Saturday, May 30, 2020


Haven't had one of these since last autumn, and as the days dwindle down to a precious few maybe it's time we once again  reminisce about them times waywayway back when the biggest dilemma in your life was whether or not to spend your last $4.99 on a bootleg record thus depriving your favorite star of the money he most surely deserved. And if you plunked down the moolah for the boot boy, you really were the smartest guy onna block! Hey, bootlegs were and REMAIN a cool part of any self-respecting suburban slob's record collection an' your fave rock star's rich enough as it is so why contribute even more to his drug habit anyway (as my father used to bark at me when I'd buy records)? Especially when you could be contributing to your own...

Let's start today's brag off with a platter by a group that not only have I never cared for in any of their incarnations, but one that I never even bought a record by before in my life!

Although it may be a surprise to some of you readers, I never really bothered with Fleetwood Mac whether it be via their early blooze days-unto-FM-rock days or the late-seventies Stevie Nicks-fronted megahits version for that matter. However, when I read a positive review of a platter by someone whose opinions I generally agree with or hear a musician whose sounds I generally agree with mention a certain act in passing (and in a positive way), not only do my musical parameters but my wallet open up if only to give my life a bit of that spice of variety or however that old saying goes.

The Amazing Korneyfone Record Label once again gives us a quality spinner with this particular platter that I was inspired to buy after reading Jymn Parrett's review in an oft-read issue of DENIM DELINQUENT. As to why it took so long for the inspiration to hit me to the point where I'd actually purchase MERELY A PORTMANTEAU I do not know...perhaps things were getting a little too quiet around here and I wanted to liven my existence up just a tad bit. But purchase this one I did and if you think I'm gonna get on my hi-energy horse and bash this 'un to smithereens well...

You're wrong again pod'ner, because MERELY A PORTMANTEAU not only sounds great in that sorta flat but exciting bootleg way but the performances actually fit into the whole BLOG TO COMM late-sixties rock as noise canon and rather snugly at that. Side one's the '68 Mac with that guy who later joined the Children of God starting off with an extended improv that sounds more Hampton Grease Band than Grateful Dead and actually engages you with the rather clever and hard-nosed guitar interplay. "Tiger"'s a rockabilly throwback that sounds like the same group that did "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Heads Kicked in Tonight" rather'n the one that did "Rhiannon". "The Green Manalishi" ain't as phony Eastern Mystical goo as I woulda thought it would be either. A boff side that can work on either the inspiring background clean the room level or as hardcore sound with a universe you don't mind slipping into one bit!

The flip with newer addition Christine Perfect doesn't quite sizzle the nodes but the extended "Tell Me All The Things You Do" does get somewhat into a groove that you can work your way through without feeling like a hippoid 'r anything like that. Kinda moving in fact. And overall this package does condense whatever good there was in the original band into a platter that should please to varying degrees most of the hard-rock high energy total eruption rock fans who were in on the game ever since "Surfin' Bird" hit the airwaves. Unless they're all dead, which I certainly hope is not the case.
Here's one I bought more for the HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE of it all 'n anything, it being the very first issue to come out on the legendayr Skydog Records label. Now this ain't the original 1973 pressing of Jimi Hendrix's SKY HIGH but the eighties reissue on orange plastic, and as these early Skydog (and European in general) boots go this really was a well-crafted and presented album complete with a full color cover complete with quality artwork and liner notes on the back. Still retaining a grubby European budget album look mind you, but beautiful perhaps BECAUSE of it.

Now I'm not a crazed fan of Hendrix or the "Classic Rock" acts who participated in these studio jams, but the other aspects of these thing's mere existence is something that I know will make SKY HIGH a really big hit in my record collection. I might not be spinnin' it much but boy, when some young gal enters into my bedroom and begins thumbing through my record collection boy will she be impressed enough to show me her LIVE IN MAUI album.

