Friday, April 24, 2009
Back in the seventies there were no shortages of live bootleg recordings from the Rolling Stones, but this vinyl gem has always been my favorite. With its suggestive title and the mysteriously blurry high contrast photo of the Stones on the front cover, you just knew you had to give it a listen. The addition of the history of the imaginary record label and recording engineer on the back cover made it an artifact to be shown to all of my friends.
Once you dropped the needle on the lead-in groove, you were treated to more Kornyfone history on the improvements to sound quality followed by a full throttled performance of Gimme Shelter in amazing and perfect stereo. At the time of its release, Bed Spring Symphony was the best live Rolling Stones recording period, either official or unofficial, with the exception of Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! Over the years there have been many other great Rolling Stones live shows made available by the bootleggers. But Bed Spring Symphony has withstood the test of time and captured the Stones at their peak in 1973.
For a detailed history of this recording visit rollingstonesnet.com.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
This week’s featured bootleg is actually three releases from 1988. Bootleg CDs were not very common then. Vinyl was still king. Sometime in October 1988, a friend and a big Beatle fan showed me the current issue of the ICE (International CD Exchange) newsletter. On the front page was the headline “Master Quality Beatles Bootleg CDs Surface.” The following is from the ICE article:
“These are of unbelievable quality, right from the masters,” one Beatles authority told ICE. “I played them next to my Capitol CDs and Can’t Buy Me Love is ten times better – and I mean ten, not one or two. The sound quality is that extraordinary.”
Ultra Rare Trax Vols. 1 and 2 ushered in a new era of high quality and yet to be heard recordings for hungry fans of bootlegs. Maybe they weren’t ‘master’ quality, but the bar had definitely been raised and even EMI Records took notice. According to markings on the disc and the packaging, they were mastered by Sony’s DADC plant in Austria and distributed by The Swinging Pig Records, Luxembourg. The packaging was rather lackluster but they did contain detailed notes for each track. If you were lucky enough to find these gems when they were released, you are holding a piece of history. The originals quickly became ‘ultra rare,’ which brings me to the third CD – BACKTRACK.
If you could not find the Ultra Rare Trax CDs, BACKTRACK was a reasonable substitute, combining the two discs on one CD and adding a couple of additional tracks. BACKTRACK was of the same sound quality with different, but also uninspiring packaging and was manufactured in Korea. It was also easier to find after the appearance of the ICE article.
These were favorites not because they were the harbinger of things to come, but for the great music they contained. I believe we would have never seen the release of the official Beatles Anthology or the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series if not for the appearance of the Ultra Rare Trax Vols. 1 and 2. They laid the ground work for all of the official releases of live and rare studio recordings we all enjoy today.
Monday, April 13, 2009
After hearing the news for the release of the newly remastered Beatles' recordings in both stereo and mono, I started reminiscing about bygone days of visiting my local record store and listening to those ultra rare recordings called "bootlegs." I have always wanted to write about my favorites among these special lps and cds. I plan to pick one per week and give some details about the recording and why it's one of my favorites. Maybe you'll see one of your favorites in a future post.