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Velvet Underground Set List

I’ve always loved set lists–those ephemeral pieces of paper with a list of the songs to be played at a particular concert, usually written out by an artist or band member before the show. These days, they’re often typed out on a computer, printed out, and taped on the ground in front of each band member’s monitor by a roadie. But back in the day, they were usually scribbled out quickly by a band member on whatever scrap of paper was handy, and set down somewhere close to whoever was going to call out the songs.

Often left on the stage after the show, these were sometimes snatched up by wise fans–and just as often thrown in the trash by someone with no sense of history. Thank god, then, that the late Velvet Underground guitarist Sterling Morrison had a real sense of history. Sterling was one of those artists who seemingly saved everything–he had a great collection of Velvets records, acetates, posters, handbills–and he even saved the setlists.

Above is a Velvet Underground set list (handwritten by Sterling) for their January 15, 1970 date at The Quiet Night in Chicago. The band played a week’s worth of gigs at this club, and as we can see from this, played multiple sets each night. The songs date from the first 3 Velvets albums (their most recent was the self titled “The Velvet Underground”, released in March, 1969) as well as some songs that remained unreleased until much later. Their final album (OK, the final one with Lou Reed,) “Loaded” wouldn’t be released until September of 1970. I’d love to hear from anyone out there who might have other set lists they want to share–or perhaps sell. I’m always on the lookout for this type of unique item.

BOB DYLAN IN 1964: Over, “but at least he wrote five or six great songs while he lasted”

Here’s something that truly qualifies as American history–a letter from Sis Cunningham, founder of folk song magazine BROADSIDE, to Ralph J. Gleason, legendary music critic, dated November 5, 1964. In it, Cunningham responds to questions Gleason has asked about the origins of the topical song movement.

Cunningham also relates the most recent Dylan news, and gives her read on his songwriting–remember, she was the first to publish Dylan’s songs (in Broadside) and was among the earliest of his enthusiastic supporters. In this letter, written a mere 5 days after Dylan’s historic “Halloween Concert” at Philharmonic Hall in New York, Cunningham tells Gleason about a Dylan backlash brought on by his abandonment of the topical song, relating that some of Dylan’s followers consider his career at an end, consoling themselves that “he wrote five or six great songs while he lasted.”

Cunningham tells Gleason how ridiculous she thinks this is, shares her opinion of Dylan as an important poet, and relates how Johnny Cash wrote a letter supporting Dylan to BROADSIDE that said “SHUT UP, and let him sing !” This is the most articulate and right-on defense of Dylan I’ve ever read. She truly “got” Dylan, and it’s fascinating to read such a prescient appraisal of his talent, so early on. Note also her brief defense of the Beatles at the end of the letter.
42 years later, it’s an amazing thing to read–and I think we would all agree that he managed a few more than 5 or 6 great songs.

More Virtual Museum: John Hammond’s Own Acetate of “Gospel Plow” from Bob Dylan’s first album

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People seemed to enjoy the George Harrison lyrics posted here last week (under the title “The Virtual Museum,”) so I’m going to try to make this a regular feature of the blog, and post more ultra rare goodies that may be of interest to collectors and others interested in artifacts that tell the story of popular music.

Above is John Hammond’s personal acetate for “Gospel Plow,” from Bob Dylan’s 1962 self-titled debut album. Hammond, in my opinion the greatest A&R (artist & repertoire) Man of the 20th century, discovering and/or signed Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughn and of course Bob Dylan.

Hammond signed Dylan to Columbia Records in 1961, and became his first producer and chief promoter. His belief in Dylan was so complete–even in the face of a complete lack of sales–that Dylan was known around Columbia Records as “Hammond’s Folly.” The acetate pictured above is a historic artifact of Dylan and Hammond’s earliest work together–a disc of Dylan’s recording of “Gospel Plow” from the sessions for his first album (this song was recorded in one take, on November 22, 1961–the second and final day of the recording sessions for his first album.) Hammond produced these sessions, and this one-sided 10″ disc has the only take recorded of this song.

Individual acetates of each song were cut for Hammond, and used by him to review the song choices and sequence the album. This acetate was given by Hammond to Missy Staunton, who worked as assistant to Billy James, Dylan’s publicist at Columbia. In Staunton’s letter which accompanied this disc, she explains that working with James “I first got to know John Hammond and other A&R people” and “I went to recording sessions and everyone knew I loved music, so sometimes I would be offered acetates when people were done with them.” As with all Columbia Records acetates of this era, there is no label, but the master number (CO 68748,) take number (TK 1,) song title and “B.Dylan” are written in the center in grease pencil. Note that “J. Hammond” is written on the sleeve at the top left corner, indicating who this disc was to be sent to. It’s a pretty extraordinary feeling to hold in your hands one of the first few discs ever to contain Bob Dylan’s music–and one that John Hammond himself used to compile Dylan’s first album. Available on Recordmecca. (Why sell something so historic ? I’m fortunate enough to have acquired 3 different Hammond/Dylan’s acetates from the first album, so I decided to cut this one loose.)

