As the sun sets on another year, here’s a Doom & Gloom round-up of 13 fine bootleg recordings posted this year. Plenty more good stuff lurking back in the archives, too!
Richard & Linda Thompson - Theatre Royal, London, 1977
Maybe they were a little out of step with the burgeoning punk scene — no one else was playing Islamic Folk-Jazz Rock in 1977 as far as I know. But the playing here is marvelous, with keyboardist Ian Whiteman dueling with Thompson on some extended, trance-like jams. As opposed to, say, Bob Dylan’s fire ‘n’ brimstone Born Again years, Richard’s turn towards religion resulted in mostly good vibrations — these songs are joyful expressions of faith and devotion.
Levon & The Hawks :: Pop Ivy’s, Port Dover, Ontario, Canada, 1964
Pre-Band beauty. This fairly miraculous (if decidedly lo-fi) tape captures what was undoubtedly just one of hundreds of similar shows for Levon & The Hawks, as the band made its way up and down the eastern seaboard, playing every dive along the way.
"Tonight’s The Night" - Neil Young & The Santa Monica Flyers, Auditorium Theater, Chicago, IL, November 20, 1973
The single longest version of “Tonight’s The Night” … ever? Clocking in at just under 35 minutes, it’s the longest one I know of anyway. And it’s a motherfucker, maybe one of the most unhinged things Neil ever did.
Doug Sahm - Paul’s Mall, Boston, MA, March 29, 1973
There’s some argument to be made that Sahm was at the exact confluence of about a dozen vital American musical genres. I don’t have time to make the argument at the moment, but … think about it, man.
The Velvet Underground - Joseph Freeman Tapes Sampler, Max’s Kansas City, New York City, NY, August, 1970
Cool stuff if you’re someone like me, who wants to hear pretty much every note Sterling Morrison ever played. Even though Lou was just weeks away from walking away from the band, The Yule Brothers still sound good, with some choice rarities (a Lou-sung “Oh Sweet Nuthin’” and “Head Held High”) along with some bizarre reinterpretations (“What Goes On” and “Some Kinda Love”). There’s even an “unidentified bluesy instrumental”!!! How can I resist that?
Jack Rose - Peel Sessions
These two sessions, laid down in 2004, feature a nice sampling of the amazing things Rose was capable of on guitar, from the plaintive perfection of “Kensington Blues” to the solar drone of “Sun Dogs.”
The Soft Boys :: Dingwall’s, London, UK, December 7, 1980
The band may have drawn on the music of the 1960s, but they were far from mellow hippies — dig the ferocious “I Wanna Destroy You” here, or the jacked up “I Watch The Cars,” played at such a velocity to give any Ramones-worshiping punk pause, or “Black Snake Diamond Rock,” which out-Beefhearts the Captain himself.
The Feelies - Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, September 1, 1984
One of my favorite Feelies at Maxwell’s tapes, featuring the band tearing through a fair amount of the then-unreleased Good Earth, alongside choice Crazy Rhythms tunes. There’s also the ultimate Feelies outtake, “The Obedient Atom,” and a faster than fast rendition of Eno’s “Third Uncle.”
The Go-Betweens - Mosman Hotel, Sydney, Australia, 1982
Kind of hard to believe that this spiky, high-strung group would be recording (with an expanded lineup) the creamy Tallulah and 16 Lovers Lane a few short years later. But that’s just one of the many things that makes The Go-Betweens great, right?
This Is Where I Belong: Yo La Tengo at Maxwell’s, 1986-2013
A wild and wooly collection of Yo La Tengo live recordings at their home-away-from-home, chock full of everything that makes the band great — epic jams, hushed pop songs, covers both predictable (Kinks, Feelies, etc) and unpredictable (Don McLean, Black Flag), and guest stars galore.
Television - Hempstead, New York, August 1977
Television played their final gig of 1977 in Westchester County, of all places, in front of what sounds like a small, but extremely devoted audience. Was there a Television fan club? Totally sounds like they were in full force here.
The Faces - Fillmore West, October 1970
An early gig — so early, in fact, that Bill Graham introduces them as the Small Faces. Nothing small about them here, though, they sound positively gigantic.
John Cale - Rond Point, Marseilles, France, April 12, 1975
Even though Cale’s Island Years are perhaps better known for their extreme material, this is a well-balanced set, with plenty of pleasing ballads and sparkling Paris 1919 material. But don’t worry, there’s also a fair share of extreme stuff, from the unhinged “Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend” to a scorched earth rendition of the Modern Lovers’ “Pablo Picasso.”