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Loose Booty 2: Smoking Pigs and Special Sauce
Los Angeles would have been a bone and bum shakingly brilliant place to be in 1970.It was not the sleb infected, fake titted and permatanned Sodom satire of today. Television, music, celebrity and even porn were far more focused on New York. There still were loads of other things to do - meat packing, oil, aircraft factories, a big port and more were at the city's economic core. Some of this still survives in the real, more blue collar parts of LA even today. The tiny "movie village" of Hollywood was far smaller, shabbier and less loud than today.LA felt, and was, cut off from a lot of the other cities and scenes around at the time. This meant that it was the safest, coolest place other than NYC to be as the hippies spread smell and hypocrisy over the land like a shower of tie dyed pig swill. The majestic compilation, Where the Action Is!: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968 shows that Rhino can still get it right.Being off the radar of the record industry also made LA ideal to create the bootleg recording industry. Last time, we introduced you to "Dub" Taylor and Ken Douglas. Two connected men of taste who released the Bob Dylan record everyone wanted but the artist himself. Then "Kum Back" an early version of Let it Be copied from an acetate reference rough mix made by or for the original producer, Glyn Johns.They coined it harder than an atomic slot machine, but didn't leave it there. Conditions were perfect. There were a load of top pressing plants ignored or ripped off by the majors only too happy to help. Major labels still did not understand the basic concepts of compilations or A whole gaggle of generationally defining artists were either dead, broken up, fucked up or sucking harder than a Wings B-side being played on an industrial vaccum. The cops quite rightly didn't give half a toss about bootleg records. The surviving giants were touring, often in massive arenas where a man wearing a broadcast reel to reel tape recorder covered in microphones and skill would be totally unnoticed.And so the magic began.On the 9th of November, 1969 the still vital as fuck Rolling Stones played Oakland. And as was the style of a freer, more generous era - they played twice. Early and Late. Dub Taylor was there - and for the first time an audience sourced bootleg was given a proper mastering job. Just a month after the show, it hit the stores - and the charts. Can you imagine a proper illegal LP being reviewed across the mainstream music press and even played on the radio.Live'r Than You'll Ever Be.It sure does not sound great. Even Metallic K.O. - a semi-sort-of-legal Stooges last concert record is clearer. What makes special is that all other Stones live material at the time was TV studio cleaned up or else subject to massive overdubbing and tampering by Decca. Like taking a bottle of Chivas and diluting it with tap water and orange squash. Blasphemy.Live'r is vital.Every Stones fan who was real ripped it out of the racks and took it home to love. Counting all the pirates of the bootleg, it went Gold with over 250,000 sold. Unlike so many bootlegs then and now, these LPs were created, mastered and compiled with love by real music fans dripping with technical skill.Trademark Of Quality, often shortened to TMOQ, became the hottest ticket to exclusive sounds in the early 70s. The early jacket designs of plain white with a simple stamp became iconic enough to be copied by Decca of all people for The Who's Live at Leeds.The original partnership of Ken and Dub released dozens of classic LPs featuring all the major acts of the day. Many were soundboard or taken from radio or TV.Of course, the trouble with illegal business is that anyone else can do it. TMOQ needed to make and maintain a strong brand to survive. They were fast, often releasing a bootleg of a show while a band was still in town. But standout was needed.And the Smoking Pig became the key.24 year old commercial artist, William Stout, who made his bread making adverts for Taco Bell, Toyota and the like, when not doing comic strips, wondered aloud in famed vinyl emporium, Record Paradise, why the lovely LP of a Led Zeppelin show he attended had a rubbish cover and something straight out of a film noir happened. You need to read the whole story, but it is so fucking fantastic on every level I owe it to you to rip it off wholesale:"Oh man," I said out loud, "this cover sucks. I wish someone would get me to do these covers."A guy tapped on my shoulder and whispered."You wanna do bootleg record covers?""Sure!""Selma and Las Palmas, this Friday night, eight o'clock. Be there."He paused."Alone."I agreed. That guy was "Ken".The intersection of Selma and Las Palmas at that time was one of the seedier Hollywood neighborhoods. Promptly at eight an old black 40's coupe with smoked windows pulled up to the corner and stopped. The passenger window opened a crack. A paper sheet came out of it. I took the sheet and read it. It said, "Winter Tour" and had a list of Rolling Stones songs.A voice inside the car said, "Next Friday, same time."The window rolled up.Then the window rolled back down a tiny bit."Alone."I drove back to my apartment and began work on the cover. I re-titled it "All Meat Music" and designed the cover as a tribute to Robert Crumb's Cheap Thrills cover for Big Brother & The Holding Company. Each song got a picture and each of the five Stones were featured in song illustrations.The following Friday I was back at Selma and Las Palmas at the appointed time. Alone. The same coupe drove up and stopped. The passenger window cracked a bit. I put the cover in the provided slot, like mailing a letter. A fifty-dollar bill came out in response, as if the car was some kind of bizarre ATM machine. Then the coupe drove away.Rolling Stones � Winter Tour (a.k.a. All Meat Music) came out within two weeks of the concert. The cover made it stand out and it sold very well. TMQ commissioned more covers."And so the golden age of the bootleg got even more shiny, until personalities, money and artistic differences began to appear - and the Smoking Pig began to swing in a different direction....
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