Apr 20, 2018

Classic Vinyl Bootleg Revisited: THERE AIN'T NOBODY HERE FROM BILLBOARD TONIGHT original black vinyl pressing (Part 1 of 2)

I love old, amateurish, slick/insert covers!
One of the fun things to collect bootlegs is to be able to enjoy a wide variety of cover sleeves irrespective of whatever they look like (excellent, mediocre or awful). Although professionally manufactured color sleeves of 1980's bootlegs are attractive, I rather have a preference for slick or insert covers when it comes to vinyl bootlegs. It's because, along with rubber-stamped covers, that's the way these stuff came out originally. In other words, the amateurish appearance of many of slick covers represents what vinyl bootlegs were supposed to be in the first place. Thankfully, these days second-hand vinyl bootlegs are available at much cheaper than they used to be in the 1970's through 1980's when the bootleg industry was at the height of its prosperity (for one example of such a purchase, see a past blog post here).

No one but me was interested in this classic boot?
Last month, I obtained an original, pristine copy of THERE AIN'T NOBODY HERE FROM BILLBOARD TONIGHT also known simply as THE ROXY, a double LP released 43 years ago on Hoffman Avenue Records. It was sold on Yahoo! JAPAN auction in original shrink-wrapped condition. The opening bid was 500 Yen (approximately US $4.66 according to the current exchange rate) and I won the auction without competition. Though luckily, this was somewhat an unexpected result, which made me feel as if there were no serious vinyl Bruceleg collectors out here but me!

Two famous deadwax inscriptions BRUCE I WANT YOUR BILLBOARD! on Side 1 and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN — V. V. on Side 4. The other sides have two hand-etched dedications THIS SIDE FOR MELINDA (Side 2) and THIS SIDE FOR JEAN & MARK (Side 3).
Vicky Vinyl is credited, together with Eagle Eye,
as the bootleg producers.
Although for most part of the blog readers I don't think this classic title needs thorough introduction, it is purportedly the second ever Springsteen bootleg capturing the early show that was broadcast live by KWEST-FM from the Roxy Theater, Hollywood, CA on October 17, 1975. It was the Summer/1987 issue (#21) of the Backstreets magazine from which I first obtained substantial information on this bootleg (Remember we didn't have internet at that time and in my case, such information was available only from literature). As I already mentioned in the previous blog post, an anonymous reader called Eagle Eye (whose identity is almost certainly Mr. Lou Cohan who made the bootleg) left quite critical comments on an article entitled History of Bruceleg that was featured on the previous issue (#20). His criticism mainly argued against the release order of pioneering Brucelegs, what exactly Vicky Vinyl was involved in the album production, and how she felt about Springsteen. Following is a partial transcription of his description after explaining THE JERSEY DEVIL (for which a short note here) as the first ever Springsteen bootleg:

The second Springsteen bootleg was "There Ain’t Nobody Here From Billboard, Tonight," also on Hoffman Avenue Records. It was pressed in November of 1975 and Vicky Vinyl's only input was having "Catch me if you can" scratched into vinyl on one side of the sides and putting up half the money for the initial pressing. She never admired Bruce. She couldn’t stand him before he and CBS busted her, so you can imagine how she feels about today.

If what is written is true, it is interesting that the bootleg production has completed in rather a short time (it took only about one month after the original broadcast date?). As you might already know, you can also refer to this post on THE AMAZING KORNYFONE LABEL blog which is more informative although there she was reported to put up 1/4 rather than 1/2 of the money for the album production. The TAKRL blog post also reports that this bootleg is supposedly the third, but not the second, to have appeared on collectors' market following the Coral Records version of LIVE. This point is still controversial and there is yet another view (for example, see Hobbes's comment here).
— To be continued.