The sound quality is good in that early sorta flat TMOQ/Korneyfone fashion I mentioned in the Fleetwood Mac review, and the performance is...well, rather dull to begin with considering this was a jam conducted by some of the most drug addled brains in the biz who didn't realize that drugs and the creative process were supposed to go hand in hand. However, side two roars on at an exceedingly fierce pace and when Hendrix begins pecking out this "Tomorrow Never Knows" riff it does tend to become somewhat engaging. And for being a Skydog release the thing does have a connection (no matter how tangential) to those Stooges and Flamin' Groovies platters that Skydog continues to release even until this very day, and for some stoopid kiddieish reason I'm proud that I am in possession of this release because it seems so...historical 'n all.
Here are a coupla more bootlegs I'll write up right after SKY HIGH if only because these, like the aforementioned, were released under the auspices of Skydog. However, both Lou Reed's ROCK 'N ROLL ANIMAL and the Rolling Stones' BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY do not bear the Skydog imprint, what with ANIMAL appearing under the auspices of "Phantom Records" while the Stones one, a brilliant take on the TMOQ title with the same name, appears without any indication of who put this 'un out inna first place. But since an ad for Skydog in an old WHO PUT THE BOMP! mentioned ANIMAL as being a Skydog product as did a brief mention in a come on for the latter it's like hey, the big secret is out and it's been out for quite a long time and do people really care (other'n me) these days?

I dunno if the RCA ROCK 'N' ROLL ANIMAL or the Skydog one came first (editor's note-according to Marc Zermati the bootleg did and Lou liked the title so much he used it for his legitimate release!), but the presence of two albums with the same moniker by the same person might have caused some confusion amongst unwary buyer back then. Probably not, even though the Skydog take was pressed on the same kinda flimsy vinyl that RCA used albeit in a neato folder sleeve kinda like the ones Berkeley Records used to have. The performance is actually way more enjoyable than the legit version, with Lou tackling the songs both old and new without any of that pretentious over-emotion that bogged down a lot of his later work. The cassette-quality sound also adds to the fun 'n jamz giving ROCK 'N' ROLL ANIMAL the punk rock quality his early solo career sure needed more of. If you'd think I'd give my copy of this up for the legit RCA album of the same name you are sadly mistaken, Bust-turd!
Skydog did an especially sell job with their BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY reissue even if it does not sport the original William Stout cover that gave those early bootlegs such quality and snazz. But 'eh it's keen enough, one of those semi-pro Euro jobs done up long before the US bootleggers decided to go full force into legit-looking sleeves, 

The sound is fantab on the first side which consists of those early BBC tracks which continue to stimulate nerve-endings a good 55-plus years later, while the flip featuring some decidedly early-seventies Stones rehearsals and demos also cook swell. The early workouts on "Tumbling Dice" sound even better'n the finished version because this is so base and feral not only in sound but approach, giving me (and maybe you) the same chilling sensation you got spinning those pre-refurbished old blues records back when you were young and impressionable. 

Its records like this that make me really homesick for those old record shops with the huge cutout, import and of course bootleg bins that really did give you your money's worth especially if you were a kid stuck with depression-era wages and that $4.98 hadda stretch out a whole lot ifyaknowaddamean...
Back to Hendrix---sorta. Remember the rash of Hendrix albums that were comin' out throughout the seventies which were nothin' but grave-robbing/coffin-riding excursions taken to a rather mercenary limit? Well, the Eyetalian Joker International label sure knew a good trend to jump on what with the deluge of records dedicated to the left-handed one that they released inna early-seventies which, as you might expect, were really basement-level bottom of the barrel scrapings designed to reel the sucker in! Records that only the most obsessive of Hendrix fans would want to buy and I get the feelin' that alla these postmortem efforts were flyin' off the shelves given the legion of fans the man had for quite a long while after he choked his way into immortality.

