Monday, July 25, 2011

Sonic Youth: Live at Brixton Academy-(SBD)-12.14.1991

Sonic Youth formed in New York City in the year 1981. They started out as part of the short lived but highly influential New York No-Wave scene. They later found a wider audience and new relevance as leaders in the burgeoning "alternative rock" scene of the late eighties and early nineties.

In 1990 Sonic Youth released Goo their first album with Geffen Records. This move to a major label was controversial at first, but with the release of Goo and it's follow up album Dirty Sonic Youth proved that it was possible to retain complete creative control while on a major label. Their work for Geffen was slightly more polished and Pop oriented than their earlier releases but only slightly. They still made heavily distorted, experimental noise rock, rich with feedback and non-sequiturs.

Most of the tracks from Sonic Youth: Live at Brixton Academy are renditions of songs off of Goo and Dirty. It was recorded live in London December 14, 1992. It captures them at the height of their commercial success and only a few years after the peak of their artistic career. This is a Radio Quality Recording and it is captured from the soundboard.

With most bootlegs you must tolerate a low-fidelity recording to enjoy a glimpse of an artist at their most raw and un-polished. But with this recording of Sonic Youth it is the exact opposite. This show is not particularly unique or special. There are no notable fuck ups or interesting stage banter, but the performance is first rate and as a recording all the songs sound as good if not better than they do in the studio.

The guitars are a little muddled, there is a lot of extra distortion and feedback, and the vocals are not nearly as clear or upfront as they are on Goo or Dirty. Normally these acoustic imperfections would detract from the listening experience, but with Sonic Youth it only makes the songs sound more full and rich. I feel that this live bootleg is probably a better representation of the band and their sound than anything they recorded for Geffen.

Sonic Youth - Live at Brixton Academy, London
Recorded: 12.14.1991
Duration: 54min
Size: 101mb
Source: Soundboard

Set List
01. 100% [3:24]
02. Dirty Boots [4:50]
03. Kool Thing [4:37]
04. Swimsuit Issue [3:03]
05. Genetic [4:04]
06. Theresa's Sound-World [6:11]
07. Tom Violence [3:31]
08. Sugar Kane [8:54]
09. Schizophrenia [5:13]
10. Drunken Butterfly [3:02]
11. Youth Against Fascism [3:29]
12. JC [4:18]

Monday, July 18, 2011

Neil Young: Amsterdam 12.10.1989

Neil Young is a Canadian singer songwriter. He first discovered fame in 1966 as one of the founding members of Buffalo Springfield. He is still actively touring and recording to this day. He has released over 50 albums in the last 45 years.

I'm choosing Neil Young Live in Amsterdam recorded December 10th, 1989 for todays post because it represents a key turning point in Young's long and turbulent career.

The eighties had not been an easy decade for Neil Young. Like many of his contemporaries such as Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones he had alienated much of his audience by delving into an experimental phase of electronic synthesizers and rock and roll excess.

But in October of 1989 Neil Young released the album Freedom which was a huge artistic and commercial comeback. The album mixed acoustic numbers reminiscent of Young's early career with heavier electric tracks which sounded more up to date and contemporary.

This show is an acoustic set. About half the songs are taken from Freedom and the other tracks are mostly renditions of his older hits from the 1970's.

The first track "Hey, Hey, My, My(Into the Black)" is a very fitting opener for this transitional period of Neil Young's career. He wrote the song in the late seventies. It is about the future of Rock and Roll as Young saw it in 1979. It self-consciously eludes to Young's fears about the growing irrelevance of himself and his generation in the era of disco and punk rock. It was partially inspired by his interaction with Devo while making the Bernard Shakey film Human Highway.

Ironically "Hey Hey My My" became a huge hit and brought Neil Young back to prominence for a few years before returning to obscurity through most of the eighties. The famous line "It's better to burn out than to fade away" was later lifted by Kurt Cobain for use in his infamous 1994 suicide note. Young's inclusion in this most holy of rock & roll documents combined with his influence on Dinosaur Jr, his association with Sonic Youth, and collaboration with Pearl Jam made him the unofficial "Godfather of Grunge".

