After reviewing all the release information I could scratch around and find from the last year, and glancing back at reviews - I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be! Keep in mind folks that this stuff is always extremely subjective and is by no means the last word on what is best. These lists can be a great guideline on titles to track down if need be and you'll find the choices by us all very representative of our collecting habits. In other words, it's just meant to be fun so enjoy.
(drum roll please....) Here are my Top 10 Lists for Bootleg CD and DVD releases for the year 2006:
Top 10 Bootleg CD Titles for 2006
Led Zeppelin "Live At Whiskey A Go-Go!" Empress Valley. What can you say? Brand new, early primal Zep from their first stand in Los Angeles 1969...and it's a great recording. Slam dunk.
- The Rolling Stones "Steel Wheels Sessions" Sister Morphine Pro-CDR release (also released by all the usual Stones Boot Labels such as DAC, IMP, The Godfather Records & Halcyon on silver discs and any one of them will do.) I prefer the original tape running order utilized by Halcyon but this Sister Morphine release is just a personal favorite. Sister Morphine reconstructed the track order to mimic the official Steel Wheels LP & inserting the outtake tracks in the mix but should have really just left the tinkering alone actually. Thanks to Mrs. Chuch McGee whose husband was the Guitar Tech/Roadie for Ron Wood throughout his Faces and Stones years and who died of a heart attack during rehearsals for the Licks Tour in late July of 2002. He had these tapes and after his passing, Mrs. McGee had them digitally transferred. Whoever did it for her skimmed a copy for us all to enjoy. This should have been the official album without question. An instant classic in this state and reveals the current iteration of the performing band has no soul left. How good is the outtake "For Your Precious Love"? Another slam dunk.
- Crosby, Stills & Nash "Session Selections" Aurora Borealis Label. This one slides in right at the 11th hour and it would have made the Top 10 any year it was released. Apparently this is about 10% of existing studio tape acquired by Aurora Borealis that captures the process of genius alchemy of three different musical egos and their session sidemen, producing a landmark LP. Just like the Stones title above, the tape is pristine from master studio tapes providing a lively and soulful experience without any post-production compression or enhancement. Natural and wonderful. A must-have. The label is readying a comprehensive box set release for 1st Quarter 2007. Bring it on!
- Led Zeppelin "Snow Jobs" Empress Valley. The most superb soundboard of the Mighty Zep at their peak of performing during the 1975 Physical Graffiti Tour, recorded in Vancouver. Excellent.
- Kiss "Not For The Innocent" The Godfather Records. A super solid, fine disc of prime Kiss outtakes. Certainly the best '06 release from this label.
- The Beach Boys "A Vocal Element" Hang Ten Records. A release I almost forgot about! Four, previously released soundboard tapes from 1967, and a fun listen. Solid release presented nicely.
- Yes "The Word Is Love" Tarantura. I did completely forget about this one. I had to swap out the Clapton title "Laid Back Down Under" and insert this box set. Simply put, it's worthy. For all the reasons Mr. Sparaco cites below in his list. Touche.
- Bob Dylan "Does Anybody Have An "E" Harmonica?" Performing Artist Series Volume 5, Hollow Horn. The latest release in Hollow Horns' Performing Artist Series and it's killer. The 8 Volume set spills over into 2007 and with the manner the label is presenting the material, look for volumes 6, 7 or 8 on this page next year. Whoever is at the controls for assuring quality on the recordings should be widely heralded. They get such a clean sound, and I'm all 'bout that!
- The Rolling Stones "Tokyo Bang 2006" Singer's Original Direct Disc (SODD). This is my wild hair pick on the list. SODD has emerged as an excellent and consistent label this year and while I'm not a fan of this tour or the sound of the band at this juncture - SODD stumbled into some sort of magic with this release. Nothing was ever confirmed but my theory is this is a matrix of Soundoard/FM/ALD sources and it's an incredible listen. Whatever it is, it smokes and it completely caught me by surprise.
- Jeff Beck Group "Loud And Heavy" Guitar Cycle Label. Because I can, I want to tip the hat to a Japanese Label that decided to embrace some of the great tapes being shared via Bit Torrent on the net. There were a bunch of JBG tapes torrented over the Summer and Fall and this great line-up of talent deserves more commercial bootleg coverage. I'm a fan and I like this 3CD that brings three 1968 Boston Tea Party sets to silver disc.
Top 10 Bootleg DVD releases for 2006:
The Beatles "Palais & Plazas" Picture Perfect. One of the most enjoyable Beatles video compilations to be produced, and of the highest quality too. A label that defines commitment to excellence and this release is a showcase of efforts.
Led Zeppelin "Assemblage" Cosmic Energy. Forget the Swan Song puns on this crowning DVD in the Cosmic Energy mission to provide all things Led Zeppelin video related 1969-1980. Superb quality throughout on precious 8mm and private reels that are thoughtfully presented and programmed. Let's hope other projects emerge from the label in the future.
The Clash "Pressure Drop 1977-1985" Boys Next Door. A compilation to treasure for sure! A true fan was at the helm of this vast production of clips and I think it's fantastic.
Pink Floyd "Festival de Musique, Saint Tropez August 8, 1971" Silent Sea. A new film that saw it's first DVD release here but also released by Apocalypse Sound as well. This particular presentation is superb and straightforward. One of the many video treasures to surface for us all in 2006.
Jimi Hendrix "Five Years: The Legend Of Jimi Hendrix 1965-1970" Seymour Vision. Wow, this is a fun compilation too. The set covers 5 important years in music history in about 5.5 hours and the quality of the production is superb as it is a digital transfer of the Whoopy Cat "Ultimate Experience" Videotape Series, Volumes 1-3 (thanks to Shroomy for the clarification on sources). One disc is a DVD-9 and the other a standard capacity DVD. The Limited Edition version comes with a bonus CD of Band Of Gypsies studio outtakes. A Hendrix fans' must-have set.
Tie: The Who "Isle Of Wight 1969" & "Cow Palace 1973" 4Reel Productions. Just my sneaky way of slipping in another worthy title! The Isle of Wight DVD came out right at the end of 2005 and missed getting in the picks last year. It's included here at this position because it's really a stand-out Who title providing us with quality, rare Who video. The Cow Palace show is prominently included because it defines what bootleg material is. Great video print of a concert that is legendary. You have to watch as it's like train wreck. Oh yeah, and it's The Who on the Quadrophenia Tour 1973. Thanks 4Reel for the goods!
Bob Dylan & The Band "69-70" Top Of The Line/4Reel Productions. Another great DVD of historical importance and nicely assembled. Bootlegs are history and this is another classic example of why this hobby is so damn cool.
The Beatles "Eye Of The Hurricane American Tour 1964" Picture Perfect. The sister release of pick #1 for 2006. An incredible and chronological look at every stop along the way during that first Beatles Tour - supreme quality and plenty of insanity to boot! Simply precious.
The Rolling Stones "Ultimate L.A. 1975" 4Reel Productions. We needed someone to take another stab at this excellent Tour Of The Americas video and 4Reel took the challenge. Not definitive like they brand, but stellar. Can you now please track down a low gen print of Ft. Worth '78 for us? Please?
Led Zeppelin "Knebworth Celebration" Genuine Masters. It's here because it's a killer video that finally gets a proper audio treatment and nobody better for that job than Blackdog. It now rocks big time!
What a great year we had in retrospect! There are a ton of others that should be included. That's why this is such a difficult task when you sit down and attempt it. Thanks again to all the membership for a great 2006 for our HotWacks On-line community here. Cheers to you for the coming New Year.