Monday, 28 July 2014

The Best Unreleased McCartney Recordings (News, Views and Music 255 Top Thirty-Three-And-A-Third)




Dear all, here we are back again for the last in our current fake compilations of an AAA artist's best unreleased work. This week it's the turn of Paul McCartney, who as I write this is poorly in a Tokyo hospital bed suffering from a nasty-sounding virus. Get well soon Macca (although hopefully he's back to his normal self now - we are about two months ahead of ourselves now at the AAA after a busy year!) Anyway there are oodles of McCartney unreleased songs to choose from - some of them from the most-leaked-bootleg-in-history 'Cold Cuts' a, collection of unreleased Wings recordings first designed in 1979 and returned to every few years before being quietly dropped. Most of those songs - and a handful of others - have since been released by Macca either a B-sides in the 1990s and 00s or nowadays as bonus tracks on his 'deluxe' album re-issues. Chances are a lot of these songs will end up on future sets like these one day too (personally I can't wait to hear the bootlegs of 'London Town' in great sound!) but the series seems to be quietening down now anyway, with just 'Wings At The Speed Of Sound' vaguely mentioned at some point in the vaguely distant future and nothing more as yet. Ah well, until these songs appear this is what you're missing out on!

CD One:

1) Best Friend (Unreleased Song Recorded Live 1972-73)

Alas Wings never did record a studio version of this rocker, which was played on the second Wings tour of 1972-1973 (the one where Henry McCullough joined). However this live version must be one of the most 'nearly' issued McCartney songs of all time: it was recorded for use on the original double-album version of 'Red Rose Speedway' which was initially meant to end with a 'live side' (that's where B-side 'The Mess' originally came from too), then intended for 'Cold Cuts' when that album was first proposed, then rumoured to be part of the line-up for 1987 compilation 'All The Best' along with 'Waterspout' - until someone persuaded Macca a greatest hits album shouldn't really have outtakes on it (huh - have they not heard Neil Young's 'Decade', a double set that mixes both with ease?!) I'm surprised, after all those close brushes with fame, that Macca didn't broadcast the song on his 'Oobu Joobu' radio show - perhaps he's forgotten about it, or perhaps he's saving it for a re-creation of the original 'Red Rose Speedway' (let's hope so anyway!) 'Best Friend' is the greatest McCartney song by any means, but it features plenty of its author's casual excellence, with a great funky riff and lyrics that are just vague enough where Paul could be singing to his wife or his dog (or both!) Various mixes exist, the best one featuring a full minute of Henry solo-ing before the song 'proper' kicks in. 'I wake up in the morning, I'm still dreaming 'bout you, tell me pretty baby I'm blue, wake up in the evening, I'm still screaming out over you!'

2) 1882 (Unreleased Song Recorded Live 1972-73)

This unique McCartney song has a similar history: it too should have been on the live version of 'Res Rose Speedway' and was in the running for the second variation on 'Cold Cuts'. I love this song which finds McCartney well out of his comfort zone, playing out a Victorian melodrama where a starving kitchen boy wonders whether to steal a piece of bread and imagines the horrors as he gets carted away to the galows. Macca clearly got a bit carried away (even the Victorians didn't hang you 'like a ham' for stealing - they simply put you in prison where you were likely to catch some awful disease and die more slowly and painfully, which was nice of them) but there's no doubting his passion and the song is deeply unusual, based around a plodding, angry piano phrase that sounds like the unhappy twin of 'Coming Up' merged with 'Wildlife' and with McCartney quietly brooding in a more Lennonesque way than his usual style. Even the title is unusual - the only other song I can think of named after the date it's set in is, err, Wings' '1985' from a year later (so perhaps this song was more influential than has always been assumed?) Most moving of all is the verse where a tearful mother tells her child (all in the third-person) that she's dying and won't be around much longer - its up to the lad how he conducts himself from now on; the parallels with McCartney's own mother Mary who died when Paul was 14 might be the reason why this song has never been released, although Wings did play it several times live.Sadly there never was a studio take once again - the only other recording of the song we have is Macca's piano demo when he pounds out the chords and all but screams the final verse. 'Darling son, I am dying and I leave it to you, I'm leaving - tell me what did I do?'

