Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Double live CD by the Meat Puppets. Does it add up to one good one?

 

[review by Bill Glahn]

Meat Puppets: Meltdown/Attacked By Monsters (Interference INTR2CD0006)

Venue: (CD1) 9/1/88 KCRW Studios, Santa Monica, CA (CD2) 4/16/93 KCRW studios, Santa Monica, CA

Sound Quality: very good low generation broadcast recordings, mildly compressed

Cover: 8-page booklet and tray card in slimline double jewel case

Tracklist: (CD1) Introduction-In Love/ Wish Upon A Stone/ Light/ Touchdown King/ Bali Ha’i/ Automatic Mojo/ He’ll Have To Go/ Magic Toy Missing/ Pass Me By/ Meltdown (CD2) Introduction/ Lake Of Fire/ Violet Eyes/ Never To Be Found/ Attacked By Monsters/ El Paso City/ White Sport Coat

Comments: 
The phone is no friend of Curt Kirkwood's. Too often, the tidings it bears are foul. He calls them “incomings from Tempe.” They go like this: Your brother's wife overdosed this morning; she's dead. Your brother got busted again last night, and he told the cops he was you. Your brother showed up at my house yesterday with a crack pipe and a bag of needles, and he looks like hell. Your brother took off from rehab. Your brother's holed up in a Motel 6 on the Black Canyon Freeway, smoking rock like it's judgment day. (Austin Chronicle, Shooting Star, January 1, 1999)

That was just the first paragraph of the revealing article in the Austin Chronicle documenting the band’s decent. You can read the whole sordid affair on this link

The last 2 albums that the original line-up would make until 2019 were the ominously titled Too High To Die (1994) and No Joke! (1995). The first of those two yielded the band’s only chart single, “Backwater.” The second, despite a crafty production by the Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary (a man experienced in navigating minefields in a band prone to drug excess with newfound major label cash), barely dented Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. No Joke!, may have sounded great, but the subject matter was something radio wouldn’t touch.

As unauthorized live CDs go, there isn't a whole lot around on the Meat Puppets. That makes this release something of a surprise.

Meltdown/Attacked By Monsters presents two radio broadcasts from college station KCRW in Santa Monica. The first in 1988 when the band were darlings of college radio and the alternative press, the second as a major label act on the verge of stardom – in no small amount due to a guest appearance by the Kirkwood brothers on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged session.

On the 1988 broadcast, the Meat Puppets appear fairly focused on playing material for their album-in-progress, Monsters, with 4 tracks from that release and one more that would appear as a bonus track on a later CD re-issue of that album. There’s a couple of tracks from previous albums included in the set and a couple offbeat covers including “He’ll Have To Go,” performed in a way Jim Reeves fans couldn’t possibly envision. But a significant portion of the disc is taken up by the band doing their best to be “witty.” And failing. The sorriest example being the rather stupid rendition of “Bali Ha’i” that takes up the first 2 minutes of track 5 followed by 5 more minutes of a ludicrous conversation about Brian Wilson. “Brian Wilson led the band, Brian & the Family Stone and their big hit, ‘Stand.’” Please. And the DJ, of course, laughs at every witticism and plays along. She obviously feels the hipness of their presence and wants them back. Unfortunately these bits of comedy, which you will never want to hear again, are not indexed separately from the songs. There is some relief that the next track, a blistering version of “Automatic Mojo,” is a stand-alone track. As is the take on “He’ll Have To Go.” Then back to inane conversation tacked onto “Magic Toy Missing.” Disc one contains some brilliant moments and far too many cringe-worthy ones. On to disc two.

The 1993 broadcast repeats the formula of not separating songs from conversation, only it's much shorter in length. Sure, you get the song you’ve been waiting all this time to hear, “”Lake of Fire.” And it concludes with an acoustic version of Marty Robbins’ “White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation” before the all-too-precious DJ concludes the session. But it’s a totally uninspired version. The drugs are, apparently, wearing off.

In totality, the combined length of BOTH discs is a bit under 72 minutes. The amount of music presented is about half that. With a lot of editing, this might amount to a fine vinyl LP. Considering that the cost would be about the same as this 2CD without the bullshit, maybe some enterprising vinyl company will do just that.

Grade: despite the excellent sound, this gets a C-

Bonus view: a full concert from 1992. Great sound and visuals.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Live double CD: Mike Bloomfield show from 1974


MIKE BLOOMFIELD

Bottom Line Cabaret 31.3.74

(Klondike Records)


VENUE: The Bottom Line, New York City, March 31st, 1974


SOUND QUALITY: Fair to middlin’ radio broadcast, probably second-generation tape, with frequent loss of the lower frequencies and bouts of distortion and occasional feedback. Slightly muddy sound overall, but in no sense a ‘deal killer’ as the vocals are mostly legible, Bloomfield’s guitar cuts through the muck, and the piano playing is easily discernable. Given the age and provenance of the recording, it’s quite listenable. 


COVER: Eight-page booklet features sepia-toned photo of Bloomfield on front with red title banner, action photo of the guitarist on the back on the CD booklet. Inside offers cool color pics and a couple pages of anonymous yet informative liner note. The CD tray card duplicates the back insert photo and includes the tracklist and the European label’s bloato-hype about Bloomfield.


