Many may believe there is no treasure left in the ocean. No tombs left to plunder or hidden cities undiscovered. But the legend that whirs around these unreleased albums makes them as precious as any treasure trove or ancient tome.
Our hearts are all the heavier for the Univeral fires that were almost snuffed from public vision in 2008. Decades of iconic recordings and 500,000 tapes were lost. Everyone from Nirvana to Billie Holiday had masters burnt amongst the wreckage.
Nevertheless, there remains a number of legendary unreleased albums gathering dust in a lost vault somewhere around the world and we have endeavoured to find them.
The ones that got away: these are the most legendary unreleased albums of all time. Only time will tell if they will ever see the light of day.
Jimi Hendrix – Black Gold (1970)
Almost as legendary as the musician behind it is the story of Black Gold. At the dawn of the ’70s, Hendrix sought to pen tunes that reached beyond the conventions of rock n roll music.
“Pieces. I guess that’s what you call it,” he told Rolling Stone. “Like movements. I’ve been writing some of those.”
One fateful day, Jimi grabbed his Martin acoustic and recorded a 16-song suite onto some cassettes. Scratching Black Gold on the label, he gave them to drummer Mitch Mitchell to work out parts. A few weeks later Hendrix died and Mitchell had misplaced the tapes. They were unfound for two decades.
Presume lost or stolen, many mysterious rumours circulated about their whereabouts or if they even existed at all. In 1992 the conundrum was partially solved when Mitch Mitchell rediscovered the missing tapes. Six tracks had been completed and issued on posthumous albums, but the other nine were unique to the tape.
After much legal dispute, the Hendrix estate had promised to deliver Black Gold at some point “this decade.”
The only track that has been officially released is Suddenly November Morning. Check it below:
The Doors – Celebration of the Lizard (1968)
In 1968, The Doors began recording their third album at TTG Studios in Hollywood, however, the sessions quickly came to a close due to a lack of new songs. Their first two albums were comprised of live material the quartet were playing before being discovered and to put it bluntly, the well had run dry.
As a result, they focused on recording music to Jim Morrison’s surrealistic poems entitled Celebration of the Lizard. The track was slated to cover a whole side of the album but it was difficult to capture and later shortened. After numerous attempts, producer Paul Rothchild convinced the band to abandon the conceptual piece.
Once Morrison realized his poetic masterpiece would not materialise he began showing up to sessions drunk as a lord and lost interest in recording a third album. The band reconvened to create what would later become Waiting For The Sun.
Celebration of the Lizard was performed several times at The Doors concerts and a version can be heard on the Absolutely Live 1970 double album.
Green Day – Cigarettes & Valentines (2003)
Cigarettes & Valentines was to be Green Day’s follow up their 2000 album Warning. In November 2002, the record was almost complete when the master tapes were mysteriously stolen from the band’s studio.
Rather than re-recording the album they decided to start from scratch which may have been a blessing in disguise, leading to the creation of American Idiot in 2004. They later recovered some of the material which became B-Sides to the singles on American Idiot. The unreleased songs are rumoured to be driving punk to the likeness of their earlier albums Kerplunk and Insomniac.
“It’s pretty much in the vault right now,” Billy Joe Armstrong told NME, “There was the one song, ‘Cigarettes and Valentines’ that we brought out live, I don’t know, we’ll see if any of that stuff ends up seeing the light of day.”
Jeff Beck – The Motown Album (1970)
Beck employed drummer Cozy Powell and producer Mickey Most and began working with the renowned Motown session group the Funk Brothers. They purportedly recorded an album worth of material that is yet to see release.
Beck has stated that some of the 10 tracks were written by the famous Holland-Dozier-Holland Motown songwriting team and the only evidence of the album’s existence is a single cassette copy that he keeps in his private audio archive.
Bruce Springsteen – Electric Nebraska (1982)
In 1982, Bruce Springsteen recorded a number of demos eventually named Nebraska. He then hit the studio to rehearse and record with the entire E Street Band and see the songs take full form. After lengthy recording sessions, Springsteen threw a curveball and released his original demos instead.
Rumours soon began to circulate that there was another version of the album dubbed Electric Nebraska. Over the years it has become a rare collector’s item among fans of The Boss. Of late, Springsteen has been authorising various archival releases and the rumours are once again hinting that the lost album will soon reach the hands of the public.