There is an unlimited supply...

Bootlegs & The Rip Off Bastards That Sell Them

The Punk Rock memorabilia market has become flooded with bootleg re-presses over the last 3 years. First we encountered an epidemic of “God Save The Queen” on A&M – an amusing folly for those who can’t afford £6K for an original, I suppose – but fairly tacky, really. They were promptly followed by several batches of coloured vinyl pressings – each with their own inherent inaccuracy - & now - a very ltd chocolate pressing – in milk, plain & mint flavours.

Where will it end? Rumours of a ltd run of “Anarchy In The UK” acetates pressed on shellac with just a hint of lemon juice by a record company from Italy utilising the masters from a Pistol’s session recorded in 1978 featuring Ronnie Biggs on gtr & vocals, Martin Boreman on bass, Boogie on drums & Eddie Tenpole on keyboards cannot be confirmed or denied.

So, why do we bother? Bootlegs have long been the scourge of both artist & fan: poor quality unofficial recordings released without the artist’s permission. The groups get fuck all, the fans get ripped off, the bootleggers get richer - & quickly plan ever more convoluted “collectors items”.

The latest trend for coloured vinyl represses has taken the practice from the sublime to the ridiculous. Many younger fans have no idea they are buying ‘unofficial’ product - & can be forgiven for their continual patronage. The bootleggers, for their part, seem happy to imply that something is of genuine worth without actually coming clean & admitting that their lime green pressing of “New Rose” with the wrong b-side, incorrect catalogue number & “new artwork” is as worthwhile an acquisition as a Edward Hopper original painted by Rolf Harris.

The first commandment of the Record Collector’s ‘Ten Commandments’ clearly states that a record must be an original pressing to qualify as a genuine collectors item – as anyone who owns a Japanese built 1938 Rolls Royce Corniche will doubtless attest. That’s why Cherrie Blair goes all the way to China for her pearls.

Of course – there are always exceptions to the rule: “Spunk” by the Sex Pistols, “Time’s Up” by Buzzcocks, “Metallic KO” by Iggy & The Stooges – are 3 examples that spring to mind that are worthy of collection

So – how do we best combat these unsavoury practices? Here’s Marquee Smith’s comprehensive guide to beating the bootleggers:

1/ Whenever you see a dubious item listed on Ebay – contact the vendor asking a series of embarrassing questions.

2/ Contact all of your friends - & implore them to ask said vendor a further raft of difficult posers.

3/ Contact Ebay - & ask them why they continue to let unethical businesses take advantage of their members.

4/ Contact your MP – he/she has probably got loads of valuable old vinyl to sell you – as nearly all of today’s politicians used to be Punk Rockers - & he/she would never lie to you – like a nasty bootlegger. Politicians are all honest – compared to bootleggers.

5/ Don’t buy bootlegs.

At the close of play, bootleggers don’t care if an artist dies in poverty. They’re not bothered about chart returns, MCPS, royalties, top-line, song writing credits or actual ownership of the music – as long as they can sell you another copy of something you don’t actually need – they’ll be happy. Bootleggers don’t contribute towards a group’s rehearsal or recording costs – they don’t help them book shows to promote the bootleg – they don’t pay for rehab when the lead singer catches ‘lead singer syndrome’ or the bass player ODs on smack. No – they’re long gone – moved onto Time Share opportunities in Iran.

Tell ‘em like it us, kids. Don’t let these bastards steal your money.

Marquee Smith – tMx 21 – 09/05
Contact: - Punk Rock …and Roll