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November 16, 1975 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1975-11-16

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mary long
jo narcotty
barb eornell



page four-books
page five-

Number 9 Page Three November
ri.T-Cliff:Exotic I
Sta O Ur I// CUlt
By STEPHEN IIERSH pair of tight brown bellbottoms, house filled mostly with reggae
A SHRILL JUKEBOX once sent Cliff fiddled with his room key as fans. They had heard the records.
waves of sound traveling he launched on a long, rambling They had been The Harder They
through the hot, thick air of rural monologue about his life on the is- Come, which by now has become
Jamaican Samata, shaking the land and his career. an "underground hit." And they
palm branches outside the village's had been won over. They are con-
only bar. Jimmy Cliff became an overnight verts to the cult of Jimmy Cliff.01
The rock 'n' roll blasting from sensation in Cambridge, Massachu- And now that Cliff is touring the
the tinny speakers planted a musi- setts during the summer of 1973. U.S. for the first time in 11 years,
cal penchant in reggae singer and He was the star of a film called he just might be on his way to be-
cult hero Jimmy Cliff, when he The Harder They Come, portraying coming a superstar. There's no
was six years old. a singer named Ivan whose mete- question that on stage he has the
"I remember the time the juke- oric success in Kingston, Jamaica power to knock 'em over.
box came to the bar," he grinned. paralleled Cliff's own. Ivan got in- CLIFF'S CARPETED motel room
"It was a thrill for me to go and volved in the marijuana business, LIs dcoratedtmoeo
~was decorated with a couple of
hear the records. I didn't have any and, after making it as a musician,
money to play them myself, but our fought the police, became a revolu- island scenes in rigshadesof
people played them. tionary hero, and finally met a island yewbright shade. Hf
- orange, yellow, green and blue. He
"Whenever they put a new re- violent death. sat in a leather chair looking in
cord in the jukebox," he recalled, NJORD OF THIS raw, energetic, the distance, out his window, at the
"if I heard twice in a day I would soulful film spread through traffic on Carpenter Road.
learn it. It was Fats Domino songs, Cambridge as fast as a fire in a He was pleased to tell his stor ,
Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Profes- dope field. It was a tough movie because he hasn't yet submitted to
sor Longhair. I even heard some about rough life on an island para- enough lengthy interviews that
Elvis Presley. dise, people said, and the sound- he's tired of relating it. But with
"Then, I realized I wanted to be track was made up of something over a decade of experience as a
a singer. called reggae music - Jamaican performer, he seemed to take it for
CLIFF SPENT a couple of crisp rock 'n' roll, granted that people would be in-
November days in Ann Arbor And the star was a skinny, sexv terested in the details of his life.
II last week to play a concert at the dynamo, an unassuming, subtly "I was born," he said, "in a place *
Michigan Theater. He stayed at the charismatic figure with a resonant called Adelphi Land. It's a little
Howard Johnson's motel, lending a sirvine voice and a powerful style village where there were only five
touch of reserve to the oasis of as a rock 'n' roller. Cliff played the houses. When I was five or six, a
American consumerism, with the character, who resembled himself, hurricane came and blew over our
manner he learned among the wild in the best traditions of tvnecast- house, and my family ended up
- .orchids and tropical breezes of Ja- iv. Both when the part called for living in a village called Samata.
maica. displaying sensitivity and when it It's about 12 miles from the ocean
His Jamaican accent is tinged dictated lashing out with a razor at Montego Bay. About 500 people
. swith a British lilt and island phra- blade because some had "fucked live there.
sing. And his music sounds as ex- with him." Cliff was very believ- "All there was around Samata
otic as his English. Compared with able. was cultivation: bananas, and sug-
most American rhythm and blues, But although he was a smash in ar cane. There were three grocery
it's set up backwards. The down- Cambridge. outside that city hardly shops. And there was one bar."
,G beats and upbeats are reversed, anyone had heard of him. Those Cliff went to elementary school
and a raspy, syncopated guitar who had, though, were crazy about until he was 14. "I liked school," he
steadily scratches out the beat. him. He has become a cult hero. said, "but for me it was secondary
And Cliff breathes life into it. Last week, he played in the to the music."
DWY Photoa by KEN FINK Wearing an orange jersey and a Michigan Theater to a hysterical See JIMMY, Page 6 F>-¢* x,
Bootleg records: Business is booming

