Rolling Stone Teases with Best Bootleg Ever (or Something), But We Actually Deliver
To hell with Rolling Stone. Apparently, the only reason I take the magazine, which stopped being relevant long before I was born, is because every couple of weeks it's good for an Unfair Park item -- like, here, from a couple weeks back. But today's item, about a piece found in the latest ish, is kinda worthless -- because David Fricke and/or the editors of that crap magazine (with its crap reality show to boot) are too chicken-shit to actually mention where they find bootleg recordings on the Interweb. So why they even mention them in the first goddamned place, well, beats me.
Here is what I am talking about. Page 72, in the "Download Now" section. Lead item, complete with archival photo: "Jeff Beck Group, LuAnn's Club, Dallas, July 17, 1968 (leaked)." Even labeled with a bright red circle: "MUST-HAVE."
What it doesn't say: The show, recorded long ago on Greenville Ave., is also a CAN'T-FIND. Unless, that is, your kid's pediatrician is also an Interweb music-finding genius who likes to prove a point.
Writes David Fricke of that glorious night on Greenville Avenue: "This thunder-and-lightning night from guitarist Jeff Beck's first U.S. tour with his Truth band -- gravel-throated rooster Rod Stewart, drummer Mickey Waller and, on bass, future Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood -- has taken a lifetime to surface. The revelation was worth the wait."
Fricke goes on and on about Beck's "power-blues primacy," about solos filled with "precise, vengeful fire," about old Yardbirds songs, about a "guitar holocaust" (uh...), about all kinds of sounds-awesome shit. Only prob is, the dude doesn't bother to tell you where or how to find the recording. And do not bother going to Rolling Stone's online version of "Download This": Not only is it several weeks outdated, but it never bothers linking to the boots mentioned in the column. (So we're not linking to it either; so there.) Same deal with the useless RS blog, which reads like it's written by interns at a Mercedes dealership; same deal with Fricke's blog, which he uses solely to impress Greil Marcus and the ghost of Ralph Gleason.
So, fine. I'll find this thing, right? I do it every day. I can tell you precisely where to find My Morning Jacket covering "Careless Whisper," for instance. Easy. You need to hear the New Year playing the Touch & Go Records 25th anniversary shindig in September? Here ya go. Knock yourself out. I. Can. Do. This. All. Day.
Only, damned if I can find that Jeff Beck show from Dallas recorded three months before my mama hatched me. I Googled it 20 different ways, and I came with nada -- a reference to the show here and there, another to a 1972 gig at the Majestic, but no link to an actual recording made here in 1968. So I tried the usual suspects: The Hype Machine, Elbo.ws, Totally Fuzzy, BT Junkie and various other MP3 blog aggregators and BitTorrent sites. Again, no luck. This is ultimately as close as I got: to some fan's catalog of his beloved boots. At least there's a set list. Better than nothing. Oh, wait -- it is nothing.
Thing is, I am not even a huge Jeff Beck fan. I know plenty of folks who love the guy to death, but me, I can take or leave Beck-ola. At this point, it's more the principle of the thing: You can't tell me something's a must-have and then not tell me how I can have it. And, shit, Beck in 1968 -- I'd like to hear that, especially a recording made in the neighborhood. There have been plenty of legendary live albums made here: the Velvet Underground's October 1969 show at End of Cole Ave. and James Brown's August 26, 1968, show at Dallas Memorial Auditorium (which was released 30 years later as Say It Live And Loud), to name but two. Perhaps the Beck show belongs in their estimable company.
This went on pretty much all weekend -- mostly because every time I went to BTJunkie, the site timed out. Eventually, I made it to the premier BitTorrent site: DimeADozen.org, which has pretty much everything you need. Only problem is, you can't snatch anything off the site unless you're a member, and you can't sign up to become a member because the site has limited the amount of users who can log on. Try to register, and this is what you get most of the time: "At the moment, there are at least 100,000 registered users at www.dimeadozen.org, the maximum allowed under DIME's current configuration."
But God bless Chris Dreiling, a dear pal, the best kids' doc in town and an Interweb Sherlock Holmes. About 1:16 this morning, I get this e-mail: "Fricke's right. The Beck bootleg is a monster..." Chris, who stayed up till the wee small hours of the morning chasing the promise of greatness, did indeed find it at DimeADozen.org. And he sent along a taste: a ragged, feedback-that-shit-up, proto-punk version of "Shapes of Things" that makes me wanna actually go back and re-evaluate my earlier Jeff Beck Group disinterest. I am not going to post it here -- for obvious reasons. But at least now you know how and where to find it. Which is more than Rolling Stone offered you, anyway. --Robert Wilonsky
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.