The second track "Rockin' in The Free World" was the big hit single from Freedom. It reached #2 on Billboards mainstream rock chart. It addresses homelessness and crack addiction in the first verse, and the second verse is a scathing criticism of American policy. A month after the release of Freedom the Berlin Wall fell. Newscasts played the song over the footage of the wall being torn down. Because of it's easily misinterpreted chorus "Rockin' in the Free World" became the unofficial theme song for the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Like the album Freedom the Amsterdam '89 bootleg is bookended by two versions of "Rockin' in the Free World". It starts with a softer version early on in the set and ends with a heavier faster version as the final track.

One of the highlights of this bootleg is an acoustic rendition of "This Notes For You" which had just won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Video of the Year for 1989. The Video is extremely hilarious and truly bizarre. The songs contains harsh criticism of the growing commercialism, corporate sponsorship, and product placement found in pop music. The original song was a heavy electric number so it is very interesting to hear this song played soft and acoustically without a backing band.

There is some excellent stage banter right before "Heart of Gold". Neil Young sarcastically announces, "This is a song Bob Dylan wrote...Now there's a friend. I ripped off his song. I ripped off his whole sound."

I assume Young is referring to a 1985 Bob Dylan interview in Spin Magazine where Dylan said: "I used to hate it when it came on the radio. I always liked Neil Young, but it bothered me every time I listened to 'Heart of Gold.' I think it was up at number one for a long time, and I'd say, 'Shit, that's me. If it sounds like me, it should as well be me.'"

This performance was captured from the Soundboard. Both the audio quality and the performance are excellent.

Track Listing
1. My My, Hey Hey (Into The Black) 5:07
2. Rockin' In The Free World 5:41
3. The Old Laughing Lady 5:19
4. Don't Let It Bring You Down 4:05
5. Someday 6:19
6. Crime In The City 8:14
7. Eldorado 7:16
8. Too Far Gone 3:22
9. This Note's For You 3:55
10. The Needle & The Damage Done 2:49
11. After The Goldrush 4:37
12. Hangin' On A Limb 4:48
13. Heart Of Gold 4:27
14. Ohio 2:58
15. Rockin' In The Free World 3:59

Neil Young: Amsterdam
Recorded: 12.10.1989
Duration: 80min
Size: 183mb
Source: Soundboard
Bitrate: 320 kbit/s Mp3

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Velvet Underground Live at the Gymnasium - New York - 4.30.1967

The Velvet Underground were a Rock and Roll Band from New York City. They formed in 1964. They began as a folk rock band which was the hip sort of band to be in the East-Village in the mid-sixties. But their sound quickly evolved beyond their immediate scene. They incorporated Lou Reed's pop sensibility with John Cale's background in avant-gard neo-classic minimalist compositions to create a style of Music that was completely Unique from everything that had ever come before it.

I chose the Velvet Underground Live at The Gymnasium April 30th, 1967 because it is an excellent document of a very special time and place. This show was recorded one month after the release of their debut album The Velvet Underground and Nico. This is the only bootleg I've ever found from 1967. It's also one of the few live recordings of The Velvet Underground made before John Cale left the band.

The first track"I'm Not A Young Man Anymore" is not available anywhere else. The second track "Guess I'm Falling In Love" is only available officially on the box set. This show was also the first ever performance of "Sister Ray" which wouldn't be release until their next album came out a year later.

The audio quality is impeccable. I'm not sure if the source was a soundboard or audience recording but it is the only Velvet Underground Bootleg I've ever found where the vocals are remotely audible. The Velvet Underground were the band that got me started collecting Bootlegs and this show is most definitely the best sounding recording of their early days available anywhere.

The Velvet Underground Live at the Gymnasium - New York
Recorded: 4.30.1967
Size: 80.0 mb

Track Listing:
1. I'm Not a Young Man Anymore - 7:17
2. Guess I'm Falling in Love - 4:18
3. I'm Waiting for the Man - 5:24
4. Run Run Run - 6:55
5. Sister Ray - 18:55