Friday, August 5, 2011


I often think back to the way things were when I first started getting into music, and collecting records and tapes.  In the 70's, my teen years, you had vinyl, which was a must, 8-tracks which were a joke, and cassettes, which we were starting to use for mix tapes, and copying rare and cool stuff from friends.  Oh, and bootlegs!  I remember checking out those shady ads in the back of Rolling Stone, and sending away for catalogues of illicit tapes, scratchy live recordings and muddy demos of our favourites.  I still have most of those boot tapes, which I treasured as holy relics at that time.

My how the 'net has changed it all.  In the 70's, information was scarce about what your heroes were playing on the road.  Now, it seems a miracle to me that I can access an archive of any performer, find out what they played last night or in 1976, and probably find a recording of it.  I've never been one for file sharing, and I wouldn't know a bit torrent if it bit me on the bum, but if this stuff had been around in my crazed fan days, I can assure it I'd have been in hog heaven, snatching up Beach Boys Smile sessions or Neil Young live shows.

Since I now review so much stuff, I don't have time to collect everything out there by my favourites, but since I'm at a cottage this week with the kids, life is a little more relaxed.  Trolling thrrough Facebook, I saw a posting from one of the Neil Young sites, advertisting Rust Radio.  Now, this is a satellite, fan-run webcast, dedicated to Neil music.  And not just any Neil music, it only plays live concerts.  All day long.  Every day.  The site has dozens, hundreds, access to thousands of hours, no doubt all collected through the fan community.  Turning it on, I found excellent streaming quality, and got hooked immediately.  It was a 1986 show from St. Louis, on the Rusted-Out Garage Tour.  This was Young's first jaunt with Crazy Horse since the Rust Never Sleeps days, and his first tour since dissolving the country band.  He had a stage show, with the concept being that this, the 3rd-best garage band in the city, was rehearsing, much to the chagrin of neighbours and Mom.  I remember seeing a special satellite broadcast of one show on pay-per-view way back then, such was the rare nature of live rock in those days.

Not now, obviously.  As I listen to such obscure numbers as Too Lonely, Road Of Plenty and Prisoners Of Rock 'n' Roll from this show, I realize that nothing is truly rare anymore.  As soon as somebody gets a tape, it's on the 'net for everybody.  I love the fact that all this stuff I had only ever heard of can now be heard in a short series of clicks.  But I also miss the thrill of the search, and the mystery too.  Oh well.  I'm now addicted to Rust Radio, and obviously Neil doesn't have a problem with it, since his management is often in contact with the fan site that directed me to it.  I guess I can toss those old cassettes finally.

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