Friday, August 1, 2014

Flea Market Blues

Oh man, the days I spent at the flea market off of Route 22 in Watchung during my lazy drunken high school days. Cheap, sticky back issues of Swank, a couple illegal butterfly knives and bootleg live tapes fucking galore. Amazingly, there were actual levels of bootleg legitimacy within the cardboard crates of dusty yellowed cassettes. You could find some semi-legit ones - especially if you were considering a well-known musician like Jimi Hendrix - such glossy, pro-printed boots as From This Day On and The Last Experience are familiar to even casual collectors of the guitar legend. Then there was the next level, adequate cassette copies of bootleg LPs - a cheapo xeroxed copy of The Who's Who Dunit? comes to mind but there were fucking thousands of them. Usually first generation copies on unlabeled TDK60s complete with all the pops and cracks of a shitty record player. Then there were the boxes and boxes of bootleg live shows. Utterly disorganized, barely labeled and akin to looking for a peanut in a pile of shit, these wretched excuses for music usually didn't cost more then $2 and were hardly worth the price. Case in point: a hand-scrawled copy of Suicidal Tendencies' 1984 show at the Rollerworks in Chatsworth, CA dubbed over tape #3 of some Learn French In 30 Days cassette series. The audio equivalent of trying to watch scrambled 80's cable porn, this is probably the lowest quality piece of media I've ever heard and that's saying something. Sounding like it originally was recorded with a Walkman buried in someone's pocket, this worthless tenth-generation dupe ups the ante by appearing to be dubbed by two boomboxes set across the room from one another. In short, the show is barely listenable which is a shame because it is actually a really good show and it would be something else to hear it for real. Under 20+ decibels of tape hiss the band cuts through most of its Frontier Records debut - guitarist Grant Estes and drummer Amery Smith really show off their skills, casually diverging from the traditional arrangements off the album with aplomb. Mike Muir runs around yelling like an idiot but hey, he was barely 21 at the time so easily forgiven. I ripped the download that stands before you off of that cassette and tried as much as I could to clean it up but it still sounds fucking terrible and is for ST completists only. Interestingly, the guy who originally(?) taped it tacked on the demo version of "I Saw Your Mommy" (from the 1984 Mystic Records Mystic Sampler #1 LP) at the end and its the only good-sounding thing on this. Try to enjoy a strange snapshot of L.A. skater hardcore circa '84 and don't let the hiss get ya down.

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