3) Love Is Your Road, Love Is My Road (Demo c.1972)

A piano demo that's less well ear-marked might come from later but just sounds like it belongs in the 'Wildlife-Speedway' era. Like many a McCartney song it's so naturally melodic you wonder why it was never written by anyone else and re-uses one of Pauk's favourite metaphors of a 'road' for a life's journey (see everything from 'The Long and Winding Road' to last year's song titled simply 'The Road'). This time, though, the mood is happier, with an 'intersection' in the road where two paths have crossed and a couple have ended up travelling down the same route. Alas Macca never returned to this promising song, which first appeared on a whole reel of piano demos of future greats like 'Getting Closer' and 'Letting Go' and yet in its early form sounds better than any of them. 'Love is your road, love is my road, now it's gonna be my road again'

4) Sea-Cornish Wafer-Storm ('Rupert' 1972)

The first line-up of Wings must have felt like they were given a rum deal - their next project after knocking out the unfairly unloved 'Wildlife' album in a matter of days was to work on a score for an animation film of 'Rupert'. Not for the first or last time, Macca rather underestimated the amount of time it would take to finish and the project turned into a 15 minute short released 12 years later instead. Several songs from the project have been released now - 'We All Stand Together' on the finished project of course but also 'Sunshine Sometime' and 'The Great Cock and Seagull Race' which came out on the deluxe edition of 'Ram' in 2012. For my money, though, the best song is this medley, made up of a slow chugging  blues part ('Sea') with Denny Laine prominent on harmonies and an intriguing mellotron part, a jovial little cameo sung by a pixie named 'Cornish Wafer' and a turbulent, Pink Floyd style guitar attack ('Storm'), pushing the song somewhere close to a five minute opus before looping back round to the beginning once again. Yes like the other 'Rupert' songs its trivial stuff by McCartney's standards but it's also far too good to languish in the vaults (especially now the two instrumentals are readily available). Goodness only knows what's happening to poor Rupert in the storyline though - gulls, pixies, storms, I think he should have stayed in Nutwood... 'I am the Cornish Wafer, I have the cornish sail, I am the Cornish wafer and I love the cornish tales, I am the cornish lad and I'm coming home to...sea'

5) Dear Friend (Demo 1972)

Paul's reply to John's attacks in the press inspired one of his greatest songs that no one seems to know, a song that manages to tearfully ask for forgiveness and at the same time admits that the pair have moved too far apart in their lives. As the last track on 'Wildlife', an album that very much nurses it's wounds, it serves as the near-perfect finale: a final goodbye in the same sense that 'God' and the line 'I don't believe in Beatles' was to the first Lennon album. Heard as a demo, however, its impact is even greater: there are no strings to soften the blow, no extended instrumental, none of the scat singing of the finished product - just a very sad and broken hearted man keeping back the tears as he pounds away at his piano. So rough is this demo that you can even hear Linda talking in the background on the phone - its tough to hear what she's saying, but from what we can hear it doesn't sound good. The McCartneys were in a rotten place in 1972 and this recording shows it more than perhaps any other - how typical of McCartney, then, to keep it from view all these years even though he's never sounded more human or sympathetic.

6) Night Out (Unreleased Song 1973)

Another song familiar to 'Cold Cuts' this is one of a handful of songs that were dumped from the original double-album 'Red Rose Speedway' that weren't released as B-sides across 1973 and 1974. An unusual song that sounds more like the 'McCartney II' era's love of funny noises and half-instrumental/half lyrical songs, this is the tale of a bunch of scouse lads out for a night out on the town (party!) with several overdubbed Maccas all having fun. A mix also exists with just the backing track which actually sounds like a better song: Henry's guitar fits into the band's sound better than almost anything else he plays on, with a second fuzz guitar apparently played by Denny while Macca grooves away on an organ adding up to a funky backing track. Apparently Macca came back to this song at least twice, with both the Jimmy McCulloch and Laurence Juber line-ups of Wings so they could be on this track too. Remember that this track was dropped partly to make way for that ghastly 'Hold Me Tight' medley at the end of 'Red Rose Speedway's second side and weep...'Night out...party!'

7) Tragedy (Unreleased Cover 1973)

Another 'Cold Cut' favourite, this lovely lilting ballad is so in McCartney's usual style that for years I assumed it was written by him. But not so: it was first performed by a band named The Fleetwoods in 1961 who treat it as more of a doo-wop number; needlessly to say Wings' take on it is better, with some particularly golden harmonies and the unusual touch of a sitar where the guitar part should be (the last appearance of a sitar on a McCartney track until 2001's 'Riding To Jaipur' no less!) This was another song intended for 'Red Rose Speedway' but given the chop when the album reverted to being a single record. 'Kissed by wind, blessed by sun'.

