Brain Wilson doing a blog series about HIS story about the world of bootleg recordings and records. Part two is about the bootlegs of the 1970s. The bootleg music blog futures bootlegs with Velvet Underground, Neil Young, Pere Ubu and Sparks.


The 1970s is the decade I have the least amount of recordings or knowledge from. My collection is completely free from any and all Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, prog, Canterbury, Kiss or punk. Not because the sounds are unavailable, but most of what I’ve tried to discover from this period include little of what I look for in the music I love.

I should still be able to fill in a couple of blanks, starting with this widely released cassette recording from August 1970; VELVET UNDERGROUND – LIVE AT MAX’S KANSAS CITY. A release to fulfill contractual obligations for a second LP under Atlantic records, this recording was captured just prior to the release of VU’s fourth studio album “Loaded”, in August 1970. A rough mono recording taken from the audience, complete with surrounding small talk, this would have never been considered for official release had it not been for bootlegs breaking down aural barriers and proving the potential value of imperfect documents such as this in the years prior.

As with the album “Loaded”, the captured tracks on this recording are of the “poppier”# sounding VU, teenage drummer Billy Yule giving the band an almost modern indie rock propulsion. I don’t think this line-up exists in any other recorded form, so we are lucky this patron brought his little tape recorder to Max’s 45 years ago.

This album actually proved popular enough to merit an expanded double CD edition a few years back. Does anyone know of any earlier (pre-1972) official pop/rock releases utilizing unprofessional audience tapes as source?



Enough has been written about this period in Neil Young history, the years surrounding the ditch trilogy of “Time Fades Away”, “On the Beach” and “Tonight’s the Night”. But as far as I know, this is the only solo Neil recording from then, and one of only two solo shows played (the first being a short unrecorded show at Cuesta College in California two months prior to this captured performance from 1974 at the Bottom Line in New York City).

Neil Young ended up on stage after a Ry Cooder show, and played a handful new songs. Luckily someone presumably had space left over after taping Ry Cooder, and ended up documenting this unique performance of then mostly unreleased tunes for us future dwellers to treasure.

The tape is warm and well balanced, most likely recorded from the audience (although some sources state this to be a soundboard). Neil is laidback and funny, and him giving out creative recipes for making shit weed usable by mixing with honey (this particular bootleg taking its’ name from said concoction) is a highlight of many.

My copy is the Godfather Records CD release from a few years back, the recording is also available on “First Plane Outta Here”, an unofficial double LP set from 1987.



My Australian buddy Rob got lucky at Goodwill one day, and picked up the complete vinyl discography of Pere Ubu for pennies. Among the loot was this, the first (and only?) part of “The Ubu Live Series” from Rough Trade.

I had never heard Pere Ubu before, but enjoyed this one so much I ended up getting it for myself when I found it in Portugal for cheap some years later. The music came across as a mix between “Sandbox”-era and Universal Truths”-era Guided By Voices, with what sounded like Robert Pollards’ retarded uncle on vocals. It kicks ass, and so did their show at the 2011 Prima Vera festival in Barcelona that I was lucky enough to witness.

This LP is apparently compiled from fan recordings taken from shows around the world, focusing on the years 1977-79. The back cover even asks collectors and fans to send in their live tapes for possible inclusion on future volumes of the series. Maybe volume two never surfaced because they forgot to add an address for sending tapes to?



My only other experience with this band is the album “Kimono My House”, one of my favorite hand-me-downs from my dad. This boot seems to be the only one on vinyl from Sparks, and contains what is reported to be the best sounding live tape from 1975. I don’t have much else to say about this, other than it is an excellent supplement to the official album.

As I mentioned earlier, the 70s don’t take up much space in my collection. I could have included Wire’s “Document and Eyewitness” and maybe some Doors or Jimi Hendrix even. Instead I’ll start work on part three of this series with a run down of sweet amateur recordings from the 1980’s, and rather let you readers recommend me some more 70’s stuff!

Keep updated on for part 3 of the bootleg blog.

- Read part 1 - 1960s

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