TRACKLIST: 

Disc One: 1. Band Introduction • 2. Don’t You Like To Me • 3. Linda Lou • 4. Sweet Little Angel • 5. Unchain My Heart • 6. Inside Information • 7. Tryin’ To Find the Door • 8. Glamour Girl


Disc Two: 1. Heartbreak • 2. Imagination • 3. Let Them Talk • 4. Trouble Ahead of Me • 5. If I Get Started All Over Again


COMMENTS: 

The history of rock ‘n’ roll is littered with guitar heroes, godly fretburners like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, and Stevie Ray Vaughan that redefined the instrument for a new generation. There also exists a slate of minor deities, influential axe-wielders that, while not worshipped as ardently as the aforementioned top tier of guitarists, were nevertheless influential, consequential, and often times as talented as their better-known peers. Count artists like Rory Gallagher, Peter Green, Roy Buchanan, Robin Trower, Kim Simmonds, Tommy Bolin, and Mick Ronson among these ranks. Then there’s guitarist Michael Bloomfield, who stands in a class entirely his own…


Born in Chicago in 1943, just prior to the post-war “Baby Boom,” Bloomfield caught the ‘blues bug’ at the age of 14 after seeing folk-blues artist Josh White perform. He began hanging around the blues clubs on Chicago’s South Side and sat in with Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson at the age of 16 years. Bloomfield made his bones playing with giants like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, who demanded a high level of virtuosity from their associates. Before long, Bloomfield hooked up with singer and harmonica player Paul Butterfield, fellow guitarist Elvin Bishop, and a monster rhythm section in bassist Jerome Arnold and drummer Sam Lay, who came from Howlin’ Wolf’s band. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band would bring the blues to white audiences with a pair of groundbreaking mid-‘60s albums.


But first, Bloomfield made a splash playing behind Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and appearing on the Scribe’s 1965 LP, Highway 61 Revisited. It was during these sessions that Bloomfield met and befriended musician Al Kooper, who would become an integral part of the guitarist’s career. Bloomfield soon tired of the Butterfield Band’s rigorous touring schedule and left the band after those first two albums, relocating to San Francisco and forming Electric Flag with his old Chicago buddies Barry Goldberg and Nick Gravenites. Bloomfield would leave the Flag after the band’s debut album, A Long Time Comin’, subsequently lending his talents to recordings by artists like Chuck Berry, Mother Earth, Mitch Ryder, James Cotton, and Janis Joplin, among others, while weighing the options of his solo career. 


Bloomfield reunited with Muddy Waters (and Butterfield) to record the revered 1969 Chess Records LP Fathers and Sons, and released two critically-acclaimed collaborations with Kooper in 1968 – Super Session and The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – that were modestly successful and seemed ready to launch the guitarist into the stratosphere. Flash forward to 1974, and Bloomfield’s career opportunities are, in a word, uncertain. His solo debut, 1969’s It’s Not Killing Me, was poorly-produced by his buddy Gravenites and underperformed on the charts. Bloomfield tried to self-medicate his problems away, and his heroin addiction worsened to the point where he stopped playing guitar altogether for a while in 1970. It took a letter from his idol B.B. King (who was asked to intervene by Bloomfield’s mother) to motivate him to pick up his instrument and play again.  


Bloomfield recorded his second solo album, 1973’s Try It Before You Buy It, which the label subsequently refused to release at the time (it finally saw the light of day in 1990). Columbia Records forced the guitarist into an odd creative marriage – the Triumvirate album with Dr. John and bluesman John Hammond, Jr. – which was poorly reviewed and barely sold, and Bloomfield would reunite with his Electric Flag cohorts for a single 1974 album, The Band Kept Playing, that was equally troubled. Although Bloomfield preferred to play shows close to his West Coast home, the IRS came calling with a huge tax bill for the years 1968-1972. As such, tours to distant locations like Miami, Boston, Toronto, and Buffalo followed. March 1974 found Bloomfield in New York City, where he performed a two-night stand at The Bottom Line club. 


The first of these two concerts – the night of March 31st – was broadcast live by WNYU-FM radio and now finds its semi-legit release on CD as Bottom Line Cabaret 31.3.74. For this particular show, the guitarist fronted a band that included Al Kooper and Barry Goldberg on keyboards, bassist/vocalist Roger Troy (from Electric Flag), and drummer George Rains (who had played with Mother Earth and Boz Scaggs). It’s a fairly spirited show, the guitarist leading his talented crew through a strong set of classic blues tunes with a handful of original songs. Tampa Red’s Chicago blues gem “Don’t You Lie To Me” kicks off the show, a rowdy up-tempo song with plenty of honky-tonk piano-play and ferocious guitar playing. The similarly-jaunty “Linda Lou” suffers from some muddy sound, but the song’s rowdy country-styled arrangement shines (as does Bloomfield’s stinging guitar).


A cover of the B.B. King classic “Sweet Little Angel” (also recorded by the aforementioned Tampa Red) features plenty of Bloomfield’s scorching fretwork and Troy’s bluesy vocals riding atop squalls of piano notes. The vocals nearly disappear during a cover of Ray Charles’ “Unchain My Heart,” but the song’s innate soulfulness rises to the top in a sonic stew of raging piano keys and fluid, funky guitar. Bloomfield’s guitar jumps right into Electric Flag’s “Inside Information,” suggesting an odd tape edit, but Troy’s vocals here – which mimic Otis Redding’s earthy tones – strike home as the band shuffles along behind him. The Chicago-styled “Glamour Girl” is plagued with some feedback and distortion, but Bloomfield’s guitar rings clear, as does the passionate piano playing behind him.


The second disc “joins the show already in progress” as the band is already jukin’ its way through “Heartbreak” when you hit ‘play’. No worries, though, as the song is a rockin’ blues tune that, while the performance is somewhat fuzzy sonically, the band’s rowdy intent jumps out of the grooves nonetheless. The liner notes say that Kooper sings “(I’ve Got To Use My) Imagination” (listed as “Imagination”), but I believe that it’s actually Barry Goldberg, who wrote the song and recorded it for his self-titled 1974 album. Regardless, it’s a great blues-rock tune with chiming keyboards and a deep rhythmic groove with subtle, sparing guitarplay by Bloomfield.


The pace slows down drastically for “Let Them Talk,” a R&B gem that was a hit for Little Willie John in 1959. Troy’s emotional vocals are paired with Bloomfield’s elegant fretwork, Gospel-toned organ, and tasteful piano accompaniment. Bloomfield recorded the song for his shelved Try It Before You Buy It album and it’s Columbia’s loss that it didn’t release the track as a single as the guitarist’s performance and tone here are incredible. A red-hot cover of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I Smell Trouble” (listed here as “Trouble Ahead of Me”) is delivered as a scorching blues-rock tune with a shuffling Chicago-styled rhythm and ferocious guitar playing and an extended jam that features dueling keyboards. The concert closes out with the up-tempo “If I Get Started All Over Again,” a sort of R&B-tinged pop song with high-flying fretwork and an undeniable melodic hook.       