Anyway, someone at that not-so-clandestine bootleg label which took advantage of weak copyright laws (thus the presence of Dylan, Beatles and even a Led Zep album in their catalog) issued five platters fulla those off hours get togethers that Hendrix did with saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood, a guy who also put in time with the likes of James Brown. And that mere description'll tell ya just how exciting this is, not that it ain't without some low-fi primitive merit.Ya gotta be a real-deal maniac to wanna get hold of this, and the worst part is there were four other volumes for you to trudge you way through, not to mention some other Joker Hendrix items including a TRIBUTE TO JIMI HENDRIX which sounds like an even more disturbing effort than alla those "tribute" collections one used to see in the late-eighties!  And just when I was starting to "get into" those old Experience recordings...
And now for some relatively recent vinyl offerings that sure remind me of them Golden Age of bootleg days, only these 'uns seem to be better in just about every wayshapeform (in other words, aimed at the older collector who used to hunt for bootlegs 'stead of the same bloke's 15-year-old self way back when). Heck, they're good enough to the point where you know that if any of these popped up in some shoddy record shop bin way back ya'll woulda just burst with pleasure! And imagine the look on the proprietor's face when he hadda CLEAN IT UP!

Hawkwind boots aren't as easy to find as those by various other space rock gurus, though with all of the legitimate live recordings of theirs that have been released these past few decades do we really need any bootlegs by 'em considering the glut of legit albums? I dunno, but get this I did and I'm not sheddin' any tears of the fact either.

This effort on the recently inaugurated Hoffman Records comes on dark green vinyl with streaks that make it look like fingerprints are all over the place with a sound that, although obviously audience quality, still captures enough clean and crisp highs that won't make all those audiophile creeps who hated METALLIC KO blanch that much. And whoever tapes this did capture a fairly powerful mid-seventies performance that, while not up to SPACE RITUAL standards, captures Hawkwind at the end of their United Artists days right before they were heading off to the Famous Charisma Label and a direction that probably confused not only older fans but maybe a few of the newer ones as well. But I thought it was all swell, and time might have proved me right lo these many years later even if none of you would ever admit it
Compared with the scarcity of Hawkwind boots Pink Floyd ones are a dime a dozen. However, you have to do a lotta sifting through various seventies-era atrocities to get to the prime rarities that group has laid down and that can become a rather gnarly effort at times.

Thankfully a few essentials have made their way out over the past decade or so including this recent series of seven-inch EPs which look so good (but cost so much) that I sure wish I coulda taken the whole batch of 'em home that's how OBSESSED I am with these things. And from the quality of the one I got I feel the others just might be worth the additional book juggling I'll have to do in order to afford 'em! I will admit that my money was well spent this time and once I get my financial straits in order well, maybe more will arrive.

LOST CHRONICLE is a nifty seven-inch EP on colored vinyl which I must say is an attractive package in itself, and although most of the material on this 'un obviously has appeared elsewhere and many-a-time at that it's always great to hear those PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN backing tracks and obscurities like "Silas Lane" once again. What especially impressed me was the early version of "Vegetable Man" done without vocals and with some voice eerily talking in the background, perhaps giving instructions to the musicians for all I know. Kinda rambling and a bit of a shambles, but the effect works wonders. And I might not know much (as I have been told by many a wag for ages on end), but I can say that it's releases like that which not only remind me of all of the energy and fun that went into buying these off-the-wall efforts, but just how this kind of music affected me when ( was younger and the Starland Vocal Band just weren't cuttin' it like the deejay said they would. I hate to see what kids today have to go through...probably had it worse'n me...
There's been an avalanche of Frank Zappa-related bootlegs, both grey market and downright under-the-counter, that has been comin' out these past few years. I've reviewed a couple of 'em which came out on the Mr. Natural label a few years back, and now these people at Hoffman have released their own limited edition color cover/color vinyl editions that really are remarkable jobs that once again give the bootleg industry the good name it most naturally deserves.

