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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Recorded May 1968, Esher

The Beatles rarely recorded demos together, because they rarely wrote songs together. But the creative stimulus of their Rishikesh visit, combined with the scale of The White Album project meant that, for once, the band were able to gather, with acoustics, at George Harrison’s home in Esher – Kinfauns – and collectively pitch songs for the new album. Bootlegged many times – as The Esher Demos, The Beatles Unplugged, Unsurpassed Demos and more – these are vigorous, rough renditions, sometimes with different words: “I’m So Tired” has a little spoken part and a nod to Beatle PR Derek Taylor. Best of all are songs that never made it to the final cut. Harrison’s storming “Sour Milk Sea” – later gifted to Jackie Lomax – is brilliant. Lennon’s “Child Of Nature”, later reworded to become “Jealous Guy”, is here too, as is McCartney’s lovely “Junk”. (There’s also “What’s The New Mary Jane”, but let’s pass on that). The Kinfauns demos not only demonstrate the strength of the material on The White Album, but also, ironically, show in their acoustic forms a consistency lacking from the sprawling end product.
Sound quality: Good. Seven songs appeared on Anthology 3
See also: The Black Album for more Rishikesh related songs



Recorded 1993, Pachyderm Studios, Minnesota
Following the success of Nevermind, plenty of Nirvana boots found their way into circulation, including five volumes of Outcesticide and the six-disc, 116-track Into The Black. Much of this material – live footage, covers, alternate mixes and assorted curios – has since seen official release on 2004’s With The Lights Out box and this year’s Nevermind: Deluxe Edition. Yet to see official release, however, is the fabled Steve Albini mixes of the group’s final studio album, In Utero. Albini’s original mix was dubbed “unlistenable” by Geffen top brass, and the band reputedly lost their nerve, too, calling in REM producer Scott Litt to make dynamic adjustments and remix “All Apologies” and “Heart Shaped Box” (the original featured a guitar solo Krist Novoselic described as sounding “like a fucking abortion hitting the floor”).
Sound quality: More dynamic range – the quiet bits quieter, the loud bits louder. Vocals are mixed slightly lower – but the drums are crushing
See also: Outcesticide


Recorded 1965- 1970
As Nick Mason hinted in last month’s Uncut, it seems likely the surviving members of Pink Floyd may finally bring out the unreleased studio recordings from the Syd Barrett era next summer. Although spread across odds-and-sods bootlegs like The Sight And Sounds Of Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and Syd’s Paintbox Collection, this 24-track CD brings together the most sought after Syd recordings in one place. Among live recordings of the Floyd from far-flung locations such as Carlisle (“Reaction In G”) and Copenhagen (“Stoned Alone”) we get as-yet-unreleased studio recordings including bluesy “I’m A King Bee” (from late 1965, with Bob Klose in the lineup), an early composition (“Lucy Leave”) and late-period gems, “Vegetable Man” and “Scream Thy Last Scream”. The most poignant recordings are four songs from Syd’s final live solo show at Olympia Exhibition Hall on June 6, 1970; frustratingly, the sound is muffled at best.
Sound Quality: Scratchy acetates and murky live recordings that sit alongside pristine studio recordings only add to the allure for serious Syd aficionados
See also: A Saucerful Of Outtakes


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