Friday, July 12, 2013

Songs for the New Depression

From the December 1982 issue of the Magazine Formerly Known as STEREO REVIEW, please enjoy -- if that's the word -- my review of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska.

Slightly edited for style (don't ask) but otherwise exactly as it appeared at the time.

When times get tough, someone once observed, entertainment gets sloppy, but in the case of Bruce Springsteen, the once and future Bard of Asbury Park, New Jersey, we may have to amend that; when times get tough, entertainment gets grim. At least that's one implication to be derived from Nebraska, Springsteen's new all-acoustic -- dare I say it? -- folk music album. Another is that the record business is in even worse shape than I thought. Since the production costs of what sounds like the bleakest record of the year must have been next to nothing (Springsteen recorded it at home on a four-track Teac cassette deck), you might think Columbia would give us a break and sell it at a really reduced price -- like about two bucks. No such luck.

That's a pretty cynical thing to say about a Bruce Springsteen album, Springsteen being the one mainstream rock star who maintains a genuine give-and-take relationship with his audience, but I'm afraid Nebraska inspires cynicism. It sounds like it was written for critics rather than people. I'm not suggesting a sellout; in a lot of ways a release like this is a very gutsy career move, and I don't doubt that the ten songs on it are as sincerely, deeply felt as anything Springsteen has ever done. In some ways, actually, it's weirdly appropriate that he should mutate, however briefly, into a latter-day Woody Guthrie. CBS originally signed him as a folk singer, things are pretty depressing out there, and somebody's got to do it, I suppose. It's just that most of Nebraska is, well, boring.

I can't fault the stories Springsteen tells here. He seems to have aimed for a sort of contemporary working-class, factory-town equivalent of The Grapes of Wrath, and mostly he's succeeded. As vignettes they're wonderful; one in particular -- "Highway Patrolman" -- is going to make a heck of a movie someday. But God. The tunes are less than minimalist, the tempos are uniformly dirgelike, and hardly a ray of sunlight breaks through the overpowering miasma of fatalism and gloom. The effect is to trivialize the stories. It's impossible to care about the lives of the people being chronicled when the music is so resolutely leaden.

I suspect that this is not due so much to a lack of inspiration as it is to deliberate calculation. Springsteen has been headed in this direction for some time now. A lot of Darkness on the Edge of Town was all but unlistenable for the same reasons, and in places The River was even worse, the stark dramas inflated to operatic pretentious and unintentional self-parody. Nebraska, with its self-conscious underproduction, achieves the same sad result from the opposite direction. Springsteen must know better -- just listen to the material he gives away to other artists. Heck, his "Out of Work," on the recent Gary U.S. Bonds album, says far more about blue-collar aspirations than anything on Nebraska, and it's also tuneful, danceable and fun.

But Springsteen seems to think that fun is beneath him now. As much as it pains me to say it, I think what we have here is a classic case of a "primitive" artist corrupted by "intellectuals" (well, ex-rock writers, like his producer Jon Landau and official biographer Dave Marsh). How else to explain Springsteen's apparent compulsion to make the Big Statement every time out, the references to film directors -- here it's Terence Malick (Badlands) in the title song -- and the hectoring preachiness of so much of his recent output? Nebraska, its offhand simplicity notwithstanding, is an ambitious work, and, given the thoroughly decadent state of contemporary pop music, it merits respect if only because it aims high. But the fact is, it misses -- by a big margin -- and the reasons suggest that its author has worked himself into what may be an artistic cul-de-sac. Let's hope I'm wrong. -- Steve Simels

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Nebraska. Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar, harmonica).

A review that holds up pretty well, I think.

Although I've mellowed a bit on Darkness since then. I'm still not crazy about it, but the obviously anthemic songs (plus "Candy's Room," which I've always thought of as Bruce channeling The Yardbirds) are great enough that I can sort of ignore the (IMHO) lame West Coast-style production.

I'm also tickled by my prediction about "Highway Patrolman," which of course Sean Penn filmed as The Indian Runner in 1991.


cthulhu said...

Oh, Nebraska...

(Of course, I'm not really a fan of Springsteen which I realize is a genuine oddity for someone who reads and comments here; I like some of his stuff, but a lot of it - especially the more recent material - leaves me totally cold; YMMV, definitely.)

I missed this disc when it first came out (I had gotten totally sick of Bruuuce when someone on my dorm floor played The River approximately 77 hours a day), but then many years later discovered State Trooper on the Sopranos first soundtrack collection, thought it was spooky good, and decided I'd check out the whole CD. Unfortunately, I'm just not a fan of ersatz Woody Guthrie (or the real thing for that matter, another apostacy I know), so when song after song started off "My name is XXX...", I quickly reached my limit. Still love State Trooper, though. But totally agree with the review here; it seemed to me that the described career trajectory continued and culminated in what IMHO was Springsteen's nadir of calculated audience appeal, the Born in the USA release in 1984 (my spouse, who IS a Springsteen fan, despises that album, and never fails to point out how much Bruce buffed up for the videos - compare to the cover of Born to Run!).