WEASELS RIPPED MIAMI is surely one that the Mothers fans of old woulda killed for too, not only for the remodeled Neon Park cover but for the live in Miami 1969 concert presented within its grooves. The quality might not be up to par, especially when you wanna hear Zappa givin' some drunk in the audience "what for", but the music is top notch early Mothers without Zappa getting too much in the way playing even farther out than usual. Lots of great free jazz moves and honks that eventually got unaware nimnuls like ourselves to listen to the real avgarde players, or at least it did in my case because like, I was one of those naive obsessive/compulsive types and perhaps that was all for the good despite what the psychoanalysts told me!
Frank Zappa gets all the credit on the front cover, but this ROAD TAPES 1/1 offering is once again the good ol' original Mothers of Invention recorded live in Vancouver Bee Cee way back 1968 way. It's really an eye pleasing effort too what with the color cover and even pearly sperm-like white vinyl, beckoning back to the bootleg scene of the eighties when it seemed as if the illicit goods were way way better on all levels than the legitimate crumbs that were being tossed out at us hungry freaks, daddy (ow!). The performance ain't that special mostly with instrumental variations on themes we've heard a billion times o'er the past half-century, but thankfully Zappa keeps his mouth shut enough and you can always sink into those various grooves these guys get into when the gettin' gets good! If you were one guy who grew up listening to the original Mothers and even sat through the Flo and Eddie and fusion versions of the band (kinda dropping off after the end of the Discreet record line), you might be able to eke a few thrill chills outta this just like I did!
Didja ever get that ten-LP set THE COLLECTED WORKS AND IMPROVISATIONS OF FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION? I didn't due to a combination of a high sticker price and depression-era wages, but I sure remember seeing the thing on sale wonderin' if somehow I could cough up the triple digits for this sure to be sonic explosion naive li'l turdburger that I was! Thankfully I never was able to get it because soon after this one hit the boards the entire concept of Zappa seemed to fizzle out with a change into an even more pretentious direction and records that I don't think any of the original MOI fans would recognize.

But that series did produce a few interesting platters, this particular effort from (once again) Hoffman being just one. I WAS A TEENAGE MALTSHOP portends to be an upgrade on the Mud Shark original with newly sourced upgrades and the like, and with the nice production and packaging it sure looks like a good deal to me. Unfortunately the sound really doesn't sound any better'n stuff I already have scattered about, but wha' th' hey as long as you're getting the music that you wanna hear (this ain't some old issue of STEREO REVIEW, ya know!).

Side one's got a variety of old pre-Mothers Zappa/Beefheart recordings as well as a buncha single sides that Zappa was somehow involved in. Some might be a surprise to the Zappa neophytes like when they hear the Penguins' "Memories of El Monte" then suddenly realize that these were the ones who hit with "Earth Angel" once the singer breaks into a few bars of that ol' chestnoot. I particularly dug Bobby Jameson's gruff "Gotta Find My Roogalator" which maybe goes to show that Zappa did have an ear for some of the grittier sounds to come outta the down and dirtier music side of El Lay.