8) Proud Mum #1 and #2 (Unreleased Songs 1973)

More 'Red Rose' outtakes, although not ones considered for 'Cold Cuts' this time. Two cute instrumentals - one short, one long - use the same basic riff which is played on brass before being whalloped over the head with a mellotron straight out of Macca B-side 'Lunchbox Odd Sox'. The instrumentals were probably given their titles after someone pointed out how much the song's main riff sounds like a strutting mother hen, caught somewhere between pride and comedy - the McCartneys naturally kept lots of chickens as farmers although they tended to write about their sheep more.

9) Jazz Street (Unreleased Song 1973)

The original sprawling 'Speedway' LP was meant to contain lots of examples of Wings turning into a real live band and contained lots of loose band jams - 'Loup' was the one that made the album, with 'Henry's Blues' another that didn't make the cut. 'Jazz Street' is the loosest, however, based around a tricky McCartney piano phrase that's just a nudge away from the centrepoint of '1985', with some ghostly guitar howls from Henry and some rattling drums from Denny Seiwell. One hopes someone would have edited this eight minute song down for the final LP, but it is an interesting snapshot into how well this line-up of Wings were beginning to bounce off each other and would have made another fine B-side like many of the other 'Speedway' offcuts.

10) Mary Had A Little Lamb (With Coda 1973)

Talking of McCartney's sheep, this single was kind of inevitable given the lambs that followed Paul's daughter Mary around every day. Just in case the three minute edition of the single wasn't enough for anyone, the original master tape includes a full minute long coda that's looser and rawer than anything that made the finished version, with Paul putting on his best 'hollering' voice. Wings, meanwhile, sound like they're taking part in a pub singalong and are ever so lightly drunk. Frankly though I prefer it to the oh-so-picture perfect finished version which comes with at least one spoonful of sugar too much; annoyingly so because Macca's version of it has a lovely counter-melody that might have been served by a deeper song. 'And you can hear them singing la la...'

11) Let Me Roll It (Demo 1973)

Legend has it that when Paul and Linda were in Laos recording 'band On The Run' they were mugged at knife point and the would-be assassins ran off with their tape recorders, leaving Wings with the difficult task of having to piece together their half-songs from memory. There was no note given with this and the next tape when they suddenly appeared on youtube without warning, so are they London demos from before the Trip out there, the tapes stolen by the muggers or those pieces together in a hurry afterwards? We don't know. What we do know is that McCartney only has half a song ready in both cases. The distinctive riff for 'Let Me Roll It' is already there but the intensity isn't: for now, it's a laidback blues song without the creepy echo of the finished product and only the first verse and chorus are intact (the song leaves off with a dramatic flourish where the 'I wants to tell you' verse should be. Short but sweet and infinitely more interesting than all of the 1990s soundcheck performances and remixes of songs that made up the Band On The Run 25th anniversary set.

12) Mrs Vanderbilt (Demo 1973)

Similarly this early version of Mrs Vanderbilt isn't all there. The song is taken at a faster lick and already has a lot of things in place: the first verse, the chorus, even the middle eight, not to mention the song's quick-stepping hook and - most notably - Macca humming the part where the saxophone part will go (he adds a murmured 'saxophone' just to prove the point). However there's no repeats in the song yet and the song ends with a very elaborate flamenco flourish instead of the 'false ending' of the finished track. Paul even tries to chide his then five-year-old daughter Mary to join with the 'ho hey ho' chorus, but she doesn't want to know! Again this 90 second fragment is a lot more exciting than yet another live version of 'Band On The Run' and deserved to make the 'deluxe' edition of the album if not the 25th anniversary one.

13) Must Do Something About It (McCartney Vocal 1976)

The bootleg world's most recent discovery, rumour has it this tape only leaked because of an employee at MPL who had one too many rows with Heather Mills and took 'revenge' and a few tapes with him when he left! Those of you who've read our review of 'Speed Of Sound' will know that Macca gave many of his best songs on the album away for the sake of unity - this one was sung by drummer Joe English, who did a great job with it I have to say. This McCartney sung vocal is great too though, taken at a slightly slower pace and with more melancholy in its bones without the American singer's audible grin. There's a lot more Jimmy McCulloch guitar on the song too, which is always welcome, although understandably all the electronic synthesiser sound effects aren't there as yet. Most interesting of all, the false ending is intact, only this time Paul scat-sings an 'oh my love, come shining through the rain' part over the top of it which is most affecting - you wonder why Wings dropped it.  

