This started out as an Artist Choice about Steely Dan. I will get to that soon but for now I've been diverted by the vexed subject of Bootlegs.
A year or so ago I wrote to Shindig Magazine about the fact that they reviewed so many live albums that were defacto Bootlegs. I was letter of the month and there were some furious replies from fans who had to possess every note ever uttered by their heroes, seemingly regardless of whether their heroes got paid or not.
Robert Fripp has some decided views on Bootlegging which I read around 1979. The thought that "it's rather like taking notes of a personal
conversation to circulate or publish later" stuck. This remember was written many years before the mobile phone became a fixture at shows; "This is a peculiar custom that one should listen to music through
the lens of a camera and I don't like being put in a situation
where the sound, the atmosphere is being punctured by theft". The above comes from an article that appeared in Musician magazine, Bootlegging, Royalties and the Moment, find it online.
So the connection to Steely Dan? They have despite much touring in the last 20 years or so released only one highly unsatisfactory live album "Alive in America" in 1995. At least a dozen high quality recordings that sound as professionally produced as the official disc circulate online, and some, notably a recording from Missouri in 1993 get pressed up and sold as legitimate product. Often claimed as a radio show, online samples reveal a soundboard feed with prominent vocals & next to no keyboards or bass. There is also a set of pre Steely Dan demos that are currently available on Amazon as 25 different releases.
Why is this a problem? Donald Fagen has been vocal recently about the fact that there is no income from his old albums any more. While I suspect he protests too much (at least slightly) with a new vinyl edition of The Nightfly coming out and Steely Dan albums doing as well as or better than many other artists of a similar vintage; the fact that there are legitimate outlets, like Amazon, iTunes and eMusic selling fraudulent material in his name without the courtesy of paying him, or indeed the currently ill & unable to tour Walter Becker is doubtless galling.
One possible answer of course would be to release some of the hoard of live tapes and unreleased material himself. In the day of the super deluxe edition he is clearly missing out on a revenue stream. So Bootlegs are bad but Donald think before you whinge.