Bloomfield’s career would teeter on throughout the decade until his death under mysterious circumstances in 1981. The guitarist allegedly provided music for the Mitchell Brothers’ adult films for $1,000 an hour. With his old pal Goldberg in tow, Bloomfield hooked up with singer/songwriter Ray Kennedy as KGB, which released a single self-titled album in 1976 (the band also including Blind Faith’s Ric Grech and Carmine Appice of Cactus). Bloomfield recorded an instructional album for guitarists titled If You Love These Blues, Play ‘Em As You Please, which was underwritten by Guitar Player magazine. Bloomfield released a handful of solo albums for fellow guitarist John Fahey’s independent Takoma Records label, including the acclaimed 1977 set Analine and 1979’s Between A Hard Place & the Ground. Bloomfield’s final solo album, Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’, would be released the same day as his death.


Klondike Records is no newcomer to “copyright gap” albums, the Cyprus-based semi-bootleg imprint releasing live recordings by artists as diverse as Bloomfield, the Patti Smith Group, Blue Öyster Cult, Burning Spear, Tom Waits, Sun Ra, and Talking Heads, among many others, concerts dating from the early 1970s through the early ‘90s. This particular Bottom Line show has been previously-released on both vinyl and CD as More Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper, and has been readily available in tape-trading circles and on torrent streams for decades. 


In the years since his death, a handful of live Bloomfield albums have been released legitimately, most notably Live At the Old Waldorf (1998), Fillmore East: The Lost Concert Tapes (2003, with Al Kooper), and Live At McCabe’s Guitar Workshop (2017), all of which are worth adding to your collection. All of these live discs display Bloomfield’s incredible talents and virtuosity, his skills influencing a generation of guitar-slingers to follow. With his status growing in the decades since his death, Bloomfield was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012 and into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 as a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Bottom Line Cabaret 31.3.74 provides a glimpse at the talents upon which Bloomfield’s legend continues to grow. Grade: B (Rev. Keith A. Gordon)


Bonus view: 



 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Live CDs from Santana, Dio, Traffic and more

 


[In the sense that the same shows often appear on a variety of labels, the rash of broadcast loophole recordings of recent years is no different than the tsunami of copyright gap CDs of the 1990’s. Here are a few short reviews of some of the latest examples, along with some similarly short reviews from the back pages of the Live! Music Review print editions.]

Dio: Live In Santa Monica 1983 (Klondike 5073)

Venue: Santa Monica, Ca 10/7/83

Sound Quality: very good to excellent radio broadcast, a little compressed.

Cover: 8-page insert and tray card in standard jewel case.

Track Listing: Station Introduction/ Stand Up And Shout/ Straight Through The Heart/ Shame On The Night/ Stargazer/ Guitar Solo/ Heaven And Hell/ Holy Diver/ Rainbow In The Dark/ Man On The Silver Mountain> Starstruck

Comments: Bootlegs of this King Biscuit Flower Hour radio broadcast go back to numerous vinyl releases (mostly of European manufacture) in the 1980s. 5 tracks appear on the official deluxe edition of Holy Diver (2012).

The tour was the first for the debut album (Holy Diver) of Ronnie James Dio (more accurately, the band Dio named after himself). By 1983 Dio was a well-known commodity in the world of hard rock, having previously fronted the bands Elf, Black Sabbath, and Rainbow. Dio brought along former Sabbath bandmate, Vinny Appice, former Rainbow mate, Jimmy Balin, and unknown guitarist (at the time)Vivian Campbell, to take the album charts by storm. The band would go through numerous line-up changes through the years, but never recapture the sales that Holy Diver enjoyed. As a bootleg, Live In Santa Monica serves little purpose these days, as the bulk of the material has been released officially.

Santana: Live At The Bottom Line, New York 1978 (Boiling Point 003)

Venue: Bottom Line, NYC, NY 10/16/78

Sound Quality: very good to excellent broadcast recording from low generation source

Cover: Single panel insert and tray card in slimline double jewel case. Bare basics and does not list recording date

Track Listing: (disc 1) Intro> Well Alright/ Black Magic Woman/ Gypsy Queen/ Dance Sister Dance/ Europa/ Dealer/ Spanish Rose/ Incident At Neshabur/ Victory Is Won/ Move On/ Batuka/ No One To Depend On/ (disc 2) One Chain/ Toussaint L’Overture/ She’s Not There/ Open Invitation/ Jungle Strut/ Transcendance/ Evil Ways

Comments: As FM radio made its move from free-form to AOR formats, Santana moved in the opposite direction, moving deeper into albums with jazz stylings and spiritual concepts. They would find themselves absent from the Top 40 charts for 5 years before releasing the part live/ part studio album, Moonflower. With that release, a much more accessible album, they finally returned to high rotation radio play with a pop cover of The Zombies’ “She’s Not There.” In 1978 they released the follow-up, Inner Secrets, once again with an eye toward the more narrow formats radio had taken. The result was another Top 40 hit, “Stormy,” and two other singles that cracked the Top 100, the disco-ish “One Chain” and a remake of another radio classic, Buddy Holly’s “Well Alright” – modeled after Blind Faith’s hit version. Columbia Records must have been thrilled as sales skyrocketed. Fans favoring Santana’s more adventurous work, not so much.

Live At The Bottom Line features the band touring in support of that album which would be followed by another crack at the charts with 1979’s Marathon, another Top 40 hit, “You Know That I Love You,” and a new singer (Alex Ligertwood) that sounded an awful lot like the previous one (Greg Walker). By 1981’s Zebop!, the commercial move was in full flower and the Latin rhythms most favored by fans of the Woodstock-era almost entirely absent. What we get from this 1978 performance is a last-look at a smoking band on the verge of a complete overhaul. Not entirely for fans of earlier days, but fans of the more pop-oriented Santana should love it.

