Ah, that time of year when the bugs are out, the sun is shining, I'm cutting the lawn and drinking beer, driving with the windows down and just want to listen to the good old rock 'n roll. Lately I've been listening to a gathering some bootlegs of my three of my eternal favorites in the genre. As I've stated before, I'm a bootleg junkie and always have been. Living in the East Village in the mid '90s, I was in boot heaven. The CD revolution met up with the used CD establishments to produce several Meccas for a fuzzy rarities collector like myself. My love has never waned and I continue to be a sucker for a stellar bootleg by a favorite band. (Rule #6 for Bootleg Newbies: bootlegs are reserved for favorite bands). Here's a handful of recent discoveries by legends.
The Beatles - Lord of Madness: This is an excellant set taken from a 1968 EMI studio session. The band sounds great and this is one of my favorite stages of the Fab Four. Amid the strife of their last years, all four members were emerging as individual artists that would soon find their creative peaks. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Not Guilty," and "Yer Blues" are stand outs for me.
The Beatles - Acetates: A collection of out-takes, studio sessions, and radio broadcasts, mostly dating from Magical Mystery Tour era. In my opinion, the band sounds at its pyschedelic weirdness best on this collection. Their "psychedelic" studio albums have always felt too polished for me, which is contrast to the nature of the music. Much more raw versions of the songs are here and many of them benefit from it. "A Day in the Life" and "Blue Jay Way" are perfect examples. An early tune "Bad to Me" is great too.
The Beatles - Acetates II: This is a double CD, with Disc 1 being estentially the same album as the one above with the addition of an incredible version of "I Me Mine" and a 12 minute radio chat with John which is vintage John brilliance that made me laugh out loud several times. The second disc spans both the early years and later years of the band (the early period being my other favorite era of the band). Fantastic stuff, including a different version of my all time favorite Beatles tune "Don't Let Me Down."
The Rolling Stones - Ultra Rare Trax Volume 1: The Ultra Rare Trax series is familiar to any bootleg collector worth their salt. I have entries from their Pink Floyd, Nirvana, and Beatles series and all are pretty great at digging up unrealesed tracks and very different takes. I was pretty excited to snag a few by the Stones, my personal favorite band of the old school. Volume one is a nice collection of the bluesy Stones. An alternate take of "Memo From Turner" was a bit of a revelation.
The Rolling Stones - Ultra Rare Trax Volume 2: This one is a little more subdued. A lot of instrumental jams (one with Gram Parsons) and all in all, an okay collection. The version of "Jiving Sister Fanny" is pretty great and I'm always a fan of "Andrew's Blues."
The Rolling Stones - Ultra Rare Trax Volume 5: Now I know what you're thinking, I only got 1,2, and 5 because they had the cool members of the band on the covers. Actually, that was just luck. There are volumes 3,4, and 6 also available but the song selection was less to my liking. This volume is probably my favorite of the three. The unreleased track "Stuck Out Alone" is amazing. "Downtown Suzie" and "If You Need Me" are great. And of course, "C--ksucker Blues" is always fantastic...one of the best British Blues songs ever written.
The Rolling Stones - Beat Beat Beat at the BEEB: Another bootleg bit of truth is that you can pretty guarantee anything "at the BEEB" is going to be worth the effort. These are BBC recordings and the quality is always pretty great. All songs from this album date from '64 and '65 and feature the young, raw, brash Stones. I've always been fond of saying, "I used to think the Beatles were the best band...then I heard the Stones." And it's true, I didn't get into the Stones until I was about 20. This era Stones you can really hear that even from the beginning, the Stones were going to be the ones to push rock into sleaze of the '70s. I'm forever grateful to them for that.
Oasis - Noel's Songs...Early Demos: Five acoustic songs written and sung by Noel that date from a 1989 demo. What's really intriguing about these songs is that they sound more like Oasis of the past 5 years than Oasis of the early '90s. These songs are obvious before the band started develop their early Stone Roses sound (pre-their Beatles sound). These are very enjoyable songs and fascinating to hear the beginnings of one my generations' greatest songwriters.
Oasis - Boardwalk, Manchester '92: A live demo tape handed out by the band during a boardwalk performance when they were a still an unsigned band trying drum up label interest. This is really the band's first EP and the songs on here don't end going on the albums or even as one of their many, many B-Sides. This is the Stone Roses sounding incarnation of the band. I've been familiar with these songs since '95 when they were included on one of those many NYC bootlegs I spoke of earlier but it's still nice to hear them as they were intended. I love these songs, even though I know many who hate them. But "Colour My Life", "Take Me" and "Must Be the Music" are the three great lost Oasis tracks in my opinion.
Oasis - Live Demonstration II: The second tape handed out by the band is the one that I read is credited with getting them signed to Creation. Unlike the first one, many of these songs ended up on the debut or as B-Sides from that album. But these are completely different version with a raw sound of a band hungry to become the biggest band in the world, which they'd manage a few short years later.
Oasis - The BBC Acoustic Sessions: Basically reads like a greatest hits collection, had their hits ended after What's the Story, Morning Glory. If you haven't heard this band acoustic, you should. They are one of those bands that sound completely new unplugged and they do it well. All the "classics" are here and with the BBC quality, it's a good place to start.