Unfortunately the flip ain't as tough even though this was recorded when Captain Beefheart was a front and center member of the Mothers. Zappa's clearly into his jazz rock game here and I for one felt this particular April '75 set to br rather pallid. If you wanna hear a fusion-y version of "Let's Make the Water Turn Black" well now you got one, and even Beefheart can't save "Willie the Pimp" from turning into a standard Zappa showing off his guitar playing skills set. Hear it once and it'll stand as a reminder of just why the Mothers meant so much to quite a few freaks at one time before they slid off into the industry just like the rest.
Closing out or selection of recent bootlegs is yet another Zappa monstrosity, MEAT LOVERS #2, a 33 rpm seven-incher with a selection of live rarities including one by the "Hot Rats" band in '70, the "Grand Wazoo"-era Mothers doing a selection of early MOI things "so the audience would hear something that they recognized", a live version of "Cruising for Burgers" without any vocals, and a brief, horn-laden take of "Louie Louie" that kind of reminds me of  the early Art Ensemble of Chicago! Once again it comes on colored plastic and the overall quality is something that I'm sure you wish you had stacked in your record collection back when bootlegs like these were just beginning to come into their own. Into their own what I do not know, but after listening to APOSTROPHE I hope it isn't an old sweat sock!
Are you one of those guys who thought that Mott the Hoople's legitimate albums were kinda snoozaroonie but liked their live bootlegs a whole lot? If so this TAKRL effort should remind you of just why Mott were considered primo punk rock contenders (and I'm using that term in the purest Charles Shaar Murray sense) in the early seventies at a time when all they hadda worry about was Iggy and the Dolls sneakin' waywayway up their rear echelon. BEHIND ENEMY LINES was recorded offa live radio but the fine folks at that legendary bootleg company decided to edit out all the applause leaving for a compact set that really delivers on more high energy jamz than you thought Ian Hunter and company ever could deliver. Without the studio whiz gettin' in the way Mott do fine as only an early-seventies buncha upstarts who make good could, and just give me a few more of these live albums and maybe I can forget the way I struggled through a few of their studio efforts just to get to the one killer song I liked.
Here's a weirditie that I played once about twenny-five years back and then plunked into the collection where it got lost and boy did I have a heckuva time retrieving it after stacks and stacks of searches. When Ultravox first arrived onna scene I had 'em pegged as yet another chi-chi import bin kinda flashy glam thing, but time has proved that those early records were a lot better than I had originally perceived. Sorta like a Roxy Music Meets Can in a Hawkwind airtunnel with that sorta tension that made these records all the more desirable even if they would all go fru-fru once 1980 clocked in.

This live album entitled SYSTEMS is a good encapsulation of that feeling you got when you mixed and matched style and the avant garde schmeer of things, pounding away like all of those Teutonic electronic acts did with a beat that came outta the Rolling Stones and more decadence than you could take even if you were Lou Reed. Good sounding audience tape I'll betcha, and all the big stuff from the first few spinners are here making for either a good 'nuff introduction or a topper if you've heard 'em all and still kinda upchuck at the memory of 1982 and John Foxx's solo career.
Now for a change o' pace, mainly jazz bootlegs! Unlike the rock 'n roll ones it seems that these jazz buggers are not only inexpensive but easily obtainable. Why just last summer I was at an outdoor antique show/flea market and some guy was selling a whole huge bin fulla immaculately new looking jazz bootlegs featuring rare airchecks and such from a number of famous names like Duke Ellington for three bucks a pop! I felt like buying one for the collection but since I was at this show to sell and not buy I decided to tighten the ol' pursestrings at least just this once. However, I did buy this Miles Davis/Sonny Rollins/John Coltrane effort a few years back and dislodged it from the collection after it got snuggled in there a li'l too tightly. Taken from a '59 CBS broadcast back when even the big networks pretended that things exist outside the usual entertainment norm, the sound is great and the performances hard bop enough that fans of the various fifties jazz visionaries from Sun Ra to Ornette can appreciate this as being of a kindred mind. Might be worth looking for if some jazz bootleg dealer just happens to pop up at your own nearby antiques show.
So until the next shipment of platters from that strange man in the van comes in...good bye and buy boots!


(((Simon N Ratfinkle))) said...

A buncha hippy BS! Da Stones, Zappa, Hendrix! And a buncha sissy-britches BS! Reed, Ultravox! And jazz! Commie BS! Cultural Marxism! What is this? The Village Vice?!

Alvin Bishop said...

Ah! Ultravox! My favorite of Brit new-wave! Cheers! Alvin Bishop

Bill S. said...

Those Ozone jazz boots were often found in the jazz stacks of used record stores/used bookstores in the early 70's. I had amazing Gene Krupa trio and Sonny Stitt quartet albums on Ozone, both sourced from radio broadcasts, which I got for a dollar or two.
Some of the live Coltrane performances that have appeared on dodgy Euro labels on CD in the last 15 years first came to my attention on Ozone LP's.

Phil Upchurch said...

Lou Reed, Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Cramps = Same Thing

Lord Scornish said...

How 'bout some blooz reviews? How 'bout The Fabulous Thunderbirds? Canned Heat? Johnny Winter?

Christopher Stigliano said...

Scornish, I guess you missed the SKY HIGH mention above.