14) Mull Of Kintyre (Demo 1977)

Before the bagpipes and the most-weeks-at-UK-number-one-on-the-singles-chart furore, 'Mull Of Kintyre' was a sweet and simple song with not much going on. Demos reveal that Paul first wrote the song on piano as far back as 1972 (it's on the same tape reel as '1882') but the track only really gets its act together when transposed to guitar and given the boost of Denny Laine's contributions (he sings on this demo too). The pair have clearly been hard at work deciding what a bagpipe can actually play and replicate the 'droning' effect on an organ that actually works really well - it's almost a shame they add bagpipes to it actually. Like many of Paul's home demos there's a charm about this one that somehow got lost in translation to the song proper, as raw and unfinished as this version is.  

15) Did We Meet Somewhere Before? (Unreleased Song 1977)

We're back with 'Cold Cuts' again and a dramatic moody ballad that Paul was asked to write for the soundtrack of the Warren Beatty film 'Heaven Can Wait'. Just as with 'Spies Like Us' nine years later the song was mysteriously absent from the final cut, although whether Paul pulled it or the song was rejected is unknown. Technically speaking the song did make the soundtrack of another film, 'Rock and Roll High School', hut owing to an unusual deal Macca was given the very lowest royalty rate with a deal struck that the picture wouldn't use his name: go work that one out! I'm confused as to why either party wouldn't like this song: its prime McCartney ballad material, with a slow dreamy ballad and some nicely romantic lines before going somewhere deeper for the lengthy 'second section' (there isn't really a chorus on this song, just two long verses!) The lyrics are clever too - - the pair in the song keep finding themselves together due to circumstances - but is it coincidence or karma? Compared to most songs on our imaginary compilation, it sounds like Wings spent a long time on it: there's sound effects, strings and everything piled onto this track as well as some tricky percussion work. After all that effort it would be nice if we could hear it! 'Did we meet somewhere before or is this just one more thing that's happening to both of us?'

16) Waterspout (Unreleased Song 1978)

Another 'Cold Cuts' favourite, this one came close to release on both 'All The Best' and 2001's 'Wingspan' (before losing out to 'Hey Diddle' in the latter's case. One of the few songs recorded in London during the 'London Town' sessions (ie after Wings got back from the Bahamas), it's jovial little song which starts off as a singalong nursery rhyme but ends up with a typically yearning McCartney middle eight ('Only love can get you out of it and in a minute you'll find yourself swimming in it!') A few reviewers have pointed out that the lyrics are a little risque ('love comes in, love comes out, at the bottom of the waterspout') which wouldn't be the first time Macca tried to get away with something he probably shouldn't (have you heard 'Famous Groupies?!') Then again, he usually sings that sort of thing with a heavy twinkle in the eye - 'Waterspout' is decidedly family friendly by contrast. 'Only love can change from day to day, make you want to say what you're thinking of...'

17) Don't Let It Bring You Down (Early Version 1978)

The first of three extracts here from Wings' early sessions for 'London Town' on their Bahama-bound boats. The finished version of 'Don't Let It bring You Down' is truly gorgeous - one of the most unfairly forgotten McCartney gems of all. This early sketch of it loses out on the ghostly harmonies and the flageoloets but gains in terms of intimacy and performance. Macca has rarely sounded as intense as when he leads off this spooky song with a hoarse whispered count in before adding a sombre reading of his own sad words guaranteed to send shivers down the spine. 'Things seem strange, but they change' is the advice he offers on life's 'up and down carousel' and the finished version sounds like an uncoiling flower, gradually grown gin majesty bye each verse; this version however is very much still down in the dumps and waiting for rescue. I'd be hard pushed to say I prefer it to the finished product but it is a terrific performance of a classic song. If this isn't on the 'deluxe' set of 'London Town' then I will start a petition!

CD Two:

18) Backwards Traveller (Early Version 1978)

More from Wings' 'what we did on our holidays' audio diary. On the finished album 'Backwards Traveller' is the quirky novelty song that never quite came off, segueing harmlessly into instrumental 'Cuff Link' apparently because it has nowhere else to go. The demo, however, is another beast entirely: treated as a rock and roll song (complete with an electronic metronome) with a funky instrumental break and warm guitars instead of cold synths it sounds like a much better song. Macca's vocal is great too, twisting that way and that as he tries to work out the lyrics (there's a whole verse that never made the album: 'Hey did you know that I'm always willing to unwind? Through the years, old chains, tears, disappear, souveniers') instead of the rather faceless vocal he gives the album version. After extending the song via repeat after repeat to some three minutes the song finally crashes in on itself with a thrilling ring of arpeggios and clattering drums somewhere in the middle before taking off again - the musical metaphor of a 'backwards traveller'. I still don't really know what a backwards traveller is from this version, but the difference is I don't care - that riff's hypnotic enough to stick in my head for hours as played here - the finished synth version has no chance by comparison!

