When we saw Q magazine’s 500 Greatest Lost Tracks list last week, we were confused: The majority of songs on the list are very much not lost. Some picks are especially bewildering like the megahit at Number 71, Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” and at Number 122 Christina Aguilera’s “Impossible,” which even if it were lost, who would try to find it?
Because of all the truly excellent, truly lost music out there, we’ve compiled our own list, which includes not only lost tracks, but lost albums. To us, “lost” means this: You can’t go to your local record store and buy any of these. Some lost material can, however, be found via that crazy internet, so we’ve included a helpful subsection: Lost music that can be found, thanks to the illicit thrill of file-sharing.
1. The Tapeworm demos. This collaboration between Trent Reznor and Tool’s Maynard James Keenan teased fans with its impending release for almost six years before the project was pronounced dead in 2004. A couple of the tracks did show up on the soundtrack to the film Underworld under the name Puscifer, but without Reznor. We know Rez is busy with Year Zero and all, but how about granting our wish, just this once.
2. Ryan Adams’ version of The Strokes’ Is This It? This is one of those cases where everyone knows this exists, but only Adams’ closest drinking buddies have heard it. Can it be anywhere as good as the original? No way, but we’d love to hear Adams’ countrified version.
3. Prince’s Crystal Ball Originally a 3-LP collection of Prince songs (which incorporated songs from two previously scrapped Prince concept albums The Dream Factory and Camille.) Crystal Ball was pared down from three records to two and became known as Sign ‘O’ the Times. In some circles, Sign is regarded as The Purple One’s best album. So can we have that third LP back?
4. Radiohead’s “Last Flowers Til Hospital” Teased on both YouTube and their docu-tour diary Meeting People Is Easy, this song has yet to be released via studio or performed live in its entirety (though Thom Yorke did perform it solo).
5. Pink Floyd’s “Seabirds” This song appears in the film More, but not the actual soundtrack. This pulsing psychedelic banger is available on mp3, but with horrible film dialogue in the foreground and film to VHS to CD to mp3 distortion in the background. There has to be a clean master recording of this in someone’s attic. Get searching!
6. The Who’s Lifehouse Set to follow fellow concept album Tommy, this collection of songs made it in parts onto Who’s Next. The album as a whole (performed by The Who) remains unavailable.
7. Ice Cube & Dr. Dre Heltah Skeltah This reunion album for the ex-N.W.A. members never saw release, but it did produce the G-funkalicious single “Natural Born Killaz.” With Dre on the verge of releasing his Detox and Ice Cube doing the Hollywood thing, one track may be all we’re getting from the duo.
8. Weezer Songs from the Black Hole Rivers Cuomo’s planned follow-up to The Blue Album, this space rock concept album was never formally released. Instead some of the songs splintered off onto Pinkerton (“Getchoo,” “Tired of Sex”) and became upper-echelon B-Sides (“Devotion,” “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams”). The majority of tracks, however, have yet to see release.
9. Every Nirvana demo that Courtney Love has but we don’t. We imagine it like this: Inside Courtney Love’s enormous wardrobe closet, there’s a shoebox with a bunch of Kurt cassettes. Please share. We’ll take anything. Even if it’s Kurt picking “Ode to Joy” on his guitar for the entire Side A, we’ll take it.
10. The Beach Boys’ Smile The Brian Wilson rerecording was much-appreciated, but now we want the real deal.
11. Walter Egan’s Not Shy Everyone’s heard Egan’s “Magnet & Steel” a thousand times in movies and supermarkets. The rest of the album, filled with breezy California pop-rock gems produced by an in-his-prime Lindsey Buckingham with background vocals by Stevie Nicks, remains unavailable on CD and mp3. It survives on vinyl, however, so check the $1 record rack next time.
12. Beck “Real Good Time” Originally an unreleased Beck demo, you know this song because Pink pilfered it to promote the second Charlie’s Angels movie. We don’t know what depresses us more: The fact that we really liked a Pink song, or that Pink has access to a Beck archives AND WE DON’T. (This is not the actual video, but someone used the song as a soundtrack to a photomontage. We do not know these people.)
