The Beatles Vinyl Bootlegs Discography
It was 20 years ago today… well, not really!
It was more like 30 years ago when the four of us started pooling together the information on Beatles vinyl bootlegs and label variations that we’d already been fanatically collecting for many years. As collectors, our goal was, naturally, to acquire all of the unreleased recordings from The Beatles that had been issued on bootleg – and in the best possible sound quality. Unfortunately, we lacked a reliable and comprehensive source of information that would guide us in this search. Of course, several books had been written on the subject, and there was always the bootleg catalog “Hot Wacks” to refer to, but these sources usually just copied the information from the LPs themselves, where tracks were either incorrectly labeled or not identified at all. Information on the difference in sound quality between the various vinyl bootlegs was even harder to find. As we learned, the same record from the very same stamper could sound quite different depending which pressing you were listening to. This was mostly true for CBM, definitely the number one label for Beatlegs (if not only for the width of its catalogue). Most of the original CBM releases were pressed on good sounding vinyl, where the later issues often suffered from poor and noisy pressings.
The rule of thumb, not surprisingly, is that the earlier the pressing, the better the record sounds – and the way to know if you have an early pressing of a bootleg (or not) is by looking at the record label. Consequently, we were led into dating the various bootleg labels which, rather than being used haphazardly, were generally consistent enough for us to identify a specific year (if not month) of release, thus permitting us to reconstruct a chronology in much the same way as has been done for the discographies of official labels.
To go back again a few decades, our intention was to publish a book with all of the information we had collected with our detective work. Once we’d finished the work, however, we found that adding photos of the covers and labels represented a massive challenge, both in terms of time and expense. Remember, back then we didn’t have digital cameras, just 35mm film, and adding the number of illustrations we would have needed to make the book a success simply made the project untenable.
And so there it sat – until now!
The good news is that we are now happy to release this information for free via this dedicated website, bit by bit, starting with a handful of records. Again, all of the research and writing has been done – it’s merely a matter of the various team members finding the time and energy to gather the images and create the various webpages for each record. This will be an on-going project as pages are added and updated, so check back often, and please feel free to contact us with any information you might have that we might have missed.
What will you (and won't you) find here?
Except for some special releases, only records of The Beatles as a group are listed on this site (which means that bootlegs from the solo Beatles aren’t covered here). Pirate records (that is, those which simply copy officially released recordings) are also not considered here, with only one notable exception because of the historical interest of the releasing company. With a few exceptions, we've also ignored bootleg 45 r.pm. singles - particularly since the material on them would almost always end up on an album anyway.
Also, since at the end of the eighties vinyl was effectively replaced by CD, we will conclude this study with the records released at that time. Only some particularly important records pressed after 1990 will be included. Most of the countless vinyl records published in the last few decades will not be listed, nor should they be, since most of them are no doubt mastered from the same digital source as the corresponding CDs.
How to use the site?
In the INDEX you will see a list of bootleg albums, arranged in alphabetical order. Where different records use the same title (and sometimes the same cover) they are differentiated in the INDEX based on the company or the matrix number etched in the runoff grooves. Cross-links in the text will help in tracing the records that were copied from an earlier release. When several records, often with different titles, were copied from one original release we usually discuss them following the original release.
About The Authors
Andrew Butcher was introduced to unreleased Beatles recordings when he first saw the "Some Other Guy" Granada clip on the telly in 1980. "Is there more?", he naively asked to himself afterwards.
Massimo Meregalli, a university researcher, has been collecting Beatles records since the early seventies. He now owns more than 1200 Beatles unofficial releases.
Pierpaolo Rizzo, MD and part-time musician, was first introduced to the Beatles’ music in 1969 (2 years old), grew with it and is currently getting old with it. Started collecting unreleased material in 1980, still does.
Doug Sulpy has authored a half-dozen books on The Beatles, and published “The 910” newsletter for many years. You can check out his work at dougsulpy.com.
Andrew, Massimo and Doug, back in March, 1992 in Middletown, N.J.,
as our study of Beatles bootlegs reached its zenith.
Watching us from the trees is the spirit of Pierpaolo, who was physically in Berlin, Germany.