Traffic: Live In London (London Calling LCCD5062)

Venue: Paris Theatre, London, UK 4/30/70 (BBC broadcast)

Sound Quality: Excellent broadcast recording, most likely from a pre-broadcast transcription disc of one of the many BBC re-broadcasts of the show.

Cover: Nice graphics in cardboard digipak containing 8-page booklet inside with period photos and an article from the 5/29/70 issue of Friends magazine. But you have to wonder if there is any fan involvement here when the title of one of their most famous albums (John Barleycorn Must Die) is wrongly titled on the back cover as “John Barleycorn Is Dead.”

Track Listing: Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring/ Every Mother’s Son/ No Time To Live/ Medicated Goo/ John Barleycorn/ Pearly Queen/ Stranger To Himself/ Empty Pages/ Glad/ Freedom Rider

Comments: Part of the agreement to allow Steve Winwood to record for a competing label (the Blind Faith album) was for Winwood to record two additional albums in the future for Island Records. Island would accept either newly recorded solo albums or new Traffic albums. With the quick break-up of Blind Faith, Winwood would begin work on a new solo album. As the sessions proceeded, Traffic bandmates Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi would become involved and the result was a new Traffic album, John Barleycorn Must Die. Before the album was completed, the trio would appear on the Beeb’s In Concert series. This is the result – a stripped down Traffic performing old favorites and new songs not yet familiar to the public. It’s magnificent. Highly recommended for folks that missed the earlier versions.

Various Artists: Anti-Nuclear Disarmament Rally Central Park NYC ’82 (Rox Vox RVCD2090)

Venue: Central Park, NYC, NY 6/12/82

Sound Quality: Good radio broadcast with flaws reminiscent of a multi-generational source 

Cover: 8-page booklet with liner notes and tray card in slimline double jewel case

Tracklist: (disc 1) For Everyman (Jackson Browne/ The Pretender (Jackson Browne & Gary U.S. Bonds)/ Imagine (Joan Baez)/ Promised Land/ Running On Empty/ Backstage (Jackson Browne & Bruce Springsteen)/ Tumbling Dice/ Blue Bayou/ It’s In His Kiss/ Desperado/ Heatwave/ Back In The USA/ Backstage (Linda Ronstadt) (disc 2) That Lonesome Road/ You’ve Got A Friend/ Band Introductions/ Up On The Roof/ Stand And Fighr (James Taylor)/ No More Nukes (Joy Ryder & Avis Davis)/Plutonium Is Forever (John Hall)/ Power/ Get Together Finale (John Hall with Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, & Carly Simon)

Comments: Not a lot to recommend this one - some tape-fluctuation and thin sound. While the performances are generally fine, they are incomplete. Plus, there’s a lot of DJ blabber throughout. Still, if you desire a companion piece for the No-Nukes official release, this might suffice until a better recording comes along.

Back Pages: (more short reviews from the August 1997 print edition of Live! Music Review, available on the Internet for the first time)

AC/DC: Hola Madrid (MM 002)

Venue: The Main Bullring, Madrid, Spain 7/4/96

Sound Quality: excellent broadcast recording

Cover: 2-panel insert and 2-sided tray card

Tracklist: Back In Black/ Shot Down In Flames/ Thunderstruck/ Girls Got Rhythm/ Hard As A Rock/ Shoot To Thrill/ Boogieman/ Hail Caesar/ The Jack/ You Shook Me All Night Long/ Whole Lotta Rosie/ Highway To Hell/ For Those About To Rock

Comments: AC/DC hasn’t messed with their formula for 20+ years and it still works. This broadcast has appeared on a number of other releases.

The Doors: Wanted (Sugarcane Records SC 52016)

Venue: The Coliseum, Vancouver, Canada 6/6/70

Sound Quality: Compressed radio broadcast, badly eq’d

Cover: One picture of Morrison’s face made to look like a wanted poster

Tracklist: Roadhouse Blues/ Backdoor Man/ Five To One/ When The Music’s Over/ Who Do You Love?/ Light My Fire/ The End

Comments: Just another version of one of the most bootlegged radio broadcasts, and not a very good one at that.

Foo Fighters: Brixton (KTS 518)

Venue: 1-11 The Brixton Academy, London, UK 11/14/95; 12-13 The Lowlands Festival, Holland 6/27/95; 14 NYC, NY 7/95; 15 London, UK 11/16/95

Sound Quality: excellent broadcast recordings

Cover: 12-panel insert and 2-sided tray card. Lots of pictures of Dave Grohl on stage, possibly from video

Tracklist: Enough Space/ This Is A Call/ Winnebago>Watershed/ For All The Cows/ Weenie Beenie/ Big Me/ I’ll Stick Around/ Alone And Easy Target/ Up In Arms/ Gas Chamber/ Exhausted/ My Hero/ Ho, George/ This Is A Call/ Winnebago>Watershed

Comments: Typical of any number of other high quality Foo Fighters broadcasts, Brixton comes highly recommended only if you haven’t already got two or three other bootlegs featuring the same or similar material. And if you haven’t yet, you haven’t been looking. Grohl & company deliver with the usual high energy, but the seasoned collector will probably want to wait for something featuring material from the latest album. The final track is a specially recorded studio version for the BBC.

Elton John: Rocket Man (Live Line 15460)

Venue: Worceter, MA 1983

Sound Quality: Excellent broadcast recording

Cover: Generic 1-piece front cover & tray card

Tracklist: Tiny Dancer/ Rocket Man/ Daniel/ Candle In The Wind/ The Bitch Is Back/ Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me/ Who Wears These Shoes/ I’m Still Standing/ Goodbye Yellow Brick Road/ Your Song/ Philadelphia Freedom/ Saturday Night’s Alright/ Crocadile Rock

Comments: There’s a few fade-outs at the end of songs in this highly circulated recording. This disc contains the kind of sound quality that will please the person that buys 20 CDs a year, but a recording that every serious Elton John fan already has.

