A big part of my music library also includes so-called bootlegs (live recordings and studio sessions) although that term doesn't seem to mean much these days. Numerous major label artists are now releasing this sort of material officially often under an "official bootleg series" banner of some sort.

  Many bands are also now allowing fans to openly record their shows and trade with other collectors. Additionally there are many releases that, because of different copyright laws, are perfectly legal in some European countries but not in North America. Amongst collectors these are often termed "soft boots" or "grey market boots".

"ROIO" is an acronym that has grown among aficionados meaning "Recording Of Indeterminate Origin" (or "Recording Of Independent Origin"). This umbrella term covers both live recordings and studio outtakes. 

  So without getting into issues of copyright, ownership and other legal wastes of time (believe me, I could go on and on....), this area is simply to talk about some of the great releases from the other recording industry. 

AC/DC

"RARITIES & B-SIDES"

 ​This fan produced 10 song compilation presents the band's debut single "Can I Sit Next To You Girl"/ "Rockin In The Parlour" with original lead vocalist Dave Evans showing off the group's stomping early glam style.

  The rest of the disc covers tracks from the Australian pressings of their early records that were omitted for international release and a couple of non-album b-sides.  Of the lost tracks, "Love Song" and "Stick Around" (both from the Australian High Voltage) and "Cold Hearted Man" (from the import Powerage) best demonstrate the flavour of the Bon Scott era of the band. The b-side "Fling Thing" is actually an electrified arrangement of the Scottish song "Loch Lamond" proudly displaying the band's original heritage.

 

   The cover of Chuck Berry's "School Days" that originally appeared on the "T.N.T." album eventually surfaced on the 1997 boxed set Bonfire while seven of the tracks here were finally released on CD as part of the 2009 Backtracks boxed set.

   But that original two song Dave Evans led single remains officially unreleased on CD and I don't think Angus and Malcolm are ever going to acknowledge it's existence.

Cheap Trick

El Mocambo

Toronto 

Nov 1 1977



  Taped between arena opening jaunts with more established bands (Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, Ac/Dc), this recording captures early Cheap Trick at their clamorous best. Lead vocalist Robin Zander screams over buzzing guitars and thunderous drums. The nasty din of this recording is equal parts punk and hard rock.

   Deep album cuts "Mandocello", "Big Eyes", and "Downed" all get noisy workouts.
  Best of all, non-album track "Loser" is played with punk rock sneer and rowdy covers of Bob Dylan's "Please Mrs Henry" and "Down On The Bay" by The Move add nice variety to the set.
  This recording reveals very little of the group's candy coated elements in favour of the loudest, dirtiest blend of instruments possible.
  Power pop? Not on this night, pal.

Elvis Costello

El Mocambo

Toronto

Mar 6 1978



  This CHUM-FM radio broadcast show was pressed on vinyl (CDN-10) by CBS Records for promotional purposes. The extremely limited availability of the record and Costello's increasing popularity led to at least three different bootleg counterfeits quickly hitting the streets.
  The band's early frantic energy is palpable on the  fourteen song disc which features six tracks from the debut album My Aim Is True and a hefty eight previewed from the then soon to be released follow-up, This Year's Model.
  The intimate club show (the group's Canadian debut) is a high energy fest with Steve Nieve blasting sharp keyoard chords in between Costello's rapid fire delivery. "Radio Radio" is delivered with particular intensity.


  A CD version was finally officially released by Rykodisc as part of a Costello boxed set in 1993 and the show got even wider distribution in 2009 when a slightly more complete version was issued by Universal Music Group (both shown above).

Lyle Lovett 

Covocation Hall

Toronto

March 11 1989



 The tour for Lovett's third album Lyle Lovett And His Large Band visited the intimate confines of the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall. The nineteen song show is a mix of delicate country tunes broken up by big band style R&B shouters filling every corner of the room.  As usual Lovett's sly wit is front and center. "Here I Am", "She's No Lady", "Give Back My Heart" and a swift "She's Hot To Go" display the smart but lightheartedness of much of his music. The Texas songwriter's important introspective side is also present to keep the audience grounded between the laughs. "Walk Through The Bottomlands", "If You Were To Wake Up" and "This Old Porch" reveal Lovett's contemplative nature.

  Backing vocalist Francine Reed's showcase number "Wild Women Don't Get The Blues" is sung here with more full throated ferocity than any other version I've ever heard.
   The show also featured special guests Leo Kottke and kd land offering inobtrusive support.
   The devastating finale of "Closing Time" and "Simple Song" end the show on a bitter sweet yet elegant note.
   We have a local taper to thank for documenting this priceless evening which stands as one of the greatest shows in Lovett's career.

