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Bootlegs - Spotting the Difference

In everything collectible, the rarer something is, the more expensive it is. Another rule suggests that when something is expensive and worth a great deal of money, a lot of people are keen to get in on the action. Which brings me to the topic of this article - Bootlegs.

Bootlegs, counterfeits, pirate copies, whatever you want to call them, they have been around for years.

There are a few different types of bootlegs. There are those that look and sound almost identical and try to pass themselves off as the original. There are those that have the same recording as the original though come in a different sleeve (or plain sleeve). Then there are bootlegs that are not copies of an existing release, but rather a totally new product which can contain uncommisioned mixes, live tracks, or just a group of regular tracks compiled together. The vast array of live concert recordings would be considered part of this type of bootleg.

So why buy a Bootleg? (Or why not?)

One point against bootlegs is that the artist receives no money for bootleg recordings. Where with normal legitimate releases, the artist would get a percentage on all releases sold, the only person making money on bootlegs is the person who pressed them in the first place.

A counter argument for this comes into play when the release being copied was originally a promo - so that it was never available for the general public to buy, and so the artist was never going to get money from it's sale anyway. Another point which matches this argument is when the original has been out of print for a few years and therefore the item is not available to purchase anyway.

If you ever wanted to sell your copy later down the line, in nearly all cases, an original is always going to get a higher price than a bootleg.

In the end, it comes down to the buyer. Do you want a bootleg or the original? Do you care who gets your money? Do you want to support the artist you like or someone selling fakes?

I for one used to steer clear of bootlegs, but lately I have started to pick them up. But in saying that, I will always prefer to have an original as opposed to a fake.

later they have a fake. A lot of the rare hip hop releases have known bootleg copies floating around. Some Bootlegging in the area of Hip Hop records has caused some people to shell out a lot of money to find out of the more known ones include:

  • 'Studda Step' 12" by Biz Markie
  • 'Clearlake Audiotorium' 12" by De La Soul
  • 'The Real Deal/Lesson 4' 12" by DJ Shadow
  • 'Brainfreeze' CD by Cut Chemist & DJ Shadow
  • 'Product Placement' CD by Cut Chemist & DJ Shadow
  • 'Fried Chicken / Hellraiser (Remix)' 12" Test Pressing by The Beatnuts

So far (to my knowledge anyway), with Beastie Boys recordings there have only been a few examples of bootlegs being produced trying to pass themselves off as the original item. So you know what you are paying for, and to see if you are getting a bootleg or the real deal, here is a basic guide to the known Beastie Boys bootlegs:


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