19) Morse Moose (Early Version 1978)

This is another Bahamas track, still so early in its evolution that the entire 'Grey Goose' sequence is missing, the band simply hammering away at the morse code pattern instead. This song tends to split fans, who can't decide whether its innovative or indulgent but I've always loved it - what other band would build up a whole song from a keyboard part that sounds a little (but not a lot) like a morse code signal before throwing away on of the greatest riffs of all time on an instrumental. The band are clearly having fun making this backing track, even though they don't quite know what to do with the song until they get back to London: for now its an array of morse code bleeps, piano rolls, a noticeably looser drum part (Joe English probably redid it later - which is a shame because this looser version is perfect for such a loose song) and some intriguing electronic beeping that's so loud it temporarily drowns out the 'morse code' part. Freed of vocals and with long and winding passages of just the basics where the 'Grey Goose' part should be, 'Morse Moose' sounds weirder yet cooler, the sound of a band really uniting in their new found love of a great little riff before having to go through all the pain of turning it into a song. I can see why they had to change it - but personally I think its fine how it was.

20) Boil Crisis (Unreleased Song 1978)

I'm less sure about Macca's spoof of a punk song, a composition recorded in demo form on Wings' return to London and left unfinished when he realised how much 'stick' he'd get about it in the press. Like much of the 'Back To The Egg' album to come, it's a middle man's idea of the music his children are listening to and which he doesn't really have a connection with - but being so innately musical Paul still manages to come up with something like it. Perhaps tellingly, the result comes out closer to the 1950s retro rock of Paul's own youth than punk. Treat it as just another hard-edged McCartney song and it's easier to take though, with a nicely grungy guitar part, a 'now-now-now-now' riff played on both guitars and a second 'wordless' harmony vocal. The lyrics are fun too if treated as pastiche rather than intended ('A day in the life of a kid named Sid, he scored with a broad in a pyramid...'), although the song really needs a better chorus line than 'he had a boil crisis - once again it rears its ugly head!') All that said, I hope this song does come out one day - it's a great performance with some clever ideas, which is more than can be said for the likes of 'Uncle Albert-Admiral Halsey' and 'Treat Her Gently-Lonely Old People' to name but two songs that did make it official release!

21) So Glad To See You Here (Alternate Take 1979)

By contrast this is an early 'Wings' version of the better of the two songs Macca recorded with super-group 'Rockestra' for the 'Back To The Egg' album. This version lacks the sheer noise of the finished product and a delicious McCartney vocal but makes up for it by giving more space to some great Wings harmonies and Paul's own bubbly bass riff. Freed of having to fit his vocal round his occasionally harmonised parts, Macca is getting closer and closer to the ragged edge by the end of the performance too, which is tremendously exciting, especially when all of that power and noise is replaced by the familiar 'vocal-round' ending. Frankly all of 'Back To The Egg' needs remixing in this way!

22) CAGE (Unreleased Song 1979)

'Cold Cuts' raises its ugly head once more with a song apparently written inside a few minutes when Paul realised he was a song short for 'Back To The Egg'. Perhaps figuring that it came too easily to be any good, Paul abandoned it when the idea for 'Baby's Request' came to him instead. That may just turn out to be the worst decision of his professional life: long-term fans will know my thoughts on the toe-curling jazz pastiche 'Baby's Request' (Worst McCartney song. Ever!) By contrast 'CAGE' is a delightfully little nonsense song built around a song that clever does move from the notes C A G and E as McCartney plays. 'Emotional moments, You left in a rage - but if you could help me out I won't be in a cage!' goes the main song before turning into a churning Chuck Berry-type riff that knocks the whole lopsided song over as if the narrator is cooling his rage before speaking again. There are in fact two versions of this song doing the rounds, both planned for 'Cold Cuts' at one stage or another: the first is a basic but funky home demo with some synth drums that really catches fire; the second is a more professional Wings recording complete with synthesiser riffs where the guitar parts should be. Both versions are fun and better than a good 3/4s of 'Back To The Egg'; how this song lost out to 'Baby's Request' I'll never know.  

