Bootleg recordings and track length

Massive Attack never released a live album, but there is an enormous number of unofficial releases, nicely put together on Bootlegs — MASSIVEATTACK.IE.
Some (the better ones) were originally broadcast on the radio. After that they were released in various formats as bootlegs. In principle, all recordings are from the same recording, but of course there are significant differences in the track lengths. This leads to a large number of separate recordings. Some have been merged, some with significant difference in length were put in the same recording. Some remained stand-alone.
I added Live At Royal Albert Hall 1998, a vinyl, and was unable to find matching recordings on one of the releases. For some tracks the applause has been cut and for vinyl there is a subjective factor too.

I decided to add new recordings and merge them afterwards. But which one should I choose now? The recording with the smallest difference in length, regardless of the release? Or should they all be merged?


In my opinion, as long as you are sure they are the same recordings, it doesn’t matter which direction you choose the merge – the resultant recording will pick up the median of the tracks included and call that the length.

But do be sure – if one fan made a boot from his recording on the left side of the stage and another fan made one from the right side, and then a third was made off the soundboard, that would be three separate recordings regardless of their similarity or difference in length.


In cases where timings are off by more than 15 seconds or so, I sometimes leave recordings unmerged but link them with “edit of” relationships.


Of course I can’t be absolutely sure, but to my knowledge 15* tracks have been aired and only one release offers more. It is unlikely that there is another source.

Edit: *) 16

That’s another issue. There is no first version of which the others could be an “edit of”. The original was a radio broadcast.

Edit: In this case there’s a solution: I just downloaded a version from which should be the full broadcast. This one could be the basis…
Edit 2: No, it’s not. This a reconstruction made of different sources, put into the original order, no commentary from the radio station. Maybe the 20-track version contains the complete show, but that’s no general solution for other similar shows. :thinking:

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As a Pink Floyd bootleg editor I recognise the minefield. Ultimately you cannot avoid having multiple recordings. And there should be no real problem with that.

Even if all are coming from the same radio broadcast, some tracks are cut up in too many different ways.
If you have just crowd noise cut at different points, you can get away with treating as the same recording.
If someone has “cleaned up” a recording, then it is just a remaster - so same recording.
MW to cassette \ FM to MP3 \ Official CD from the radio station - same recordings as these are just remasters from that same source.

BUT if radio DJs are popping up on a track in different places - new recording.
Edits that remove those DJs - new recordings
Or if an edit moves where the between track band chat is placed - new recording.

Different sources - new recordings as @bflaminio says.

Personally I focus on getting the concert Place and Dates attached to recordings. Also into the (disambigs).

I also paste large chunks of details into the annotation of a concert. Explain those differences on the sources. Explain what you have seen so the next researcher understands your groupings.

Concerts are fun to document - but impossible to make “tidy”. :slight_smile:


I see the minefield now too… and I decided to postpone further Massive Attack bootlegs for some time. I am completing the remaining official albums and then move on to other music. And maybe I’ll finally start with my records. That will keep me busy for a while. And then, maybe I’ll start with Genesis bootlegs. This will definitely get a lot easier. :wink: :rofl::sob:

I’m pretty sure, and I will only merge recordings that can definitely be traced back to the same source.

I will also leave these separately. I will make sure that the disambiguation comments are consistent so that the recordings can be identified as belonging. “edit of” will only work if I can find an original recording to refer to.

And thanks to all of you for your contributions! :slight_smile:


Oh, yeah, Genesis will be easy :rofl: Have it all done in an afternoon… all those FLACs floating around ripped from someone’s cassette tape of their recording from the radio mixed in with that audience recording for the couple of tracks the radio didn’t broadcast… EASY :upside_down_face:

I guess you’ll also find the Floyd style bootleg which are “DIY CD-Rs” where you download digital files, along with artwork to burn your own CDs. Now are they CD-R format or digital media?

At least with Floyd there are some huge fan sites that document this stuff already. ( Genesis on one of the bootlegger sites I check. Site is a bit borken now, but can be really handy )

My main aim is to get clarity in what is being documented. I see my mission is to try and fill MB with as many details of as many bootlegs as possible before all the other references disappear.

