Smuggled Sounds

live concerts bootleg ROIO

Whatever the music .. it is all about live music

Sunday, August 27, 2006

what is a bootleg and the history of bootlegs

I have just re opened this blog with the intent to share some bootlegs with fans of different kind of music.

I will post regulary some download links - mainly from megaupload -. they will be all kind of music - jazz, blues, pop, rock, metal -. No discrimination!!!

Let's start by a bit of history.

A bootleg recording is an audio or video recording of a performance that was not officially released by the artist or under other legal authority. A great many such recordings are simply copied and traded among fans of the artist without financial exchange, but some bootleggers are able to sell these rarities for profit, sometimes by adding professional-quality sound engineering and packaging to the raw material.

Some artists consider any release for which they do not receive royalties to be equivalent to a bootleg, even if it is an officially licensed release. This is often the case with artists whose recordings have either become public domain or whose original agreements did not include reissue royalties (which was a common occurrence in the 1950s and before).

Bootleg records can be traced back to the early days of opera music. The first recognised bootleg in the United States was from 1969, a collection of Bob Dylan recordings and studio out-takes, as well as seven tracks from the Basement Tapes sessions, all released under the name of The Great White Wonder (the sleeve was plain white). Soon thereafter, bootleg recordings began to emerge from the other side of the Atlantic, with an unofficial release of a live recording of Jimi Hendrix at the Royal Albert Hall.

During the 1970s the bootleg industry in the United States expanded rapidly, conciding with the era of stadium or arena rock. The large followings of bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones created a fertile and lucrative market for the mass production of unofficial recordings on vinyl, as it became evident that more and more fans would purchase unofficial recordings. In addition, the huge crowds which turned up to these concerts made the effective policing of the audience for the presence of recording equipment virtually impossible.

In Los Angeles there were a number of record mastering and pressing plants that were not "first in line" to press records for the major labels, usually only getting work when the larger plants were overloaded. These pressing plants were more than happy to generate income by pressing bootlegs of dubious legality. Sometimes they just hid the bootleg work when record company executives would come around (in which case the bootleg record labels could show the artist and song names) and other times secrecy required labels with fictitious names. For example, a 1972 Pink Floyd bootleg called Brain Damage was released under the name The Screaming Abdabs.

Throughout the 1970s most bootleg records were being pressed in poor quality, with many of the album covers consisting of nothing more than cheap photocopies. However, later in the decade there emerged from Europe a number of unofficial 'labels' which released limited editions of better quality recordings, with improved album artwork. This trend in enhanced audio and packaging standards continued into the 1980s.

Bootleg collectors in this era generally relied on Hot Wacks, a magazine catalog of known bootlegs published annually, for information about recently-released bootlegs. It included details on artists and track listings, as well as the source and sound quality of the various recordings.

The 1980s saw the increased use of cassettes and videos for the dissemination of live shows, particularly as these mediums were easier to make, smaller and could be sold more affordably than vinyl. A common practice was to attach tape recorders to the mixing desks of live shows and then to release en masse copies of these tapes for sale. A thriving, though short-lived, offshoot of this trend was the emergence of stalls at major festivals such as Glastonbury which sold tapes of bands who, in many cases, had played only a matter of hours beforehand. However, officials soon began to counteract this illegal activity by making raids on the stalls and, by the early 1990s, and the number of festival bootlegs consequently dwindled.

In the 1990s there was a widespread conversion of many of the older bootlegs onto the compact disc format. Unofficial recordings became more readily available than ever before, resulting in thousands of bootlegs being circulated amongst avid collectors and fans, in many cases of shows which were recorded over thirty years previously. In particular, companies in Germany and Italy exploited the more relaxed copyright laws in those countries by pressing large numbers of CDs and relasing catalogues of titles on the inlays, from which it was possible for fans to order shows direct.

The market outlets for bootlegs-for-sale have been varied. In the early years, bootlegs could invariably be found at swap meets, street vending, record collector shows, and smaller record stores. In more recent times mail order and internet sources have become more common, often advertised by word of mouth, and in many cases uniquely associated with individual bands. There are major bootleg markets in Japan and Europe for bands like KISS, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Queen.

Types of bootlegs
Some bootlegs consist of works-in-progress or discarded material distributed without the artist's involvement, and sometimes against his or her will. These might be made from master recordings stolen or copied from a recording studio or a record label's offices, or from demo recordings. If the source is unclear, some collectors label certain items "ROIO" -- a "recording of indeterminate origin". The label is now more commonly used to denote a Pink Floyd recording of any kind.

Other bootlegs, commonly referred to as 'audience recordings', are recorded 'unofficially' with equipment smuggled into a live concert. Almost always, artists and most live venues prohibit this form of recording, but from the 1970s onwards the increased availability of portable technology made such bootlegging increasingly easy, and as this technology has improved so too has the general quality of these audience recordings. Early audience recordings typically contained a great deal of crowd noise, with screams and whistles from audience members close to the microphone sometimes drowning out the performance. Bootleggers gradually found ways to minimize this, sometimes just by choosing their position in the crowd carefully. Another method involved elevating the microphone above the crowd, either on an extensible pole, or by taping it to a light or speaker pole.

The yyyy-mm-dd (year-month-day) format is commonly associated with labeling concerts for the easy auto-arrange feature associated with computer files.

A number of bootlegs originated with FM radio broadcasts of live or previously recorded live performances.


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Blogger bbEZ said...

Interesting article, nice blog...

2:19 PM  
Blogger I'M JUST SAYIN said...

I love the variety of your blog so far, but do you think you could tell us more about the quality of the recording before we download it? Perhaps you could rate it? I trust ya!

12:39 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Thank You for your posts. I especially like Steve Winwood and TRAFFIC, Blind Faith and Spemcer Davis group with Steve Winwood. Keep up the great posts.

5:44 PM  

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