickling my ears as far as this illicit (yet still enthralling) gain o' mine goes...
THE BEATLES AND THE ROLLING STONES LIVE (Joker International, Italy)
I've often mused (even in the review of the final HOT WACKS bootleg discography mentioned on this very blog) just what was the deal surrounding the by-now legendary Joker label whose low-budgeted product came out of Italy and into the bins of many a stereo-shop back in the seventies anyway? True, at the time there were more than a few of these supposedly "legit" bootleg labels operating to the high-profile extent that record shops featuring nothing but these clandestine items were springing up throughout that boot-shaped (!) nation across the sea, but those labels seemed to deal in nothing but "grown-up" music the likes of opera, jazz and perhaps a little country & western that seemed to slip through whatever copyright cracks these under-the-cover labels could exploit. But as far as I can tell Joker was the first of these European labels to deal in rockism proper, first with their oft-repressed Bob Dylan LITTLE WHITE WONDER trilogy in '72 and later with a number of Hendrix bedroom jams and a Led Zeppelin live platter that avid collectors who coulda paid $4.99 for it way back when are now content to dish out ten times as much for.
Anyhoo this joint Beatles/Stones boot (one side each!) came out around the same time as the Dylan set, and yeah I can recall seeing this 'un popping up in seventies bins packaged in a rather staid early-sixties-styled block lettering cover that looked a lot like something more akin to yer standard 1963 tossout "Greatest Hits" package than a bootleg of any sorts. I got the early-eighties reissue which, although lacking the flimsy cover complete with about a thousand or so artifacts of the Joker catalog listed on the back (everything from opera and dixieland to Chairman Mao vinyl documentaries and Spanish Falangist marching songs...these guys had all the bases covered!) does have this garish full-color piece o' art which looks as if it were drawn with a brand new package of magic markers by some rockin' tenth-grade gal on the back of her notebook in study hall sometime inna mid-sixties (see illustration above). To me such cheap-o styling's all part of the charm ('n perhaps a lot more representative'n the late-seventies vintage Dylan snaps on Joker's LITTLE WHITE WONDER reissues), and a release like BEATLES/STONES LIVE certainly was a boon for those of you who missed out on those early Trademark of Quality bootlegs which originally featured this material and at non-collector's prices as welll!
BEATLES/STONES LIVE does have a crackly sound that pops throughout sure to upset the snoots amongst us, and true a good portion of the Beatles side has since been released legit-like or on better-sounding Cee-Dee boots, but for vinyl luvvers like me a once-in-awhile spin of these early Beatles and Stones numbuhs sure brings back them mellow memories of rabid seventies/eighties album scoop-ups that only goes to show ya that those days of yore were a lot hepper'n a lotta the seventies naysayers out there make it out to be, at least as far as finding rare booty material like this in the strangest places goes! And yeah, I gotta admit that in many ways both the Beatles and Stones sound more alive and intense on these tossaway BBC session sides than they do on the legit takes (a moot point perhaps) and hey, I dunno if you're the kinda guy who gets them throb-thrills rehashing this forty-plus-year-old mop-top-pop-slop, but for geriatrics like me hearing the Beatles crank out a proto-mania "Misery" or Jagger belt out "Carol" in a 1963 sorta frameset sure makes a lot more sense'n listening to these same fogies a good four decades later, or a lotta the quap that makes up the body and soul of pseudointellectual college boy underground rock these sorry days as well!
***The Rolling Stones-STONES IN THE PARK (Swinging Pig)
While the original bootleg scene was fraught with low-fidelity tape sources and quickie churn-out rubber-stamped or insert sleeves and consisted mostly of recordings pilfered from the bigger recordings names in the biz (with some cult/fringe acts included inna mix, but not many), the late-seventies saw the beginnings of a new bootleg era not only with an explosion of higher quality product (cleaner sound, full-color covers) but more and more discs featuring a vast plethora of outta-the-loop acts that certainly couldn't sell as much bootleg-wize as a fresh spanking new Paul McCartney tour platter but fugs like us sure benefitted! I mean, back in '69 there was a rumor of a Velvet Underground bootleg that could only be found on the west coast floating about, and even the Rubber Dubber people were alledged to have released a Thirteenth Floor Elevators double set (!) while a '71 issue of JAMZ told of a plan by some Detroit White Panther rejects to release an MC5 boot with the then-rare single sides and tracks from the legit albums! And as we all know, by the time the eighties rolled around all three of these acts had bonafide bootleg material available and from the same sources that pumped all those Beatles and Pink Floyd platters atcha! I mean, who woulda thunk it?