So it's probably not surprising that the Springsteen songs I really like are the atypical ones: Candy's Room, which always struck me as a pitch-perfect meditation on the archetypal inarticulate, frustrated teenager romantically obsessed with the archetypal glossy party girl, and another movie just waiting to get out; and Brilliant Disguise, which to me is still the most brutally honest and least pretentious song he's ever recorded. "God have mercy on the man / who doubts what he's sure of", indeed; never fails to raise the hairs on the back of my neck.

Ok, crawling back under my rock; it's safe to come out now...

Anonymous said...

Yep, it's boring. Perhaps the most monotonous and self-indulgent album ever done by a "major artist."

I already gave at the office.

Vickie Rock

steve simels said...


Speaking as you were downstairs of bootlegs -- did you ever run into any of the people responsible for the Trademark of Quality stuff?

Those guys literally changed my life, and I don't know who they are, except for Bill Stout.

Gummo said...

Damn, steve, another review of yours I remember reading.

And it made me quite happy at the time, as I was decidedly NOT a Springsteen fan.

And for a great overview of the rock bootleggers of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, including the various incarnations of TMOQ, I can't recommend highly enough Bootleg by Clinton Heylin (yes, he's a well-known dick in some circles, but it's a really good book).

steve simels said...

Is that book still in print? I'm gonna go over to Amazon and look...

Gummo said...

buzzbabyjesus said...

Your review put me off ever hearing it. It's this side of Bruce I find hard to take. There is an undercurrent of "Nebraska" throughout his later work that always strikes me as rich artist guilt.

The idea of "Nebraska", however grim and dull, inspired me to buy a 4-Track and start writing songs. I think a lot of us realized at the same time that you could buy a $500 machine and start making records.

Here is one of those early songs I wrote and recorded in 1985. It's more of an artifact than a work of art, but I think it has merit. I turned the tape over for backwards effects, and used a typewriter for drums.

I still have my Portastudio.

steve simels said...

I presume you were in an unsatisfactory relationship when you recorded that?

Seriously -- I love the guitar squawks at the end.

Dave said...

Nothing less than a great review that holds up beautifully over time. My two favorite Springsteen albums remain his first and second.

Brooklyn Girl said...

point out how much Bruce buffed up for the videos - compare to the cover of Born to Run!.

It was the 80s --- everyone was doing that. And it has held many of them in good stead over the years. I doubt that he (or Mick, for that matter --- have you seen his arms?) could do what they do now if they had allowed themselves to get soft.

And I also find "Nebraska" boring and pretentious. I can forgive pretentious.

buzzbabyjesus said...

You presume correctly.

Anonymous said...

I always thought Nebraska was brilliant and totally unlistenable.

Allan Rosenerg

Anonymous said...

Steve: With regards to your bootleg question. Those guys changed loads of people's lives. The Heylin book is a fine start. He gets the basics right. But take it with this proviso. A lot of the stuff in there is wrong. A lot of the stuff in there is myth and baloney. And there's a big chunk of the story missing. He interviewed a few players but not everyone. Certainly not the biggest one.

The TMOQ guys were Dub Taylor and Ken Douglas, along with Dub's dad Big Dub. Early on there were also a couple of other short-lived players involved in their activities. Stout didn't hook up with Dub as an artist till a several years after the initial Great White Wonder.

A book could be written about the first rock bootleg. Seriously.

GWW was put out by two "stoner" Dylan enthusiasts that worked at a local record distributor, Saturn Records. They weren't too keen on Nashville Skyline and thought they'd release an alternative. It was a vanity project. They had no idea what a sensation it would cause.

Almost as soon as it appeared in Vogue Records, the L.A. Free Press bookstore and a few other places, it was re-booted by a couple of middle aged Jewish record store owners. They had more money than the originators so they pressed a bunch. Of course, their copies were inferior since it was a bootleg of a vinyl source.

Lord knows how many times other opportunists did this. Serious collectors follow the matrix numbers to determine which is a genuine original.

Because our two "stoner" heroes were paranoid and lacked knowledge of how to get it done, they enlisted the help of an older guy at the distributorship. He turned out to be a shyster. At any rate, since they all worked at a record distributor and didn't want to fuck up their day jobs, they enlisted a customer named Jewel Akens to get the master made. Seriously, Jewel Akens of "Birds and the Bees" fame got the master done for GWW. How funny is that?

Ken was married with kids and Dub had a hippie girlfriend but still lived at home with his dad. His dad's house would later be the location where they stored and collated their future efforts. Dub's dad worked for the Post Office.