Mar 4, 2018

A repressing with the erroneous lyric sheet

The custom Zippo lighter used as a paper weight is serially numbered
(#026/200) and distributed for promoting the Hungry Heart Berlin '95
single in France. Though not shown, it comes in a black plastic holder.
Based on the dead-wax matrix information, US-pressing copies of the vinyl DARKNESS album are roughly classified into two groups, one with and another without a machine-stamped TML marking (either TML-M or TML-S), a proof for the early pressing issues that were mastered by Mike Reese at The Mastering Lab, Inc., Los Angeles, California. So, any vinyl copies lacking this stamp on both Sides 1 and 2 are instantly excluded from the list of my "variation" analysis on the U.S. version of this classic album (A series on this subject starts here).

Having checked such out-of-list copies in my collection, I found an interesting printing error on the lyric insert sheet that is included in an old copy. As shown here, one side of the sheet is upside down compared to the other side. Although I have owned the copy for a long time, until very recently, I was not aware of this error mainly because it's a reissue to which I usually don't pay particular attention. Wrote this just as a quick note for the record.

This one is certainly a later pressing (though no barcodes on the rear sleeve), as it comes with the thin inner sleeve with the lesser-quality image. In addition, the record label has a triangle-in-circle symbol on the left of the center hole (Side 1 only). This symbol is generally seen with the Columbia LP, 12-inch and CD releases issued in 1980's to 1990's. Interestingly, what the symbol means has been still in debate (for example, see here on this blog, or here for lengthy discussion on Steve Hoffman Music Forums since 2006).

The hand-etched matrix numbers read P <JXMP> AL35318 G2H on Side 1 (shown above) and
P <J-MP> BL-35318 G1F
on Side 2. Neither TML-M nor TML-S is stamped on each side. I don't know
from which pressing plant (
Pitman NJ or Carrollton GA) this copy originated. Probably Pitman?

Feb 20, 2018

Collecting log: Dead End Street, an Israeli soundtrack 12" one-sided EP

The vinyl format of 12-inch single/EP came into popularity in the 1970's for commercial releases. The first ever Springsteen's commercial title in this format was Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), backed with Racing In The Street and Night (CBS 12.7753), that was issued relatively late, back in 1979 in Holland. When 7-inch singles were cut from the albums in the 1980's, almost without exceptions (with the exception of single releases from NEBRASKA), 12-inch counterparts were simultaneously released as either or both of regular and promotional discs.

The 12-inch vinyl came in a matt-surfaced sleeve. The replica sleeve has circulated for long on collector's market, and reportedly, has rather glossy surface without a red promo sticker on the rear. By the way, could someone translate loads of Hebrew writings on the rear sleeve?
Upper: A red promo notification sticker is pasted on the
rear sleeve with both Hebrew and English writings. Lower:
The same sticker is also used for other Israeli releases.
Shown is a copy of the GREETINGS ... LP (CBS 32210)
(photo taken from Springsteenrecords).
I remember every time I saw at a record store such a new 12-inch release from BORN IN THE U.S.A. that was manufactured in and imported from the US or Europe, I used to buy a copy, for to do so was the fastest way to get a rare non-album track that was otherwise not available on standard album releases (Back then, I valued 12-inch more than 7-inch simply because the former contains extra tracks and theoretically provides better sound quality). Around in 1985, however, I learned that such purchase often resulted in waste of money because those "rare" tracks appeared again on later releases, or 12-inch vinyl discs were repacked for resale. The greediest case I recall was the UK release of The Born In The U.S.A. 12" Single Collection (CBS BRUCE 1) that put together the four already released 12-inch vinyls, even though it came in a nice-looking box that contained the then-latest 7-inch single (I'm Goin' Down/Janey Don't You Lose Heart) and a fold-out poster as bonus. Since then, for mainly this reason, 12-inch vinyls have not been my primary collecting format although I do pick them up when I see a rarity or a good deal, especially for European releases in the mid-1990's (see here for 12-inch related blogs).

