Sunday, May 20, 2012


If you were a kiddo back inna seventies who had any sense of where rock et roll music lied beyond the confines of your radio or mainstream magazine outlet, bootlegs were undoubtedly a major part of your collection if not lunch table music gab conversation. Mysterious, clandestine and definitely attention-grabbing especially if you were some ranch house kinda kid isolated from a lotta the realities of teendom, these platters were just as desirable as the recs one could espy in the import section which most of the time were the same as the US fodder only on different labels and perhaps with different covers. Given the wide array of material one could latch onto (especially if you've heard everything by your fave rave acts and wanted more) and at fairly reasonable prices ($4.99 for standard insert sleeve, $5.99 for flesh and pulp covers), bootlegs gave you more bang for the buck than most of the legit produce that was being made available at the time, and with all of us depression-era waged kids who really hadda count the pennies who could afford to pass up a bargain like that?

And who could forget the myriad assortment of bootleg mail order businesses like Pied Piper Records who offered all of the latest boots along with a few import singles, Japanese-only live albums ("complete with lyrics sheet!" that read as if they were transcribed by that sailor from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND who didn't know that the war was over) and even a taping service featuring all sortsa rarities that would eventually make their way to vinyl within the span of a few earth-spins! Most of these businesses were of mid-South origin for some reason (perhaps the same reason so much porn used to emanate from the same area!), though I do remember buying a huge stack of booty from a dealer who had a Pittsburgh PO box address so maybe it was a whole lot closer to home than I ever realized! And hey, some people denote the passage of time and trends via various social/political changes and the like, but I do by noting the changes in bootlegs from the original rubber stamped covers to photocopied insert sheets on through to the full color sleeve era of the late-seventies and then the advent of the Cee-Dee bootleg and ultimately those of the make your own variety that you can get via this very here internet! Sure comes off more interesting'n anything kids learn in World History these days, that is if they still teach it!

A few years back I made a habit on this blog of reviewing an old boot that had somehow made its way into my collection at the ass end of each and every weekend post. Well, let's just say that this post is nothing but one big mass of bootleg reviews and you don't have to wait until each Saturday to see which one ol' Unca Chris is gonna write up! Here are but a few of the classic vinyl-style boots that I've picked up o'er the past few months, platters that certainly do recall the Golden Age of Record Shops and loads of thrills that could be found for $4.99 a pick, cheaper if they were used, all gathered in that special bin that was proudly emblazoned "BOOTLEGS" as if the FBI were nothing but a distant threat to all of our musical happiness.

Back during the original heyday of the rock bootleg era in the seventies, The Amazing Korneyfone Record Label, along with Trade Mark of Quality and Wizardo, was one of the more visible companies to make their presence known in the back room of the local head shop of your choice. Korneyfone's (or as the bootleg fans would say "takrl") track record in releasing rare material with a bit more quality and finesse was above the average, not only in their handling of the class acts of the sixties/seventies but in their willingness to release product by acts that weren't quite the big names that most bootleggers were hoping to bank their bigtime bux on. Yeah, those rumors of Velvet Underground and Thirteenth Floor Elevator boots back in '69 were really nothing but that, but years before such acts were finally honored with their own illegal dupings Korneyfone was pumping out platters by the likes of Genesis, King Crimson and Gentle Giant. Even if those names don't quite pop your nodes then maybe their exemplary offerings by Roxy Music (CHAMPAGNE AND NOVOCAINE among a few other rarities) and Sparks (ONE AND A HALF NELSON) might. Who knows, I've given up second-guessing you readers long ago.

