Uncut’s Great Lost Albums: Part One

This week’s new issue of Uncut features another 50 Great Lost Albums – those that are unavailable new or as legal downloads right now – chosen by the mag’s readers. Consequently, I thought it’d be useful to put our original Top 50 online, as they appeared in issue 156 of Uncut (Neil Young was on the cover, narrowing it down a little).

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This week’s new issue of Uncut features another 50 Great Lost Albums – those that are unavailable new or as legal downloads right now – chosen by the mag’s readers. Consequently, I thought it’d be useful to put our original Top 50 online, as they appeared in issue 156 of Uncut (Neil Young was on the cover, narrowing it down a little).

We can’t remember such an enthusiastic and interesting response to one of our features, and there were many more than 50 good and unavailable records that you recommended. As a result, I’ll be running some of your submissions here that didn’t make the magazine list. And of course, please fire away with more ideas in the comments box at the bottom of these blogs.


One other note, while I think about it: happily, a few of these albums – those by Dion and Sandy Denny, for a start – have been reissued since we put this list together…




Tin Machine II LONDON, 1991

David Bowie had formed Tin Machine in 1988 with guitarist Reeves Gabrels and rhythm section Hunt and Tony Sales, indulging a shared love of dissonant garage-rock and to hell with the consequences. EMI duly dropped them on the eve of this second album. Yes, Hunt Sales’ vocals on “Stateside” and “Sorry” are two of the most excruciating moments in Bowie’s recorded career, but overall II was actually a better album than their debut. Gabrels’ splintered guitar work has depth and texture, with “Baby Universal” and “Goodbye Mr Ed” offered a return to Bowie’s more allusive art-rock imaginings. Its poor showing in the charts – it was his first album in 20 years to miss the UK Top 20; in the US it crawled to No 126 – has meant a lack of love on the reissue front, too.

EXPECT TO PAY: £20 for the CD. Less for the cassette…



The Man


Before he became The KLF’s money-burning dance-punk art-terror-theorist, the erstwhile visionary behind Liverpool’s Zoo label stepped out as an unabashedly Scottish singer-songwriter with this remarkable LP, created to mark his turning 33-and-a-third. Recorded in five days in a village hall in Galloway, The Man was a surprisingly great sounding LP (not so surprising when you realise his backing band is The Triffids), that found Drummond musing on life, love and rock’n’roll. Its most famous song is undoubtedly “Julian Cope Is Dead”, which saw him recounting his master plan to make The Teardrop Explodes bigger than The Beatles by killing the singer. Elsewhere, there was cosmic country, folk, Roxy-esque sax, Wall Of Sound pop, and a Robert Burns recital by Drummond’s preacher father. “The work of a complete nutter,” enthused Creation boss Alan McGee.

EXPECT TO PAY: Quite a lot – sellers are asking £30 to £50 online



Nobody’s Cool


New Yorkers Lotion were perpetually described – to their irritation, but with a degree of accuracy – as a cross between REM and Hüsker Dü. Their career encompassed a fine debut, Full Isaac (available on iTunes) and a brief cameo appearance on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But while the bright and wry college rock of their second LP, Nobody’s Cool, didn’t quite match its predecessor, its current unavailability has resulted in a significant piece of literary ephemera being lost. Drummer Rob Youngberg’s mother was an accountant, and one of her clients, Thomas Pynchon, was implausibly coerced into providing sleevenotes. Pynchon’s essay touched on The Love Boat, The Jetsons and Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash”. “Through-out this album,” he wrote, “beneath the formal demands of rock’n’roll as we have come to know it, between the metal anthems and moments of tonal drama, the darkest of surrealist lyrics, the most feedback-stricken, edge-of-chaos guitar passages, may also be detected the weird jiving sense of humor of a cruise combo.” Rock criticism’s loss, etc etc…

EXPECT TO PAY: Very, very little…



Buckingham Nicks POLYDOR, 1973

Misty-eyed Fleetwood Mac fans would call this 1973 debut by young lovers Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks a classic, but those who come to it having gorged on Rumours and Tusk might be underwhelmed. What is remarkable about Buckingham Nicks is that there has never been a CD repress of this cult record. Perhaps the duo, who own the rights, would rather it stays that way. Certainly, Polydor washed its hands of the couple shortly after the LP flopped: longhaired and bell-bottomed, much of the pair’s Cali folk was indistinguishable from that of fellow LA minstrels. Nevertheless, “Without A Leg To Stand On” and “Long Distance Winner” are superb, displaying the flair that convinced Mick Fleetwood to invite them to join his rudderless outfit in 1974.