So, thanks Sonny.

Prince and the Revolution

First Avenue

Minneapolis

Aug 3 1983

 

  This small club show is important for many reasons. In addition to being guitarist Wendy Melvoin's live debut with the band, many songs including "Let's Go Crazy" and "Computer Blue" are being played live for the first time in front of an audience. In fact the versions of "I Would Die 4 U", "Baby I'm A Star" and "Purple Rain" featured on the Purple Rain album and in the movie are largely based on these original live takes, after receiving editing and some studio touch ups. The title track here runs sixteen minutes but astute listeners can easily recognize which parts made it to the album version.
  Also debuted this night was a sensitive cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You" and the fantastic "Electric Intercourse" (which inexplicably would not be played again live ever.)
   The recording for this extraordinary show comes off the in-house video projection feed.

 

  When his first album in six years 1990's Plus Signs and it's accompanying single/ music video "Take One Away" met such favourable response Burton hit the road with a five piece band in tow.
  The audience tape from this show offers an invigorated Cummings receiving a hero's welcome from an enthusiastic (and possibly intoxicated) crowd. The twenty three song set offers many of the vintage tracks to be expected plus an impressive seven from the new album (which unfortunately would be retired after this tour).

Highlights are the hard electro-funk of "Cerebral World", band members trading solos on a vigorous "Your Backyard" and an eager crowd response to the current hit "Take One Away".  At the end of the lengthy show, the encore is a terrific solo piano medley of "Sour Suite" and "I Will Play A Rhapsody".



   As for the obnoxious, inebriated hollering from the crowd throughout the tape, I plead guilty as charged.

Burton Cummings

Ontario Place

Toronto

June 1 1990

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Kingswood

Toronto

Sep 2 1989

  The huge commercial success of his first solo album Full Moon Fever did not mean that Tom Petty was going to hit the road without his well proven support team The Heartbreakers. Good thing, too. The band bring a warmer more organic feel to material that frankly, had too much studio sheen on the album.

  The twenty three song set opens up strongly with "American Girl", a cover of The Byrds' "Feel A Whole Lot better" and "How Many More Days". A highlight of the show is the four song mini-set where the band switch to acoustic instruments. "Even The Losers" gets a sensitive makeover while "Face In The Crowd" is done with gentle perfection.
  After an intense "I Need To Know" and "Refugee", "Runnin' Down A Dream" has a great example of just how united The Heartbreakers were at this stage of their career. During guitarist Mike Campbell's scorching solo, his guitar cord suddenly falls out of his instrument cutting the sound. Immediately drummer Stan Lynch adds some extra beats while Petty himself contributes hard riffing to help fill the space. Just as Campbell is plugged back in, Benmont Tench also gets in on the action adding some quick piano notes as well.

It's capturing moments like this that make well recorded audience tapes so coveted by fans and collectors.

Cheap Trick

"IN COLOR 1997"



​  After enjoying the results of a 7" single recorded by Steven Albini for the Seattle label Sub Pop, Cheap Trick decided to work on a full length project with the infamous anti-producer. Instead of laying down a new disc though, they wanted to re-record their second album, originally released 20 years earlier in 1977 In Color. Over the years the band had stated emphatically that the record was too slick, too commercial and too radio friendly with all of the blame pointed towards producer Tom Werman.

   Albini strips the arrangements down to the most basic elements: dirty guitars, thunderous drums and best of all, a buzzing 12-string bass guitar. The musicians are clearly relishing the exercise, turning in loose, hard hitting versions of the already familiar tunes. On "You're All Talk" the huge drums seem to actually get bigger as the track progresses. "Oh Caroline" has a nice little Yardbirds quote at the coda and "Hello There" seems to have a barely audible saxophone buried deep in the mix.
   This is basically studio versions of of the live arrangements that the band play in concert, which are always heavier anyway. Personally I don't think you can improve upon the version of "Big Eyes" on In Color as it already has all of the ingredients they were searching for with Albini.
     Although drummer Bun E Carlos has stated in the past that this material may be used for b-sides or even a fan club only special album, In Color 1997 remains unreleased.

