Two terms that bootleggers use to describe live recordings are "soundboard recording" and "audience recording." Soundboard recordings are made from a venue's soundboard, whereas audience recordings are made by someone in the audience using some type of portable recorder. In the 1990s, audience recordings tended to sound a lot better than they did in the 1960s and 1970s because the equipment was so much more sophisticated. During the LP era, it wasn't uncommon for bootleggers to tape concerts using cheap mono recorders that were meant for taping conversations, not music (which is why a lot of audience recordings from the 1960s and 1970s had inferior sound). But in the 1990s, bootleggers had access to small, portable digital mini-recorders that made it easy for them to get decent, if imperfect, audience recordings. A good example of such a recording is Mankato 1998, a two-CD bootleg that was recorded live in Mankato, MN on November 7, 1998. The sound quality isn't fantastic -- soundboard recordings are always preferable -- but it's good, and the bootleg easily captures the excitement of an Aerosmith concert. There aren't a lot of surprises during the show, although the diehard Aerosmith fans in the crowd were no doubt happy to hear loud-and-proud performances of 1970s favorites (including "Mama Kin," "Sweet Emotion," and "Dream On") along with late 1980s and early 1990s Geffen hits such as "Janie's Got a Gun," "Love in an Elevator," and "Rag Doll." Also pleasing are two medleys -- one uniting "Walk This Way" with James Brown's "Mother Popcorn," the other joining "Sweet Emotion" with Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker." But while this bootleg is generally enjoyable, it can hardly be called essential or special -- especially when you consider that other Aerosmith bootlegs of the 1990s boasted audiophile-like sound (as opposed to simply decent sound). Mankato 1998 is only recommended to serious collectors.
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