23) Robber's Ball (Unreleased Song 1979)

Less of a song but possibly even more deserving of a spot on 'Back To The Egg' is this fascinating experiment featuring lots of McCartneys in overdubbed voices is somewhere between new wave and Giolbert and Sullivan. Basically the prototype for much of the original double-album of 'McCartney II' (but very much made at the 'Back To The Egg' sessions, presumably with the rest of Wings looking on and getting bored), it features a constant whining synthesiser purr, some ferocious guitar work and some lyrics that border on the deranged: 'Watch now as us Northern lads, the spitting image of our dads, especially when we've had a pint or two. Oh ho ho ho! It is not so! Boogie boogie down!' Few other writers would get away with this, but so strong is the central riff, so entertaining are the many McCartney vocals (his soprano works a treat!) and so excitingly 'alive' is the backing track that you're left begging for more by the end of the song. Astonishingly this song was booted off before 'Baby's Request' was ever written - how on earth was this passed over for the likes of 'Reception'?!

24) Hear Me, Lover (Demo 1982)

There's a whole tape of demos from what will become the 'Tug Of War' and 'Pipes Of Peace' album doing the rounds, all of which was terrific - as we argued in our review of the former album Macca was on something of a creative spurt, even if the George Martin production of the two albums took a lot of that energy and excitement away. We've passed on discussing the others because they don't differ all that much from the album in mood and feel (suffice to say that a nearly six minute 'Take It Away' with lots of repeats from a composer having too much fun to leave his piano stool is another highlight, with 'The Pound Is Sinking' 'Keep Under Cover' and 'Ballroom Dancing' all big improvements on the finished versions too). 'Hear me, Lover' though is the 'middle eight' of what will become 'The Pound Is Sinking' dressed up to sound like a robber, no sorry, dressed up to be a proper song in its own right. Macca is in plaintive mode, humming and whistling his way through several runs of the song's mournful changes and adding a sweet instrumental section. There aren't any extra lyrics but the mood is remarkably different (downbeat, not upbeat) and without those daft 'answering' harmonies ('Oh no, it wasn't me!') this sounds like the basis for a really good song, not just the oddball counterpart in the middle of a song that's basically just an economy report.

25) Seems Like Old Times (Demo 1982)

A completely unreleased demo from the same period, this song would have slotted onto 'Tug Of War' nicely. Paul's been meeting up with an old school chum (Ivan Vaughan, possibly, the fellow Quarry Men who introduced him to John Lennon - the pair got into contact again soon after John's death in 1980; or possibly George Martin, working with Paul on the 'Tug Of War' sessions for the first time in nine years), 'someone I'd known in another lifetime'. Following the visit he reflects on 'jigsaw puzzle pieces lost' (Lennon again?) and old times so long ago 'that I hardly even know what's true anymore, who's who anymore'. A song in the same vein as 'Early Days' from Macca's latest LP at the time of writing ('New'), this song doesn't have much of a tune by Paul's high standards but is a fascinating development in his songwriting and marks the first real time that he looked back over his career in song (the first time on record won't be till the title track of 'Flaming Pie' in 1997 - and boy do we wish he hadn't bothered!) This sweetly nostalgic song is classic McCartney, caught halfway between confessional and singalong and would have made a fine addition to the Beatles' 'Anthology' reunion in 1995 (the overdubbed drums even have a distinctly Ringo beat to them).

26) Feel The Sun (Unedited Version 1986)

Everyone should have a litmus test for whether they've met their true soulmate or not. I know I'll have met mine when presumably the one other person on the planet who thinks 'Press To Play' was a great album comes out of the woodwork and someone finally agrees with me. Yes I know the album's not perfect, but it manages to unite the inventive, adventurous Macca and the musical, accessible Macca, with an album that's easy to sing along to but full of deep thoughts too. One of the few things that prevents it from being perfect is that one of the best tracks on the album is actually two, somehow sandwiched together in a medley that doesn't really fit. 'Good Times Comin' sadly only seems to have been recorded as part of the medley, but second half 'Feel The Sun' does exist as a complete song and it's marvellous, missing verses and all. What's fascinating is how much darker the cut verses are, memories of a summer far less cosy than the one that made the album: 'You send me letters I don't quite understand, you seem to sign them but they're not written by your hand, get out of town girl, get out the back, get out while the money lasts....Are you in trouble tell me what to do? If you got troubles I'd much rather be with you, feeling sunshine touch a wave, feeling sunshine till next Saturday'. There's even a more upbeat 'second chorus' than the one that made the album ('feel the sun all around...shining through the trees, already turning into memories'). Freed of the glossy production and unnecessary sound effects, the song even sounds better with a sterling Macca vocal that knocks spots off the finished product. 'Feel The Sun' has never sounded sunnier than here.

