2012 Rockets are very grateful to have Brain Wilson doing a blog series about HIS story about the world of bootleg recordings and records.

Read the first introduction to "Brain Wilsons’ lo and be old" - a three part series that will be enjoyed by everyone that love music.

Brain Wilsons’ lo and be old - About Brain and an introduction to the bootleg blog.

The first album I can consciously remember locating from my dads’ semi-huge record collection, with the intention of actually listening to it, was the “American Graffiti” soundtrack album. 2 LPs of American rock n roll hits from the 50s and early 60s, spliced together with between song banter from Wolfman Jack. It played like a radio show time machine and felt like an endless stream of salvaged nuggets, too many to count. This must have been the late eighties, the sounds coming from the speakers feeling ancient and dripping with nostalgia for a time and place little 10 year old Brain was completely oblivious to.

This album, released by MCA in 1973, has of course nothing to do with low fidelity, other than the limits to recording technology of the 50’s. But the continuous flow of memorable hooks, the little snippets of dialogue, the varying fidelity and cut/paste editing throughout these 41 short pieces was a mind opener. The perfect primer for teenage me to start my own trip in to the world of weirdness ahead.

My first self-purchased piece of vinyl was a double LP bootleg of Guns N’ Roses demos called “Welcome to the Sessions”. I already owned “Appetite for Destruction” on tape, but these demos felt different, more real. And also illegal.

I started seeking out and buying bootlegs religiously, the fact of them being of mystical or dubious origin made even the worst sounding stuff worthy of consideration. Who knew what snippets of greatness were lurking. And beside the music there also existed this added dimension of audience noise or the atmosphere of the surroundings. You could picture how these tapes were recorded, smuggled or stolen, and produced under the radar. The actual physical objects together with the added mental imagery were as much a part of the package as the sounds contained within. A sneak peek into a world you were otherwise not privy to. 

The saga of bootleg vinyl itself is surprisingly action-packed, and would make an amazing script for the big screen, complete with crafty stoners with meticulously planned heists, the mob vs unscrupulous Feds, pissed off rock stars and bundles of cash, even tropical tax-havens and gun fights. This story should deserve its own separate entry though.

I didn’t give much time to “Use Your Illusion” when it finally got released in 1991, having had most of the songs in demo form for several years already. I had by then graduated to more alternative or demanding stuff like Jane’s Addiction, The Cure, Sonic Youth and Nirvana, and on to the burgeoning bootleg CD era.

The point I am trying to build is how the business of bootlegs have been pointing the direction for the music business, much like the business of pornography has been leading technology and the internet. Maybe “pointing the way” is the wrong term, but I think bootlegs are responsible, in part, for cultivating an audience towards more challenging sounds. They tested or made clearer what could be deemed valuable or acceptable to a buying public.

I don’t think anyone in 1975 could foresee there existing a future market for 8 different taped sources for Led Zeppelin live in Yokohama. Or that Guided By Voices could record an entire album for the cost of one cassette tape and some beer, and then go on to sell 100 000 copies of said album “Alien Lanes”. 

Guided By Voices - Alien Lanes

But for me and many others, this grey area of field recording contains so many of the holiest of musical grails. Sounds and documentation that would be lost to history or never made available were it not for these criminals and enthusiasts of old.

And it is here I will start this several part piece on some of my favorite lower fidelity releases, past and present.

Keep updated on 2012rockets.com for part 1 to 3 of the bootleg blog.

Read part 1 - 1960s

Brain Wilson also have a record label; Fedi Forma, check it out.