Naturally the Stones are big-deal rockers and don't fit into the above bray o' mine, but at least this product of theirs came out right about the same time boots began making this way from cheap-crankouts to authentic works o' art. I got this Stones Hyde Park disc (released on the post-TMOQ Swinging Pig label way back inna early-eighties) and many more items from this Pittsburgh-oriented mailorder bootleg biz that was sellin' up a whole load of the European stock of the day and, for once in my life I decided to splurge a little and actually scored a nice stack of booty that even twennysome years later I've yet to regret! This 'un's the (as they say) legendary Brian Jones Memorial Concert recorded at Hyde Park '69 with a great collage cover featuring the infamous Jones-as-nazi photo along with snaps of him playing sitar etc., not forgetting a touching photo of his tombstone, coupled with so-so sound and a varying performance from Jagger and his lackeys that actually does have some appeal despite being kinda slipshod in its own strange way. Fortunately the opening poem written by that incest-mad Percy Shelley was lopped off, but the general performance through old faves, blooze chooze and a side-long "Sympathy For the Devil" ranges from hard-on intense to middling yet sturdy enough to suit 'cha even if you're not a crazed Stones aficionado. Casual observers such as I find these things a once-in-awhile reminder, but as you'd guess I do find things such as Rolling Stone bootlegs rather pleasurable in their own strange, quirky ways.
***Iggy Pop-SUCK ON THIS 2-LP set (Ruthless Rhymes)
Ahhh, here's one that really dredges up the old memories of the great Iggy Pop comeback putsch of 1977! I wrote a bit about it in my "Iggy, We Hardly Knew Ye" article in BLACK TO COMM #19 (now hopelessly out-of-print which is why I didn't link you up to the BACK ISSUES
post like I normally would in a vain attempt to get ya to buy some of these much-needed-by-you fanzines of might and worth!), and frankly, who other'n Helen Keller could've missed the grand return of Iggy (accompanied by his on/off bosom buddy David Bowie) to the world of recording and performing because as far as I can remember this seemingly-major event was on the lips and even tongue of many a rockism fanatic back inna day. True when most of the diehard old Pop fans eventually heard Ig's comeback disc THE IDIOT they threw up their arms in total disgust especially after expecting RAW POWER PART TWO all those years, but I'm sure even the most turned-off punque out there got a few jollies not only watching the Popster tell Dinah Shore that he "wiped out the sixties" on her AM coffee clatch talk show (a program I watched incessantly summer '77 if only to catch that particular episode but all I got was Corbett Monica!) but to read Jane Scott wax eloquently about the man in her Friday CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER column! That piece must've been a real feather in the Iggy Pop cap because not only did it get a featured billing, but the thang came complete with a staff artist's rendition of the man done in the same "establishment" fine pen and ink sketch style that the same artist used for his portrayal of Greg Shaw which accompanied an Anastasia Pantsios piece on the venerable Bomp! founder a few months later!
Most of SUCK ON THIS was taken from a WMMS-FM recording of Pop's March '77 Agora concert that Scott's piece was undoubtedly written to boost up, although given the quality of the obviously fifth-generation tape used by Ruthless Rhymes (the bootleg company probably best known for their use of the infamous "buy this magazine or we'll shoot this dog!" NATIONAL LAMPOON cover on their labels!) ya coulda fooled me. Sound is particularly muddy although the performance is strictly late-seventies Pop, meaning that you're gonna get the Stooges "best of" package along with the usual IDIOT material all done in that toned-down post-Stooge style which is OK, but frankly I can see just how alla them longtime Stooge-watchers'd up their noses at this stuff in favor of something more meaty like METALLIC KO or even that low-fidelity NIGHT OF THE IGUANA boot that sounded like it was recorded off a pay phone. Side four, taken from a Santa Monica show late-77 (LUST FOR LIFE-era), comes off way better'n that's an obvious audience recording which would only lend one to believe...wha' the hey. Of great importance to the solo Pop fan but for me, Iggy without the Stooges is kinda like San Francisco without the gerbils, right Neo?
***Various Artists-FUNF FIGUREN AUS VERSCHIEDENEN MATERIALIEN (Bebeck, of European origin as far as I can tell)
This 'un and its "sister" release LAS BOTAS DRACIOSAS MARCHAN SOBRE POLONIA! seem to have been custom made for the same breed of seventies rock fan who began the decade absorbing all of the newer innovation to come offa the racks only to fall head first into the entire punk-wave brouhara of the latter portion of them days, eventually spending the eighties chomping down on the fetid remains of those rather invigorating times that were a lot worse'n any of you bloggers would care to 'fess up to. FUNF FIGUREN...'s a grab-bag of then-rare gunk just made for what was left of the early-eighties gnu wave audience, not only with the inclusion of both sides of the pre-Stooges Iguanas single (which was a rarity at the time I must admit) but more of the obviously-overdocumented '77-era Iggy/Bowie band (with Iggy even singing the Bowie biggie "Fame"), Roxy Music at their first-LP height doing a particularly noisy "Ladytron" and some DAF stuff that just ain't as nervewracking as their debut platter, which methinks I should check out on the reissue market one of these days. In many ways this album sure brings back memories, not only of just how exciting seventies underground rock could be, but just how meaningless the entire post-post-punk/New York/Amerigan underground rock scene got once the rabid seventies clocked into the dullsville eighties! After being bombarded with Stooge-rock, post-Velvets trauma and no wave and then having to settle for the likes of what eventually did transpire was almost like being in a nudist colony for ten years and then having to get all excited over ankles again!