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February 01, 1991 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-02-01
Note:
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Beatles (Bootlegs) for Sale
Some advice on what to look for - and what to look out for

By Gil Renberg
When the Beatles disbanded in
1970, the number of Beatles songs
were in finite supply. Rather
than hooking onto some new
group - and in 1970 there were
many excellent groups worthy of
cult followings - their unslaked
thirst for Beatles songs led to the
massive phenomenon of Beatles
bootlegs, unauthorized recordings
which are illegally produced and
contain material which the
Beatles did not want released
because it was not quite up to
snuff.
It is difficult to estimate how
many Beatles bootlegs exist, since
they outnumber actual Beatles
records by a very large ratio.
Many of those bootlegs are
worthless, but an educated
shopper can pick up some gems.
Since these bootlegs can be very
expensive - some unauthorized
CDs cost $40 - it is best to be
able to tell the difference.
Beatles bootlegs can be divided
into four categories: concerts,
radio appearances, unreleased
songs, and different versions of
released songs.
Buying concert bootlegs is
extremely risky. There seems to
be a record out there for every
concert the group ever gave. Since
these recordings were all made
illicitly, they are of very poor
quality. Judging from the high
ratio of crowd noise to music, it
can be assumed that primitive
tape recorders were used to
capture the moment.

Although such recordings
make nice momentos for people
who attended that particular
concert, they are not worth the
$10-$20 price they command. For
one thing, the music itself is not
always up to par. The Beatles
have said repeatedly that they
gave very few good concerts
during their final years because
the fans made so much noise that
no one was listening. The event,
John Lennon has said, was the
Beatles' appearance and not their
music.
Their best concerts came
before the advent of Beatlemania
and before they had fans devoted
enough to record their
appearances. These early concerts
usually featured a few Beatles
songs mixed with their renditions
of the more popular songs of the
time by stars such as Elvis, Little
Richard, Chuck Berry, the
Everly Brothers and Carl Perkins.
Although their finest concert
performances will not be heard
again, there are bootlegs of their
radio and television performances.
Such recordings are preferable to
live concerts, since the music is
much clearer and the Beatles were
trying harder to perform up to the
standards that were expected of
them.
One particular series of bootleg
CDs, the "Radio Active"
recordings, is especially worth
looking into. The Beatles used to
have a weekly program on the
BBC radio network. These
performances, which included 88

songs - only 32 of which were
Lennon-McCartney originals - J
were taped by a fan. In most
cases, these renditions of their1
own songs are bland and
unremarkable. However, their i
covers of other songs make these
CDs important items forE
collectors, since they are the bestl
available recordings of the Beatles
performing songs they never
released. Since buying all of thel
"Radio Active" CDs would cost
around $200, it is best to buy only
those which have songs youa
already know and like.l
The best bootlegs are those
which feature work done in the
Beatles' EMI studio recording
sessions. These includes songs the
Beatles decided not to release -
some of which are quite good - asE
well as early versions and
different versions of well-known
songs. A lot of this material is
now out on CDs.
The most precious gems are
the unreleased songs. For
example, McCartney's "That
Means A Lot" probably would
have been among the most
popular of all Beatles songs if he
had not given up on it because he
was not satisfied with his singing.
To untrained ears the song seems
fine: a soaring and sinking piece
which has a "wall of sound"
peculiar to the Beatles which
makes it different from any other
Beatles song.
George Harrison's "Not
Guilty" is another song that
seems ready for release. In fact, it
was almost included on the
"White Album," but was
removed at the last moment. One
wonders why the Beatles never
bothered to release it as a single.
"What's The New Mary Jane?" is

In addition to unreleased
originals, there are some
unreleased takes of covers of other
groups' material. Of these, the
fierce "Leave My Kitten Alone"
by Johnny Preston stands out. It
is a fiery rock 'n' roll number
raucously belted out by Lennon.
The group's overall performance
is not perfect, but the
malevolence in Lennon's voice is
so searing that the song is great.
Before starting to record a new
song, whichever Beatle had
written it would always make a
simple demo version - usually
vocals accompanied by an
acoustic guitar or piano. Some of
the demos are very interesting,
since we can hear the original
song before it was reshaped in the
studio.
"While My Guitar Gently
Weeps" is one of the most popular
AP Pmo Beatles songs, partly because of
the intricate guitar work by
a totally bizarre sound-collage by Harrison and Eric Clapton. The
John and Yoko which also was demo, however, is quite beautiful
almost put on the White Album. in its own right, featuring
If you enjoy listening to Harrison softly intoning the song
"Revolution 9," then this "song" while strumming an acoustic
is for you. guitar. Lennon's demo for
Two other original "Strawberry Fields Forever" is
compositions, both sung by also more simple and sweet than
Lennon, are "I'll Be On My Way" the highly complex final version.
and "Bad To Me." Neither is as In addition to demos, early
unique and superb as "That studio takes provide exceptional
Means A Lot," but they are both insight into the evolution of
good tunes from the early days specific songs. The best example
which would also have been of this is "Strawberry Fields
popular had they been produced. Forever." In addition to the demo,
McCartney's "Goodbye" and it is possible to find many takes
"One and One Is Two" both have - most of which are far different
survived only as rough one-man from the final version - the
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is one of the most
popular Beatles songs, partly because of the
intricate guitar work by Harrison and Eric Clapton.
The demo, however, is quite beautiful in its own
right, featuring Harrison softly intoning the song
while strumming an acoustic guitar.