Takrl also pumped out this Alice Cooper set which was, for some odd reason, a little more obscure'n some of the other Korneyfone releases that I've come across which is one reason why I've had to rely on a cassette dub of it for quite a long time. But after that 'un got lost in the vast boundaries of my tape collection it was time that I procured an actual copy and (as usual) I am ever grateful for doing so small pleasure'd life I lead. Now, I will admit that very few of these Alice boots capture Alice in his prime, and in fact other'n the ones that reproduce his 1969 FM broadcast from the Avalon Ballroom as well as another extremely hard-to-find collection of second LP outtakes (not forgetting the slew of '69 Toronto releases which can be picked up with extreme ease) I can't think of any Cooper bootlegs that dig into the pre-superstar era with any real depth. That's why PARRICIDAL SLUMBERS is such a wowzer, not only for its representation of an obscure LOVE IT TO DEATH-period show but for the additional goodies that the folks at Korneyfone stuck on at the ends, most notably the "Nobody Likes Me"/"Slick Black Cadillac" flexi/cardboard disc that somehow made it out to fan clubs around the time of the SCHOOL'S OUT tour. An extremely vital platter for fans of the band especially when you consider "Nobody's" prominence in the PRETTIES FOR YOU-era Cooper set and how it should've made the first LP but somehow didn't.

For me the big draw here's the live gunch showcasing the group at their Detroit hardest romping through choice tracks from LOVE as well as a rousing encore of "Return of the Spiders", that sleeper from the EASY ACTION album back in the days when only Stiv Bators seemed to be paying attention! Now that's something which I gotta say certainly surprised me considering how at one time Alice was about as anxious to dump his older material from their sets as the Stooges!

Sound's about as good as these Korneyfone's get (HOT WACKS gives it an excellent mono but I'd say it sounds very good at best, and perhaps coulda sounded better if some gloss was added on), and personally I think the less-than-perfect sound enhances the music just like a tinny transistor made the 1963 Top Forty come off so energetic. The big question, at least for me, remains just exactly where did this show originate...the announcer thanks the crew from ABC (presumably the television network), which makes me wonder if this was perhaps an IN CONCERT production, but since that show didn't debut until '73 I'm not so sure. Was there an earlier appearance of the Cooper group on the perennial #3 network, perhaps filmed for some prime time special that might or might not have been aired? The mystery lingers on...

But nitpicking anal retention aside, PARRICIDAL SLUMBER's just begging for a proper reish. Like I said, this is the Cooper group at their best long before Alice dove head first into metal cliches and embarrassed himself even worse'n when he was singing those horrid ballads that might not have made you, but made """""ME""""" do more'n a li'l cringing. Concrete proof that the '69-'72 era of heavy metal was the form in its prime, though with the advent of Sopors (and in Cooper's case, Budweiser) what could ya expect but the entire genre to flounder into wallowing pools of ineptness and self pity that might've worked for the Music Machine, but not for anyone else!
Here's one I got for totally personal reasons. Now, I'm not what you'd call a Beatle fan the same way that there are thousands of aged hippoid types who still believe that John Lennon held the key to everlasting peace even though he beat his wife and used to trip out while watching lesbians goin' at it, but I just hadda pick up THE BEATLES IN ATLANTA WHISKEY FLAT to have 'n hold for my very own! And you wanna know why? Because this was the very first ever bootleg that I recall up for sale when I first espied the bootleg section at White Wing Records in Niles Ohio oh so many years ago! Those nostalgic pangs continue to resonate lo these many years later and like, why shouldn't I give in to these absolutely rockist impulses of mine anyway!

Strangely enough, I remember that after espying the paper insert held in by the rather poor shrink job, my undeveloped simian-like mentality had me believing that that this album was actually  recorded live at none other than the Whisky-A-Go-Go in El Lay! Nowadays I must admit such an idea popping into my head seems so ridiculous...however, considering not only that I was just beginning to "understand" rock 'n roll in a "serious" fashion but that the Whisky was a popular hangout often mentioned in the rock press, what else could a mixed up kid suffering from Asparagus Syndrome come up with? Yeah, I can hear all of you oh-so-proud jackoff people who loathe me laughing your pitted butts off ya, but then again I doubt you were combing through bootleg bins as early as I was and listening to Amon Duul I when you were still in high school. So that's two lollipops you owe me an' you better PAY UP!!!

