One That Didn’t Get Away – Camden Market Bootleg of Leeds Warehouse, 1985

LATEST: Now updated with the digitised copy of the new tape, which is great.

A little while ago I was sulkily bemoaning having missed a cassette bootleg on Ebay.

It still hurts too: these things turn up very infrequently and they’re my favourite collectible. To recap, these are the cassettes of live recordings that were sold in markets and car boot sales in lurid and Letraset heavy home made covers, and seemingly every gig you went to was available a couple of days after it happened. Usually dodgy quality, but lovely souvenirs. I use the generic term “Camden Market”, which was a centre for sellers, but they come from everywhere.

The dynamics of the distribution process revolved around a shared understanding that the source of the recording had exclusivity for a few weeks, after which the more popular cassettes were copied around by other dealers. But in fact the total “manufacture” was very small, tens of copies perhaps for the minor bands. And as these items weren’t seen as desirable, they got put into bags in lofts and eventually chucked out by most purchasers.  The result is that objects that were absolutely ubiquitous in the 1980s are almost impossibly hard to find now.

So it was with joy unalloyed that I resolutely didn’t miss this one, a recording of one of the Summer 1985 tours – just after Live Aid – at the Leeds Warehouse. I had borrowed and digitised a copy of this some years ago, and you can listen to the results of that here, but very nice indeed to have my own now.

Better still, this one seems to be a low generation copy. Listen to it here (and the gigography copy has also been updated now).

The 1985 summer tour was a curious enterprise, not many concerts in usually fairly small venues, with an extraordinarily loud PA – many people I’ve talked to who were at the gigs have said that Prefab Sprout were about the loudest band they’d ever seen. Kevin Armstrong joined on lead guitar, and this added an exciting and vibrant rock edge to the sound. It’s less slick and relaxed than the Autumn tour, but that’s no bad thing. The John Peel and other BBC sessions from the week or so after the tour give a well recorded sense of what it sounded like.

Neil and Kevin had just returned from backing Bowie at Live Aid, and amongst discussion of Wendy’s mum and Phil Collins covers, Paddy proudly pays tribute to them in the recording.

From a practical point of view, recording a loud band in a packed club isn’t easy, and the bootleg is about as good as it can be bearing that in mind. A bit of chatter and some distortion, but overall it’s OK. Now I did speak to someone whose dad had soundboard copies of all the Leeds Warehouse concerts, but as that lead went cold a long time ago, this tape is best we’ll get I suspect.

Of course, finding another of these sharpens my hunger for more. Do get in touch if you have one in a bag in the loft that you can’t play. Cash waiting…!




5 thoughts

  1. Good morning,
    I recently read your post on the tape recording model “camden” and all this opened an album of my memories when I arrive for the first time from Naples to London (16yeast old) and I was literally absorbed by the tour in search of the most incredible rarities of musical groups that then followed..
    how many of those tape cassettes I bought and which in part I still bear witness to an analogical world that despite everything in some of us still struggles to close shop definitively …
    Prefab Sprout was one of the first “serious” concerts I attended.
    They played in Naples this day of 33 years ago at the Palapartenope (among other things, the only place still today for music in the city). Of that concert I keep the ticket, some photos of the stage are not particularly beautiful and an audio recording of some pieces of the concert that I look forward to pour in digital and to send you.
    For the moment I would like to thank you for your love for the Prefab Sprouts, for their music and for what they have been and still are in many of us. We’ll be back soon, a greeting from Naples, Ciao, Carlo

    1. Ciao Carlo! You can email me direct using the contact form. I’d love to see pictures of all of it (even the not beautiful photos). And of course the recording (try to make this in wav or flac format rather than MP3). Lovely to hear from you, and thanks for the kind words, let’s talk soon!

  2. It has been YEARS- and I don’t know how much has changed- but years ago I would go to the site InternetArchive. They had tons of concerts free to download. And I downloaded a LOT of Prefab Concerts. I wonder if that stuff is still over there on that site?

    1. I’ve been scouring the internet for years for recordings, and the Internet Archive was a good source (as is dimeadozen). In the case of these cassettes, it’s the physical objects I’m trying to find rather than the contents. If the contents are good too, that’s a bonus. There’s loads of audio here incidentally in case you haven’t found it, look for the musical notes symbol in the gigography section.

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