Apr 13, 2009

Diggin' in the Crates "Is It or Isn't It Legit?" Edition

Most of the items I've been posting for this feature since it started are more recent additions to my collection. This week, we dust off something that I've had for several years and nabbed when I saw it while flipping through the 7" bin at Gallery of Sound in 1997:


Artist: Youth of Today
Title: LIVE at Van Hall, Amsterdam
Vinyl: Gray vinyl

In what has to be a testament to the enduring interest/popularity in a band that only existed for a few years in the late 80's (in their short lifetime, Youth of Today only released two 7" EPs and two albums, but also gave rise to the still-active indie labels Revelation and Equal Vision), in 1996 a start-up label from Amsterdam called Commitment Records issued a colored-vinyl EP of a show Youth of Today played at Van Hall, a former clothing warehouse in Amsterdamn's Stattsliedenbuurt (a neighborhood "notorious in the Eighties for its strong squat scene", according to the liner notes on the six-panel insert(!) enclosed with this record.

In 1989, Youth of Today were on a European tour that was marred with problems from troublemakers (drunks trying to hit lead singer Ray Cappo in Belgium, "so-called punks" throwing beer bottles at the band at another gig, Nazi skinheads crashing a third and forcing the band to curtail the gig seven songs in). By the time the band reached Amsterdam, however, the Van Hall gig went without a hitch - something Cappo can be heard complimenting/thanking the crowd for at the end of the recording. Even more thankfully, someone had the wherewithal to record the show with a Sony Walkman.

Fast forward to July 1995 when a few enterprising Amsterdam punks started Committment Records first as a distributor to facilitate the easier availability of American and European straight-edge punk records that would otherwise be hard to get, and (to again quote this record's insert) "to release records of straight edge bands with a positive attitude" to counter what they most disliked in the then current straight-edge scene - bands who played "slow metal moshcore" with more negative lyrics, and European labels that refused to release straight-edge material on vinyl. 

To finance the operation, the label decided to press a 7" EP containing tracks from the audience recording of the Van Hall Youth of Today gig. Their reasoning was spelled out right on the record's back cover:
Why a Youth of Today Live EP?

In the first place, because we had a live recording of Youth of Today at our disposal, which perfectly captured the atmosphere existing in the European hardcore scene at the end of the Eighties, at a time in which the Straight Edge scene in Holland, Belgium and Germany was at its peak.

In the second place, the ideology of the band Youth of Today has a lot in common with the ideology from which Committment Records was started: Straight Edge, positive thinking, and awareness of the wrongs in this world.

In the third place, by releasing a record of a very popular band, we can bring Committment Records to the attention of a lot of people. All proceeds of this record will be invested in the label and the distribution service. It will give us the opportunity to lay a solid foundation for the future releases on Committment Records by less known bands. 
Now, here's the fun part: When I recently went to look up this record on Rate Your Music, they had it listed (as of today, and when I added my copy to my database there) as a bootleg. While the recording itself would be considered "bootleg" quality, the label itself is not a bootleg label.In fact, the label still continues today, has its own website as well as a MySpace page, and points out in its own label discography that some asshole in the United States managed to issue a counterfeit version of the record on black vinyl (probably without the professionally-printed six-panel insert legit copies contain). One would have to conclude that the consent of Youth of Today's Ray Cappo and John Porcelly (the band's founding and only constant members from beginning to end) plus their approval of Committment's modus operandi made the record legitimately possible. 

So, is this record a bootleg? I would daresay, only if you don't come across a gray vinyl copy. Good luck finding one on eBay.  

1 comment:

Craig said...

I like grey and the ethos behind this release not so much because of sXe but cos of the fan recording as official release.