As for the performance, it's a wild enough Beatles live show so you're pretty much gonna get what you expect. Sound quality's all right AM during a rainstorm quality, though it kinda veers off into radio waves from Algeria in spots. Frankly I don't care because this spinner at least presents the foursome raw and energetic like you'd want them to be, uninhibited by George Martin's behind-the-board tricks that perhaps could have been a hindrance. It's a fairly straightforward performance as well, with an overanxious audience and the Beatles themselves sounding like they were having a pretty hotcha time at it. Nothing that I'm gonna be playing incessantly mind you, but a nice reminder that even when you strip the larger-than-life status away from 'em these guys were...well...not as hot as the Downliners Sect but then again they could hold their own.
Gotta say that I've enjoyed a pretty good percentage of the Pink Floyd bootlegs I've been buying for a good three or so decades, and that even includes some of the ones where David Gilmour was slowly but surely helping to drive the group into a more prog/space rock direction which resulted in all of their songs eventually sounding like WISH YOU WERE HERE retreads spun ad infinitum. This double platter set courtesy the long-gone Dittolino Discs ranks with the better Gilmour-period sets I've heard, and considering how this 'un reportedly dates from 1970 I'm surprised I found anything of worth in it at all! Maybe the audience-recorded sound takes the gloss off of the usual Floydian spew, and if anything something like this might just be why this release sounds better'n some of the legit Floyd platters that have graced my ears for far too many eons!

Whatever,  it's hard for me to disagree with anybody who might think that the version of "Atom Heart Mother"  spanning disc #1 was way more nutgrabbing'n the official take, and though I never did care for "Sing To Me Cymbaline" in any variation I find this one quite...passable. The take of "A Saucerful of Secrets" which closes the set was pretty palatable even though much of the terror and abandon of the original was definitely lost somewhere in the mix so hey, it's a definite keeper even if Pink Floyd were a group with such a duff reputation at the time that Jymn Parrett of DENIM DELINQUENT hadda keep apologizing to his readers for liking 'em!
Y'know, it's funny that I can't even remember seeing any Dittolino Discs in the bootleg bins of my youth, and here I am...years later...actually owning two of their albums. Not that it's any great feat considering what a rather duff platter GONE TO CALIFORNIA is. In actuality sides two and three of the oft heralded LIVE ON BLUEBERRY HILL double set, CALIFORNIA contains some of the more tiresome, lackluster and downright boring Zep performances heard in quite awhile. Unless you like horribly long drum solos such as "Moby Dick" (at least the drum solo performed during the first Umela Hmota gig 12/74 was hilarious given the entire punk nature of the group!) or organ recitals that sound like Sun Ra on a bad cozmic jaunt I can't see anybody outside of the most rabid Zep fan wanting to hear this. At least your patience is rewarded by some halfway-there renditions of "For What It's Worth" and "Blueberry Hill" but you'll hafta strain yourself to like 'em given that there were many other bands during the same time this was spewed who were doing the heavy metal trip with a lot more force and stamina. Well, I will face up to the fact that I did get my usual amt. of jollies listening to this affair, but it's gonna be a back of the bin item in reserve that's for sure!
As the old saying goes, let the buyer watch it or he's gonna lose his money faster than a horny teenage boy in an adult bookstore. And really, I didn't watch out when I latched onto this copy of the Rolling Stones boot entitled LIVER THAN YOU'LL EVER BE thinkin' that it was gonna be the 1969 original. Obviously a bootleg of a bootleg (nothin' new), but it does come on sick green vinyl and sounds pretty good even with the crackles and pops makin' you think that the Stones were doing yet another Rice Krispies commercial.

