A complete buyer’s guide to the Mo’ Wax bootlegs
Here is a full, comprehensive and illustrated guide to spot the fake Mo’ Wax releases that you may find in shops or on the internet. Never get fooled again!
In the early 2000’s a series of Mo’ Wax bootlegs appeared on the market. Most of them were available in the official market and not only in little independant record stores. I’ve personally found a lot of them at the FNAC (a French equivalent to Virgin Megastore or HMV). I guess that every Mo’ Wax vinyl collector has at least one of those bootlegs in his collection, sometimes without knowing it. So I thought that I’d write this guide to let everyone know how to spot the fakes.
The MW086DJ style bootlegs
The most common series of bootlegs that you’ll find in stores are all based on the artwork of one Mo’ Wax release, MW086DJ by DJ Shadow : The Number Song (Cut Chemist Remix) b/w Depeche Mode Pain Killer (Kill The Pain Mix by DJ Shadow), which was pressed in 1998. Unfortunately the Depeche Mode samples could not be cleared at that time (they’ve eventually been cleared later, and the remix has been officially released by Depeche Mode in 1998) . As a result the single never had any full commercial release and only exists as a DJ promo version limited to 3000 copies. This 12″ is the starting point of the bootleg series.
One of the features of this release is the plain white cardboard sleeve with holes on each side, with 4 DJ Shadow “block” logos, in 4 different shades of blue, in every corner of one side only. The spine reads “MWO86DJ MO’WAX RECORDS presents DJ Shadow”, in blue also. The labels of the records – blue on black on the A side and vice versa on the flip – have the same block logo, as well as the MWO86DJ catalog number.
I suspect that this sleeve + label design is a rip off of another record, like Kai Clements did with the Camel Bobsled Race which is a based on Afrika Bambaata’s Death Mix. Does anyone know?
You may have noticed that the catalog number MWO86DJ has the letter O in place of the usual number 0 of Mo’ Wax cat numbers. The fun with this detail (was it an error?) is that it has been reproduced in nearly every Mo’ Wax bootleg released so far. This series of fakes exists in a wide range of colors, and always uses the DJ Shadow logo even if the artists is not DJ Shadow…
Here’s the list of those MWO86DJ style bootlegs
- MWO14DJ – DJ Shadow – In/Flux
- MWO41DJ – Folk Implosion / DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist
- MWO43DJ – UNKLE – The Time Has Come
- MWO55DJ – Dr. Octagon – Blue Flowers
- MWO57DJ – DJ Shadow – Midnight
- MWO58DJ – DJ Shadow – Stem
- MWO63DJ – DJ Shadow – High Noon
- MWO69DJ – UNKLE – Berry Meditiation
- MWO79DJ – UNKLE – March Of Death / Karmacoma
- MWO85DJ – Dr. Octagon – Waiting List
- MWO86DJ – DJ Shadow – The Number Song remix
- MWO88LP/CD – Best Of Mo’ Wax / Shadow
- MW103DJ – UNKLE – Rabbit In Your Headlights
- MW108DJEP – UNKLE – Be There
- MWR109DJ – Blackalicious – A2G EP
Some of them are trying to imitate existing Mo’ Wax releases, with the same catalog number and tracklisting, but there are also totally imaginative releases with wrong cat numbers and nonexistent tracklistings, with sometimes tracks that have not even been released by Mo’ Wax (Dark Days, Freaky Flow…) or mis-credited (The Time Has Come by DJ Shadow & Portishead!)
A few examples of MW086DJ style bootlegs
You can also find the following bootlegs that only use the DJ Shadow sleeve and not the labels.
MWO15DJ, MWO16DJ, MWO17DJ – UNKLE
These 3 12″ have fake Mo’ Wax cat numbers and are bootlegs of the series of 3 singles that were released separately or together as a rare box set, in 1998 by Toy’s Factory in Japan only. Mo’ Wax never released this. Each 12″ has the white sleeve with the block DJ Shadow logo on the back, and wide stickers on the front that try to imitate the original Trilogy design.