When Ken and Dub found out that the two Jewish record store owners had booted the boot, they took a low key attitude. But Dub's hippie girlfriend resented it. She called Columbia and turned the middle aged record store owners in. This was a stupid move since it only came back at Ken and Dub. Well, actually, only Dub. The authorities didn't know about Ken yet. CBS filed suit regarding GWW unaware that our "heroes" had already released another pair of Dylan collections.

Early on, the two Dub's and Ken had a falling out. Earlier than most people think. Most people draw the line in 1973 but the split happened a couple of years before that. They were both releasing product which looked virtually the same for a while. In 1973 Ken adopted the smoking pig logo to differentiate his product from Dub's. He stole the logo right off of Stout's artwork for Dub's "All Meat Music" Rolling Stones Nicaragua Benefit bootleg.

Yeah, I know some of the players. But mostly from the glory years beginning in 1972. They used to call me "Peggy Maxwell with tits" in reference to the old Name of the Game TV series character.

Lots of collectors knew these people. Hell, they were hawking their wares at every record meet and flea market. Later, the record store owners from Orange County got into the game. That would be John Wizardo and Andrea or as I affectionately nicknamed her, "Android." Known to most as Vicki Vinyl.

Heylin never interviewed Ken Douglas. He was the king. So, the book doesn't come close to telling the full story.

Vickie Rock

I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Anonymous said...

A few other tidbits regarding bootlegs:

The Rolling Stones LIVEr Than You'll Ever Be was being pressed at the same L.A. plant which was pressing Let It Bleed.

Ken Douglas cut the acetate of Stealin' at Gold Star Studios.

For that project Ken and Dub had a couple of partners. The Dylan tape showed up at Records and Supertape and the owner rang up Ken, knowing he'd done GWW. They used another customer at the distributorship to handle the pressing. He was a black guy named Harry. Also a shyster. The original version of Stealin' is on Har-Kub Records a combination of Harry Ken and Dub. Ted's name, though a partner, was left out.

Ken was approached by Alice Cooper's co-manager Joe Greenberg. He wanted Ken to release the band's 1969 tape recorded at the Whisky a Go Go when they opened for Zeppelin. This was in 1970 and Greenberg thought it would be a shot in the arm for the band, who were struggling.

Ken considered them an unknown quantity and refused. Nevertheless, as a result of their contact, Greenberg became a major buyer of TMOQ product and was key in getting the early stuff to the East Coast.

Vickie Rock

Don't you feel like desperadoes under the eaves. Heaven help the one who leaves.

Gummo said...

Vickie --

Thanks so much for filling in some of the background on the earliest rock bootlegs.

I was a bootleg hound from the moment I heard GWW in 1969/70 at the tender age of 13 and the obsession has never left me.

I remember my first bootleg the way most people remember -- well, other firsts. It was the Beatles boot, "Live at Wiskey Flats" (actually, live in Philadelphia in 1964), and I bought it at a flea market in Buffalo, New York, while visiting my brother at college. I immediately went to the "record listening room" (remember those?) in the Student Union and cued it up. It was hissy and clicky but it was live Beatles and it was actually listenable!

I was in heaven.

Anonymous said...

Of the two TMOQ guys, Dub was the one more artistically oriented. All the classic Stout covered issues from 1973 to 1974 were done by him. Ken was more the "in it for the money" type of guy. But he was up front about it.

Dub may have been more artistic and loving of the material, but he didn't have the constitution to deal with the paranoia associated with his livelihood.

He dropped out in the mid 1970's. That's when Ken became the king. TMOQ, Highway Hi-Fi, Pig's Eye, Amazing Kornyphone, Ze Anonym Plattenspieler, Flat, SODD, Excitable, Impossible, Toasted, Beacon Island, Phoenix were all his labels, and there were more.

After spending the early Eighties in Europe, he re-emerged in the second half of that decade with Rock Solid, Box Top, Amazing Stork, Waggle, Screaming Oiseau and a plethora of other labels, including the wonderful named Pharting Pharaoh.

He briefly got involved in the CD era with Toasted/Condor and Neutral Zone and then retired circa 1990.

Getting back to the GWW, Ken insists that the original pressing had labels which read Rocolian Records. The artists credited is Dupree and the Miracle Sound.

It was a mistake. The guy at the plant was supposed to reverse the labels so they were blank white.

That initial run is dead rare. After Ken straightened the guy at the plant out, all subsequent early issues were blank.

The name Great White Wonder came to be when the un-named 2-LP Dylan boot in the blank white cover hit the L.A. Free Press Book Store in July 1969. They made a sign promoting it calling it the "Great White Wonder." Ken and Dub liked it and went out and bought a rubber stamp.

Oh, and Dub Taylor is no relation to the wonderful character actor of the same name.

Vickie Rock

Well they say this place is evil. That ain't why I stay.

