Uncut’s 50 best bootlegs

A wealth of amazing music, scrapped LPs, obscure sessions and lost nuggets selected from our own private collections…

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A huge amount of amazing music by some of Uncut’s favourite artists remains unavailable – officially, at least. Here, then, are 50 remarkable bootleg recordings selected from our own private collections. We’ve favoured rare and unreleased studio recordings over that bootleg staple, the live show (though we couldn’t resist including a few). We wanted to present alternate histories of some of rock’s greatest bands, so over the next 18 pages you’ll discover entire LPs that never came out, abandoned hook-ups, unlikely covers, obscure radio sessions and lost nuggets. Oh, and what happens when you leave the tape running… Originally published in Uncut’s November 2011 issue (Take 174).


Recorded 1970, London


In 1970, The Troggs entered the London studio of their label, Dick James Music, to work on a new song, “Tranquility” with producer Dennis Berger. But the band were critically under-rehearsed. With the tape running, the session deteriorated into an hilarious, 12-minute swearathon, the air blue with recriminations (“you fucking pranny!”), angry suggestions of how to improve the track (“put a little bit of fucking fairy dust over the bastard”) and Reg Presley’s priceless, interjections (“what about a fucking 12-string?”) – all delivered in the broadest ’ampshire vowels. We counted 93 uses of the word “fuck”; Presley claims he has a master tape with 137. By 1972, samizdat recordings had become a tour bus staple, and its influence extended to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s Derek And Clive tapes, This Is Spinal Tap, The Comic Strip’s Bad News and a Saturday Night Live parody, where a medieval music troupe featuring Bill Murray, John Belushi and Harry Shearer replaced “fucking” with “flogging”. Part of The Troggs Tapes was released as a bonus CD with the 1992 Archeology box; Reg’s 137 f-word motherlode remains unreleased.
Sound quality: Excellent
See also: Oasis’ Wibbling Rivalry (1994) and Orson Welles’ frozen peas commercial

Recorded June 1974, Nashville

Paul and Linda, Denny Laine and new Wings’ members Jimmy McCulloch and Geoff Britton arrived in Nashville on June 6, 1974, staying at the 133-acre ranch owned by Curly Putman, writer of “Green, Green Grass Of Home”. There ostensibly to rehearse, they soon entered the local Sound Shop Studios, but from these sessions only “Junior’s Farm” and “Sally G” were released, as Wings’ final Apple single that November. Some of Nashville’s top players play on this boot – including Chet Atkins, Lloyd Green and fiddlers Vassar Clements and Johnny Gimble, dubbed the Country Hams by McCartney. Their skills were wasted on the pleasantly trite “Hey Diddle” or “Walking In The Park With Eloise”, written years before by McCartney’s father James. This, and another cheesy instrumental, “Bridge On The River Suite”, eventually appeared on the 1989 edition of Wings At The Speed Of Sound. Denny Laine’s run-of-the-mill country rocker “Send Me The Heart” was later re-recorded for his 1981 album, Japanese Tears. Hastily leaving Nashville after a drunken McCulloch fell foul of local police, Wings were soon ensconced in Abbey Road filming the aborted TV doc, One Hand Clapping.
Sound quality: Excellent
See also: Cold Cuts Collection


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