DMZ. The Neighborhoods. La Peste. Watching punk bands in the early days, Arthur Freedman realized that each show was unique. He witnessed set, song, and personnel changes, different arrangements for some songs and, tragically, untimely deaths of band members. Believing that the energy and exuberance of a live performance could never be reproduced within the recording studio, Arthur bought a cassette deck and microphones (and eventually a video camera) and started to record many of the shows he attended. Often sighted in front of the stage, video camera in hand, he became a familiar figure in the local Boston area rock scene for over four decades.
The Arthur Freedman audio collection came to Loeb Music Library in late 2011, and over the last year we have been working hard to finish digitizing all the original compact cassettes in the collection. Providing a window into an essential era of Boston rock history, it contains over 720 hours of live performances by primarily local rock and punk bands, most of which were recorded between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s. The majority of these recordings were made in storied Boston clubs that no longer exist, and the collection contains many unique performances unavailable elsewhere. Some of the tapes contain accompanying material such as set lists, tickets, and flyers, and others include technical notes or anecdotes about the performance.
We’d like to celebrate the completion of this project by making the first digitized performances available in the Freedman finding aid. These are two performances by the all-female band Bound & Gagged, recorded at Baba O’Reilly’s in New London, CT on January 29, 1981 and the following night at Hurrah in New York City. The Hurrah show was also filmed by Merrill Aldighieri, but Freedman’s audio version contains two encores.
Bound & Gagged formed in 1979 and released an eponymous EP in 1980 on the Boston-based Modern Method label (a small, unassuming note on the rear of the jacket suggests: “PLAY THIS RECORD LOUD”). Members featured in these performances are Martha Swetzoff on guitar, vocals & percussion, Wendy Stone on guitar, Trude Koby on bass & vocals, Marcia Maglione on keyboards, vocals & percussion, and Deni Ozan on drums. Special thanks to Martha Swetzoff for helping us to make these the first streaming performances available from the collection.
Freedman also recorded over 2000 hours of video during these years, which are a part of his collection held at the Harvard Film Archive. “Artie” still makes recordings and he was recently on hand at screenings of the documentary film “Boys from Nowhere,” which chronicles the Boston garage punk scene of this era. At the Cabot Theater in Beverly, MA in April, the film was followed with sets by the Nervous Eaters and Willie Alexander & The Boom-Boom Band, as well as a panel discussion featuring JJ Rassler of DMZ. Artie was again there to capture it for posterity.
Are you a member of a band Freedman recorded? Did you attend these shows? We want to hear from you! Get in touch with Peter Laurence.
-Peter Laurence, Lesley Bannatyne
February 19, 2019 at 4:52 am
It’s absolutely true that the energy and exuberance of a live performance could never be reproduced within the recording studio. Can you please tell me if this digitized version of the collection could be available via iTunes? I would love to listen to them. Sometime later I might practice my Ableton live training skills on this collection as well.
May 20, 2021 at 4:14 pm
“Boys From Nowhere ” was screened at the Cabot on Nov 10 2018. Unnatural Axe played with The Nervous Eaters
September 3, 2021 at 1:49 am
This is an amazing project and cheers to Arthur Freedman for having the foresight and tenacity to spend all the hours preserving this priceless music. Also thank you to all those involved in the hours and hours of work involved in digitally preserving the tapes and organizing this momentous undertaking. It’s wonderful to know future generations will be able to both audibly and visually appreciate these musical moments which will now forever be a part of Boston history.