By Nicki Escudero
By Amy Silverman
By Brian Palmer
By Chris Parker
By Troy Farah
By Lauren Wise
By Lauren Wise
5. Miles Davis, More Live Evil (Zipperdeke) While not specifically a sequel to the epochal '71 Live Evil set -- it's an On the Corner-era concert -- this double disc is still a worthy artifact for any aficionado of the groundbreaking early '70s jazz-rock fusion that Davis relentlessly pursued. The gig was taped for Japanese TV in Tokyo on June 20, 1973 -- now where's the video transfer of the six-song, two-and-a-half-hour mindfuck?
6. The Clash, Capitol Radio (Gold Standard); From London to Jamaica (Midas Touch) In 2000, taking a cue from 1999's Clash reissues and the From Here to Eternity Live CD, bootleggers unleashed a slew of Clash material. Here the former title appears to be from an FM broadcast and is a powerhouse 23-song set recorded at Passaic's Capitol Theatre on March 8, 1980. Clearly Clash-in-their-prime period: Joe Strummer's larynx-shredding barks in "London Calling" have to be heard to be believed. The latter, a superb soundboard recording, hails from a Jamaican rock festival held at the Bob Marley Center on October 27, 1982 (also on the bill: the Grateful Dead); while an occasionally ragged performance, there are some compelling dub workouts.
7. Steve Earle, The Unrepentant (Doberman) Britain's Doberman is a pro-CD-R label whose trademark of quality, both in the visual design and sound quality departments, makes its limited editions highly desirable. In addition to numerous Springsteen and Neil Young titles to its credit, this year Doberman unveiled a number of not-to-be-missed live sets from Dylan, Van Morrison -- and this Earle two-disc concert. Recorded on the Transcendental Blues tour in Colne, England, on May 26, 2000, it spotlights an energetic gig and offers flawless sound. Seven bonus tracks from the previous night's show in Warwick -- an FM broadcast at that -- round things out.
8. Rage Against the Machine, The Art of War: Rage Against Coachello (Wonder Boy)Hard to say why so many contemporary punk, metal and "hard music" bootlegs sound so shitty; you can count the quality Korn, Deftones, Slipknot, et al., boots on one hand. Not so this one, taken from either a soundboard or video source and recorded on October 10, 1999, at Coachello, California. Not only is the sound the equal of an official release, the performance itself is brutal and inspired.
9. Rolling Stones, Brussels Affair (Rattlesnake)As one bootlegging maxim is that thieves know no honor -- the Secret Trax label mentioned in the Beatles notes above routinely reboots the hard-to-find products of Japanese Fab Four specialists Silent Sea -- it's still a fine day for collectors when the pirates drop anchor long enough to remaster and revamp a classic, out-of-print title. Brussels Affair has long been considered one of the great Stones titles, a soundboard tape from the October 17, 1973, concert at Forest National Stadium in Brussels. For its "Definitive Edition," Rattlesnake has kindly cleaned up the first-generation tapes, tossed in a handful of bonus tracks (Vienna, September 1, 1973), and added a photo-crammed booklet in the process.
10. Bob Dylan, Don't Waste Your Words (Rattlesnake) Additionally, Rattlesnake is a top Dylan-centric label, consistently unearthing the best-sounding tapes around. This September 27, 2000, Rotterdam Bob2K double disc is no exception. (Bonus tracks are from Brussels October 2, 2000.) Incredibly, the label had the title pressed up and on the streets within six weeks of the original concerts.
Top 10 Record-Hunting Finds
"I did all my Christmas shopping this year in one night, on [one of several hundred interchangeable Web sites]," said my companion over a late dinner at Tempe's Pita Jungle. "Bought something like 10 CDs for the people on my list in a half an hour, and I didn't even leave the house."
"[Expletive deleted] Christmas," I mumbled.
"I can't understand you when you talk in brackets," she replied. "Anyway, you're just jealous because I didn't have to deal with the crowds."
"Christmas is, in and of itself, a mean-spirited, guilt-inducing and just plain awful time of the year," I said more directly. "I don't want to argue about that, but quite apart from my personal feelings about the whole enforced-gift-buying bonanza, doesn't online buying ruin the thrill of music hunting? Doesn't the prospect of stumbling over some completely random pleasure in the used racks or the cutout bins give you the tiniest of jolts? It's like collecting stamps by phone order."
"God, you're a snob," my companion sneered. "Listen, the CDs I bought for gifts were all stuff I could have gotten at a retail store, and there's no way I'm spending gas money and standing on line at fucking Arizona Mills just to pick up Faith Hill or Outkast or Blink 182. That's for them, tweedle-dum, the people I have to buy for." She bit into her chicken wrap. "For myself, now," she continued around a mouthful of tomatoes, "no gas bill is too great. I'll go to any lengths, drive any hundreds of miles and root through rooms full of dusty records just on the off-chance. Hours on end; of course I will. That's the fun of it. Won't you?"
True. My companion, perhaps the same as you, appreciates the treasure-hunt prospects of the simple, life-spanning music store crawl. And in the giving spirit of the season, as well as the unbridled avarice it inevitably encourages, allow me to gloat with you over the completely random pleasures the little Lord Jesus saw fit to drop into my hands during 2000. And despite my decidedly negative feelings about the holiday season proper, here's hoping the coming year provides you with comparable joys.