The Virtual Museum: George Harrison’s Handwritten Everly Brothers Lyrics

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Sometimes, even after 36 years of buying, selling and collecting rare records and music memorabilia, I get a REALLY special package in the mail–something that just blows me away, that leaves me shaking my head, muttering “unbelievable, just unbelievable” to myself (I know–it’s not a pretty picture.) And the humble, 8″ folded and creased piece of paper pictured above is just that kind of thing. On it are the lyrics to two Everly Brothers songs, “So Sad” and “Like Strangers,” written out by the not yet famous George Harrison, in 1960.

The Everly Brothers were a great influence on the Beatles, and it’s been written that Lennon and McCartney consciously copied the Everlys two-part harmonies on “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me.” Harrison no doubt transcribed these lyrics so he could learn these songs; both were big hits (and would have been written out by George) in the second half of 1960–a particularly important time for the Beatles. They spent August through November 1960 playing in Hamburg at the Indra Club and The Kaiserkeller–for 106 nights !– then returning in December to the Casbah Coffee House in Liverpool (the basement club owned by Pete Best’s mother, Mona.) Frank Caiazzo, the world’s foremost authority on Beatle handwriting and signatures, has authenticated these, and told me “it’s very likely the Beatles were considering performing these songs live at some point, although it has not been documented that they ever did…This is a very rare and historic piece of Beatles memorabilia, and one of the earliest Harrison lyrics in existence.” Amazingly, George’s father held onto these until the late 1970’s, when he gave them to a young fan who visited him at his house in Appleton, Cheshire, England. I was fortunate to obtain these directly from that fan–these were previously unknown and have never been offered for sale before.

One of the reasons I started this blog is to share some really cool things that pass through my hands– this is truly a piece of history, and people should be able to enjoy it and learn from it, before it disappears into a private collection. Some of the pieces I’m fortunate enough to sell are very expensive–but there’s no reason they can’t be available to everyone (at least virtually) on the web. So I hope you find this interesting, whoever you are, and if you have any feedback ,email me at recordmecca@earthlink.net. And of course, if anyone out there has a lot of money burning a hole in your pocket, this is available on my website, Recordmecca.

Note: These have just been sold, the listing is still on the Recordmecca site for those interested in taking a look.

Mystery Solved ! Why “Bob Dylan In Concert” wasn’t released

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As Dylan fanatics know, in 1964 Columbia Records planned to release a live album titled “Bob Dylan In Concert” (see July 28 post here for more on this mythic LP.) For reasons previously unknown, the album was pulled from Columbia’s schedule and remains unreleased.

Recently I’ve had the privilege of purchasing some of the papers of the late Ralph J. Gleason, legendary music critic and friend of Dylan (who was hired to write the liner notes to “In Concert.”) While going through a box of files, I found a transcription of a 1969 interview Gleason had given to a college student who was writing a term paper on Dylan and his place in the music business. Gleason shares his insights about Dylan, tells many stories, and on page 16 sheds new light on “Bob Dylan In Concert” and why it wasn’t released.

Previously it had been thought that Dylan’s intense productivity during this time negated the “need” for a live album. Put quite simply, Dylan had written and recorded so many new songs that a decision was made to focus on studio recordings. But here we learn that Dylan was interested in issuing a live album, but for whatever reason, didn’t think this one worked (there were two different versions compiled for the “In Concert” album, but evidently he didn’t like either.)

It isn’t a big surprise to learn that Dylan scuttled the release himself, but if you’re like me, it’s great to finally hear the bottom line from somebody involved.

In the coming months, I’ll be sharing more from the Gleason collection on Dylan and other artists –and of course you can always find other interesting music collectibles on my website, Recordmecca

Counterfeit UK Osiris/Hapshash Posters

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One area I’ve been researching extensively is the UK concert posters made in the 1960’s by Osiris, especially those designed by Hapshash & The Coloured Coat (Michael English and Nigel Weymouth.) A few years back “newly discovered” copies of some of these came to the market in significant numbers—one story was that these were found by a former driver for The Beatles, another was the classic “the family of the original printer found them in the attic.”

Brad Rogers of whocollection.com has done pioneering research into this topic, and has shown convincingly that these “newly discovered” posters are nothing more than recent (and very high quality) counterfeits, being sold as genuine. I’ve spent a good deal of time speaking with Brad and comparing his examples to a small collection I bought (which had been in storage for 20+ years and were thus beyond the shadow of a doubt genuine.)

