Look What’s Back! Bootleg Vinyl!

The first known example of a successful bootleg was an unauthorized Bob Dylan collection of–ahem–misplaced tracks called Great White Wonder which a couple of hippies sold out of the trunk of their car in the late 60s. From then on, trusted customers could go into indie record stores and ask the guy behind the counter if they had any “special” releases. There were crackdowns, of course, but the bootleggers always seemed to be one or two steps ahead.

In the CD era, bootleggers moved offshore to jurisdictions with lax copyright laws or copyright regimes with giant loopholes. Among the best of the CD bootleg labels was KTS (short for Kiss the Stone) which managed to crank out plenty of unauthorized live CDs–many taken directly from the soundboard–along with collections of demos and outtakes. I may have one or two KTS discs in my collection. Maybe three.

The digital era rendered physical bootlegs obsolete. Why go through all the trouble of manufacturing and distributing when you could just put them online? The owner of a bootleg-friendly store I frequent in the Caribbean laments “It’s impossible to get them anymore. The Internet has killed everything!” (Note that I’m not talking about counterfeit CDs, fakes manufactured to look like the real thing; for the purposes of this discussion, I’m only concerned about Great White Wonder-like boots.)

But now that vinyl is back, so is, somewhat surprisingly, is the vinyl bootleg. I say “surprisingly” because the number of vinyl pressing plants is a fraction of what it was in the 60s and 70s. Who’s making these things? Don’t they have another legitimate back orders to keep the presses running 24/7 for months? Yet if you know where to look, there they are.

Bandwagon, a site of Singapore (a former CD bootleg capital), takes a look at how everything old is new again.

Recently in the news, reports surfaced about how the recent Kanye West album, The Life of Pablo, has been hitting record stores on clear and pink vinyl.

The kicker? Kanye declared that The Life of Pablo will never be released on physical formats, and while his statements have been famously hyperbolic in the past, the album was never issued for vinyl by the rapper, nor his record label.

Copies being sold in record stores and online have been confirmed as counterfeits, pressed by an independent source in Europe. The records were pressed with the initial leaked MP3s as a source, as most copies have been found with the leak’s erroneous track order that places ‘Facts’ twice at the end, replacing the proper last track ‘Fade’.

Read on!

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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