Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Album of the Week 12/25/06
Iced Earth - Live at Metro Chicago, IL 04-20-04

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Suggested by: MJ

MJ: So to cap off 2006, I thought it only fitting to pay homage to my greatest musical discovery of 2006: a bit torrent site giving users the ability to share and download live bootlegs. It’s been an eye-opening experience and an exciting journey. Definitely the best thing to happen to my personal music experience since the mp3 player.

First, I will defend the practice of sharing live bootlegs. I personally think it should be far down on any copyright infringement enforcement task list, and best if omitted completely. Now, let me clarify – I used the word “sharing”. This site is specifically for those of us who want to listen to this stuff for our own pleasure, not to take these live recordings, package them, and sell them for profit. Also, the site will ban downloads that include any officially released material. For instance, if an artist used a live recording for a greatest hits package or a bonus track, the “offending” tracks have to be removed in order to let users continue downloads. They have their shit together, and they are providing this site for music lovers only. I’m a BIG fan of this site.

As far as the argument goes that you are ripping off the artists, I just don’t buy it. Of the bands I download from this site (and I think this is the case with most other users), in most cases I have purchased most of their official releases. I’ve given them plenty of my money. I just want more material to listen to. In most cases, the stuff that I have downloaded will NEVER be considered for an official release (case in point – this AOTW). But just because the record companies will never agree to release it due to suboptimal sound or the doubt that it will be a commercial success, does that mean that rabid fans should be denied these unique performances? What a damn shame that would be…

So enough defending this practice – let’s get into how I found this site, and why and how it’s changed me. Completely by coincidence prior to learning about the torrent site, I was at the library in the music section looking for a book. I came across the book “Bootleg: The Secret History Of The Other Recording Industry” by Clinton Heylin. I really got it as a backup in case the book that I came for sucked (it did). So I really enjoyed this book, but it was very dated. It was written before the whole mp3 craze and music downloading. Then unrelated to this book, I kept thinking how cool it would be to have video of Queensryche back in the day – specifically on the Rage For Order tour. I had been reading a QR message board and there was a section called “The Art Of Live” where people talk about live shows they have, etc. The problem is, anywhere I saw people talking about this it always required that you had to have something to trade with them (that they would want) to get their goods. I posted a question asking people how they got started and any suggestions for me who doesn’t have squat. A couple of folks sent me personal messages and led me to the torrent site. Ever since, I’ve been going nuts. There have been times that I have bordered on obsession. Anyway, one of the guys on the QR site started a QR DVD “torrent war” on the site so I could download a bunch of great stuff. That was the coolest thing. At first I just thought it was a coincidence, but then I emailed the guy and he pretty much fessed up that he was behind it. Very cool…

[Man, I’m kind of rambling here, but I’ll try to wrap this up and get to the point!]

I was never really into bootlegs before. I always thought it was weird how some people collect basically every show from the favorite artists. I just didn’t get it. But the fact of the matter is that I love live music. I love the whole experience of a live concert: scoring tickets, the build-up before the show, the minute the lights go out and you know this thing is ON!, the crowd, an obscure song a band plays, the feeling that you are hearing the best live music playing in town right at that particular moment, getting blown away by something, etc., etc. So this leads me to my ranking of treasures in the realm of bootlegs:

1. A show you were
2. A show from a tour you saw
3. An historic concert from a tour that you didn’t see
4. A show/tour that you missed that you are now kicking yourself for
5. A show from a band that you are thinking about getting into
6. A show from a band that you are thinking about going to see
7. A show from a band that you are definitely going to see when they come around

Those last two are ranked low because it can kind of ruin your live experience when you see the show. I’ve kind of ruined this a bit by looking at setlists beforehand, but this would be the ultimate. What I have done in the past is gone ahead and downloaded these, but in the case of #6, just listen to a little bit, and in the case of #7, not listen to until after the show I go to – but then I guess it turns into a #2. Obviously, within these rankings would include the sound/performance quality of each show, but you get my point.

So finally that brings me to the whole point of this – this week’s AOTW (finally!!!!)…

Well, Iced Earth Live in Chicago 2004 (April 20th, to be exact) was a show I was at, and a great recording to boot! Mark and I were pretty damn into Iced Earth and their new album, “The Glorious Burden” before this show. In fact, we went to see them again in Milwaukee a few days later. This bootleg gave me much more appreciation for what we saw. The singer, Tim “Ripper” Owens was absolutely wailing that night. And the riffs from Mr. Schaffer were awesome, as expected. What I think back as the greatest moment of the show by far was when they left the stage and the crew started rolling out old Civil War flags and it became evident that they were going to do “Gettysburg”, their 32-minute magnus opus from the new album. It was the highlight of the album for us, and definitely the highlight of the show. I don’t think they will ever do it in entirety again. So I feel lucky to have seen this tour (twice…). And now I feel even more lucky to have the ultimate souvenir from the show, a live recording of those moments we shared with the band and the surrounding crowd. Ok, I guess Ripper’s mic or micstand would also be pretty cool. Or Schaffer’s guitar. Or one of those Civil War flags. Or the Glorious Burden backdrop. Or someone’s underpants (better if it’s from a band member, but I guess one from a crowd member would be okay as well…).

MH: I swear you can hear the two of us screaming for this band in the background. This was such a whirlwind show. I remember I had to leave rehearsal early to get to this one. I missed all the opening bands, but got there in time for IE. I wasn't gonna miss this show. It had Ripper as the lead singer, and I think he's hot. Plus it was a metal band at the Metro. The greatest place to see live music. For Real.

This was also a catch up for my introduction into IE. I only knew a few of the tracks since we (Queensryche Mike and I ) had just started to listen to them. I would have loved to see them with the original singer Matt Barlow, but I am glad to see Ripper burning it up, yo. So the night was going to be relatively new to me.... I had the new album, but didn't know the back catalogue.... Notice the british way I spelled catalogue. I'm cool.

I just remember the anticipation of when they were going to come out and do the ENTIRE Gettysburg 32 minute long song. No way, are they really? Darn right. They pulled it off, and I loved every freaking minute of it. They need to tour again. Jon Shaeffer needs to get his back fixed or at least get a really cool back brace and stand him up and get him to riffing. I could use another show with them. We of course, drove to Milwaukee four days later and saw the same show at the Rave, which I highly recommend, and hope to do so again.
Not to be 14 and writing stuff on my folders at school, but Iced Earth Rule.


Mark said...

So is it 34 or 32 minutes? We should figure that out..... Mark

mike said...

31:54, you are correct. I will correct mine so I don't look like an idiot...