RECORD STORE TALES #888: The Limewire Days
I got into the downloading business later than everyone else. As a Record Store manager, I had zero interest in downloads. I’ve never used Napster and I sided with Lars Ulrich when it came down to it. You might not have cared about Lars’ bottom line, but I cared about mine. Downloading hurt us. And we weren’t a corporate entity, we were just a small indy chain. Eventually in the year 2001, I relented and began using WinMX and Limewire to download rare tracks. I bought so many CDs annually, I figured “why not”? I quickly discovered all the new Guns N’ Roses songs that they played in Rio.
I still remember the first time using WinMX. It was at an old girlfriend’s house and she was showing me how she downloaded music. Hey neighbour was using WinMX too, and gave her a mix CD of all the tracks she had downloaded. I’ll never forget putting on this mix CD, and suddenly from the speakers it’s “Who Let the Dogs Out”! As the song went on, I remarked “I don’t think I’ve ever heard the verses to this song before. Just the chorus.” Do you know how the verses go?
I copied what the girlfriend showed me, downloaded WinMX, and before you know it, I was listening to “The Blues” by Guns N’ Roses.
After everything dried up on WinMX, we both switched to Limewire where I continued downloading the odd rarity. I accumulated a large music folder, and began burning all my new tracks to mix CDs. I have several volumes of mixes all with tracks downloaded during this period. But there were always odds and ends that I never fit onto a mix CD. I thought all those tracks had been lost, but I just dug up an old CD labelled “MP3 downloads”. It is here that I burned the stragglers, and then stuffed the CD in with some photo discs and forgot all about it.
The title “MP3 downloads” is misleading as there are video files here too (none of which work anymore). The downloads are also not exclusively from Limewire, as we’ll get to. Let’s have a look track by track at what mp3 files I still had in my music folder back in 2004.
This CD is only 303 mb (of 656).
First, the video files are a weird variety of stuff I downloaded and intended to keep. I didn’t have cable back then, so “Gene Simmons on MTV Cribs” is one I wanted. Then there’s a file called “Gene’s hair on fire”. Then there’s a file called “some jackass tells a cop to fuck off”. I remember that one. I think I had been searching for Jackass videos, and came across this idiot getting beat by a cop after walking up and giving him the finger. Some Star Wars videos include the Star Wars Kid vs Yoda, a deleted scene from A New Hope, and something called “Episode 3 Leaked Marketing Video”. All the video files appear to be corrupt and won’t play on anything.
Onto the music. I can see there are some tracks here from albums I didn’t own then, but do now. From the compilation CD Spaced by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, it’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”, “I Walk the Line” and “When I Was Seventeen”. These are strictly novelty covers, although Nimoy does give it a good effort. All of these songs were originally released on separate Nimoy and Shatner albums in the late 1960s. Related to these, I also have “Shaft” by Sammy Davis Jr. I have long loved Sammy’s glittery version of the Shaft theme. Who’s the black private dick who’s a sex machine with all the chicks? Sammy Davis Jr. was! The guitar work on this is great slippery fun. I’ll have to get a copy for real.
A fun treat next: A full hour Peter Criss interview show by Eddie Trunk. This is with all the songs and music. Peter was out of Kiss once again, and he spilled the full beans on his whole perspective. Doing the Symphony show with Tommy Thayer, Peter complains “without Ace, it’s not Kiss”. This interview is definitely a keeper. According to the file name, this interview is from May 4, 2004.
Several of the files are really, really low quality Dokken. These are tiny files, they are so poor. Demos of “Back for the Attack”, “We’re Illegal”, “It’s Not Love”, “Unchain the Night”, “Upon Your Lips”, and “Sign of the Times”. A live version of “Paris is Burning”. Remixes of “Nothing Left to Say” and “I Feel”. I could have burned all these to a Dokken rarities CD, but the sound quality is poor, I knew I’d never want to listen to it.
There is also a smattering of rare Leatherwolf, including some live stuff. Some were downloads from their social media pages at the time. “Tension” is definitely one such official track, an instrumental solo that isn’t on any albums. (You can tell by the file size it’s official, compared to the low quality Limewire downloads.) I also have “Black Knight” live with original singer Michael Olivieri, and a partial instrumental called “The Triple Axe Attack”. I’m not 100% certain what these are, but they don’t seem to have originated on the rare Leatherwolf live album called Wide Open. Best of all the finds are the three official demos they did with singer Jeff Martin: “Burned”, Disconnect” and “Behind the Gun”. Martin did not last, and was replaced by Wade Black of Crimson Glory on the album World Asylum. Fortunately I had already burned these tracks (and “Tension”) to a bonus CD.
