Bun E.'s Basement Bootlegs, Volume 1: Gigs '79-'94

Bun E.’s Basement Bootlegs were CD’s sold through Cheap Trick’s official website and fan club. They contained previously unreleased Cheap Trick recordings from the band’s archives, compiled by drummer Bun E. Carlos. There were four separate volumes issued between the years 2000 and 2002. Each one was limited to 1,000 copies. Each CD was packaged in a plain white cardboard sleeve with a stamped illustration of the drummer’s face and his hand-autographed initials. The discs were numbered using black marker. Each disc had a different theme to classify the types of tracks included on it.

The theme of the first volume, issued in 2000, was “Gigs”, and it collected various live cuts recorded between 1979 and 1994. It contained Budokan-class performances from the years between the releases of Cheap Trick's live albums At Budokan and Music For Hangovers. These versions of “On Top of the World” and “Heaven Tonight” sound great in their raw form, and the “Stiff Competition” performance here is solid. “Didn’t Know I Had It” gets a heartfelt acoustic treatment, although it is marred slightly by a clownishly high-pitched harmony vocal (presumably by Rick Nielsen). The included performance of “How About You” has more strength than the weak studio version on Standing on the Edge. Their cover of the Beatles classic “Magical Mystery Tour” is both faithful and irreverent. The CD also captures the band jamming with various friends and idols. It’s amusing to hear Roy Wood join them for their cover of the Move’s “California Man”, but it’s even more fun hearing the Tricksters jamming on Chuck Berry tunes with famous collaborators. They had good rapport with Dave Edmunds for “Reelin’ and Rockin’”. And when they got together with Bon Scott and the Young brothers from AC/DC to do “Johnny B. Goode”, the results were killer!

The disc does have a few weak tracks toward the end. A labored eight-minute jam with the late Alex Harvey on Johnny Kidd’s “Shakin’ All Over” never quite catches fire; it may have been something to see, but it’s only half-interesting to hear. The ninth track features two different guess-you-had-to-be-there performances of “I Know What I Want”, with very casual vocal turns by bassist Tom Petersson. And the performance of “Goodnight Now” with guest star Cozy Powell does not sound like anything special. Again, I guess you had to be there.

Regardless of those few weak spots, Volume 1 of Bun E.’s Basement Bootlegs contains valuable treasures for devotees of this great live band.

2/13/2024 Update: As of 2023, there is now an official Bun E.'s Basement Bootlegs channel on YouTube, on which more of the archived material has thankfully been made available for listening. One of the uploaded videos contains the content of the disc in this Volume. The video is embedded below for your pleasure. Enjoy!

Bun E.'s Basement Bootlegs “Gigs ‘79-‘94” (no label, CT 001) 2000

Track Listing:

1. Jammin’ w/Dave – (“Reelin’ and Rockin’” with Dave Edmunds)
2. Stiff Competition
3. On Top Of The World
4. Didn't Know I Had It
5. Jammin’ w/Roy – (“California Man” with Roy Wood)
6. How About You
7. Heaven Tonight
8. Jammin w/Bon, Malcolm + Angus – (“Johnny B. Goode” with Bon Scott and Angus and Malcolm Young)
9. I Know What I Want parts 1 + 2
10. Jammin’ w/Alex – (“Shakin’ All Over” with Alex Harvey)
11. MMT (Magical Mystery Tour)
12. Goodnight Now w/Cozy

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

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