Anonymous said...


I think Live at Whiskey Flats was originally done on the East Coast. Ken and Dub copied it later. Does your copy have custom labels?

"Get Back" on Lemon Records was from the West Coast. I think "Kum Back," and "O.P.D." were also from the East Coast. But not 100% sure.

I think Whiskey Flats was the first live Beatles Boot. It was kinda iffy. "Back In the Hollywood Bowl" surfaced out here. That was better and probably brought on the official release.

Rubber Dubber was also a major player on the West Coast circa 1970-1972. That guy did some outstanding releases. Hendrix, CSNY, The Band, Led Zepp, James Taylor, Neil Young etc. He had a Van Morrison 1970 show too, but he never released it. I guess he was too busy growing pot.

Vickie Rock

Vickie Rock

Gummo said...

Vicki --

I'd have to pull out Whiskey Flats (it was spelled "Wiskey" on my copy) to recall the details. Definitely had a label, but haven't looked at it in many years.

My copy of the Get Back bootleg was an early plain white cover edition - the first cut is about 3 minutes of John and Yoko talking about how they were going to be back in Toronto for the 1970 festival (which they didn't make, of course) -- this led to the rumor that John had a hand in getting the Get Back bootleg out, which I've never heard decidedly affirmed or denied.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't doubt the misspelling of "Wiskey." Was it a rubber stamped cover? Labels vary. Some are on Whiskey Records but I'm not sure how they spelled it.

Your version of "Get Back" sounds like it has the same contents as "Get Back to Toronto." The "Kum Back" and "Get Back" on Lemon Records were were far from identical. But neither of them have the Lennon message at the beginning.

There are lots of permutations of the "Get Back" bootleg. The early editions are sourced from a late September WBCN FM broadcast of the material. Where they got it from I dunno. John Lennon may have been the source, knowingly or not, since he was in the East at that time for the "Live Peace In Toronto" gig.

That live album was supposedly rush released when bootleg copies of the Toronto show threatened to surface. But I don't know if that is true or legend.

"O.P.D." and the foil covered bootleg are from a different broadcast of the material from Buffalo.

On the West Coast, I never heard "Kum Back" until it was played by B. Mitchell Reed on KMET circa late 1969. Those were heady times.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

Thought I'd include a little clipping from Billboard about GWW. It's self explanatory. Hope the link works.

Norty & Ben were the middle aged record store owners. Not sure who Gerald Feldman was, but he was obviously one of their cohorts. This could explain why their version of GWW has a GF prefix in the matrix.

Vickie Rock

BTW, since this post is originally related to Bruuuuuce, I figured I'd give you a west coast dude who, I believe, surpasses the "Butt" in many ways, especially the cred department. The East Coast may have Asbury Park, but I'll take Downey over it anyday.

This is what our hero's band sounds like on an off night. This is from the wonderful Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. A place where Alex Chilton lowered his pants for me in public. A venue with great sound, atmosphere and "real" "non-L.A." type of people.

If you want to catch our hero's band firing on all cylinders track down "The Great American Music Galaxy" CD.

And a more recent performance

And here's what our SoCal heroes sound like when they're half dead with liver cancer:

Now that's some Cosmic American Music!

And speaking of Gram, what about this great cover?

buzzbabyjesus said...

The Coach House! That's where I saw James Brown in about 1983.

Anonymous said...


How was James?

Hope you got dinner when you went. The food's no good but it gets you the better seats. If you're on a budget they usually let you get by with nachos.

I saw James and his revue at a tiny place in Ontario called the Royal Tahitian summer of 1967. It was the night club at the Ontario National Golf Course. It was an 18 or older place. I was twelve but I used my fake ID to get in. It's amazing, but California driver's licenses didn't even have pictures on them back then. I looked older than my years and carried myself well. I never had problems getting into places.

I also saw James at the Swing Auditorium circa 1967-1968. I think me and Sandy were the only white people there. It was awkward. But he puts on a good show.

I've gone to the Coach House for ages. I think it opened in the early 1980's. I love the mom and pop atmosphere of the club and how it's run. Their booker died not that long ago. He was a very sweet guy.

I saw the Replacements there in 1986. And multitudes of others. It's a great place to tape as long as you're at the long dinner tables. For a while they had a sound guy who'd let you plug into the board.

During the 1980's and 1990's, I used to go there two or three times a week. I knew all the people there. Gary, the owner, had a place in Big Bear. Sometimes he'd let me use it. They treated me like royalty there. But I tipped good too.

They don't offer as many good shows these days. Saw Todd Rundgren there this week for what I can only describe as an equivocal show. I'm not too crazy about it when he whips out a computer on stage. I've seen him better, and also worse.

Shit, L.A.'s going to pot. I can't even find a decent show to go to on a Friday night. WTF? And it's summer too!

