So you own all the official albums, you picked up the rarities package and you still want more? Online forums lead you to the murky waters of bootleg records. So where to next?
I’ve had many people over the years tell me that buying bootlegs robs an artist or band of income. Most of us who collect bootlegs already own all the official stuff anyway. We’ve been fleeced enough by greedy record labels and we want to look elsewhere to increase our collections. This is where collecting bootlegs comes into play. After a few years of building your bootleg collection your mind becomes more and more curious as to how these illicit recordings of out-takes, live shows and demo songs came into being to begin with.
Should you be a curiosity seeker like myself there are only two places to turn to.
First off you need to invest in a few copies of “Hot Wacks” magazine, a specialist production that highlights, reviews and recommends the bootlegs you should be buying. Next up you need to invest in a book that will guide you down the history of how rock bootlegs came into being.
The book is of course Clinton Heylin’s “Bootleg! The Rise & Fall Of The Secret Recording Industry”, an in-depth study into the origins of bootlegs, the ups and downs and the transformation of a dedicated and long evolving industry.
Recently I began reading this study of a dark industry for the second time. It makes for a fascinating insight into how the recordings were captured to begin with and then follows the history which includes the who, when and why of it all. Interestingly the very first rock bootleg was one that included Bob Dylan’s basement tapes from the mid 1960’s. The album appeared in 1969 under the name of “Great White Wonder” and was, like so many early bootlegs pressed in a white sleeve. Many of the early bootlegs had little to no and often misleading information to keep the FBI bay.
As the 70’s evolves we follow the transition of the industry as the RIAA and BPI are led down the garden path by cunning and clever bootleg operators. And despite claims by record companies, the bootleggers were not making millions of dollars but attempting to give music fans what they so desired, the rare and previously unreleased.
As the book unfolds we follow the pathway from vinyl to CD bootlegs before the road heads towards the Internet, downloading and once more back to where it all started, vinyl bootlegs.
For the casual top 40 fans chances are you will be a little obtuse to understand the contents of Heylin’s absorbing and powerful read. Perhaps even casual music fans won’t understand either? Essentially, “Bootleg! The Rise & Fall Of The Secret Recording Industry” is for music purists who own considerable collections and understand the reasons and passions behind the production of bootleg records.