Thanks, Brent- good point few have alluded to (including myself). Mac chose quality of performance over quality of sound many times on the box. He was correct in doing so. The box is twice longer than all legal recorded matter prior to its release put together, end-to-end, which allowed logical people and fans alike to see Mac loved (and hated) what he was doing: assembling the best box set possible.
So what if the Bermondsey sessions sound like dried rat shit rattling at the bottom of a storm vent? If you understand the import of the time (chronology), the sound is secondary. What is of sole import is the quality of the work, whether it be laid down in a motel, hotel, grotto, Olympic, or LMS. And half the time, Mac is pointing out when they didn't even sound too good. The idea was better than the demo, the rough, or the final performance.
FIVE GUYS kicks ass because it puts you behind the scenes, in front row centre, in motels and hotels, and beyond. Mac didn't really want to do this job, but he was the best of the bunch to do it. When I was in London in 2000, enough weird stuff happened that I knew Mac was fully in charge. I'm not religious, therefore not superstitious, but too much shit went down. When I left Boo's and stumbled across Sid Griffin, the guy I knew to be Mac's right-hand man (check out Sid's work on Gram Parsons, for chrissakes- Sid is a great musician who confuses his career by playing solo, in two other bands, and being smart enough to research and write (very well, might I add) the best tome on Gram Parsons available today), I had to see Sid. I trust him, he trusts me. Like meeting an old friend you never met.
I knew Sid was helping Mac so, in 2000, when I walked away from the only place I'd ever known Ronnie Lane, to stumble across a sign pushing Sid? I knew it was the right Sid. The ONLY Sid. When I met Sid, he was entirely upset that his gig didn't get press. Nobody knew it would happen.
Well, when I recognized his name on the street sign, I hung around to get in. Doors were not yet open. People passed frequently, so I'd ask time. A couple gave me the time, I recognized their accents as fairly Yank, and asked what they were doing, walking down the slums of Kentish Town
High Street alone and at night. They had no decent answer, so I asked:
"would you like to see the guy that's helping to make the Facers box set?"
By the end of the night, they knew. They'd seen the same gig I had, with the finale by Sid and the opening band (they were great, too).
Let's talk about Rupe taking me to the cemetary, saying, "well, Paul likes to paint gas towers, and they're about to take this one down, so who knows?"
Paul Simonon was there, painting the gasworks. Rupe said "ello", it didn't take time for Paul to know he was in family (Rupe has that way, watch th film). Rupe did ask the dumb question, which allowed me a break: "how can you paint this when it's raining?"
"he's using oils and canvas."
Nice story from the back of my worthless brain.