The counterfeits include:
Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore (the most common bootleg)
Pink Floyd CIA-UFO
The Who “I Can See For Miles”
The Who at the Saville Theater
Fifth Dimension Club Leicester
Tomorrow My White Bicycle
Arthur Brown OA 501
Julie Felix at the Royal Albert Hall
The Move at The Marquee
Pink Floyd at the UFO double size by Michael English.

The best way to know if a poster is genuine is to compare it to a known original—but if that isn’t possible, here’s the short version:

The originals are silkscreens, while the bootlegs are instead printed.
On the originals you can easily see areas where the screens (and thus layers of ink) didn’t exactly line up, and there is a bit of one
color bleeding out from underneath another color. There are also areas where a lot of one color of ink is built up over lot of another color ink, and there is a three dimensional aspect to the color. On the bootlegs, the ink flat as can be–clearly not ink on top of ink. On some of the original posters, you can see tiny silver flecks of ink over the solid color fields.

There is a lack of detail in the reproductions as well. And the paper used for the bootlegs just isn’t the same—as Brad says, “it looks brand new, because it is brand new.” I agree—my “like new” originals, carefully stored for more than 20 years, have aged—the paper has mellowed over 40 years. The bootlegs are bright white on the reverse.

For a really detailed explanation of how to tell the difference, I highly recommend Brad’s site—his research is without equal on this obscure but important subject:


The scan at the top is an original Who at the Saville Osiris/Hapshash poster available at Recordmecca—where we also have never bootlegged Jimi Hendrix at the Saville and Soft Machine/Arthur Brown at the UFO posters as well.

(and thanks Brad, for much info I’ve included here.)

My weird wild world

Though I’m in my 36th year of collecting records and music memorabilia, the subject still fascinates me and occupies most of my waking hours (ok, some of that is because of my website, Recordmecca, where I sell high-end rare records and music memorabilia– but I still spend altogether too much time thinking about this stuff in my “off” hours.)

I’m regularly traveling the world looking for records, concert posters, documents, ephemera or other music related stuff–or spending endless hours researching my finds online, in books, etc.–or talking to other like-minded individuals about the subject at hand.

So I figured a blog would be just the way to use up whatever minimal “non-record” time I have, and maybe share some of the more interesting stuff I’ve found for collection or my website, ask questions of the collector community, and talk about some of my research. So that’s my rationale. And here goes…

“Bob Dylan In Concert” acetates

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If you know me, you may know of my passion for collecting Bob Dylan stuff. I’ll be featuring many interesting Dylan collectibles in this space in the coming months– so I thought it only fitting to start off with something truly rare from Dylan –two original acetates of the unreleased 1964 album “Bob Dylan In Concert.”

This album was originally supposed to be released by Columbia Records between Dylan’s albums “Another Side of Bob Dylan” and “Bringing It All Back Home,” but was never issued, probably because Dylan was coming up with so much new studio material. Two different track listings were contemplated–version one with songs from Town Hall and Carnegie Hall, NYC, 1963; and version two with some substitutions thought to be from Royal Festival Hall, London, 1964. The legendary San Francisco music critic (and Dylan friend) Ralph J. Gleason was hired to write liner notes, but the album was never issued.

Over the years a few cover slicks for the album have surfaced–but to my knowledge, no vintage acetates have ever been found–until now. I was fortunate enough to obtain these from Gleason’s family–evidently once in a great while miracles do occur. (Gleason, while working at Fantasy Records in the 70’s, cut at least one duplicate of the second acetate–you can see it on the Searching For A Gem website–undoubtedly using the 1964 original above as a source.)

For those of us who love the details, here goes (notations transcribed exactly as they appear on the label stickers for the 1st acetate, and the sleeve for the 2nd disc):

Version One:
Job No. 77110-Ref Mono l Bob Dylan Att: T.Wilson
1) Ship Comes In 2) Davy Moore 3) Percy’s Song 4) NO Rag 5) Old Riley

Job No. 77110- Ref Mono ll Att: T.Wilson
1) Woody Poem 2) Lay Down Your Weary Tune 3) Dusty Old Fairgrounds 4) John Brown

Version Two:
Job 77182 Bob Dylan Side #l Tom Wilson
1. Davey Moore 2. The Gates of Eden 3. New Orleans Rag 4. Old Riley (Seven Curses) 5. The Walls of Redwing

Job 77182 Bob Dylan Side #ll Tom Wilson
1.If You Gotta Go 2. Mr. Tambourine Man 3. Hero Blues 4. Turn, Turn To the rain & The Wind 5. Eternal Circle

If you want to read more about the “Bob Dylan In Concert” LP, I highly recommend the wonderful SEARCHING FOR A GEM Dylan site (particularly these pages): http://www.searchingforagem.com/1960s/1964.htm
and http://www.searchingforagem.com/2000s/2004.htm

Sorry, but these aren’t for sale–but check out the Recordmecca site for some other very cool Dylan rarities.

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