[All reviews by Bill Glahn]

Friday, February 26, 2021

The Wayback Machine: Rare Rolling Stones vinyl reviewed (Earl's Court 5/22/76)


Liver' II #127 of 300

[Review by Bill Glahn]

Rolling Stones: Liver’ II (Southern Records TRS-01)

Venue: Earl’s Court, London, UK 5/22/76

Sound: Although Southern Records used quality sources for all 3 of their releases, this is the cream, an excellent stereo soundboard with enough audience picked up by the stage mics to give it a room ambience not found on so many soundboard recordings. Great instrument separation and zero tape hiss or warble. An online Stones database (dbboots) lists this record as “excellent audience recording.” They are wrong. A soundboard/audience mix of this show is available in far lesser quality on YouTube (listed as soundboard). I’ll post it at the end. You be the judge. I’m betting dbboots was making assumptions and only had a picture of the cover and a tape to go by. It’s that rare.

Cover: Plain white jacket with numbered sticker on front and insert in back. 300 #d copies. The insert lists “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The record labels don’t. The labels are correct. The song was played, but it doesn’t appear. 

Tracklist: (side a) If You Can’t Rock Me/ Get Off My Cloud/ Hand Of Fate/ Hey Negrita/ Ain’t Too Proud To Beg (side b) Fool To Cry/ Hot Stuff/ Star Star/ You Gotta Move (side c) Happy/ Tumbling Dice/ Nothin’ From Nothin’/ Outta Space (side d) Midnight Rambler/ It’s Only Rock & Roll/ Brown Sugar

Comments: In 1989, as the CD era was advancing at lightning speed, Southern Records released a series of 3 vinyl double LPs in celebration of 20 years of rock bootlegs on vinyl started by those “white cover folks” in 1969. Prior to establishing label names, such as Trademark of Quality, The Amazing Kornyphone Record Label, Rubber Dubber, Contraband Music and Wizardo, those early bootlegs appeared with such labels as Lurch (Rolling Stones), Blimp (Led Zeppelin), or just plain white labels (Dylan, Great White Wonder, the first appeared this way before utilizing Rocolian Records and finally Trademark of Quality). Like those earliest labels, Southern Records wasn’t heard of before, and hasn’t been heard of since. They used previously unbooted concerts and titled them as 2nd and 3rd editions of the earliest bootleg vinyl. With a limited production run, they have become some of the most sought after bootlegs from the late vinyl period.

While Liver’ II is missing the first song of the set (Honky Tonk Woman) one song from the middle of the set (Can’t Always Get…) and the three encores (Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man, and Sympathy For The Devil), as a two LP set it’s packed with the bulk of the show and a hot performance. It’s definitely worth having. Billy Preston shines with some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll piano riffs since Johnnie Johnson was pounding the ivories for Chuck Berry. Preston also gets his own spotlight for two numbers with the Stones performing as his backup group. 

Ron Wood also puts in some stellar performances, recalling his days with The Faces and putting to rest suggestions that the Stones were finished the moment Mick Taylor left the group. I may prefer the Taylor-era line-up, but Wood shows a bit more versatility here. I’ll admit that “You Gotta Move” is marginal at best, but he burns the frets on rockers like “Starfucker (Star Star)” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.” 

Mick Jagger also gives an exemplary performance, void of his usual “out-of-breath” vocalisms – the result of too much prancing and showboating on stage. The lone exception is on “Midnight Rambler,” most likely the result of his “Peter Pan” bit while the band was pounding out “Outta Space” on the previous tune. The band sounds unusually out of sync at the beginning of “Rambler” as well after performing Preston’s funky instrumental. They recover, but this version will not make you forget the explosive version from Get Your Leeds Lungs Out (Leeds, UK 1971).

Charlie Watts is Charlie Watts and his drums are highly defined in the mix, as are his rhythm partners, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman.

Despite it’s incompleteness (there’s only so much you can stick on two slabs of vinyl), I’ve got to give this album a solid thumbs up. If you can find it.

Grade: A


Bonus: YouTube “soundboard” of the show. Honky Tonk Women is cut (the reason for its omission?) and the encores are from an audience source. 




Back Pages: 3 live Prince CD reviews from the March 1998 print edition

[For our Prince CD reviews, we always turned to Jeff Anderson, a Minneapolis resident who had been following Prince since the earliest days. These are 3 of those reviews available on the Internet for the first time.]


Prince: God Bless America (Moonraker237/238)
Venue: Roxy, Boston 1/8/97; Live Club, Atlanta, 1/19/97; State Theatre, Detroit 1/13/97
Sound: OK audience recordings
Cover: Nice 20-page booklet with excellent timely photos, accurate track listings, a newspaper reprint of a review of the Detroit show, and an article on Emancipation going double platinum.
Tracklist : (Boston) Jam Of The Year/ Talkin’ Loud and Saying Nothin’/ Purple Rain/ 17 Days/ Get Yo Groove On/ The Most Beautiful Girl In The Word/ Face Down/ The Cross (Atlanta) One Of Us/ Do Me Baby Medley/ Sexy MF/ If I Was Your Girlfriend/ The Ride/ How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore/ Take Me With U/ Raspberry Beret/ Mr. Happy/ 18 And Over/ Johnny/ Sleep Around/ Take The A-Train/ The Little Groovemaker Me/ Partyman (Detroit) Face Down/ Somebody’s Somebody/ The Ride/ Johnny

Comments: The booklet states that this release is actually segments from three different shows “seamlessly edited together to make one excellent sounding show,” because the quality of the individual shows varied. They also state that you might find the complete shows elsewhere, probably in lesser quality. I beg to differ!

First of all, there are no seamless edits. There are definite fades from one segment to the next. And if full versions are available in lesser quality, I wouldn’t want to hear them. All of your typical aspects of average to poor audience recordings are here; variations in both the levels and the sound, audience noise, that boxy and/or distant sound. Distortion is especially prominent on the first two segments, especially the kick drum. So, who knows, maybe those statements are just a smokescreen for the fact that the tapers screwed up every one of these. Maybe they ran out of tape at the Boston show, blew the levels on the Atlanta show, and came late for the Detroit show. So what can you do with three incomplete shows? Here ya go. 

This is definitely one of Moonraker’s less impressive efforts. I hope they don’t get into the habit of releasing “just anything” by The Artist just to put out product like some labels do. The great packaging doesn’t hide the poor sound or make up for the fact that this one will get one listen before going to storage forever.



