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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Manchester live tape
Recorded August 14, 1981, Manchester
In 1980, Alan Horne issued titles and catalogue numbers for several upcoming releases on his Postcard label, including the debut albums from two of his star acts, Orange Juice (Ostrich Churchyard; 81-10) and Aztec Camera (Green Jacket Grey; 81-13). With Postcard’s star acts moving on to bigger labels, both projects were shelved. Ostrich Churchyard was finally released in 1992 – but what of Green Jacket Grey? Does Aztec Camera’s long-lost debut even exist? Certainly, a cassette containing three tracks – “Stand Still”, “Real Tears” and “Abbatoir” – is in circulation while a clutch of lesser-spotted tracks have appeared on live bootlegs like this one, recorded at Manchester venue De Villes in front of a crowd barely into double figures. Spindly versions of songs that would later appear on 1983’s splendid-but-slick Rough Trade debut High Land, Hard Rain rub shoulders with abandoned efforts. With no evidence that the 17-year-old Roddy Frame captured the likes of “Stand Still”, “Remember The Docks”, “The Spirit Shows”, “Nothing In The Sky”, “In Another Room” and “Green Jacket Grey” in a studio, it may be as near to that elusive “debut” as we can get.
Sound quality: Rudimentary
See also: Harder-to-find tapes from Bourne Castle and Edinburgh


Recorded 1992/3


When Pigs Fly, directed by Jim Jarmusch’s partner Sara Driver, was an ill-fated 1993 flick starring Marianne Faithfull as a ghost and Alfred Molina as a jazzer. “I took eight months to do the score,” recalled Strummer in 1999. “The film couldn’t get distribution, they showed it at festivals but nothing happened. It’s a lost body of my work…” Strummer’s unreleased eight-track soundtrack is indeed a worthy addition to his solo canon, taking in the Pogues-ey Celtic-rock of “Rose Of Erin”, the Bernard Herrmann-meets-Link Wray noir of instrumental “Storm In A D-Cup”, and the breezy pop of the rattling title track. This boot of the aborted soundtrack comes with additional songs from two ’90s movies that Strummer appeared in: “Afro Cuban Be-Bop”, recorded for Finnish film I Hired A Contract Killer, and “Victory Lane”, from Doctor Chance. It’s rounded off by a stand-alone acoustic version of old blues “Junco Partner”, previously covered by both The Clash and The 101’ers.
Sound quality: Studio-spec recordings, clear but unpolished
See also: Solo Strummer has been comprehensively booted, but his final gig at Liverpool University on November 22, 2002 is rousing and poignant


Recorded 1989, Devon


Few artists have had such an uncomfortable relationship with recording studios as The La’s’ Lee Mavers. The band’s solitary album came out to Mavers’ displeasure in 1990, after numerous, aborted attempts at recording it. Since then: nothing. Into this void have stepped bootleggers. The best is The Kitchen Tape – apparently recorded in a kitchen in Devon in 1989, and leaked in 2006. Although few songs are finished, tracks like “Tears In The Rain”, “Something I Said/Fishing Net” and “I Am The Key” (a faster version of which Mavers played with The La’s in 2005) show that Mavers was still writing gorgeous, rootsy, pop songs every bit as timeless and melodious as “There She Goes”. Mavers described the recording as “a load of fucking garbage” but in the continued absence of any official second album, this is the best the fans have got. Also available is The Crescent Tape, featuring Mavers jamming with Liverpool band The Crescent in 1998, which features a lot of hiss and at least one outstanding song, “Human Race”.
Sound quality: Okay for The Kitchen Tape, but poor for The Crescent Tape
See also: The La’s’ ‘comeback’ in 2005 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire


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