cartons," or "I sit alone in my
bedroom, starin' at candles/
dreamin' of the people I've
dismantled."
In "Gangster of Love," with
its absolute mockery of the
strenuous guitar licks of Steve
Miller's "The Joker," the Boys
proceed to disintegrate every
possible female mode of self-
defense (she's a ho if she says yes,
a bitch if she says no) as well as
completely dismantling the
family unit in their mindless
quest for "bloody meat."
Feminists and, well, all women
should be offended, but there's
actually a reason for this barbaric
rap polemic. The track is a last-
ditch defense against what the
Boys see as double-standard using,
merciless, manipulative women,
i.e., "See you hoes got it wrong/
You thinkin' if he says he loves
you, he ain't strong! Bitch, you're
takin' things the wrong way/
And I can tell right now, it's
gonna be a long day." Which
could not possibly justify verse
such as "If she's got big titties, I'll
squeeze 'em and hold 'em/ watch
her suck my dick and lick my
scrotum," but supposedly
"Gangster" is a reiteration of real
experience, not fantasy.
While African Americans are
still being judged by Eurocentric
standards, it is truly
revolutionary to hear rappers
even attempting to deny the
concept of sexism. Not that the
Geto Boys are so well read as to
reject the racial crux of the
feminist movement in America
(check out Willie D.'s
"Baldheaded Hoes" on his
Controversy album), but their
"other level of the game" is a third
eye of nihlism just as formidable
as Elijah Muhammad's. -F.G.III
6. Divine Styler featuring
the Scheme Team -Word
Power
The most understated rap
album of '90, this bizarre
package by the Rhyme
Syndicate's Islamic member is a
disarming walk down a
labyrinthine puzzle of
Blackness, almost Divine's
Innerwisions. The only hook to this
album was "Sayin' Nothin'," a
catchy boast to opportunistic
MCs who "exploit the
unknown," "never have, and still
won't be sayin' nothin'."
Not that the Styler attempted
to compress Banturian
civilization science or pan-
Africanist philosophy into any
three-and-a-half-minute tunes,
but rather, his attitude that
speaks to a specific, daresay
predetermined audience. Much
like Rakim continues a
communicative link with his
audience even after his hip hop
methods have lost their
commercial appeal, Divine is
imparting verbal milk to the
listeners that are not fooled by

catchy "Too Black" phraseology
and symbols.c
Chuck D., refers to rap as t
Black America's television1
station, in which case Word Poweri
is The Day After made for TV. As
sloppy as they may be, reggae j
tracks like "Rain" and "In Divine
Style" laugh in the face of whitei
theoreticians who would mock
brothas in Detroit for sporting s
their beads with pride. As Terence
Trent D'Arby echoed thes

after playing the meanset, most
ornery muthafucka on the face of
the planet are as cheap and
heinous as the 40-ouncer of 8-ball
in MC I-C-E's lap (cf. the Save the
World speech at the end of Rocky
IV). Thankfully, Ice Cube and the
Bomb Squad have transformed
the paternalism of J.B.'s original
version into a battle of the sexes
dozens match with the inclusion
of the female point of view
expounded on so eloquently by

Griff drops more science than
Louis Farrakhan, is more
persuasive and charismatic than
Jesse Jackson, and much more
frightening than Iron Mike at
turns. His language is
disarmingly vivid, as the track
"Real African People" gives one
the immediate sense of poring
over a mural of faces and names
summing up the entire African
Diaspora, about the size of the
ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or so
- all in less than four minutes. In
the anti-drug track "Suzi Wants
To Be a Rock Star," Griff puts
himself into a whole new league,
"Many who struggled to
comprehend just what/ The man
with the mind is capable of/
wouldn't you love/ Or can you
understand what the plan is/
Maybe this tradin' stuff's goin'
straight to your head/ Whose eyes
were led/ Chased and bred through
bloodshed/ Tryin' to hide the
truth in Roots! Until a man
screams, someone shoots/ Into the
realm of Suzi/'Cause she wants
to be a rock star!" Should the
Professor ever get his musical
mtdium together like BDP's
Edutainment, the FCC will
definitely have to'buckle down.
- F.G. III
2. Paris - "Break the Grip
of Shame"
Precisely because of the song's
indefatigable groove, not at the
expense of it, "Break the Grip of
Shame" may be the most

Paris, the "Black Panther of rap," drops science and keeps the peace.

