Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bootleg Reviews...

These are the last of the long-unused Creem features. Everything after this will most likely be written with this specific page in mind.

The Rolling Stones “We Were Falling in Love” Bootleg 7”

Such a wonderful story…a Dutch record collector buys a batch of acetates that’ve been languishing in a garage in England. Unbeknownst to him, there’s a one-sided lacquer of “We Were Falling in Love” in the heap. The fact that it made it onto a bootleg 7” is a testament to the collector spirit, seeing as proper record labels hardly even make singles any more, let alone the illegitimate ones.

The song itself was recorded September 29th, 1964 at Regent Sound Studios in London. Ignore the fact that Mick would already sing the title lyrics in the Stones cover of “Under the Boardwalk”, this track, with typical Jaggerian prose of stealing some other bloke’s lady, would fit nicely on “Metamorphosis.” I find Charlie’s “boom-chika-chick-boom-boom” drumming particularly enchanting in a Phil Spector/Shangri-Las sort of way. But $14 for a single is a bit outrageous, especially when the song is kinda brief. I say this is only for the diehards, but probably would’ve been a hit if they’d released it.

Iggy Pop and Sonic’s Rendezvous, Helsinki, Finland, May 22, 1978

Dan Kroha told me a story once. He said that one of Iggy Pop’s solo records (“American Caesar” or maybe “Naughty Little Doggy”) had an address where you could send letters to Iggy. Dan, in only the way he can, said he asked Iggy why everytime he came through on tour he had nothing but a bunch of bozos as his backing band.

Surprisingly, Iggy replied, and if I recall correctly, even admitted to Dan’s bozo claim. But he also said that he had a good backing band once. And this is the recording to prove it.

Backed by Fred Smith, Gary Rasmussen and Scott Asheton, better known as the heart of the Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, Iggy did about a three week tour with them in 1978. While a quick check at an Iggy tape trading website shows more than a handful of those shows as being available, this particular radio broadcast from Helsinki seems to be the only one to have been properly bootlegged.

The audio quality is alright…not too terrible but not crystal clear either. There’s a peculiar phase shift that occurs a few times during “I Wanna Be Your Dog” that keeps it from really kicking ass. Either way, it’s a cool peak into a somewhat forgotten collaboration between the two most important Detroit rockers of the Sixties. Iggy berates the crowd, Fred holds the groove and Scott Thurston’s keyboards add a level of fun to it all, particularly on “Dirt.” Too bad the song cuts out just under three minutes. There’s gotta be some proper recordings of this tour somewhere, right?

Velvet Underground Ultimate Mono and Acetates Album (3xCD)

The main attractions on this are the previously unheard alternate versions of “Heroin”, “Venus in Furs” and “I’m Waiting for the Man”. Taken from Moe Tucker’s acetate of their 1966 sessions at Scepter Studios, a similar acetate made news last year when it was announced that it was found at a yard sale for 75 cents.

The amount of excitement I had leading up to hearing these versions was incalculable. “VU and Nico” was the first album I really got nuts into. When I was barely 17 years old my family took a Caribbean cruise I brought my copy of the CD which I listened to almost exclusively. I would just stare out into the black ocean night and totally engross myself in “European Son” and taking inspiration from “Heroin” wondering what the hell that ocean would’ve looked like a thousand years earlier, wanting to be a gnarly pirate or wench or anything, just anything but living in the 1990’s. And I just couldn’t get over the weird little violin loop that John Cale hits on in “Black Angel’s Death Song”…I’ve had dreams about being able to accomplish that same riff with guitar feedback. It manages to be almost atonal and yet totally catchy. That’s the best part of the Velvet Underground.

In spite of my excitement, the acetate tracks aren’t too crazy. The differing versions of the three above-mentioned songs are neither better nor worse, just different. (sidenote: supposedly there’s an alternate version of the first Saints album that fits the same criteria (not better, just different) anyone have it?) I think I caught some slightly altered lyrics in “Heroin”, but I might be mistaken. “Waiting for the Man” actually feels like it’s missing its balls…Lou’s riffing a little more white-bread than what appears on the album. And it’s also safe to say Ms. Tucker doesn’t have the best storage techniques…pops and sizzles are abundant and there’s even a full-on skip or two.

“Femme Fatale” has what seems to be a slightly different mix with the backing vocals a little more quirky. The bass on “Run, Run, Run” has a few more runs and feels a bit louder. The acetate version of “European Son” clocks in at nine minutes while the album version is a mere 7:46. Still, I’d be hard pressed to point out any obvious differences other than overdubs. And I knock off a few points for a botched track edit that leaves the first 10 seconds of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” tacked on to the end of “Euro Son”. If you’re gonna make a boot, you gotta be on top of that shit. Shame on Nothing Songs Ltd. for goofing up the track list too. Jeez.

Disc one is rounded out by mono versions of the two singles from the album, but those tracks can be found on the two-CD deluxe edition of the album.

Disc two contains the promo-only mono mix of the “White Light/White Heat” album. I’ve had too many record collectors tell me how otherworldly mono mixes of albums (Beatles “White Album”, Pink Floyd “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, etc) are or can be. I’ve yet to be impressed. “White Light/White Heat” is no exception.

Also on disc two are four tracks from an acetate found in Sterling Morrison’s closet after he died. “Jesus”, “I’m Set Free”, “Beginning to See the Light” and “After Hours” are claimed to be alternate mixes, but you know…I’m just not buying it. How do these bootleggers get records that personally belonged to Sterling and Moe anyway? I’m sure the story behind that is infinitely more interesting than these supposed alternate mixes. And I could really give two shits about the mono single mixes of “What Goes On” and “Jesus” that round out this disc.

Disc three is a test pressing mono version of “Loaded” only sent out to a few AM radio stations. At this point, who in the hell cares? Wasn’t the two-CD “Fully Loaded” enough? I don’t even like that album anyway.

So I was initially excited and brimming with all kinds of wonderment I hadn’t felt since that Caribbean cruise in the summer of ’99, but now I just feel like I blew $75 that I’m not gonna get back. Caveat emptor.

1 comment:

Danny Kroha said...

Actually I said his band was a bunch of Guns and Roses rejects. He never wrote me back. I then met him a year or so later and asked him if he received the letter. he said he did and said something like, "people sometimes say things in letters that they wouldn't say to someone in person." Then he proceeded to tell me about the hot little band that backed him up one time which consisted of Scott, Fred, and Gary Rasmussen.
By the way Ben, "peak" is the top of something and "peek" is to have a little look.