My Bloody Valentine Bootlegs
Since My Bloody Valentine reformed a couple of years back, there’s been a considerable upsurge in the number of MBV bootlegs circulating in various digital and analogue formats. This has been exacerbated by a number of factors – much of MBV’s back catalogue remains out of print, promised re-issues are endlessly delayed and the band seems willing to let high-quality recordings of every live show circulate freely.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of all this grey market activity has been the emergence of four previously unheard demo recordings – possibly abandoned songs from the Glider sessions. The authenticity of these recordings has been called into question but if they’re fakes, they’re extremely nuanced ones (unlike the track “Explosive” which purported to be an MBV demo a couple of years back).
In any case, they’re great tunes that bridge the musical gap between Isn’t Anything and Glider. The best of the bunch is “Kevin Song”, which manages to prolong a nonchalant sonic swoon for the entirety of its three-and-three-quarter minutes. “Kevin Song” is also probably the most suspicious of the newly emerged demos. After all, if you’d written a song this good, wouldn’t you have finished recording it properly? Maybe we can’t hold Kevin Shields to such standards of reasonable human behaviour.
Real or fake, the demos have been circulating on various home-made “outtakes and rarities”-type compilations. For the most part, these comps have done a good job of making familiar rarities (“Sugar”, the Isn’t Anything bonus 7″, the post-Loveless cover versions) available in 320k MP3 format. Aside from the demos, the only really unforeseen item to have emerged from this rarity-swapping frenzy has been the full 10-minute version of “Glider”.
You’d be forgiven for getting the urge to hear some of this stuff on vinyl. A few years ago, the idea of listening to these kinds of MBV rarities on wax would have seemed pretty far-fetched. But given all the vinyl bootlegs that have been appearing recently, who knows?
The most welcome of these vinyl bootlegs must be Things Left Behind, which previously appeared as a CD, collecting the pre-Creation E.P.s Geek, The New Record by My Bloody Valentine, Sunny Sundae Smile and Strawberry Wine. The new vinyl version unfortunately does not include the Strawberry Wine E.P. (which apparently features a version of its title track different from the one which appeared on the more widely available compilation Ecstasy & Wine). The vinyl also ditches the CD’s already rather chintzy cover design for a low-grade recreation of the You Made Me Realise sleeve.
Luckily, far more care and attention has been put into the audio quality of this release. Indeed, the Things Left Behind LP presents early MBV material in astonishingly high-quality audio, on nice thick vinyl – a real boon to those of us who only previously had access to vinyl rips in sub-128k MP3 format.
Perhaps it’s silly to quibble over what form these E.P.s are delivered in, as they hardly represent the band’s best work. Nevertheless, Sunny Sundae Smile, in particular, is really quite charming. What’s more, this compilation presents the only viable way to get that E.P. and The New Record by… on vinyl, without paying $150 each for the originals.
So, will there be a vinyl album of demos and out-takes? Stranger things have happened. Or perhaps another common CD bootleg will find its way onto wax – the legendary Loom: Live in Vancouver. If nothing else, that would be a treat for MBV’s Vancouverite fans (in lieu of the band actually coming to play here again).
As previously implied, Loom is just one of many, many live MBV recordings one might find floating around online. A particularly entertaining example is Live at Dingwalls 1988. This is a fairly astonishing recording, in which Kevin goes on a series of rants against the venue’s negligent sound-men – even urging the audience to “smash the place up” at one point.
As a recording of an actual My Bloody Valentine show, it’s a mixed bag. The audio fidelity is extremely poor and the “apocalypse” section of “You Made Me Realise” is severely truncated to make way for another rant. But it does capture the band at an important transitional faze, mixing pre-Creation tunes with classic era material and concluding with a storming nine-minute version of “Clair”.
(*The image at the top of this post was found by doing a Google image search for “Kevin Shields angry”.)