EXPECT TO PAY: £30 for a mint vinyl copy



Demolition Derby


The New York-born master of cross-cultural guitar spent the ’60s exploring fusions of American folk-blues with Middle Eastern scales, jazz and effects-laden psychedelics. Demolition Derby was the last recording he made before heroin addiction sent him lurching off the radar for 16 years, and it was a strange mix of rarefied improvs and disposable cheeseballs. Bull overdubbed himself playing the Arabic oud, fuggily tremoloed acid guitar, percussion and harmonised vocals which at times descended into goofy falsetto. “Carnival Jump” and “Easy Does It” featured hand drums by Denis Charles, percussionist with free jazz pianist Cecil Taylor; “Sweet Baby Jumper” saw Bull slapping some Jamaican steelpans. But someone responsible should have had a quiet word about the schlock-country “Tennessee Waltz”.

EXPECT TO PAY: No more than £20




First Light CHRYSALIS, 1978; HANNIBAL, 1992 (CD)

Released after the couple’s three-year sabbatical to follow their recently adopted Sufi Muslim faith, First Light was a cautious return that doesn’t hold a candle to their Island albums or the intensely brilliant Shoot Out The Lights, which followed this, and companion Chrysalis LP Sunnyvista. Linda was in fine, clear voice, but Richard’s contribution was subdued, buried beneath the ill-matched American rhythm section of Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark. Despite some great songs – “Strange Affair”, “Don’t Let A Thief Steal Your Heart” – the album never caught fire. Although First Light was released briefly on CD by Hannibal, Richard has expressed a certain indifference to both Chrysalis albums. But, missing master tapes permitting, “never say never” to a reissue.

EXPECT TO PAY: A tenner for the album, quite a lot more for the CD




BUDDHA, 1969; SEQUEL, 1992 (CD)

The Hendrix connection – Jimi produced it, and plays on a number of tracks – has long made this a collectable. But, lifted by Ernie Graham’s fine songwriting, this Irish band’s sole LP deserves to be more than a footnote on the great guitarist’s discography. It is whimsical, sunshiney psych-pop of the post-Pepper type, with hints of Van Morrison here, maybe a little Love there, and remarkably free of the curdling blues-rock you might have expected from a long-term support act to the Experience. Lacking anything approaching a hit, it flopped in both the US and the UK, and a 1992 CD reissue has long since disappeared from view. Which is a shame, as both this and a 1971 self-titled LP (which is available) prove, in Ernie Graham the band possessed a should-have-made-it talent.

EXPECT TO PAY: Around £20 for the CD, over £100 for the original vinyl




200 Motels OST UNITED ARTISTS, 1971; RHINO, 1997 (2CD)

Most of Zappa’s catalogue is owned by his estate, but not this. The movie – a punishingly surreal on-tour farce featuring Ringo Starr, groupie queen Pamela Des Barres and Keith Moon as “The Hot Nun” – was finally made available on DVD by copyright holders MGM in March. Does that mean its long-desirable soundtrack will follow suit? The 90-plus minutes of music on the now-deleted ’90s reissue confirmed this as typically ornery Zappa – offering psych-rock, prog, mad jazz, country pastiches and full-blown classical pieces played by The Royal Philharmonic, all under a selection of snigger-snigger titles like “Half A Dozen Provocative Squats” and “I’m Stealing The Towels”. At its best – the blistering “Magic Fingers”, say – it’s excellent, crowned by the harmonies of ex-Turtles Mark Volman and Howard Kayman, aka Flo and Eddie.

EXPECT TO PAY: £20-£40



The World We Knew

NEW ROSE, 1987; TRIPLE X, 1994 (CD)

Having pursued the wild, hiccupping spirit of Memphis rockabilly as producer for The Cramps and on his own Like Flies On Sherbet, late Big Star legend Alex Chilton [see pp8-10] continued the quest in 1979 when he hooked up with Dada-inspired video artist Gustav Falco to form the Panther Burns. Rotating around the ever-present Falco, there have been countless manifestations of the band since, but, with Chilton back producing and playing, this was their definitive statement. The World We Knew was a wondrously sloppy, swampy and spooky collection of obscure, even mysterious covers – its blend of the Sun sound, rough-edged R’n’B and stomping Stax soul presenting an underground history of American rock’n’roll. Look out for the 1994 CD re-release, which adds the Jim-Dickinson produced “Shake Rag” EP – four booglarizing slices of Southern Fried, including the killer “Shade Tree Mechanic.”

EXPECT TO PAY: £30-£50



The Incredible New

Liverpool Scene CBS, 1967

Following the successful poetry anthology, The Liverpool Scene, published in 1967, featuring the work of Henri, McGough and Brian Patten, the three Liverpool poets were given the opportunity to record an LP, with guitarist Andy Roberts. Patten absented himself last minute, but Henri and McGough performed classic, comical, streetwise poems “Love Is”, “Tonight At Noon”, “Let Me Die A Young Man’s Death” in just two hours – and immediately after an ICA event – at Denmark’s Street’s Regent Sound, where the early Stones demoed. A hit, of sorts, the

album spearheaded a revival in performance poetry further fuelled by a Penguin Modern Poets edition, The Mersey Sound. Legal wrangles and lost tapes notwithstanding, a CD release is being plotted.




