Uncut’s 50 best bootlegs

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

Trending Now

An Audience With Andrew Weatherall

By way of tribute to Andrew Weatherall, whose death was confirmed earlier today, I thought I’d post my interview...

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on their new album: “It’s weirder… it feels exciting”

In our recent 2020 album preview, Fran Keaney, singer and acoustic guitarist in Melbourne's Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, told...

The 3rd Uncut New Music Playlist of 2020

The return of Jason Isbell and Lucinda Williams, plus King Krule, Hailu Mergia and Jon Hopkins

21 STEELY DAN
THE LAST GAUCHO
Recorded 1979, New York

“Writing was hard, recording was hard, everything about it was like pulling teeth…” So said Donald Fagen of Gaucho, finally released in November 1980 after a litany of problems that included label spats, endless re-takes and a $150,000 bespoke-built drum machine called Wendel. There was tragedy, too: Walter Becker’s girlfriend died of an overdose in January 1980; Becker broke his leg in a hit-and-run three months later and phoned in contributions from a hospital bed. Becker and Fagen ditched numerous songs for good during these protracted sessions – all collected on this excellent boot – including “Kind Spirit”, “The Bear”, “Talkin’ About My Home” and “Kulee Baba”, each perfect examples of the Dan’s distinctive brand of decadent jazz-rock. But the jewel here is the re-recorded “The Second Arrangement” – a jaded come-down epic once earmarked by the duo as Gaucho’s centrepiece, but abandoned after an assistant engineer accidentally wiped the track during playback. And because the Dan never made back-up copies – the sound quality suffered, apparently – all the cuts on The Last Gaucho sound great, and are appended with numerous outtakes and alternate versions.
Sound quality: Very good, if rougher and looser than the final Gaucho. And Wendel can be a little erratic…
See also: Live At The Record Plant, 3/20/1974 – an astonishing show from just before they quit touring

Advertisement

______________

20 REM
THE ELLIOT MAZER DEMOS
Recorded 1983, San Francisco
On November 9, 1983, REM entered San Francisco’s Rhythmic Studios with sometime Neil Young producer Elliot Mazer to demo songs for their second album, Reckoning. Present were fully realised numbers that would eventually be recut at Mitch Easter’s Drive-In Studio. Yet “Harbourcoat” and “Seven Chinese Brothers” to name but two, represent fascinating, subtle shifts of tone and vocal inflection, while “Pale Blue Eyes,” one of two fine Velvets covers, is resplendent with its countrified arrangement. Most intriguing are those tunes left off Reckoning: “All The Right Friends” hinges on its dark chorus, and “Skank (Marble Table)” shows the band at their most stretched-out. Then there’s the whimsy – an OTT “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, the surf-goof “Windout” and “Cushy Tush” – a mock toilet-tissue ad, and proof this most revered of underground bands wasn’t taking itself too seriously. “Your family deserves the best in asswipe,” Stipe deadpans.
Sound quality: Fair to good. The master tape is lost, one reason why this material didn’t make the Reckoning deluxe
See also: The still-unreleased MTV Unplugged, 1991

Advertisement
Advertisement

Latest Issue

Robert Plant, Karen Dalton, Elton John, Stephen Malkmus, Maria McKee, Shabaka Hutchings and Iggy & Bowie – plus a free 15-track CD
Advertisement

Features

Advertisement