Waxing your (boot)legs

Continuing my journey through a milk crate of dusty old records purchased decades ago and only recently unearthed for the sake of personal enjoyment, we have this thing:


I was digging through a record bin back in college when I came across this thing. It says “Genesis” in the corner, and I definitely recognize the band’s late ’70s live lineup. But the logo is taken from the early ’70s Peter Gabriel era, and anyway, it looks like someone sat down with a bunch of photos and a pair of scissors and made a collage of the band with a champion Minecraft streamer’s prom photo. By the time I saw this, I knew the entire Genesis catalog inside and out, and this definitely wasn’t part of it. Baffled, I dropped the five bucks the shop wanted for this mysterious album and took it home.

As it turns out, this is a vinyl copy of From the Mouth of the Monster, a widely circulated bootleg of a live performance in Chicago circa 1978. I had no idea before this point that bootleg albums ever showed up in wax; to me, that circle of music struck me as something relegated to easily produced cassettes and, eventually, compact discs. Manufacturing a record is a complex multi-part process that involves very expensive equipment, so to see someone had pulled it off with an illicit recording really surprised me.

I could find no information on this thing at the time and totally forgot about it. I was impressed not only with its existence, but with the actual quality of the recording. It’s not up to the standards of an official release from the era, but for a bootleg it’s damn good. Clearly not something some jackass recorded with a condenser mic/microcassette player tucked into their pocket.

A mystery! But that was then. Thanks to the fact that the Internet is a much more prevalent thing now than it was 20 years ago, I was able to learn in practically no time at all that From the Mouth of the Monster was taken from a mixing board recording of a live performance that was broadcast on a Chicago radio station in support of the album …And Then There Were Three…, which is where the title (a lyric from that record’s “The Lady Lies”) comes from. Unlike my radio pressing of Misplaced Childhood, this double LP doesn’t sell for much — $30, maybe. I did happen to luck into what is considered the best version of the record, the first pressing.

So, if I ever want to listen to a substandard recording of my least-favorite ’70s Genesis album, I’m set.

3 thoughts on “Waxing your (boot)legs

  1. My dad showed me one of his bootleg records many years ago, when I was just a lad. I remember having similar thoughts, along the lines of, “If this is an illegal recording, how did they sneak the recording equipment in and then make a whole record?” I imagined a guy sneaking just off-stage with a microphone.

    • The bar can be pretty low on bootlegs, even officially released ones. I have some “legit” CDs that were clearly sourced from audience recordings, with people chattering and making obnoxious comments throughout.

  2. I have a couple of vinyl bootlegs as curios that I’ll probably never play. The record store I worked at in college worked a pretty decent trade in CD bootlegs in the late 90s, actually, but had bailed in them by the time I had graduated.

    I like how you mentioned that this was a widely circulated recording. It makes me miss the days where a person would still have to go to record shows or seedy stores to find what were considered “widely circulated” boots. I guess it’s nice for people to find whatever they want on the internet, but like old video games, there’s a social aspect of hunting this stuff down that’s lost in ether.

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