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essential message of Black
revolutionaries throughout
history from Nat Turner to
Robert Johnson to Marcus
Garvey to Prince, "So I'm not
your pearl, to this I am confined.
But to an outside world, I will not
be defined. 'Cause I'm neither fish
nor flesh." -F.G.III
5. Public Enemy -
"Pollywannacraka"
Anyone believing that Chuck
D. has an obligation to his white
audience should listen a little
harder, especially to this
deceptive track criticizing Blacks
looking down on interracial
relationships. In a wonderfully
distorted drawl reminiscent of
Barry White (to provide the
aspect of love), The Lyrical
Terrorist calls our attention to a
Black man "who only wants blue
eyes and blond hair."
Despite his (or his character's)
admissions, "I try to tell my
people there shouldn't be any
hatre-e-e-d, for a brotha or sistah
whose opposite race they've
mate-e-e-d," Chuck D. the man
never really takes a distinct
position on the issue (as he does on
"Revolutionary Generation"). He
and The Bomb Squad even have
the nerve to reduce the tone,
theme and scope of Black-white
relationships to a trite, seedy little
groove from a Vanessa Del Rio or
Angel Kelly porn flick. Probably
the most exciting part of listening
to a Public Enemy record is
analyzing and scrutinizing D.'s
politics. -F.G.III
4. Ice Cube -"It's a Man's
World"
Ordinarily, such attempts at
saving some semblance of face

Yo-Yo.
Despite her name, Yo-Yo
comes off as tough, if not
rougher, than "the baddest
muthafucka that is known for
lynchin' any sucka in a minute"
without being a "bitch or a ho,
no." Her bitter mockery of male
sexuality with lines like, "Comin'
into my room with your three
inch killer/ Thinkin' you can do
damage to my backbone/ Leave
your child in the yard 'til it's full
grown" and "without us your
hand would be your best friend,'
is the verbal equivalent of the
climactic bathroom scene in I
Spit on Your Grave. -P.S.
3. Professor Griff and the
Last Asiatic Disciples -
Pawns in the Game
So he said a few ignorant
things in the past. So did Elvis
Costello, Eric Clapton, Mick
Jagger, Donna Summer and
countless other recording artists.
But who would've thought that
the ostracized Minister of
Information could have come so
hard as this so soon after his
cameo on "Night of the Living
Bassheads" ("Succotash is a way
for kids to make cash/ Sellin'
drugs to the brotha man instead
of the other man.")? Fear of a
Black Planet clearly suffered from
Griff's absence, as proven by the
vaguely right and exact
revolutionary feeling of "Caught,
Can I Get a Witness?" as well as
cuts "The Verdict" ("In God we
trust you told us/ In ships and
chains you brought us/ Halls of
justice call it/ Your judge and
jury, bullshit.") or "The Word of
God," an open letter to George
Bush ("By the way, it's God
you're truly fighting. Peace.").

Trailblazers and
40 Years of Mo

performances. Although they are
not stunning, they are worth
having.
Of course, not all unreleased
Beatles songs are good. Some have
remained guarded secrets for good
reason. "If You've Got Troubles,"
a number penned by Lennon and
McCartney for Ringo to sing, is
one such disaster. It would have
gone down in history as the worst
Beatles song ever if they had made
it available over-the-counter. The
lyrics and melody compete in
mediocrity. The song is so poor
that as they are running through
it in the studio, Ringo can be
heard imploring, "Rock on,
anybody!"

orchestral backing score, and a
high-speed version. The orchestral
score is especially interesting,
since it features only strings,
horns and Ringo's frantic
drumming. "Strawberry Fields
Forever" will never again sound
the same after you have heard the
song without Lennon's vocals or
the guitar and bass.
"I Am the Walrus," another
one of Lennon's special creations,
is a weird pop song. But when
stripped down to the basic track,
which omits the overdubbed
orchestral score and background
Please turn to page 13

A salute to the pathbreaking ma
featuring modern classics by Jos(
as well as new works by fa
University Dance
Power Center: Feb. 7-9 at
Student seating $5 at the L

The compact disk revolution has allowed large amounts of heretofore
unreleased Beatles material to circulate on the black market. "Radio Active,"
a series of CDs featuring recordings of Beatles radio programs on the BBC,
includes 36 songs the Beatles only performed live.

February 1, 1991

Page 12

Page 5

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Feb

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