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Unreal but real musical discoveries

Thursday 9/21/23

When I could first drive--something I last did in 2016, I believe--I went to record stores. That was my primary interest/motivation, I think, in being able to drive. Rare music! Bootlegs!

There was one record store in Connecticut called Gerosa Records, which was my favorite and is still there. I follow them on Facebook. I could spend hours inside. (And it was also near the place that did the best job sharpening skates, so I could hit up the pro shop, too.) They had the unreleased records I craved, posters from the Fillmore on the walls, issues of Creem and Rolling Stone from the 1970s.

I recall getting a copy of the Yardbirds BBC sessions on vinyl. It wasn't on CD at the time. The idea of hearing the Jeff Beck era Yardbirds live...even now I get excited. To come home from school and listen to the Yardbirds on the Beeb? Wow. (Actually: The other day I found a very rare BBC recording of "Rack My Mind," which has never been collected on any of the official BBC Yardbirds sets.)

I was so into that, and in a way, I'm more into it now. I'm not less enthused by the idea, and I look forward to listening to that music in the place I wish to be when I get there. To do that, create my work knowing that it will go where it needs to go and have its chance to do what it can do, will be heaven to me.

Tall tales abound in such places. One time there was this guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy--it's always like that--who had tapes of the Yardbirds in the studio with Beck and Jimmy Page on duel lead guitars. He didn't mean the official version of "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago." He meant--or that was the implication--hours of unreleased stuff. You didn't really believe things like this, but you very much wanted them to be true. And then maybe someday...

I have been experiencing a lot of those somedays coming to fruition of late. There has been a run on such somedays. When I was sixteen, the Beatles show I wanted to hear more than any other was the show they did at Stowe School in April 1963. Stowe School was an all-boys school, so the boys sat there and the Beatles, fresh off the release of Please Please Me, and before the release of "From Me to You," did their thing. I never expected there was a tape. Wasn't anything I entertained. But there was, and now I've heard it and written about it and that goes into a book.

Also of late I've seen all of the surviving footage of the February 10, 1967 recording session of "A Day in the Life" for which the orchestra was on hand. I've listened to the "missing link" first BBC session the Beatles did with Ringo Starr in October 1962. I've heard the Beatles play "From Me to You" and "Please Please Me" at EMI House as a "thank you" to staffers.

These were never things I thought I'd experience, but they turn up. Call it one of the few positive things about the internet. I had mentioned the Stone Roses studio session for "Elephant Stone." Here's another good one of late: the Who at the Village Theatre in July 1967. They did "The Ox" on stage!" I didn't see that coming, either the performance or the tape. And right up there, too, is Nick Drake alone at the piano for the first three takes of "Saturday Sun." It's just him getting started on the song. You're there, listening in.

It's crazy, this stuff. The tall tales come to fruition. Maybe there is hope for those Beck-Page Yardbirds sessions.


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