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BOB DYLAN'S first "gold" album
- his first $1 million seller-
was dressed in a plain, white cover
when it appeared in West Coast re-
cord shops in September, 1969. En-
titled The Great White Wonder, it
was the first rock bootleg ever dis-
tributed - and Dylan has yet to
make a cent on it.
That underground record con-
tained no mention of either the
artist's name or the song titles, and
it featured unauthorized versions
of a smattering of Dylan perform-
ances recorded between 1961 and
1968 of widely varying quality. The
two-record set sold an estimated
300,000 copies at about $10 each.
The Great White Wonder, pro-
duced by an ex-tape librarian for
Columbia Records, drew a veno-
mous response from the nation's
powerful recording industry, which
has since managed to get a federal
law passed against the bootleggers.
Nevertheless, business is still
booming for a small number of un-
derground record manufacturers
who have successfully dodged the
laws and stayed out of the head-
lines for the past few years.
lection of up to 500 different
(and mostly illegal) recordings
through the mail and at a few re-
tail stores to a limited audience of
rock fanatics. Almost none of the
material or performances on the
underground records are found on
legitimate records.
"I'd say that Dylan's best work,

Members of the recording indus-
try view the situation in a some-
what different way. "There's noth-
ing I detest more than this thing
called bootleg tapes . . . but, thank
goodness, this is a tough state and
we've worked for five years to put
those people out of business, and I
think we're succeeding," says Har-
ry Bergman, chairman of the
board of Record Bar Records, the
largest retailer in Durham, North
However, another business in
Durham, Rare Records -- one of
the nation's largest mail order
bootleg record companies - main-
tains that the underground LP li-
brary serves a useful purpose. A
newsletter published by Rare Re-
cords says that many bootleggers

set aside 25 cents for every album
they sell in an escrow fund payable
exclusively to the artist. "Some of
the underground record sellers
have probably paid about as much
royalties to publishers as some re-
cord companies," the letter states.
The bootleg mail order compa-
nies and retailers feature releases
from the most popular rock figures
like the Rolling Stones, The Who,
The Beatles, Dylan, Jimi Hendrix,
or Eric Clapton, although less-re-
knowned artists like Sparks or
Randy Newman are also represent-
THE QUALITY OF the recordings
vary from terrible to bad to
occasionally excellent. Although
most albums are still printed with

plain jackets, some feature pro-
fessional - looking labels as well
as liner notes and, in a few cases,
laminated color covers. Competi-
tion has driven the price of albums
down considerably since The Great
White Wonder; most singles LP's
now retail for about $3 and double-
record sets usually sell for about
$5. Album sales usually vary from
10,000-20,000 units for the most
popular artists.
The underground record business
abounds in colorful names and la-
bels - some of the major manu-
facturers have included: Phony-
graph Records, Pigs Eye, Karny-
phone, Dittolino Disks, Rubber
Dubber, Uncle Wiggly, Double
Cross Disks, Zerocks Records, and
many others. Distributers and re-

tailers have included places like
Green Cheese records in Madison,
Wisconsin, Rather-Ripped Records
in Berkeley, California, and Dirt
Cheap Records in Lincoln, Nebras-
Most of the poor quality albums
sound like they were recorded off
cheap cassette units from under a
stack of coats located somewhere
near the back row of a concert
hall, But a small minority of the
disks feature near-professional
sound. The most secretive aspect
of the underground record business
concerns how bootleggers get the
prized, high-quality material.
"IN MANY CASES, I've heard that
the better bootleggers don't
take quality tape equipment into

concerts, instead they often smug-
gle small microphones to the per-
formances with miniature FM ra-
dio transmitters in them which
beam the signal to trucks parked
several blocks away," explains an
employe from Dirt Cheap Records
in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The majority of underground al-
bums include recordings of live
performances, but some do feature
outtakes from studio albums. These
records, like Dylan's Stealin' boot-
leg - which includes material
omitted from his studio albums
Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde
on Blonde - were often obtained
from sources within the record
companies who had access to tapes
and who managed to duplicate
them, according to the Dirt Cheap
As the underground record com-
panies have become more success-
ful, lists of available records have
grown by leaps and bounds and
some bootleggers have even adopt-
ed release schedules. They adver-
tise upcoming albums for several
months in advance. One label,
Trade Mark of Quality, was so
confident of its ability to obtain
concert tapes, that it accepted or-
ders for bootlegs of Dylan's Winter
1974 tour some three months be-
fore the tour had even started.
After the amazing success of
Great White Wonder, the bootleg-
ging business expanded rapidly in
1970 and 1971, when the trade was
nerfectly legal. Records like Liver
Than You'll Ever Be, by the Roll-
;nq Stones, recorded during their
1039 American tour, and Dylan's
Live nt Royal Aluert hail received

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