Several collectors of bootlegs were asked what they considered the best of the illegal breed. The resulting list is meant not to condone or promote bootlegs (most of those mentioned have not been available for years, anyway), but to illustrate what attracts fans to boots in the first place.
The Rolling Stones, having remained active 17 years longer than the Beatles, are now just a step behind the Fab Four when it comes to bootleg popularity. Among the most mentioned live albums: "Bedspring Symphony" (1973 European tour); "Out on Bail" (a stereo sound board tape stolen from the Capital Theatre concert in 1978) and "Lacerated" (also from the 1978 American tour); "LIVE'r Than You'll Ever Be," from the Stones' 1969 Oakland Coliseum show, was out almost a full year before "Get Yer Ya-Yas Out." Other favorites of Stones buffs include "Trident Mixes" (a double album) and "Accidents Will Happen," unreleased studio material and alternate takes.
Among the Bruce Springsteen packages, collectors note these favorites: "All These Years" (the 10-record compilation that draws from many club dates between 1971 and 1982) and "E Ticket" (outtakes and alternates from "Born to Run" and "The Wild and the Innocent"); his recent world tour provoked a flurry of four-record sets (it was a long show, remember?), including "Wembley Stadium, July 4, 1985," "He's the Boss" (Newscatle, England) and "Kansas City, Here I Come."
Little Feat, a band that achieved its greatest popularity in Washington, is heard in great live performances on "Electric Lycanthrope," "Beak Positive" and "Aurora Backseat." Some of these albums reportedly were mixed by the group's leader, the late Lowell George, and since they featured covers by Neon Park, who did so many of Little Feat's covers, fans feel the band -- or at least George -- endorsed the bootleg process.
Notable Who compilations include "Who's Zoo," "Tales From the Who," "Live at the Fillmore East" (a 1968 concert that features an antismoking song written for the American Cancer Society) and "The Genius of Pete Townshend" (his demos of songs later done by the Who, including much of "Who's Next").
The better Beatles collections include "File Under Beatles" (live BBC material), two volumes of "Sweet Apple Trax" (taken from the 96 hours of "Let It Be" sessions, unfortunately not a peak creative period for the group); and most recently "Sessions," which has provoked an FBI crackdown, according to some collectors.
Bob Dylan favorites include the new "Ten of Swords" (which has virtually disappeared after a recent CBS crackdown; the price has already jumped from $60 to $300); the 1966 "Royal Albert Hall" album; "Passed Over and Rolling Thunder," a double album that includes the electric breakthrough at Newport, parts of the Rolling Thunder tour and five disparate takes of "Blood on the Tracks."
Other solid live boots focus on Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and the Band. The emphasis these days is on concert and broadcast boots; record companies and artists seem to be maintaining a much tighter control over work done in the studio.