Prince: The Freedom Train (Moonraker 220/221)
Venue: Roseland Ballroom, NYC, NY 1/11/97; Constitution Hall, Wash, DC 1/10/97
Sound: Very good audience recording
Cover: Very busy cover contains bits and pieces of the photos contained inside the 20 page booklet, which also contains a reprint of a press release announcing the “Love 4 One Another Charities Tour 1997” and an accurate track listing.
Tracklist: (New York) Jam Of The Year/ Talkin’ Loud And Saying Nothin’- R‘n’R Is Alive/ Purple Rain/ 17 Days/ Get Yo Groove On – Six/ Face Down/ The Cross/ `One Of Us/ Do Me Baby Medley/ Sexy MF/ If I Was Your Girlfriend/ How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?/ Take Me With You/ Raspberry Beret/ Mr. Happy (including Big Fun)/ 18 & Over/ Speech/ Sleep Around/ The A-Train/ The Little Groove Maker Me/ Johnny (Washington, DC) Face Down (including VooDoo Chile)/ The Tide/ Sleep Around/ Take The A-Train/ The Little Groove Maker Me/ 777-9311/ Partyman/ Johnny

Comments: Only four shows into the tour and the man has his latest, most stripped down version of the New Power Generation already in top form. Whether it be a three minute pop song like “Take Me With You,” an eight minute funk workout like “Face Down” or a more somber number like “The Cross,” this five piece band can handle it all. Well, maybe a little tape loop action helps, but there’s not enough cheating going on here to lodge any complaints. And The Artist is also in top form, showing off his vast array of musical talents, whether it be the heavenly falsetto in “Do Me Baby,” the mind blowing guitar soloing in Joan Osborne’s “One Of Us,” or the greasiest bass thumping you ever did hear on “Face Down.” The sound quality here is a huge improvement over God Bless America, much more close-up and none of that nasty distortion on the kick drum. The audience noise is a little annoying in the softer songs like “Do Me Baby” and the crowd pleasers like “Purple Rain,” but overall, it’s very listenable.

The 39 minutes of filler from Wasington, DC aren't quite as good as the New York material but, again, is quite listenable. It’s nice to have “The Ride” from this show, but don’t get excited when you see “VooDoo Chile” and “777-9311” listed. These song snippets are so short that you have to listen very closely to catch them. And, as always, us completists want to know, where’s the rest of the show?

Overall, the combination of great performance, good sound and excellent mix of old, new, and even a couple rare songs result in a definite thumbs up for this release. Looking at the catalog numbers, I see that this came out before God Bless America. Makes me wonder why Moonraker even bothered with that dog after releasing this gem.



Prince: Going North (Moonraker 254/255)
Venue: The Warehouse, Toronto 6/5/97; bonus tracks from Electric Ballroom, Phoenix 4/28/97
Sound: very good audience recording
Cover: As usual, Moonraker’s packaging puts any commercial release to shame. This time, in addition to the usual timely photographs and accurate track listing, the 24-page booklet has no less than 25 reprinted newspaper articles and reviews. The tiny print is a little hard to read for these old eyes, but there’s a wealth of information. Looking at all this, you’d swear it was released by The Artist himself or at least his fan club.
Tracklist: (Toronto) Jam Of The Year/ Talkin’ Loud And Saying Nothin-R’n’R Is Alive/ Purple Rain/ 17 Days/ Get Yo Groove On-Six/ The Most Beautiful Girl In The World/ Face Down/ The Cross/ One Of Us/ Do Me Baby Medley/ Sexy MF/ If I Was Your Girlfriend/ How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?/ Take Me With U/ Raspberry Beret/ . 
The Ride/ Girls And Boys/ Sleep Around/ Encore Medley w/ Take The A-Train-The Little Groove Maker Me-Give It Up Or Turn It Loose-Lickin’ Stick/ Mr. Happy-Dance Contest/ 18 & Over (Phoenix) Talk/ Santana Jam/ The Ride

Comments: Along with the latest incarnation of his band, The New Power Generation, in late 1996 came an end to the trend that started after the name change, when any performance by The Artist could vary dramatically from one night to the next. His Paisley Park Love 4 One Another performances in 1995 were an especially wild array. One night you might see most of Exodus performed while another would concentrate on The Gold Experience. Then on the following week you’d see an evening comprised almost entirely of covers. Maybe because he’s trying to please the masses again or maybe the new band just doesn’t know all the songs yet, but it’s too bad to see the set lists of 1997 concerts so rigid and confined. They’re not as identical as, say, recent U2 tours, but there certainly isn’t much spontaneity. On this night The Artist turns 39 at midnight and that is mentioned a couple times, but other than the dance contest that takes place during “Mr. Happy,” it’s pretty much a run through of the same set that has been performed for the first 5 months of 1997. The performance is very good, but not quite as good as The Freedom Train, and the same goes for the sound quality. 

The 20 minutes of aftershow material from Phoenix sound good, and it’s nice to see an old favorite, the Santana medley, there. Of course, everyone will be wondering where the rest of the show is. This is a worthy release, great if you don’t have any other shows from the Love 4 One Another Charities Tour. 
[All reviews by Jeff Anderson.]