My daughter's friend is in a relationship with the bass player of Say Anything. They're playing the House of Blues in Hollywood tonight, so her friend invited her for a full access show. Eisley is opening, so it's a family affair.

Her friend invited me too, but I don't think she was really serious. I'll let the kids be kids. I don't like that crap, anyway.

Your demo has no commercial potential. But that wasn't really the purpose was it? Kind of interesting - I dig the effects. Makes me wish Lou Reed would get a megaphone.:-)

Vickie Rock

Mark said...

A beautifully written piece that I recall reading in SR -- now that I’ve reread it -- and thinking to myself back then something along the lines of, “Even though I’m no big Bruce fan, and even though I don’t buy into much of Bruce’s NJ-based lost-souls-fast-cars-stuck-behind the-eight-ball-working-class-decaying-cities highway-as-dreamscape framework, Bruce is an important artist who’s got the brains TO calculate and take his audience and others with him.”

It’s too bad that there’re too few other artists who calculate -- or do whatever math comes natural to them -- like Bruce.

And speaking of working class heroes, Peppi Marchello of Long Island’s Good Rats passed away on Wednesday evening (see I bring this to your attention not only because I always enjoyed the Rats, but also because the Good Rats are and were just as representative of a geographically-centered musical orientation (Long Island) as Bruce is of NJ. And while the heyday of The Good Rats was in the mid-1970s, the Good Rats never stopped working and performing.

What we need is some artist to out-Sufjan Sufjan Stevens, and begin work on a 50-album song cycle on the rock artists of all 50 states.

Anonymous said...

Bootleg addendum:

The record distributor that Ken Douglas and Dub Taylor worked at, Saturn Records, was owned by Ken's dad.

Not long after GWW was released, Dub Taylor and a draft dodger they were using as a record runner, met and were interviewed by Rolling Stone reporter Jerry Hopkins at Platterpus Records in Hollywood. By the end of the year reviews of four of their bootlegs appeared in that magazine.

LIVEr Than You'll Ever Be was recorded by Dub with a Sennheiser shotgun mic and a Uher 4000 reel-to-reel at 7 1/2 inches per second. Dub and his partner Chris recorded both L.A. shows, both Oakland shows, along with San Diego and Phoenix. They were even on the same plane as the Stones when they left Phoenix.

Scott Johnson was Rubber Dubber. All of his boots were self-recorded and live. Except for the Essen 1970 show of the Stones. Not sure where he got that but his 2-LP set was the original. Dub re-EQ'd and copied it onto one disc later for TMOQ.

Rubber Dubber's Led Zeppelin Live at the Los Angeles Forum 9-4-70 was different than Ken & Dub's Blueberry Hill. Both were recorded at the same show but separately and with different equipment.

Stephen Pickering, Dylan obsessive and future Bob Dylan Approximately author, provided the source tape of While the Establishment Burns and parts of several other 1970 Dylan TMOQ titles.

Ken and his wife Vesta used to sell boots at the LaHabra swap meet shortly after the falling out with Dub.

I used to see Bill Stout around but I never met him personally until the 1990's when he was coaxed out of bootleg art retirement for the "Burn Like a Candle" Led Zeppelin CD. It was their 1972 Forum show, a bit of which came out nine years later on "How the West Was Won."

We had a long anonymous conversation sitting on the curb. We were leaning up against the wall at "Bootleg Alley" during the Pasadena City College monthly record swap. Zepp and the Yardbirds were his favorite bands. The artwork he did for that title parodied Deep Purple's "Burn" cover art. As usual, it was wonderful.

He's a very nice and mellow guy. He still had super long hair in 1994. Sometime later it came off. During our conversation he told me what an asshole Thomas Kinkade was.

He was mad into scuba diving. I went to scuba school and dove occasionally so I could relate. He absolutely loved it, especially night diving. We talked about how trippy it was.

He talked about his trips to the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica and other far flung places. I had no idea. Plus he used to do caricatures of people at Disneyland in the late Sixties. His hair was down his back then too, so he had to wear a short hair wig to get the job. What a scream! Ultimately, when the park found out he had long hair under the wig, they ordered him to cut it or lose his job. He got fired because he refused. And was banned from the park for obscenity.

I knew the feeling. When my freshman class went to Disneyland for a "field trip," I had one of my older boyfriends meet me there. We were caught in a somewhat compromising situation on Tom Sawyer's Island. We thought we had found a secluded spot, but we found out they had cameras everywhere.

They threw us out of the park after giving us a big lecture. They took our names and said we could never come back. How they would enforce such a thing, I dunno.

They were threatening the hell out of my boyfriend because he was over eighteen. I told the stupid park cops that if they took him to jail, I was going too. Shit, I was fifteen and he was 19. As far as I was concerned it was perfect. I'm sure he thought so too.