The fake UNKLE Trilogy… the DJ Shadow logo are on the back of the sleeves.
MW026EP – Headz EP
An imitation of the Mo’ Wax grey reissues from ’96, but this EP doesn’t really exist. It contains 4 tracks from the real Headz LP.
MW062DJep – Headz 2
Another fake EP, with a shitty, ridiculous artwork… I laughed a lot when I saw it for the first time.
The fake Headz samplers. Once again, the DJ Shadow logos are on the back
MW108DJEP – UNKLE featuring Ian Brown – Be There
This 2×12″ has (well, nearly…) the cat number of the real Be There DJ Promo released by Mo’ Wax, but the tracklisting of the Japanese version by Toy’s Factory, which includes exclusive mixes of Be There, The Knock and Celestial Annihilation. The front of the sleeve has a sticker with a dirty scan of the Japanese maxi CD, the back has the DJ Shadow block logos, and the labels are in the MW086DJ style too.
TO SUM IT ALL UP :
– The only legit Mo’ Wax release with the block DJ Shadow design is MW086DJ – Number Song remix / Pain Killer, but this one is quite rare and has been heavily bootleged. Beware!
– If the 0 is an O, it’s a bootleg! Unless you have found the legit MW086DJ…
– The legit MW086DJ reads “DFI-97-11” (DFI the manufacturer) + MW086E1 (or F1) stamped in the run-out grooves, the bootleg reads only MW086DJ handwritten in the run-out grooves
– The block DJ Shadow logo on the bootlegs has a moiré pattern because it has been scanned, the legit release is clean.
These bootlegs are copies legit Mo’ Wax, whose sleeves and labels are (often bad) scans of the originals. They are the most difficult bootlegs to spot because they look legit to most people. Be careful when you buy from Discogs or eBay, a faithful seller can be unintentionally wrong. I personnally never bought the Strictly Turntablized LP online because I own the bootleg which is so well made that I’m pretty sure that a lot of the copies sold online are actually bootlegs.
MW025LP – DJ Krush – Strictly Turntablized
As I said before this is a quite nice bootleg. I’ve own this for years, long before before I got the original, simply because the OG is pretty rare, often expensive, hard to find in good condition, and moreover it’s difficult to be sure that you’ll buy a legit copy on Discogs or eBay. Even if when I bought it I had never seen any legit copy, I knew it was fake thanks to the spine which reads “DJ Krush “Turntablized” Excursions into the Hip Hop avant-garde MWLP025″ not handwritten like everything else on the sleeve, but with an ugly font that no Mo’ Wax designer could ever make use of. That’s the easiest way to spot the bootleg. If you have nothing but a photo of the front cover then look at the edges, 2cm of the artwork are missing from each border because the it’s a cropped scan of the original. Also, the cat number in the runout grooves is MW25LP, which is wrong.
Front and back of the cover. Legit is on the left. You can see what’s missing on the edges of the bootleg.
The front cover, more in details. Guess which one is which!
The spines and the ugly font of the bootleg, below.
MW027 – DJ Shadow – What Does Your Soul Look Like?
Another one true to the original : the sleeve and labels are exactly the same, and once again you will easily spot the bootleg with the handwritten-style font on the spine. Also, on the real thing the sleeve and the labels are matte black, whereas the bootleg is more glossy.
The legit is above, it looks a bit grey but it’s actually matte black.
MW039LP – DJ Krush – Meiso LP
This one is easy to spot : it’s simply horrible. The colors are shitty, the die-cut as been replaced by a printed white circle and misplaced. The labels are totally different to the original, and they read MW039-12 as the cat number. A very bad bootleg!
