Why should I care? Why should you care? Who gives a damn about 98 million bootlegs by bands that no one gives a shit about, that are probably worse than the real albums at your friendly Wal-Mart, worse than what you already have, and just the same damn thing over and over and over again?
Because we do… it matters. I love this stuff, and just maybe I do love something that’s not “commercially viable” or not beloved by your average John Coltrane fan. See, I’m not gonna take the usual snobby approach of comparing all this to this week’s top ten artist, so everyone can go “uhhuh… stupid shit… ain’t what I used to be”. There’s reasons why we love the boots we do, and there’s reasons why we like those artists. And it’s down to personal taste – and there’s nothing wrong with that. I was THRILLED to trade with a friend for the Banana Splits – but I’m not going to go look for the, uh, gigs. I will get every Beatles or Dylan boot there is. You give me the best Pink Floyd collection there ever was, you give me 1000 boots of the best of the best, and how excited will I be?
Not really so much. I’ll get excited about Syd, I’ll get excited about the weird early years after Syd, but then I’ll start to snore. Because it’s just TOO MUCH. Maybe 125 boots are enough Floyd. On the other hand, I have a even more Zeppelin boots, and I’m glad I have every last one, and I don’t care if the Septober 32, 1972 concert fragment from the Bedford home for wayward electricians was sourced from a tin can and string – I’m onto it.
But holy fuck, then a week later someone’s got a better generation, the week after someone’s Eqed, edited, speed corrected it, placed it all in the correct order, had half of it banned from a major downloading site because 10:32 – 10:35 of Moby Dick was used as a sample by a Bulgarian polka group and released on Betamax in 1981 in the Low Countries. Then the next week, someone’s done a matrix, and now the purists are really up in arms – they want the unadulterated version, in fact, as a “real collector” (you know who I’m talking about) they have an authentic1971 vintage tin can and string in their sound room for proper sound reproduction. And are you sure that that tape is from Septober? Well, Mr. Beagleman’s gigglography says that Jimmy was in Malay deflowering young virgins on this date and you all know that Percy has had a lifelong fear of Electricians since that gig in 1962 when Alexis Korner chased him around with a ringing telephone…. Then of course, some bright soul points out (having actually listened to the music) that this in fact Ten Years After on the Bright Acid Whimple Test, and lip-syncing at that. Then everyone involved in the conversation exchanges high school insults, until the parlous moment arrives when everyone drops it and the conversation turns to the love for soft-core porn.
You’ve all been there, and you know it. I have too, and in case you haven’t already guessed, can be as all-knowing and self-righteous as anyone. Sometimes I am that anal freak that cares about “generations”, sometimes (and maybe they’re my better ones) I just want to have it loud, rock out, be moved, be touched, get whimsical, just love it for what it is. That’s why this site is cool – there are people out there who take the time to actually know, and can tell you the real story from up above, give you an informed critical point of view. Holy shit! Because I really don’t have the time to listen to all 12 versions of Blueberry Hill, but it’s cool, plus its history, so is that new one something better, something cooler? I can’t tell, because who knows when I’ll notice that version 6 has a weird crackling noise, but otherwise it’s the best, and maybe the writer knows someone who knows someone who knows where the source really came from this time. I need that, and this kind of site is like a wonderful discography – the hidden discography, and the hidden story of the band.
Right there, you’ve got an actual recording of that gig – not at all like being there, but it’s the closest you’ll ever get. Almost any group or artist does infinitely more live dates than albums, and everyone’s got a history – and their history’s got a history. And all that brings into fuller color what you’re listening to. Name anybody, Cream makes more sense, John Paul Jones makes more sense, Humble Pie and the Faces make more sense. Musical history ebbs and flows, art ebbs and flows, and maybe it actually matters to hear take 5 of “Cat’s Squirrel” – and maybe I do wanna hear it. And take 6!. So how do I find out? You gotta read, and look, and know… which label does what? Maybe you’re not a “real collector”, and you sure appreciate that someone made those sessions listenable. Or maybe you don’t want some dope fucking around with the real shit, and you want it straight, just the same as the source tape. “I’ll adjust it myself if I feel like it, thank you”. Make no mistake, in the world of boots there’s many copies of many things, and okay, I only have 7 versions of Blueberry Hill, but you know parts are also on this and on that….
Sure, maybe it’s just someone’s opinion, but we all have our own opinions too, and it helps to have help to choose. You aren’t the only one who cares that you know more about Alex Chilton than you do your own girlfriend – and if you haven’t been out there online, you’d be so blown away, and there’s someone reading this right now who will tell what kind of strings Jimmy Page used on every song, every guitar – and maybe you play guitar and you know what the fuck they’re talking about, and it matters. And who is Kim Milford anyway?
I’m gonna try and be around here as much as I’m allowed, and I reserve the right to be full of shit – but I’ve read a few hundred books, have 18,000 cds, and even have a few of them ROIOs running around that my cat gave birth to. And I do covers for these things too – I’m pretty amateurish, but I think I’m better than the “major labels” – and take a look around – bootlegs will give you better art, better information, and in a lot a lot of cases, better CARE. Apparently I’m allowed to write about anything about boots until I wear out my welcome, and that’s great. Don’tcha wish there was more Derek and the Dominos? Well take a look at the page – maybe there’s something you didn’t know about. There’s three versions of Tampa – just found out today. Be worth your while to have it.
Just keep tunin’ in….