13. Green Day’s Cigarettes and Valentines The supposed follow-up to their Shenanigans, the master tapes of this album were stolen from the studio in the very final stages of recording. Rather than rerecord the same album, Green Day started from scratch and ultimately produced American Idiot. So happy ending. Oh, if you stole Cigarettes and Valentines, send them our way. We promise we won’t rat on you.
14. Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy Duh.
If you have any of these LOST items, please e-mail us HERE. You’ll be our hero.
1. The extended version of Prince’s Purple Rain Rolling Stone is having the same post-Super Bowl craving as everyone else: the need for more Prince. We unearthed this treasure on Soulseek. Evidently, all the songs on Purple Rain (except “When Doves Cry”) were originally longer than what appeared on the final soundtrack. The biggest difference: A ten-minute “Computer Blue,” complete with a second verse and chorus, an assault of a guitar solo, more Wendy and Lisa talking like a robot, and a Prince monologue.
2. The Beta Band’s “The Hut” and “Happiness & Colour” Before releasing their much loved/reviled eponymous debut in 2000, The Beta Band sent these two ambient sound collages to reviewers as a taste of things to come. They were completely unavailable to the general public for seven years until this January, when they were inexplicably posted on this website. These two 20+ minute tracks debut several themes the Betas would revisit on their later albums. Go get them now.
3. Harmonia ’76 – Tracks & Traces At the time, Brian Eno called Harmonia the best band in the world. As if this Kraut-supergroup of Neu! and Cluster members wasn’t already super enough, they added Eno’s services for this album. Here, he provides vocals on a few tracks, a post-Another Green World rarity.
4. David Bowie’s acoustic rendition of “Dead Man Walking” Recorded in 1997 as a live performance for various late night shows, it not only trumped the original version (and its dozen remixes), it remains the best David Bowie song of the last decade. Most providers of not-quite-legit mp3s should carry this track.
5. The Replicants self-titled album Key members of mid-’90s L.A. rock gods Tool and Failure combine forces for a cover album that sounds like a glossy Nine Inch Nails covering John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan and more. Their cover of Gary Numan’s “Are Friends Electric?” is the highlight, and Maynard James Keenan’s guest vocals on Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” is a must-hear. This CD is long out of print, but lives on (illegally) on glorious mp3.
6. Ghostface Killah’s Broiled Salmon Mix Tape A collaboration with MF Doom: Some of these 39 tracks wound up on Killah’s stunning Fishscale. Some might be on Ghosty and MF’s upcoming collabo Swift & Interchangable. If you can’t wait it out, you can find it if you’re resourceful.
7. The Velvet Underground 1966 Acetate It hasn’t been established yet whether the tracks found here are from an old Japanese bootleg or the real-deal, twenty-five-grand-in-an-eBay-auction acetate copy of the first VU album. Whatever they are, they’re essential.
8. Fiona Apple’s original Extraordinary Machine We could spend an entire post arguing which we prefer: Apple’s final version this album or the Sony-withheld, Jon Brion-produced version. Leave it to BitTorrent to give you what Sony wouldn’t let you have.
9. Television’s Marquee Moon, produced by Brian Eno Essentially an audition tape (for an Island Records’ record contract they didn’t get), these tracks are rough, truncated sketches of the songs that would later become Television’s magnum opus. Although these demos are inferior to their final incarnations, they still serve as a superb musical history lesson.
10. William S. Burroughs and Kurt Cobain’s “The Priest They Called Him” One track, ten genius minutes from two of the most important poets of their respective generations. Burroughs orates one of his short stories over Cobain’s shrieking guitar solo. What used to be a hard-to-find collectors item is now readily available digitally.
We’re sure we forgot a couple thousand, so help us out. What ‘Lost’ albums or tracks do you need or can’t live without?