The bootleg, front and back
The legit is above the bootleg
MW039LPDJ – DJ Krush – Meiso LP Sampler
I don’t have this one and it is not listed on Discogs, but I have seen it once, in a French record store a few years ago. All I can say is that the sleeve is printed on coated cardboard, while the original is on glossy cardboard. Can’t remember anything else, but I’m 100% sure it’s real!
MW042-12 – DJ Krush – Meiso single
It’s listed in Discogs as housed in a full color sleeve, which is a copy of the OG one, and what is supposed to be a sticker (on the legit CD version only) is actually printed. I can’t provide detailed pictures ‘cos the one I have doesn’t have this sleeve, so check it out here : http://www.discogs.com/DJ-Krush-Meiso/release/199692
Mine is in the MW086DJ style sleeve…
MW084 – DJ Shadow – Camel Bobsled Race
The print quality of this record is really bad. Some details are unreadable such as the Mo’ Wax logo on the upper right corner, and the back of the sleeve is a scan of the CD version, not the vinyl, so the duration of the sides is wrong (23:59 which is the length of the 1 track CD). The spine reads MW840 as the cat number.
It’s very easy to guess which one is the fake one…
The back is a scan of the CD with its specific playtime. The cat number on the spine is wrong.
Some “non-strictly Mo’ Wax” that were bootlegged
SS005 – DJ Shadow / Chief Xcel – Hardcore (Instrumental) Hip Hop / Fully Charged On Planet X
When this was released in 1996, Solesides was a kind of sister label to Mo’ Wax. The same tracks were also on a 12″ from the Excursions series. I have this bootleg but not the original, so I can’t compare myself and I’ll just copy and paste the infos from Discogs :
Vinyl labels are blurrier when compared to the original. The B-Side vinyl label is also a lot darker and does not feature white text but rather uses light brown.
The etchings in the runout groove are simply “SS 005 A” and “SS 005 B2”, where as the official version has “SS-005-A 33RPM ～ L-46426” and “SS-005-B L-46426-X”.
Versions of this have been released with a diecut stickered SoleSides sleeve as well as a diecut DJ Shadow (Mo’Wax) sleeve, both of which are fake.
Also, more Solesides bootleg have been released, check them out on Discogs
The Story of Mo’ Wax
2 x CD compilation put out by German label Marlboro Music in 1995. A fake version exists, but I’ve never seen it. It is listed on Discogs. Apparently it has the MW001 cat number, and it is easily recognizable with the ugly CDs.
The fake compilations
There are 2 compilations that Mo’ Wax has never released. Both still can be found very easily in big or little independent shops.
MWO-67 – Quatermass – Art Of Beats
A selection of tracks mis-titled, mis-credited, or not even ever released on Mo’ Wax. Some of them are rips from mix CDs, such as James Lavelle’s Fabric Live, so they include the mixed-out and mixed-in tunes… The cover is horrible, and has random texts from some early Mo’ Wax releases. I don’t know why but I really hate this record. I’ve seen it so many times during the past 10 years or so, and always thought “I’ll never buy this piece of crap”. I’ve eventually just grabbed it to illustrate this article :)
MW088LP/CD – Best of Mo’ Wax 12’s – The DJ Shadow Collection
This compilation uses the MW086DJ style on 2×12″, as well as a CD, the only Mo’ Wax CD bootleg that I’ve ever heard of. Again, there are some non Mo’ Wax tunes, and some of them are cut down and faded out to fit them all on the records or the CD…
One more thing : these are NOT bootlegs!
I’ve noticed that some people are getting confused with the series of Mo’ Wax releases – records and CDs – in a grey sleeve with an sticker reproducing the original artwork. These are NOT bootlegs. They are legit Mo’ Wax reissues from 1996 and they are essential to your collection! OK, they are not super sexy but please stop saying they suck ;) I can remember how happy I was to find those versions in stores when the first pressings were totally out of stock and impossible to find, at least in France…
If you have more infos on those records, or own one that I’ve not listed above, or even if you found an error in this article, feel free to let me know in the comments below!
Last update : 8 Nov. 2014