14 brilliant tracks, including Grizzly Bear, Ganglians, Plush, Van Dyke Parks, Gruff Rhys and Sufjan Stevens
The day in October 1987 that the issue of Melody Maker comes out with a review Ive written of Bob Dylan at whats now Wembley Arena, I get a call from someone I can barely hear even though hes shouting over the constant squawk of announcements being made over a startlingly loud public address system. It turns out to be someone Ive never met called Larry Eden As in Gates Of. . . he tells me. Larry, it turns out, is a big Dylan fan and hes calling because hes just read the new issue of MM and was surprised to find a review of Dylan in it and even more startled to discover that at a time when Dylans critical standing is at perhaps an all-time low, the review describes the concert as one of the most exciting, if contrary and confrontational Ive ever seen.
Larry asks me if Id like him to send me some live tapes hes made of recent Dylan shows. Larry, it further transpires, doesnt miss many Dylan concerts, is in fact at Heathrow, hence the background hubbub, waiting for a flight to Spain, where Dylan that night starts a European tour, Larry with tickets for every show, all of which he intends taping. I have quite a collection, he says with what turns out to be considerable understatement.
Anyway, as much as a month later, the IPC post room calls to say theyre in receipt of a special delivery for me that someone will bring up to my office. Not much later, a couple of burly fellows stagger into my office with an enormous cardboard box, big enough to pack a horse in.
Whats in the box, finally revealed after much hacking at the layers of sticky tape mummifying its contents, are hundreds of C90 cassettes, each one of a bootleg of different Dylan show, going back I dont know how far, possibly from the sheer quantity of tapes all the way to Greenwich Village.
This is how I generally think of bootlegs at the time clandestine recordings made at concerts by obsessive fans and then put into circulation for similarly obsessed types. There is, however, a greater bootleg sub-culture that amounts almost to a secret history of rock, the most famous example being The Beach Boys Smile.
With Smile finally getting an official release, like famous bootlegs before it, including records by Dylan, Bowie, The Beatles, Prince and The Who, we wondered if there were any great albums still only available bootlegs. The answer was a resounding yes and the 50 best are listed in this months cover story. As ever, let me know if weve missed out any records you think we should have included, via email to the usual address.
In other news, Uncut has teamed up with Sonic Editions, who specialise in high quality limited edition music photography, to host Sonic Editions Present The Uncut Collection At The Royal Albert Hall, an exhibition that runs at the iconic London venue from October 5 to November 1, 2011, which Sonic Editions rather kindly asked me to curate for them. Readers who arent attending any concerts at the RAH during the exhibitions run can view it on special Open Days on October 8, 22 and 23, from 11-3pm