But I digress, if you don't have Stout's recent Legends of the Blues book, you ought to at least look it over at your local book store. Great R. Crumb styled renderings.

Vickie Rock

buzzbabyjesus said...

All this talk about bootlegs. Coincidentally over at "Now That's What I Call Bullshit" I've begun making and "releasing" some.

Anonymous said...

Andrea Waters aka Vicki Vinyl, “Android” to me, the proprietor of Beggars Banquet Records in Anaheim, did some great work. A lot of her story is in Heylin’s book. But I don’t believe he ever interviewed her.

She was 25 years old when Columbia Records and Bruce Springsteen descended on her for the magnificent “Live In the Promised Land” and “Piece de Resistance.” She'd been at it since she was 21. She was a Rolling Stones freak, big time. She’d travel thousands of miles to see them. That’s why her record store, which opened in 1976, was called Beggars Banquet. I think her first release was the Mike Millard tape of the Rolling Stones 1975 Forum gig.

She is a living legend as far as I’m concerned. Many of her releases were as good as it gets, whether it was Zeppelin, Elvis Costello, Bowie, McCartney, Queen or the Dead. She had a true passion for the music and a great business sense. And she was a girl!!! But a very exceptional one. A fuckin’ “Lioness.” I bow down to her.

She’s been living in Laguna Beach forever. She got married sometime in the mid 1980’s. She met her husband at a Stones concert, naturally! I don’t know if she wants her new name out there so I will withhold it.

Oh, in the 1980’s Ken teamed with author, music impresario and NASA freak, Robert Godwin on all of the Zeppelin titles. Godwin, of course, wrote The Illustrated Collector’s Guide to Led Zeppelin around that time.

Godwin also worked with The White in the mid 1980’s. They were one of the first Led Zeppelin Tribute Bands, starting around 1978 in Southern California. When they moved to Canada, where Godwin had a club, they started doing original material.

When they were based in California circa late 70’s/early 1980’s, I slept with their lead singer, Michael White. And believe me, I wasn’t the only one. It was a youthful indiscretion. It was a cocaine and Quaalude decision. Oops.

But that's another story altogether. And a good one. But not now.

Here’s a few pictures to put a face on the bootleggers. Some are from back in the day. Others not. I couldn’t dig up any old photos of “Android” so you’ll get the older saggier version, and a shitty picture to boot. Sorry.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I shopped at Beggars Banquet in the '70's and '80's.

Anonymous said...

Buzzbabyjesus & anyone who cares:

Yeah, Beggars Banquet was at the corner of Beach and Ball. What a great name for an intersection! So many possibilities with that combo. You just knew it had to be good!

So, if you shopped there you probably saw Andrea, right? Did you know any of the people who worked there? Ever go to Pepperland Records? They were out that way too. What about Music Mart?

Speaking of Andrea, I don’t know who did the artwork, or if they stole it, but the Idle Mind label has a rendering of an Eve-like woman which bears a pretty fair likeness to Vicki Vinyl at the time. So here’s that, in lieu of some decent pix:

Beggars Banquet was just a couple of major blocks away from Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center. The latter was the site of many 60's and 70's concerts. It had a 7,500 capacity, which made it a third the size of The Forum.

Sandy and I often used to hitchhike there from Berdoo before we had our driver’s licenses. We’d go to Disneyland during the day. Her uncle worked there so we always got a “guest” pass. At night, we’d walk across the street for the concert. Everybody shared their ten dollar a lid weed. Rides home were never a problem. TWTD.

Saw some great shows there including the Who, Cream, Hendrix, Doors, Airplane, Donovan, Janis, Van, Tull, etc. Everybody played there from 1967 through the Seventies. Not so much anymore. But they do have the NAMM show every year which is a lot of fun.

Did you live in Orange County? I love the beach towns, especially between Seal Beach and Dana Point. My friends and I have rented a monthly beach house twice a year at Newport since 1969. So I know the Costa Mesa, Newport, Balboa, Huntington Beach like the back of my hand.

I’ve got some property in Huntington Beach and am trying to build a home on it. The process is a bitch. Lots of fees, studies and bureaucratic bullshit. Seriously, they’re so greedy, why don’t they just be honest about it and ask for a bribe. It amounts to the same thing.

BTW, how was James Brown when you saw him at the Coach House? I never attended one of his shows after the early 1970’s. Was he high on PCP or some other heinous drug?

I'm going to the Echoplex tonight to see the Flamin' Groovies. Hope it's a good show. I'm due for one.

Vickie Rock

Here’s some more pix of bootleggers, particularly the King, during various eras:

buzzbabyjesus said...

I never talked to anyone at Beggars Banquet. Peppperland, Music Mart.
I lived in Garden grove, Huntington, Newport Beach. Santa Barbara, San Diego, West LA, Hollywood.
James Brown was killer.