Spine printing (the catalog number, tittle and artist name) is also used as a proof of a genuine copy and as a measure to distinguish it from a replica sleeve.
Before the flood of 12-inch releases that are largely ignored, there were a few real collector's gems out there. The best known example is Killer Tracks From The River (CBS/SONY XDAP 93030), the Japanese promotion-only 12-inch disc released in 1981. However, in terms of pure rarity (and peculiarity), I would rather take Kvish L'Lo Motzah (CBS DJ 428) in a Hebrew title, better known as Dead End Street, a 12-inch soundtrack to the 1982 Israeli movie with the same title. Readers of this blog do not require thorough explanation for this mega collectible (If necessary, visit the Lost In The Flood collector's site or the Killing Floor databse). It is in a unique vinyl format (one-sided 3-track EP), features an unusual track (Jungleland) for single/EP cut, and most probably represents the only soundtrack release containing Springsteen's original recordings exclusively.

Contrary to the information available on collector's sites, the matrix number on the playing side is 
not hand-etched but machine-stamped as "DJ428A Q". In addition, there is a hand-written symbol
that looks like "C1". Do these mean that mine is a bogus copy?
However, what is most interesting on this vinyl is how it came to be released. It is well known that Suki Lahav played the definitive role in that. Needless to say, Suki was a female violinist of the E Street Band back in 1974-1975, also contributing as a backing vocalist to studio recording and live performances. She disclosed the background story concisely and clearly, when she had an interview by the Backstreets Magazine, which is featured on the 16th issue (published spring 1986), as part of a continuous series of interviews with former E Streeters such as Vini Lopez and Ernest "Boom" Carter. Asked if she's been in touch with Springsteen since her departure from the band and homecoming to Israel, she answered as follows:
  • About four years back, a film producer friend of mine wanted to use three of Bruce's songs for an Israeli film of his. He had trouble getting the okay from CBS. So I called Bruce up on the phone. It took a few days to find him at home but in the end he answered.
  • He was really pleased to hear from me and right away said that there's no problem in using these songs ("Jungleland," "Hungry Heart" and "Point Blank"). He was really nice about it. CBS made a promotional disc of that film with those three songs on it. I heard it's become quite a collector's item being that they only had thirty printed.

The plain label on the blank side has some Hebrew writings. The blue-inked memo on a white square sheet
was provided by the seller for the translation to English. Luie (Louis) Lahav is the ex-husband of Suki and
worked as the sound engineer on Springsteen's first two albums.
In this interview, what caught my attention is the copy number of the vinyl disc. She mentioned only 30 copies made. This number is way smaller than 100 copies reported in other sources such as Lost In The Flood.  In spring, 1997, the Backstreets Records put on sale a copy via auction with minimum bids of US $800, with the following descriptions:
  • Less than ten of these items have ever been known to come into collector's hands. 
  • The original run must have been less than 100.
Whether Suki's information is accurate or not remains unknown, and to my knowledge, there are no other sources of information regarding the pressing number of this 12-inch. As far as I've seen, Dead End Street appeared on collector's markets, including online auction, with much less frequency when compared to the aforementioned Killer Tracks From The River. So, in my sense, what she told seems realistic, or close to real, even though she was not a staff member of CBS Records or involved in the vinyl production.

I have no idea whether the accompanying inner bag is an
original or replaced one.
Finally, a few notes on my copy. I obtained it through eBay around in 2000 from a second-hand record shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. Back in the early years, it was rather rare that eBay auctions resulted in outrage high prices that have generally seen in the recent 10 years or so for extremely rare collectables like this one. So, it won't be possible these days to purchase a copy at the same expense (probably costing the double, at least). Notably, there is a big difference from what is being said about the matrix number on the run-off groove area of the playing side. According to the relevant information currently available on internet, "DJ 428A" is hand-etched on the dead wax. As pictured above, however, it is machine-stamped on my vinyl copy and exactly to be "DJ 428A Q". Unless mine is a fake copy, such uncertainness or errors as to copy number and dead wax information rather reflects how difficult to obtain accurate information on this peculiar release, hence its degree of rarity.