This is from the San Diego portion of the Stones' infamous 1969 US tour and it shows the guys soundin' kinda tired 'n worn even at this stage in the touring game. The performance has this overall feh appeal to me lacking the total abandon energy that I know every goombah out there hears in the Stones' music no matter which album or tour it is, complete with this mindset that the Stones of 1964 are the same animals as the Stones of today snooze blab snooze. Heard loads better stuff from the bootleg realm making this 'un for rabid Stones fanatics only. Maybe it would sound better had I heard this on a cheap portable stereo in some filthy crash pad in 1970? Slip me some orange sunshine and I'll bet even Lady Caga'll sound like Patti Smith in her prime!
Here's one of those few boots you'd see that was actually comprised of tracks from legitimate albums, some which just might have been in print by the time these obvious homages came out! However, in this case the platters which make up the contents of this 'un were long gone, and since the Nazz were considered a cult group with one famous member who was chopping the seventies charts then why not do a bootleg "Greatest Hits" collection anyway since the Nazz's legit company certainly weren't in the position to??? I mean, if Trademark of Quality could take selections from the two Lothar and the Hand People platters and release 'em under the title SPORES then Korneyfone had every right to give Nazz the same royal under-the-counter treatment so-to-squawk. So unlike RETROSPECTIVE FORESIGHT  which featured previously unreleased Nazz gems TWENTY/TWENTY HINDSIGHT's nothing but previously-released nuggets which sure came in handy especially at a time when the legit albums were all but impossible to latch onto unless you were willing to pay $12 a pop via some TROUSER PRESS auction.

Speaking of NUGGETS (well, I always seem to be some time or another!), I know that quite a few of you reg'lar readers wince at the thought of Nazz's inclusion in that classic collection of sixties-era punk rock. In fact, a few have even questioned if the Nazz were indeed punks at all which I gotta say is a fair enough question considering how their sound seemed too late for the '64-'66 days yet out of touch with what was passing for late-sixties punkisms. Well, the way I figure it is if those critics at CREEM could get away with callin' acts like Asheton Gardner and Dyke as well as Ten Years After punk rockers, and fanzine luminaries could make statements about Mike Heron's SMILING MEN WITH BAD REPUTATIONS or Aerosmith as well as ex-Nazz hisself  Todd Rundgren's very own SOMETHING ANYTHING being punk rock, then Nazz sure as shootin' are punks too!

At least TWENTY/TWENTY HINDSIGHT's got a good selection of Nazzian snazz to it as well as their more hard rock moments that tend to snooze ya even more'n a George Harrison slide guitar solo. Naturally "Open My Eyes" and "Hello It's Me" are here as well as that strange "Tighten Up" spoof, and even if the rest doesn't live up to your own late-sixties punk standards the selection might just be a better bet'n having to wade through all three legitimate albums just to get to what I assume are the best parts.
As you know I ain't exactly a fan of the Grateful Dead, but after years of reading about the inward-driving atonal beauty of the acid test recordings I figured that maybe I should give whatever I could find of 'em a test myself, inquiring mind that I possess. That's why I snatched up this ELECTRIC KOOL AID ACID TEST boot that the United Fan Club Society outta Goteborg Sweden released back when bootlegs were really starting to come into their own with snazzy color covers, detailed liner notes and a general love and care that the major labels had all but ignored until smart folk like Billy Miller embarrassed 'em into doin' a better job. The sleeve snap shows Jerry Garcia doing the Mouse (get a load of his bulbous middle stump!) and also comes with the expected in-depth if slightly incoherent notes and splatter vinyl making this one a gotta have for the true pre-burnout San Francisco luvvers amongst us. However, I gotta say that listening to Ken Kesey or whoever it was spewing psychosociological inanities into a mic while Jerry Garcia noodles on his guitar and violins intermittantly squeak ain't exactlly my idea of a good trip. Neither was the extended bagpipe drone on side two or the Tornados chestnut "Telstar" sped up to 78, but I guess if you just surrender to yourself and let the tab take its course everything will turn out all right. Of course one of the best things about this particular test is that Garcia is mentioned as playing organ which is something that makes me wonder just how the guy could perform on a keyboard missing a middle digit! 'd sure like to hear the guy work out a few scales which might be good for a chuckle or two!
I'm sure you, just as I, have been flummoxed o'er the years as to just what the where's, why's and howcums regarding the Italian bootleg scene.  A scene which, for some odd reason (like lax laws regarding the copyrights of non-Italian acts) resulted in that particular profession flourishing to the point where I understand that record shops with bootlegs and nothing but once dotted the landscape! A nice and in-depth article on Italian boots would be most welcome since all of those rather necessary and thankfully inexpensive platters that were coming out during the seventies (usually on the Joker International label) were fine additions to my record collection. Not only that, but they provided bootleg material at budget bin prices which I'm sure was a big break for kids who hadda choose between buying a cut out album or a comic book with the moolah that was at their disposal.