27) Yvonne's The One (Unreleased Song 1986)

A 'Press To Play' outtake written by Paul with 10cc's Eric Stewart, this song did finally secure a release on the third version (it's a long story) of 10cc's 1995 reunion 'Mirror Mirror'. As heard there Yvonne is a bouncy, rather noisy kid - heard here, as a simple acoustic guitar demo she sounds sweet and vulnerable. Like many an 1980s McCartney song you can almost hear the cogs whirring about what to write after the name came into the writer's heads ('Yvonne's the one I've been counting on...so I said so long, Yvonne') However this pair have enough tricks up their sleeves to turn this song into something deeper: the narrator only gradually falls in love while she's gone head over heels' the second time they meet he's caught in a 'landslide' of emotion; by the poignant middle eight it's her whose said goodbye('She never knew how much I loved her, I never got to tell her, we never found a way to say farewell!') and finally he meets her again years later, unhappily married, with a 'sadness' that had 'crept into her life'. He knows he''s missed his opportunity to meet his soulmate and so walks off broken-hearted, back where he started. This clever song also  sports a pretty tune that's pretty equally matched between major and minor chords (almost certainly Eric's work - 10cc albums are full of songs like these, unable to sit still or be pinned down) and the result is one of the great lost songs of the McCartney songbook.

28) Lindiana ('Return To Pepperland' 1987)

Unlike, say, Neil Young there aren't many fully abandoned projects in the McCartney collection - a lot of albums got an awful lot of tweaking but the only largely unheard project was the 1987 follow-up to 'Press To Play', half of which has since been heard on Macca's 'Oobu Joobu' series and resulting 'Flaming Pie' era B-sides and some of which ended up re-recorded for next album proper 'Flowers In The Dirt' but a fair proportion from the record has still gone heard. 'Lindiana' is as you'd expect one of many Macca love songs to wife Linda, imploring her not to 'let go of your dream' before offering support 'if I can be of help in matters such as these'. I'm intrigued as to the name change though: generally Paul just ticks with 'Linda' but the new name and the lyrics imply some sort of 'Indiana Jones' style crusade through rough and treacherous waters. Alas like the other songs from the abandoned 'Return To Pepperland' album, a promising song is left unfinished with one verse that simply cycles over again and is buried under heavy production gloss. Still, in another era and with a bit more work this would have made a fine McCartney ballad.  

29) Return To Pepperland ('Return To Pepperland' 1987)

'27 years later who would have guessed? This intriguingly titled song still yet to be pressed'. The 20th anniversary of 'Sgt Peppers' was in the media a lot in 1987 - you know, the old 'it was 20 years ago today' line and the fact it came out on CD for the first time and all. Even ex-Beatles were influenced by it, Macca turning in a whole song that tried to sum up the differences between 'then' (1967) and 'now' (1987). Unfortunately for Paul but luckily for the world one of the main cruxes of this song was solved before he'd ever have a chance to release it: Nelson Mandela was finally freed, although the sentiments of the song (what happened to the peace we felt was going to come in the summer of love?) are timeless. Sadly only the chorus really works - the verses are filed with all sorts of unlikeable McCartney fictional characters that no doubt would have Lennon sending him a stiff letter in a parallel universe somewhere (sample lyrics: 'My cousin Min is never in - or so the binmen say') Still, this is the one and only bona fide time any of the Beatles ever returned to the 'Peppers' theme again and that alone makes it worthy of investigation.

30) Winedark Open Sea ('Fast' Version 1993)

One of the last great McCartney songs, 'Winedark Open Sea' is the sultry, beautiful ballad at the heart of 'Off The Ground's patchy second side. The song sounds so perfect you wonder how it could ever be done another way but it was - a very different way. I still don't know whether this 'speedy' version of the song was a studio warm-up, a joke or a first draft but Macca's band seem to want to get to the end as fast as possibly, leaving Macca to all but holler over the top of the track, something which makes even more sense of lines like 'let me have some time to breathe!' This isn't better than the finished version (how can you improve on perfection?) but it is a version that couldn't be more 'alternate' if it tried.