There is a smattering of Gene Simmons demos, varying in quality. “Heart Throb” is almost unlistenable. “Howling for Your Love” is OK but I can’t identify if it was later rewritten into something more recognizable. “It’s Gonna Be Alright” is bright and poppy with a drum machine backing Gene. Then there is “Jelly Roll”, a heavier track with a riff like “Tie Your Mother Down”. “Rock and Rolls Royce” is the track that was rewritten into “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em” from Rock and Roll Over. “Rotten to the Core” was recycled way later on 2009’s Sonic Boom as “Hot and Cold”. Like the Dokken tracks, I never burned these to CD because of the poor audio that I knew I wouldn’t want to listen to.
Other miscellaneous rarities here include Faith No More, Motley Crue and Van Halen. Faith No More were known to mess around with covers live, and here I have “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak) and “We Will Rock You”. Sound quality is awful and neither are full songs, just them messing around on stage. The two unreleased Motley Tracks are “Black Widow” and something just labelled “unreleased track” which is actually “I Will Survive”. Both of these are officially released now so I have no reason to keep them. Onto Van Halen, not everything sounds shite, but “On Fire” is just a few seconds of a demo. “Let’s Get Rockin'” is complete. A good sounding track that later was reworked as “Outta Space” on A Different Kind of Truth. Then I have 90 seconds of the sneak preview single for “It’s About Time” (2004). And then just two seconds of shred on a track labelled “VANHwhee”. So strange!
Other rarities include one Def Leppard treasure called “Burnout”, which was an official download from their site. It was also available on the CD single for “Goodbye” and a Def Leppard boxed set. I also have an audio rip of “Lick My Love Pump” from the movie This Is Spinal Tap. I should really take this and add it to the soundtrack as a bonus track!
I downloaded some miscellaneous songs that I didn’t own the albums for, but intended to get later:
- Blue Oyster Cult – “Don’t Fear the Reaper” (I was watching Stephen King’s The Stand that year!)
- Budgie – “Breadfan”
- Buckethead – “Nottingham Lace” (might be an official download)
- Cat Stevens – “The Wind”
- Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Down on the Corner” (mislabelled as “Willy and the Poor Boys”)
- Fleetwood Mac – “Go Your Own Way”
- Iced Earth – “Dracula”
- Iced Earth – “Jack”
- Kenny Rogers – “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”
- Marty Robbins – “El Paso”
- Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper – “Elvis is Everywhere”
- The Pursuit of Happiness – “I’m An Adult Now”
- The Pursuit of Happiness – “Hard to Laugh”
Of these, there are some I still have not bought and some I have no intention of getting anymore. I do own the B.O.C., Budgie, Cat Stevens, CCR, Kenny Rogers, Marty Robbins, and Fleetwood Mac. I’d still like to get Mojo Nixon to be honest with you!
Finally, there are bits of pieces of funny things that I liked to have hanging around for making mix CDs. Many are from a website that used to have mp3 files of movie quotes, and the rest are from Homestar Runner. Does that take you back to the 2000s? From Homestar, I have “Alright 4 2Night”, “Strongbadia National Anthem”, “Everybody Knows It”, “Ballad of the Sneak”, “Cheat Commandos”, “CGNU Fight Song”, and a computer voice saying “back off baby”! I might have been using that as an MSN Messenger alert sound. Any time someone messaged me, the computer would say “back off baby”! If I didn’t, I should have. From the movie Sexy Beast I grabbed a bunch of Ben Kingsley’s best lines. Saying he’s going to put his cigarette out in somebody’s eye, calling someone “porky pig”, yelling “no!” repeatedly, and announcing he had to take a piss. Because of course.
The last files I found on this CD are strange, but for the sake of a complete and thorough inventory, they are:
- no_respect: 24 seconds of the pretty terrible “Rappin'” Rodney Dangerfield song from the 80s.
- 50_10sec: Actually 11 seconds of the “Smoke on the Water” riff. I can tell it’s Blackmore. Why did I keep this?
- MM Jukebox Plus Upgrade: 18 second software ad that obviously got left there by something I downloaded. This is probably the first time in my life that I actually played this track!
- cant_holdon: 36 seconds long. This took forever to identify. Lyric searches told me nothing. Then I figured it out by uploading to YouTube and waiting for the copyright block to tell me what it was! “Can’t Hold On / Can’t Let Go” by a band called Thunder, but not the band Thunder that you know today. Probably downloaded by mistake is my guess. Sounds like something you’d hear in an 80s Bruce Willis flick.
I don’t know how interesting this will be for you to read, but I found it entertaining enough to do this complete inventory. I had clearly not tried to listen to all the files before, or I would have weeded at least a few out. It is likely that in 2004 I was getting a new hard drive put in my computer and hastily burned my mp3 files to CD, intending to eventually put them on mix discs like I did with the rest of my mp3 collection.
After a little further digging, I did find that I had burned some of these songs to a mix CD. Not all, but some. You can get an idea here of how I’d make use of weird stuff like this. The rest of the tracks never made it to the mix CD stage, so finding the original mp3 disc is a fun reminder for me of just what I was doing in 2004. And I’m going to keep that Peter Criss interview, and a few other worthwhile things too.! Productive morning spent, and I hope you enjoyed this look at the way we did things a decade and a half ago.