Although I've already had most of this Bob Dylan material available thanks to a box set collecting all three A RARE BATCH OF LITTLE WHITE WONDER albums that Joker sure milked in a variety of versions and formats, I decided to pick up these mid-seventies reissues courtesy the Buhay label. Buhay was yet another Italian bootleg company of whom I could find no discography, information or any other releases for that matter making me wonder if this in fact was some shady fly-by-night operation trying to cash in on the LITTLE WHITE WONDER craze in their own dishonest way. Well, can't pass up a bargain like these even if I already have a batch of this BATCH, and besides I think the addition looks swell in my collection even if there really ain't nobody around for me to show it to. But who knows...maybe someday...

Back during the days when it wasn't like you could exactly hit your nearest record chain to pick up the TMOQ catalog as easily as you could WEA's,  let's just say that albums like these (that picked and choosed choice nuggets from such legendary issues as GREAT WHITE WONDER and JOACHIM ANTIQUE) really helped out if you were one of those guys who wanted to hear a li'l more Dylan than was out there and never thought in a million years that Columbia would have ever had the brains to release THE BASEMENT TAPES. Quality ain't exactly top notch and in fact is a little worse'n the Joker originals, but it's still great to give these albums a go considering the material at hand ain't always as "relevant" and "meaningful" as many rose-colored rear view mirrors make Dylan at his politically conscious "best" out to be! In fact the guy could get pretty down home and slightly non-PC funny when he wanted---I'm still chortling over numbuhs such as  "I Shall Be Free" which had me doin' more'n a few double takes and eventually a google lyrics search in order to understand what the budding upstart was really singing  (the stanza where he talks about being drenched in black paint and having to take a bath at the back of the tub was a real belly shaker!). Perhaps Columbia, oh so conscious about their big star's reputation as a down and gritty yet sensitive artist, just wanted this portion of his character played down if only a li'l? Well, years later this material all came to light but I guess in the seventies it was still considered a hot button topic.

Naturally this reissue does make one ponder a few more questions than it does answering the ones we've already asked. Besides just what the heck Buhay Records was, why the different that the Joker versions song juxtaposition on vols. two and three? I understand that there was at least one song substitution made if only because of tricky copyright legalese, but it does seem that Buhay had some rather occult issues of their own which resulted in slightly different releases than the more familiar Joker ones. Whatever, these three Dylan platters are pretty nifty items that remind me of a whole lotta good things, more often 'n not what Dylan was like before he because the utter embarrassment that he became even when if wasn't trying back in the seventies and beyond. And, in a roundabout way, these albums only go to prove to you that if you thought these sixties rockers were starting to get useless back when they were hitting thirty, then you can just imagine how they are a good forty years later pumping the same paens to the equally aging hippoid audience! At least Lawrence Welk wasn't that condescending to his!
I haven't been exactly doing the rah rah over some of these newer boots that take rare tracks from legitimately-released Cee-Dee material and slap 'em onto vinyl, but since this collection of early Velvet Underground wares going under the name of PROMINENT MEN looked neat enough I figure wha' th' hey... It's sure nice to once again hear these choice nuggets plucked from the PEEL SLOWLY AND SEE box set, but as usual the typical bootlegger joke pulling is hard 'n heavy not only with the cover blurb passing these tracks off as demos for the first two legitimate albums but by the use of a truncated take of "Heroin" 'stead of one of the many complete runs! Besides that, the "All Tomorrow's Parties" take these shadowy figures used is an extremely short one with Lou Reed abruptly ending the number in a hail of undeleted expletives! It does kinda irk this humble reviewer who enjoyed the complete version and would have liked to have experienced it in this format, but after years of study I've gotten the impression that many of these bootlegger types ain't exactly people of high moral standards. But then again, are you?