31) Your School (Unreleased Song 1993)

I've only just discovered what year this McCartney ballad dates from, thanks to a bit of extra 'yahoo' research - in truth it could have been any time in the last 50 years. A slow stately piano ballad where the narrator has to do a lot of learning about love and relationships but has never enjoyed his education quite as much as now, its prime McCartney: those long flowing chords, the way the song oh so naturally rolls from verse to chorus to middle eight and back again. Arguably the song needs a little something extra to make the front row of McCartney classics, but this is a great performance for a demo and the song would have made a fine addition to 'Off The Ground'. 'Come on baby, what have you got? Tell me that I learned a lot in your school, never thought I'd learn so much, just a poor fool in love...'

32) Whole Life (Unreleased Song 2003) 

The album 'Chaos and Creation In The Backyard' seemed to spawn more Macca outtakes than any album in years. Frustratingly almost all the best stuff never made that horrid album (most of it came out on slightly better successor 'Memory Almost Full' instead or better still the fabulous forgotten period B-sides: the moody 'Growing Up, Falling Down' is a good place to start looking). 'Whole Life' is one song from those sessions that never got a home at all; goodness knows why, it's an angry turbulent rocker of a type with those Macca has been writing recently, but with more of an urgency and purpose somehow. The track was co-written with Eurhythmic Dave Stewart, finally making good on a collaboration that had been brewing since at least the 'Broad Street' days, although the end result sounds nothing like either man's usual work. The song sounds like a frustrated parent venting their rage at a child ('You got your whole life laid out in front of you! I need to know! You need to tell me! I need to find out right now!) As a postscript, the song was offered to a various artists charity album raising money for AIDS sufferers, but was turned down (how do you even consider turning down a Beatle?!) To be fair, not a lot of thought seems to have been given to the idea (is a song telling someone who might die they've got their 'whole life' laid out in front of them really such a smart move?) but it's a shame the track hasn't sneaked out on a B-side or turned up on 'Memory', where it would have livened up a heavy going album no end. As a footnote this wouldn't be the first McCartney song buried on a charity compilation: good luck finding 'Simple As That' , a song released exclusively on a 'say no to drugs' album in 1987 that's all but disappeared and is most otably for featuring daughter Stella's one and only released performance on backing vocals, although technically it was released so we haven't included it here. Just think about that for a minute: Paul McCartney is telling you to say no to drugs just seven years after being busted in Tokyo.

33) Hi Hi Hi (Live In Japan 2013)

Which leads on very neatly to a mischievous live performance of a track that once got Paul into an awful lot of trouble. A lot of radio stations were reportedly very reluctant to ban a McCartney song and deeply apologetic but to me the band seems obvious: not for Paul's obtuse lyrics (is that line 'polygon' as he suggested or 'body gun' as the censors assumed?) but for that chorus line: 'we're going to get high high high?! In 1972?!?! And no, the change of spelling in the title is fooling no one! A favourite at Wings live gigs on the band's 1976 world tour, the song made a surprise appearance back in the McCartney set-lists in 2013, premiered at a gig just round the corner from the airport where Macca was busted and sentenced to seven years in prison (of which only seven days were served). Japan also banned Paul for ten years - part of the reason for his touring 'Flowers In the Dirt' in 1990 was so that he could finally make amends on that cancelled run of gigs - although it's now probably the country he plays most often. Is this performance of the song really genuine? Or is this a sneaky comment on what happened 33 years earlier?!

Hidden bonus track:

We've been ending our unreleased recordings compilations with a bit of spoken word (the 'third' to go with the 'thirty-three' you see!) The rest have come surprisingly easy but the McCartney one has been a struggle. The best we can do is the pub singalong that takes place in the unreleased TV special 'James Paul McCartney', where a drunken Wings are led quietly away from an assorted McCartney family clan (including 'Auntie Gin'!) and Paul is famously left short at the bar, having to ask his dad James for a loan!

Right, that's all from us - and all from our unreleased specials for now! We'd be hard pressed to get 33 and 1/3rd rarities for our other 22 AAA stars but there are a good number of unreleased recordings out there so if these articles take off I shall go back in the future and write some more. In the meantime, my plan is to delve into every single one of the 30 bands for a fortnight each over the next year, filling in all the 'gaps' like solo albums, live albums and compilations I haven't got round to writing yet. The plan is to split these into two groups and past them in our 'top ten' column, perhaps with a few 'extra' bits on the side, but we'll see how it goes. Anyway, the Beach Boys should be first up next week if all goes according to plan. Till then, happy newsing viewing and music-ing and we'll see you next week!







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