Anonymous said...

buzzbabyjesus and anyone who cares:

James Brown kicked ass at the Coach House?! Where was I? Damn! I could have preserved that for eternity! Was it packed?

Those are pretty nice places you lived, given the right neighborhoods. Except for Garbage Grove.

I love Santa Barbara. My dear, dear uncle went to school at UCSB during the protest days. I visited him whenever I could because I missed him so. We really loved each other. A lot.

It got too weird and violent for him when the National Guard came out, so he transferred to Cal Poly in Pomona. It was a better fit since he wanted to go into aerospace engineering. He became a consultant for a defense sub-contractor. His specialty was guidance systems for missiles. He was super smart but not even close to a dork.

I always knew someone who was going to school in Isla Vista. I also had friends and relatives who lived in Pismo Beach. So I was often in the area.

What part of Santa Barbara did you live in? Outskirts or the city? Isn’t it stupid that the TV show Psych ‘s setting is based there but they shoot in Washington? My daughter’s a big fan.

Got hooked on the Santa Barbara Bowl. Great venue! Such a beautiful neighborhood and mellow people. Santa Barbarians.

The Arlington Theater rocks too. So intimate and such wonderful acoustics. Saw Jeff Beck there in 2006. I got there early because I was alone and didn’t have a ticket. I figured some good ones would drop. I was right.

Some super dorky, obsessive, borderline-stalker guy that ran a Jeff Beck fan site was there. He had a Sony D-7. He showed me his rig and I showed him mine.

He had permission to get in for the lengthy sound check. Since it was love at first sight for him, he let me tag along. We both taped it.

I had a few hours to kill before show time. My new best friend wanted to do nothing more than babble about Jeff and hang out with another fan. I wasn’t in the mood. Wacko’s bore me. I lied and told him I had to meet somebody.

I went to the adjacent Safeway Market on Chapala. The one with the mosaic tile mural. It used to be a Von’s. I was dying of thirst.

As I walked to the back of the store, I could hear two guys laughing like hyenas. When I rounded the aisle, I noticed that they both looked to be in their mid-forties. They were making a spectacle of themselves like two junior high school boys.

They had already sniffed the propellant out of about ten cans of Reddi-Whip and had a major nitrous buzz. They were totally blowing it. I walked around them and minded my own biz. But a clerk saw them and called the cops.

When I was at the check-out, the cops came and dragged their laughing butts out of there. One of the guys initially made a run for it but was tackled by a cashier at the store’s entrance. They were both cuffed in the back of the squad car with traces of whipped cream on their faces as I walked out of the store.

Imagine these idiots having to explain this to the wife and kids, let alone a judge. What possessed them? What losers!!! The whole episode was really bizarre.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

I walked back to the Arlington and hopped in my 124 Spider convertible. I figured I’d get some Mexican food at Los Agaves. I looove their steak nachos. I was so hungry I got a couple of sopes with it.

Jeff Beck’s guitar tech walked in. After he ordered his stuff at the counter and took a number, I saw that he looked lost. There weren’t any empty tables, so I invited him to sit with me. What a boring dude.

I didn’t feel like talking about Jeff Beck or guitars. Didn’t want to bother him with it. I was my usual effervescent self and was very nice to him. But he was very stiff, reserved and dull. Fuckin’ Brits. All some of them are good for is taking up space.

Anyway, now that you’ve suffered through that, here’s a great site for bootlegs. It’s well worth signing up to File Factory to check it out, if you’re so inclined. It’s been pretty active the last few months.

If you find real old links that don’t work, don’t worry, the people there recycle the old classic stuff. Seriously, they post all tapes in circulation by certain bands. And if any new source or show surfaces, they’re right on it. Leans toward so called “classic rock” and prog though. But not exclusively.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Vickie Rock,

Contact me through:

There is too much to tell here.

Anonymous said...

Buzzbabyjesus and anyone who cares:

Please don’t tell me you’re one of the guys with the Reddi-Whip?:-)

Here’s a little epilog to that Reddi-Whip story:

When I got back to the Arlington Theater for the Beck show, the doors had just opened. I went to the bathroom and did my usual “Claire Kent” ritual to get wired for sound. It never failed, whenever I was getting ready, I got a huge pre-show rush. The thrill still hasn’t gone.

As I walked out of the bathroom, I spied the grocery store cashier that tackled one of the Reddi-Whip guys. He was walking into the men’s john. I had to talk to him about it!!

I waited by the bathroom door. When he came out I said, “Nice tackle!” He remembered me and smiled. We laughed our butts off about the incident. What a coincidence running into this guy!

He was with a buddy. I invited them to have a drink with me at Elsie’s after the show. They were up for it.

After the show I met this old concert buddy of mine named “Rick” (not his real name). He produced and directed “quality” porn in the Valley and was a huge Jeff Beck fan. So, it wasn’t shocking to see him there. Actually it would have been a huge surprise if he wasn’t.