I ain't exactly sure what to make of this 'un other'n its just another one of those "wha' ja expect" items, though hearing those early spins on vinyl does bring back the warm 'n toasties of just how much we woulda loved an album like this albeit with complete takes a good thirtysome years back. If you've invented a wayback machine, be sure to send this 'un to a certain geekoid coke-bottle glassed kid with weight and skin problems and a constant fear of flunking out who lived somewhere in the wilds of Sharon, Pennsylvania.
And in closing, here are two more recent items which just might pique your interest not only because of the rare material to be found therein, but because of the even more exacting care that went into the execution of each of these probably by now impossible to find wares. And besides both of these wonders featuring the same artist(s), these releases on the Mr. Natural label (yes, complete with the famed bearded high priest of carnal oompah featured on the label!) also come with full color covers (albeit inserted into a neet plastic sleeve) and on color vinyl makin' 'em look very much like the kinda bootlegs ya used to see from the late-seventies onward when the vinyl boot was certainly coming into its own.

I've discussed my feelings regarding Frank Zappa and his Mothers o'er the years so I don't have to get into how I pick up a few boots of his once in awhile if only to get on a li'l goony teenage nostalgic kick. And as far as kicks go both of these platters do deliver on the same kinda fun one woulda gotten back inna late-sixties awaiting the next Mothers album that seemed to be comin' at'cha a good five or so months apart. Platter #1 in today's discussion, which is entitled PIG MUSIC purports to have been recorded live at the Fifth Dimension in Detroit which was a club that's probably best known by me as one of the hangouts that booked local psychedelic legends the Seventh Seal. Dunno if the Seal opened for the group during this particular set, but the resultant Mothers spew's OK with rather good sound and a version of "King Kong" on the a-side that reaches the edge of fire music unlike nothing before or after "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque". The version on the flip ain't as exciting and in fact drags on, but this still ranks as a good enough Zappa artyfact for those of you who still warmly recall midnight movie showings of 200 MOTELS if not BABY SNAKES . As an added bonus the people at Mr. Natural even slipped on a radio ad for the first two Mothers albums which do reflect the weird mania surrounding the group but makes me wonder just what kinda radio station woulda dared to have run such an ad in the first place.

Of course when you're all done with PIG MUSIC what's keepin'
ya from givin' THE ARTISAN ACETETE RS-6406 a try 'cept if you were too stooped enough to latch onto it back when it was readily available! Done with the same care and craftsmanship that went into its sister bootleg, this 'un was actually slated to be released on Reprise but I assume got axed in favor of WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH.  That would figure since this 'n that do share a couple of tracks even if the title track on that gets called "It Must Be Your Breath"  while a number entitled "Weasels..." 's nothing but another one of those free form pseudo avant garde jazz numbers with loads of whooping and Roy Estrada soprano hoots!

Still, these loose ended results are pretty fine even if they sound a li'l too thrown together for a real-life album, even if it is one by the Mothers of Invention! Ya get live versions of "Wipe Out"  ("Play something plastic" yells a member of the audience) and "Igor's Boogie" plus a pretty decent "Help I'm a Rock" along with new-to-mine-ears numbers that harken back to the last days of the original Mothers when they seemed to be going off on an even wilder tangent than they had the previous few years. Perhaps the biggest surprise here is "The Cookie Jar Lecture" which has Frank Zappa prattling off one of his middle class suburban putdowns vaguely reminiscent of Morrison's "The End" (which I believe was recounted in a 200 MOTELS related article that appeared in ROLLING STONE) all so condescendingly recited to the "96 Tears" riff and hey,  I gotta admit that I like it even if  all that the old stinkeroo's doing here is belittleing just about everything I've held near and dear to my heart since OZZIE AND HARRIET! A real class release if you can locate a copy, though it you do wanna cheat I'm sure there's some download of this available on the web that you can latch onto for free. But I know that you really wouldn't want to do that now, would you?

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