Meat Loaf

El Mocambo

Toronto 

Jan 18 1978

 

  This radio broadcast show was actually pressed onto a promotional only vinyl record (CDN-9) in extremely limited quantities. The main draw for this recording is hearing some of the Bat Out Of Hell material in unrefined arrangements than what is found on the slickly produced  album. The band (featuring future Kiss guitarists Bob & Bruce Kulick as well as the visionary behind the Bat album songwriter Jim Steinman on piano) offer excellent, thuggish versions of five album tracks without all the extraneous studio embellishments.
  Highlights: A throbbing "All Revved Up" with metallic guitar soloing from Bruce Kulick followed by some liquid runs from older brother Bob and a lusty duet with Karla DeVito on "River Deep Mountain High".

Little Steven

El Mocambo

Toronto

Feb 10 1983

 

 Touring to support their debut album Men Without Women, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul hit Toronto's El Mocambo club for two nights of forceful rock and roll. Broadcast live on Chum FM, the sturdy show is the ideal companion to the studio album. Both Steven's vocals and guitar playing skills are more pushy live while the eight piece band are loose but still in sync.

  In addition to performing eight tracks from the new album, the set includes a guitar heavy version of Duke Ellington's "Caravan" and excellent takes on three songs Steven had written previously for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (in fact the Jukes horn section are present rechristened as Disciples).
  Highlights:opener "Lyin' In A Bed Of Fire" with constant hot guitar throughout, an extra angry "Under The Gun" and a memorable "Until The Good Is Gone" featuring dynamic horns and audience chants.

Black Sabbath

Sun Plaza

Tokyo

Nov 18 1980

 

  Rejuvenated largely from Ozzy's replacement Ronnie James Dio's fresh energy, this recording perfectly documents Black Sabbath MK II. Touring their strong new album Heaven And Hell the group (including new drummer Vinnie Appice who did not appear on the record) play hard aiming to prove there is still life in the old gal after all.
  New tracks "Neon Knights", "Lady Evil" and "Heaven And Hell" absolutely burn with intensity while older Ozzy-era cuts like "War Pigs", "N.I.B." and "Black Sabbath" get recast as newly minted metal standards.


  Essential for fans of the Dio-era Black Sabbath especially those disappointed with the official concert document Live Evil.

Jeff Buckley

C'est What

Toronto

Feb 14 1994

 The day after Jeff Buckley's Toronto debut at the Ultrasound Showbar, this second coming out show was quickly arranged. Still a solo act at this point and with only one release the Live At Sin-E e.p. to his name there was nevertheless a considerable buzz about this new artist.

  He does early versions of six of the songs to eventually appear on his full band first album Grace due later that same year. As with most of his live performances, but more so with the solo era, there's lots of talking, funny voices and awkward comedy attempts.
  Buckley's mercurial nature is never more evident than when, after snatches of Motorhead's "Ace Of Spades" and Bad Brains' "I Against I", he plays a completely straight reading of The Smiths' "I Know It's Over" followed by a captivating thirteen minute version of Van Morrison's "The Way Young Lovers Do".


Recorded by AW.

Aerosmith

The Orpheum

Boston

Feb 14 1984

  This excellent sounding show is notable for a few reasons. It captures the relatively rare Rock In A Hard Place lineup featuring guitarists Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay who had replaced Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. Both ax-men perform with unbridled energy making the songs their own not just copying the work done by their predecessors. Crespo in particular is a tremendous addition to the group.
​  
Also, as the WBCN radio broadcast makes crystal clear, the band is in superb form despite this era being known for drug addled unreliable shows.

  The songs "Mama Kin", "Three Mile Smile / Reefer Headed Woman", "Lord Of The Thighs" and "Train Kept A Rollin" from this gig were used on the 1986 Classics Live! album with some additional overdubbing.

Kiss

Cow Palace

San Francisco

Aug 16 1977

​ This show from the 1977 tour for the band's sixth studio album Love Gun stands as one of the best examples of the group at their original peak. All four members are focused on giving a top level performance. As is common for the Love Gun tour, the show opens strong with "I Stole Your Love" followed immediately by "Take Me".  Peter Criss delivers a rocking "Hooligan" featuring some great Ace Frehley guitar work. "Christine Sixteen" has loud backing vocals courtesy of Criss and a little scream at the end by this tune's lead vocalist bassist Gene Simmons that is a bit different for him. Ace's signature song "Shock Me" has terrific lead vocals and a killer guitar solo. 

  Gene's feature bass solo has lots of effects and keyboard sounds to create an atmospheric mood while he drools blood, there's some bass playing too!  "Rock And Roll All Nite" has the different harmony vocal during the chorus from Criss that he started doing on this tour. This particular version is also memorable for Paul Stanley dedicating it to Elvis Presley who died on the day of the show.
  This is easily one of the greatest shows in the long history of this band and can be found on the boots Caught In The Act and At Cow Palace
.