What did throw me was that he was with Carl Palmer, the famous drummer. Apparently he had just wrapped up an Asia reunion tour in SoCal. I know, I hate that band too and pretty much every band he’s been in! But he’s a great drummer.

I can’t remember how they hooked up with each other, but they didn’t have any women with them. “Rick” never did. Palmer was a really nice guy. He was nothing like I expected. I thought he’d be a boring pill, like Steve Howe. Or a complete asshole like Greg Lake and Keith Emerson. But Palmer was a regular guy, albeit with a British accent.

“Rick” told me that Eddie Van Halen was having a party on Saturday. I told him that I already knew through Michael, another porn guy. He asked me if I was going. I didn’t know. I didn’t really want to, but I didn’t tell him.

There was a Johnny Rivers show that night at the Galaxy in Santa Ana, which I was definitely going to. So if I did go, it would be late, if at all. Besides, Eddie was a pretty lost cause at that time and I didn’t feel like getting depressed. I was sure the party would be beyond over-the-top.

“Rick” was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. It was hard to believe he was a porn merchant. He was a real decent guy and very warm. He took real good care of his mother. Super genuine too.

He’s one of the few people for whom I ever took the time to make taped copies of shows. He deserved them. I knew he truly appreciated them.

In turn, from the mid-eighties onward, he’s been getting us a full ride at the AVN’s. We are treated like royalty. He makes sure of it. At first, Sandy and I didn’t really want to go, but he persuaded us. After our first time, we were corrupted.

Me and Sandy first met “Rick” at the 1980 Jeff Beck show at the Greek. We’ve been concert buddies ever since, bumping into each other often due to similar tastes. That’s when he found out that I taped. I had excellent equipment and was way into it by then.

I had a top of the line Sony D-5 cassette recorder and was blatant about it. I just walked in with my rig. Most of the time nobody said anything, but if they did, I just told them I worked for the news. It was nearly foolproof.

I got a super excellent tape. One that was fit to bootleg. But, lo and behold, before I could get a hold of anyone that mattered, Ken put out a shitty tape of the show done on a rotten Aiwa by some snot-nosed amateur.

I wasn’t mad. It just sucked. That boot could have been better. At least he used the obvious suggestion for the title, “Greek To Me.” It came out on Monomotapa Records because Ken was obsessed with Africa at the time.

Anyway, as I was about to leave, Mark asked me if I was going to any of the other Beck shows. I told him I was going to the Greek in a couple of days and the Vegas House of Blues show of Friday. He told me that he’d see me there.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

I explained that I was two-thirds done with 12 consecutive nights of concerts from Santa Barbara to Vegas to San Diego to Anaheim to L.A. He told me to say hi to Sandy and my husband. He always teased me about my living arrangement. I didn’t like that and wished I never told him.

I drove my sports car to Elise’s and, sure enough, I met the Safeway cashier and his buddy in the parking lot. We got acquainted while playing pool. My uncle, taught me well in using visualization and geometric techniques to bring my game to near perfection. I kicked their asses.

But it was too easy. Both of them sucked. I even missed a few on purpose. They had no concept of setting up the next shot or defense strategy. Nothing they did made sense or was very graceful. It wasn’t fun, it was kinda maddening. Kids these days. Too busy with their joysticks.

When his buddy went to pee, the cashier guy made a very brazen pass at me. I told him I was flattered but happily married. I joked and told him he couldn’t handle it anyway. I giggled and said I was old enough to be his mother, but I had a daughter who might be interested. I admired his chutzpah though. And it was an ego booster.

I drove home that night listening to the Jeff Beck show through my car stereo. The top was down and the cool ocean breeze caressed me. I smiled in reflection. I couldn’t wait to get home to show my baby that I still had “it.”

Vickie Rock

buzzbabyjesus said...

I haven't done supermarket Reddi Whip since I was in my twenties.

Anonymous said...


I don't know how to contact you through

Any tips?

Vickie Rock

buzzbabyjesus said...

leave a comment and i'll send you an email.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Vickie Rock

Don't worry no one will see your email except me.


Anonymous said...

Vickie Rock,

might be too late, but please contact me through my blog by leaving a comment on any post. Am just starting to do an in-depth on the Vicky Vinyl I.M.P boots and would love to have you contribute.


chofetzchayim said...

Shalom & Erev tov...Dub Taylor & Ken Douglas were/are remarkable people, breaking the strangle-hold of 'mass media' fascism...I am pleased that, 40 years ago, I could make a small contribution.
STEPHAN PICKERING / חפץ ח"ם בן אברהם
Torah אלילה Yehu'di Apikores / Philologia Kabbalistica Speculativa Researcher
לחיות זמן רב ולשגשג