Bonus view: 


 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Camper Van Beethoven live bootleg: Mississippi Nights 1989

 

[review by Bill Glahn]

Camper Van Beethoven: Mississippi Nights Live… October 1989 (Klondike KL2CD5056)
Venue: Mississippi Nights, St. Louis, MO 10/12/89
Sound Quality: Very good to excellent mono FM recording, the same source as available on archive.org and probably downloaded as a lossless file from there. 
Cover: 8-page booklet and tray card in slimline double jewel case. Not all photos in the book picture the line-up presented on this disc.
Track Listing: (disc 1) Steve Pick intro/ Flowers/ O Death/ Sweethearts/ Tania/ Chris with Station Plug/ Eye Of Fatima/ When I Win The Lottery/ Joe Stalin’s Cadillac/ (I Was So) Wasted/ Take The Skinheads Bowling/ One Of These Days/ Morgan-Station Plug/ Turquoise Jewelry/ S. P. 37957 Medley (disc 2) Before I Met You/ David-Station Plug/ Opening Theme/ All Her Favorite Fruit/ Good Guys & Bad Guys/ Seven Languages/ Waka/ Pictures Of Matchstick Men/ She Divines Water/ David-Station Plug/ ZZ Top Goes To Egypt/ Sweet Virginis/ Loser/ Act Naturally

Comments: In 2004 David Lowrey granted permission for archive.org (a non-profit affiliate of the Library of Congress) to publish live recordings by fans of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker to their website for free streaming and downloads. The official taping policy for CBV is “We have a simple taping policy. It's okay with us to tape live Camper Van Beethoven performances and trade them freely, so long as no money changes hands. You send 'em a blank, they make you a tape, and vise-versa. As soon as money enters in on any level, it's a commercial transaction; and with our music, decisions on commerce are ours and ours alone.”  I’m going to leave any moral judgements about this commercial bootleg (legal under European laws regarding broadcast recordings) to any potential buyers. The purpose of this review is to cover the recording quality and artistic merits of the recording.

This show was originally recorded by community radio station KDHX and rebroadcast on New Year’s Eve 1989. It was uploaded to archive.org on 11/14/2005 by fan Greg Ryan with the following info: "Recorded to cassette on a boom box, (make unknown - maybe some cheap GPX?) on New Year's Eve, 1989 from a KDHX broadcast.” In the comments section Ryan added “I have to admit it's not perfect 5-star quality, since it was taped off the air on a less-than-stellar boombox. It was my first of what is now many CVB shows that I attended, and was truly a great experience. I am so glad that I am able to share it via Archive.org, and that people seem to be listening to one of my favorite bands ever! THE GREAT CVB!!!”

On their tray card Klondike boasts, “Professionally re-mastered original broadcast with background liners and rare archival photos.” Um…. No. What this CD contains is a slightly modified version of the same recording that appears on the archive website, which allows for lossless (FLAC) downloads. Some of the indexing points are altered and a slight boost has been given to the bass – which serves only to muddy up what was already a fine, but not perfect, recording with ample bass. I prefer the original recording as it appears on archive. Tastes may differ, though, and those that prefer a bottom heavy sound might prefer this silver disc set.
  
Klondike has also “borrowed” the setlist, verbatim, as it appears on the archive site, including the show intro on track 1 by KDHX DJ, Riverfront Times columnist, and manager of Euclid Records, Steve Pick. But you might only know this if you actually lived in St. Louis (or happened to be a customer at the record store) since KDHX is a small community station (music and public affairs) broadcasting at only 42kW ERB. Pick never mentions his name during the intro. This is confirmation that, for Klondike, a European company, has no better sources for vintage broadcast recordings than any other person with Internet access. 

For those that prefer their music on manufactured silver discs with professionally printed graphics, this does fit the bill. But, as a music fan, you might be better served by downloading from archive and making your own CD-R(s).

Camper Van Beethoven was a hit with college radio and community stations with diverse programming right out of the chute, with their debut single, “Take The Skinheads Bowling.” Their quirky lyrics, non traditional instrumentation, and wild song structures continued similarly on their independent label album releases, with continued success. Big gun, Virgin Records, took note and signed the band to a major label deal, hoping to expand their audience. Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Key Lime Pie followed, neither making the break out to mainstream AOR radio, but building their core audience by leaps and bounds with national touring, mostly at college town venues and small clubs in major markets. Key Lime Pie would be the final release, and this, their final tour (for the period) as artistic force and chief songwriter, David Lowery, along with guitarist Johnny Hickman, bolted to form Cracker the following year. It was there that he would find huge commercial success with a more traditional rock sound. In 2003 CVB would be revived with a return to indie Pitch-A-Tent Records and a new line-up. Their first release would be the odd choice of remaking Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk album, a bit quirky of an album in it’s own right. The new millennium would find both bands touring together and holding annual campouts for fans.

Mississippi  Nights finds the band in great form, hardly sounding like a band on the brink of a breakup. This set covers a cross-section of the bands career (one could hardly call them hits) as well as an assortment of songs from Key Lime Pie. It is often hailed by fans as one of their best shows ever, and it’s hard to argue with that. The limited edition official live album, In The Mouth Of The Crocodile (2004), while heads and shoulders above this release in terms of sound quality, falls far short in enthusiasm despite being recorded in a small club.

In conclusion, if I had checked archive.org first (or my own files obtained from there), I probably wouldn’t have bought this set. I could have spent my money on a different bootleg. 
Grade: B

Bonus View: Same club, two years earlier



Monday, February 8, 2021

Dead Kennedys on vinyl: Live at the Old Waldorf, multiple labels, same recording

 



[review by Rev. Keith A. Gordon]

DEAD KENNEDYS

Live At the Old Waldorf, San Francisco

(Mind Control Records, Europe)

VENUE: The Old Waldorf, 444 Battery Street, San Francisco CA; October 25th, 1979. 

SOUND QUALITY: Says that it’s a FM radio broadcast, but it sounds more like an average audience recording to these aging ears. There is a (mostly) clear distinction between instruments, and the vocals are strong and up front. There’s an overall shallowness to the recording, though, with little effort paid towards stereo separation, and a slight aural haze shrouds the entire performance. The audience sounds like it’s a mile away when clapping, so this could instead be a shabby soundboard recording. No matter, it’s good enough for hardcore punk and the band’s performance is the real deal.

COVER: Varies somewhat depending on which version you run across at your local green grocer. This 2019 Mind Control Records release offers a front cover photo of DKs’ frontman Jello Biafra crowd surfing with a microphone in his hand. The 2018 Suicidal Records release features an action shot of Jello on stage singing. The back cover of both LPs is identical with track listing and a kinda kool, high-contrast photo of the band members stacked atop each other. Jello looks like the Caesar Romero version of the Joker from the 1960s-era Batman TV show!