The BEST part is you get an excuse to listen to all those bootlegs you have been hoarding. Dig into the histories of the gigs and you attempt to untangle the dozen different versions of it. It is one of the things I love about MB - it has made me dig into so much of my unplayed music. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


I’ve had bootlegs like this myself. It’s clearly Digital Media. (with an option for your own DIY CDs → annotation)
Qobuz also offers Digital Media with CD1 and CD2 (…and at least a front image :wink:)

Me too!

And I think I’m starting to accept that I’ll never get through doing everything perfectly… and that’s a good thing, because there’s still so much great music I will be listening to.

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In the PF world these are often sourced from CD-Rs that used to be traded as CD-Rs. It is just a digital copy that has now been uploaded. So I set as CD-R due to the original source. (Also I tend to find these described on the various PF Bootleg sites I use for reference)

Today I was re-uploading artwork I had initially scanned and uploaded in 2017 because I noticed it was pixelated rubbish from when I used to run a scanner at 300dpi. This is why I had to start a spreadsheet to keep up with where I have got to as the way I do a Release now is very different to 2017.

This is never ending… It especially doesn’t help when MB sends me onto a EBay chase for something obscure I saw while down a Rabbit Hole of editing something odd.

Also, on the Bootlegs, the handy thing about Bootleg titles in MB is it gives something to search Google with when “researching” that bootleg that is not yet in the collection… :wink:

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I suppose you will agree, that something like that was never released on CD-R:

(random examples from MB)

Edit: Although the last two might have an original CD-R source, I doubt it for the 3 CD set.

Edit 2: It’s a really relevant question though, because I have several such versions, not yet on MB. Therefore I have to set them either CD-R or Digital Media.

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What you really need are the Genesis geek sites. Somewhere you can a history of these. Old bootlegs don’t come out of no where and will likely be from different generations of media.

The three examples you show I looked for on the Pink Floyd site I mentioned above. Found the 1975-01-10 gig, but a different variation as tracks as split different - though CD2 starts at the same track

No other details though, not much use here.

The first Gig may also be on there:

But I agree that the Readme file in that annotation shows this is a Digital Media release as someone has gone back a step to produce this one.

In the longer term, CD-R or Digital Media is less important than that ReadMe file text about the source.

Bootlegs like this will have been floating around for years. They have already been on cassettes and CD-Rs over the years. Here is it good to see someone still has access to the sources to produce up to date Lossless releases.

It is also where that headache comes back of Recording Merges being impossible. Cassette, CD-R and FLAC versions all splitting the same recording at a different point. :smiley:

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And that’s actually a big problem, especially with live bootlegs and long applause. I have now tried to merge my newly created recordings with the CD version with the same track list.

In fact, matching AcoustIDs could (also) be found on the CD recordings. But they are split at a different point. :unamused:
B3/#6 and C1/#7 can not be merged because of the large difference in length. But B3+C1 and #6+#7 together have a length of 11:53 and 11:50. C1 starts with long applause while on CD this applause is appended to track 6.
The difference between C3/10 and D1/11 is not that great, so I merged them (but maybe I should cancel…) ← cancelled

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My advice is don’t get too tangled up in trying to make ONE recording. Some are easy, others will be impossible. Get the gigs into the same Release Groups, link up the locations, link up the Works, but don’t over worry about getting every recording linked.

I try and ask “Is the musical part the same?” and will merge. But any chat, and I keep them apart. (See above for much of my check list). Any doubt, they stay apart.

AcoustIDs can be a bit patchy to work with as it is common for people to have linked to the wrong editions there anyway… keep an eye on those lengths.

A double vinyl is longer than a single CD. So chops happen. Then along comes the FLAC and you get extended edits… all so tricky to get “right”.


No, I’m careful. I do not merge the recordings at any price. In fact, I even thought about not merging my newly created recordings at all. To keep a unique, relatable fingerprint, but that gets me nowhere either.

The 2015 CD and 2016 vinyl versions have matching fingerprints on all recordings. But there is long applause between tracks and the boundaries are set somewhere. That’s the main problem. The pieces match by fingerprint but not by length.

But there are also AcoustIDs with other fingerprints that are very similar but not really the same. A little the same in some areas, almost none in others, but in a recurring pattern. The best match at exactly one point. Maybe this is caused by different quality, maybe another recording from the same show (?)

But I think they’re all from the same recording broadcast by the BBC and possibly other radio stations. Recorded by many people …

Other fingerprints also partially match, but not for the full 2 ​​minutes and there is no best point - same song, wrong show?
Complete crap has apparently already been eliminated.

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