And More Again...

Bootlegging music is something that had been going on for years. As far back as The Underworld Years various bootlegs were in fairly wide circulation. While I was on the Palms in 1973 I knew the names of a couple of Neil Young bootlegs that subsequently managed to find their way into my collection twenty-plus years later, but while you might have known of them hearing the things was another matter entirely, particularly if you lived in regional Australia.

Beyond the world of commercial bootlegging, over the years a parallel fan-based trading universe had grown up, working through the mail and advertisements in fanzines and so on even before the internet provided the chance for things to be disseminated much more quickly. Had I sent off a postcard to the Deadheads mailing address in an early live Grateful Dead live album I may well have been aboard the bus from the get go, but I didn’t, so I wasn’t.

As I read the email lists I made a very interesting discovery.

Not only were there people out there trading recordings of their favourite artists, there were artists who condoned, and even encouraged, the practice. There were also others who, while they didn’t go out of their way to promote the practice weren’t frowning on those who engaged in it.

It was obvious as time went by that there were a range of viewpoints about these things, and as electronic distribution kicked in the variation only became more pronounced.

Take, for instance, the variety of positions adopted by artists who were taper-friendly. In some cases it was a matter of we’re cool with it provided you don’t get in anybody’s way so you found fans turning up with the stealth rigs they’d use to record someone who wasn’t taper-friendly.

Then there were the bands like the Grateful Dead, who were a major influence on the whole movement, who allocated a particular area of the concert venue where tapers could set up their recording gear quite openly.

Beyond that, there were the acts who allowed the tapers access to a direct feed from the sound-board.


B© Ian Hughes 2012