TRACKLIST: Side A: 1. Kill the Poor • 2. Funland At the Beach • 3. Back In Rhodesia • 4. Dreadlocks of the Suburbs • 5. Police Truck Side B: 6. Ill In the Head • 7. Short Songs • 8. California Über Alles • 9. Holiday In Cambodia • 10. Chemical Warfare

COMMENTS: The Dead Kennedys – incendiary vocalist/lyricist Jello Biafra (née Eric Boucher), chainsaw guitarist East Bay Ray (Raymond Pepperell), rock solid bassist Klaus Flouride (Geoffrey Lyall), and drummer ‘Ted’ (a/k/a Bruce Slesinger) – were at the forefront of the late ‘70s American hardcore punk movement, a scene which then included Black Flag, the Germs, and the Misfits, among others. Featuring a gatling-gun musical approach of assaulting the audience with instrumental shrapnel, the band’s whiplash sonic overkill was paired with Biafra’s politically-charged and often-times controversial lyrics. 

Even the band’s name raised the hackles of ‘polite’ Bay area society, and area shows at punk hotspots like Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco were often credited to “The DK’s” or “The Pink Twinkies” to downplay the band’s inciteful moniker. The LP at hand – the Dead Kennedys’ Live At the Old Waldorf, San Francisco – captures an October 25th, 1979 live performance at the Old Waldorf venue that was broadcast by KALX-FM radio, a student-run station operated by the University of California in Berkeley, California. The band itself was barely a year old at this point, and had lost its second guitarist, ‘6025’ (i.e. Carlos Cadona) earlier that year. 

The DKs released their first single, “California Über Alles,” on their independent Alternative Tentacles Records label and had suffered through an unsuccessful East Coast tour that lost money due to the band’s obscurity. They were a hot property in the Bay Area, though, and a natural choice for the legendary Old Waldorf stage, which had also hosted performances by a diverse range of artists like Spirit, Metallica, Rory Gallagher, Blondie, Iggy Pop, and others between 1976 and 1983. The Dead Kennedys may not have been the most polished of live performers after spending a year in the trenches, but they were definitely one of the most exciting. 

Although Biafra’s high-register vocal snarl was derided by mainstream critics (Robert Christgau of the Village Voice likened his singing to Tiny Tim’s), it has since become one of the most easily recognized and imitated voices in punk rock. Side one kicks off with the lyrical barbs of “Kill the Poor,” the band then ripping ‘n’ roaring through tunes like the oddly-syncopated “Funland At the Beach,” the haunting “Back In Rhodesia” (later reworked into “When Ya Get Drafted”), the supercharged cod-reggae of “Dreadlocks of the Suburbs,” and the explosive social commentary of “Police Truck,” with its barbed-wire garrote of a circular guitar riff and elements of the Batman TV show theme song.             

Side two cranks off with the cacophonic “Ill In the Head,” which does a great job of approximating the sound of insanity with discordant instrumentation and Biafra’s angular, disjointed vocals. The short, sharp shock of “Short Songs” is delivered at breakneck speed (under a minute) while the band’s first single, “California Über Alles,” combines all of the band’s best aspects, from Biafra’s eerie vocals and anarchistic lyrics to the unrelenting barrage of instrumentation, the charge led by East Bay Ray’s flamethrower guitar. 

“Holiday In Cambodia” was the band’s second single and, perhaps, their best-known song. Lyrically juxtaposing yuppie consumer culture with Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge, the song is devasting in its reach, delivering one of hardcore punk’s most memorable performances with wiry amphetamine guitar licks and Biafra’s strident vocals, which are delivered atop a tsunami of clashing instrumentation. The show-closer, “Chemical Warfare,” sounds downright pedestrian by contrast, its traditional machinegun H/C instrumentation supporting Biafra’s caustic lyrics, with a touch of whimsy injected into the song’s chaotic ending. 

Most of the material on Live At the Old Waldorf, San Francisco would land on the band’s 1980 debut, Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables. Originally released by Cherry Red Records in the U.K. the album would subsequently be released by I.R.S. Records stateside before finally landing on Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label. Drummer ‘Ted’ left the band after the album’s release, replaced by the D.H. Peligro, who would remain with the DKs until their break-up in 1986. The enduring influence of the Dead Kennedys on rock ‘n’ roll is inestimable, with artists as diverse as Green Day, Faith No More, Rage Against the Machine, Slayer, and Sepultura all citing the Dead Kennedys as an influence.

This particular DKs’ show has seen a lot of mileage over the past five years. Best as I can tell, it was originally released as a European “copyright gap” LP in 2016 by the Interference Records imprint, which has some pretty cool titles by folks like the Dictators, Meat Puppets, Pere Ubu, Hüsker Dü, Slaughter & the Dogs, and others that seem worth your time to track down. The aforementioned Suicidal Records release is one of a handful of albums by what seems to be a real fly-by-night label (their catalog only includes releases by the DKs, the Minutemen, the Misfits, and the Descendents). This Mind Control release offers the same bootleg quality sound as its predecessor, and the vinyl sports the exact same black labels and typeface, making one wonder if this just isn’t a reworked version of the Suicidal disc. Mind Control also has a slew of intriguing live discs available by punk-related artists like the Ramones, the Cramps, Alice Cooper, the Gun Club, and Bad Religion, to name but a few. 

No matter which version you grab, the Dead Kennedys’ Live at the Old Waldorf is a decent representation of the Dead Kennedys early’ sound, which improved somewhat once the band put the talented Peligro behind the kit. Unlike many of their peers, the DKs weren’t exceptionally prolific, with only four studio albums to their credit after eight years together. There’s not a wealth of live DKs to be found, either – two legit releases, to be exact – with 2001’s Mutiny On the Bay an amalgam of various performances circa 1982 to ’86, and 2004’s Live At the Deaf Club, which documents a March 1979 performance that includes original guitarist ‘6025’ and a longer set list than the Old Waldorf show. If you’re a DKs fan, though, you’re gonna want them all, and Live at the Old Waldorf is worth your time and money.

Front cover, Suicidal Records version:


Editor Bill's bonus pick (This one would make a fine vinyl consideration for bootleggers)