Thursday, December 17, 2020

John Lee Hooker, Bedroom Boogie, 1976

This is another favorite I’ve played over and over. It really conveys the feeling of a crowded bar with a great blues band playing, which is basically the way I’d spend most nights if I could. That is exactly where it was recorded: In a Chicago club called Wise Fools Pub, which still exists. A couple of extra tracks tacked on at the end are from other sources.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Van Morrison's Moving Live Acoustic version of "Sweet Thing" from the Summer of 1971

For nearly two decades I’ve been collecting recordings of live performances of musical artists I like. These are unofficial recordings, more often than not captured by fans in the audience at a concert. Mostly they’re not as good as a commercially rerecording, If you know anything about the Grateful Dead, then you know that the majority of its performing history has been captured by fans.

Generally, I’ve assembled this collection by way of torrent trackers like Dimeadozen and The Trader’s Den. They tend to be in lossless formats like FLAC, and then for listening and easy portability, I convert them to MP3. But I also keep the originals so that I can share them with other collectors.

By far the biggest chunk of my collection is from Van Morrison. I’ve bought nearly every album he’s released, and seen him in concert about a half dozen times. But I’ve also managed to track down a significant portion of his live-performing history. Most Van fans will tell you that if they could get more of anything, it would be from this early 70s phase when his solo career post-Them! was on the rise.

The good news is that if you’re willing to do the work, there’s a considerable amount of this period’s performances in circulation. The bad news is that it never quite feels like enough. Each one is different in its own nuanced way, and once you hear one, it’s pretty easy to head down the rabbit hole and search for more. And so it went for me starting in about 2003.

Here is a preview is one track from a Van performance on Aug. 8, 1971. The venue was a club in San Anselmo, Calif. called The Lion’s Share during a period when he was living in the Bay Area and playing a lot of gigs up and down the state.

Van played two shows that night and opened both with an acoustic set. This version of “Sweet Thing” is from the later show.