Play For Today

SIRE, 1981

OK, so The Searchers didn’t have the copyright on ringing 12-string, catchy choruses and tight, Scousey harmonies. But in the mid-’60s, they were pretty big in the States, too, and their sound infiltrated a generation of Anglophile powerpoppers – Tom Petty chief among them. Which is probably why Seymour Stein – boss of celebrated New Wave label Sire and something of a fan – thought they would be such a good fit for the late ’70s, rewarding the band with a multi-album deal. It didn’t work out completely for Mike Pender and co: Play For Today was the second and final LP The Searchers cut for Sire, but it’s pretty great – superior, chiming powerpop that acknowledged, albeit tastefully, that punk really did happen. And nestled among self-penned material (“Little Bit Of Heaven”, the surprisingly Smithsy “Another Night”), there’s even a cover of Big Star’s “September Gurls”.

EXPECT TO PAY: £15, although copies

are getting rarer



Rainy Day


The Paisley Underground supergroup! Nearly 20 years after the first psychedelic outbreak on Sunset Strip, some of the leading lights of Los Angeles’ emerging neo-psych scene – Dream Syndicate, Opal, The Bangles and The Three O’Clock – pooled resources to cut an album of immaculately chosen covers of their musical heroes. The project has aged remarkably well: here you’ll find an exquisite version of Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine” sung by The Bangles’ soon-to-be-chart-topping Susanna Hoffs, a haunting take on Big Star’s “Holocaust” by Opal’s Kendra Smith, plus fine stabs at Neil Young’s “Flying On The Ground Is Wrong”, and, of course, Hendrix’s “Rainy Day, Dream Away”, all sympathetically produced by man-on-the-scene David Roback, later of Mazzy Star. It’s bizarre this little-heard gem has never been reissued – although presumably getting permission from all the parties involved must be something of a logistical nightmare.

EXPECT TO PAY: Difficult to find,

but £25, maybe?



Edge Of Darkness OST


In the mid-1980s, Eric Clapton’s career was not in robust health. A recovering alcoholic, facing the commercial disappointment of ’83’s Money And Cigarettes, Clapton embarked on a brief detour into soundtrack work with US composer Michael Kamen. Their first outing together was this atmospheric six-track score for the BBC’s landmark conspiracy drama, and was different from anything else in Clapton’s canon: ditching the blues, the master guitarist built low, mournful guitar motifs around Kamen’s chugging semi-industrial score. First issued on vinyl, cassette and – unusually for 1985 – CD, it has never been reissued.

EXPECT TO PAY: £15, more for the CD



Wonder Where I’m Bound


Dion’s ’75 excursion with Phil Spector, Born To Be With You is often lauded as his masterpiece. But Wonder Where I’m Bound, a US-only LP comprised mostly of outtakes released to cash in with 1968 hit, “Abraham, Martin & John”, is long due reappraisal, too. This was largely recorded in 1964/5, and buried among the expected doo-wop material were some good surprises, including the fiery garage blues of Willie Dixon’s “The Seventh Son”, and a haunting take on the title track, written by Tom Paxton, which featured a pre-Highway 61 Al Kooper on keys. Dion’s version of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” is astonishing – West Coast folk-rock with added NY grime, it manages to recall The Velvet Underground at their most melodic. But Dion got there first!

EXPECT TO PAY: £10 or so, plus postage from the States!



Music For Stowaways

VIRGIN, 1980

Following their exit from the Human League (and before heading chartward with Heaven 17) Sheffield synth-stabbers Martyn Ware and Ian Gregory unleashed this album of icy instrumental electronica. It was uncompromising, experimental stuff, on one hand harking back to the Human League’s stark “Dignity Of Labour” EP, and yet somehow foreshadowing much of Warp Records’ output 15 years later. Featuring an early, stripped-back version of Heaven 17’s debut single “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang”, Music For Stowaways (the ‘Stowaway’ being the original brand name for the Sony Walkman) was only ever issued on cassette in the UK – although a limited export vinyl version with five of the album’s tracks and bonus song (“A Baby Called Billy”) was pressed.

EXPECT TO PAY: £20, worth it if you’ve still got a working tape player…



For How Much

Longer Do We Tolerate

Mass Murder? ROUGH TRADE, 1981

The Pop Group were, of course, anything but. Bristol teenagers into James Brown, free jazz and radical politics, their name was a Trojan Horse to sneak the band into the mainstream and cause, as vocalist Mark Stewart put it, “an explosion right in the very heart of the commodity”. If debut LP Y, recorded with dub producer Dennis Bovell, couched their vision in quasi-mystical terms, its 1981 follow-up (never officially reissued on CD) was the stuff of direct action. Poetry took a back seat to polemic – “Nixon and Kissinger should be tried for war crimes!” squealed Stewart – but their white-hot funk was more caustic than ever, while “One Out Of Many” marked a collaboration with spoken word group the Last Poets.

EXPECT TO PAY: £40 for a decent vinyl copy, as long as it’s got the four original posters

Next: 34-17, 16-1


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