The 50 Best Bootlegs…Ever!

There used to be a very brisk trade in physical bootlegs on vinyl, CD and tape (I may or may not have one or two. Let’s just leave it at that.) And while there are millions of recordings of–ahem–dubious provenance on the Internet, there’s nothing like actually holding one of these things in your hand.  The subset of record collectors who look for these recordings have their own Holy Grails.

Uncut has done everyone in this subculture a solid by listing the fifty best bootlegs ever issued.  Of these, I may have only a couple including Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg by The Clash. But I’m not sayin’.

Recorded 1981, London, New York, Sydney

Rat Patrol… was meant to be The Clash’s fifth studio album. Conceived by Mick Jones as a double album, the plan was to continue the theme of a global rock’n’roll jukebox the band had staked out with its predecessor, Sandinista!. But Jones’ 15-track, 65-minute mix was rejected by Joe Strummer; Glyn Johns was brought in to edit it down to a single album: Combat Rock. Johns’ edits are cleaner and shorter (“Sean Flynn” loses three minutes, and its tropical atmosphere), but on “Overpowered By Funk”, the Rat Patrol version is closer to the skittish playfulness (and indulgence) of Sandinista!. There’s a sense of intimacy, too, on Mick Jones’ “Death Is A Star”, which is absent from the released version. Combat Rock ditched five Rat Patrol cuts. Three remain unreleased. “Walk Evil Talk” is seven minutes of jazzy atmosphere. “Kill Time” is a Caribbean shuffle. Ironically, “The Beautiful People Are Ugly”, later reworked by Topper Headon as “Casablanca”, would sit happily next to Strummer’s solo work.
Sound quality: Good, occasional murkiness
See also: D.O.A. (Demos, Outtakes, Alternates)
Read more here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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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