The mysterious appeal of outtakes

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DK Pete, Sep 23, 2022.

  1. vanmeterannie

    vanmeterannie Forum Resident

    I’m generally not a fan of this but this was better than 95% of what they did release to my ears!

  2. bloodlemons

    bloodlemons Forum Resident

    Grit City, USA
    I looked up the Miles Ahead edit that you're talking about and learned that the box set also exists on vinyl... Much to the chagrin of my wallet. Miles and Gil together is one of my favorite of Miles' eras, so I'm justifying the purchase on those grounds, but it was not cheap. Looking forward to hearing that edit/mix! Thank you for posting about it.
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Vintage outtakes. Don't mean much to me and I've heard more of them than any of you ever will. Just failed steps in a quest for recording perfection.

    Sure, in some cases (jazz improv, etc.) you might find a gem, but usually, no.
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  4. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    The issue with jazz outtakes is that yes, in most cases the artists and producers picked the "right" take for overall best performance. But when you have 3-4 folks all soloing plus the rhythm section doing something different each time, it gets tricky sometimes deciding what's "best." So I find that most of the time the outtakes on jazz reissues are well worth hearing, IF you are a fan of the artists to the point you really do want to hear them play a scorching solo you've never heard before, even if the rest of the take has some flaws that led to it being rejected for the final cut. And I have to say in many cases, when I hear the alternates there are times I find myself preferring those alternates overall. Sometimes they were rejected purely on practical grounds (too long to fit on the album side, so they had to redo it but make it shorter). And sometimes, to my ears, they just got the pick wrong, ****-canning some incredible playing overall on the alternate simply because one guy fluffed a note or two. As a music lover, that kind of stuff drives me nuts...they're human, they make mistakes, I think we can "forgive" that to hear them really push themselves and otherwise nail a performance.

    With rock/'s hit and miss for me. I'd agree that for most artists, the outtakes are just not very interesting, just as Steve says failed steps and very incremental, nothing particularly exciting.

    But for real masters of the studio like the Beatles in their prime, it's fascinating to me to hear them working toward the final version. I really never get tired of hearing those. Same with Bob Dylan - his Bootleg Series campaign and other releases have I think definitively shown that what ended up on on the albums (especially the later ones) was in many cases more or less random and often not really the "best" takes or even compositions - at the very least, it is often apparent there were MULTIPLE outstanding interpretations of a piece, often very different from each other - how on earth do you pick? Why SHOULD we have to pick in the era of digital music? The Dylan "outtake" collections are in my view absolutely essential.

    I'd probably also listen to any snippet from the studio put down by Joni Mitchell. Prince has some really interesting stuff on his deluxe sets. I'm sure there's others I'm missing.

    And then there's the cases where the demos for an album are more exciting/interesting (to me) than the released polished version. I recently picked up the Translator CD that Omnivore released which has roughs of many of the songs that ended up on their first album, and personally I don't think I'm ever going to be listening to the album again. The demos are SO much more exciting, just a great vibe that is more or less lacking in the rather sterile/safe sounding versions they recorded for the released album.

    So...for me, hard to draw firm conclusions, I think it's down to case by case.

    Anyway to the OP question - "why" do we like outtakes? For me it's the things outlined above:
    - For jazz: sometimes aspects of the outtake are amazing and deserve to be heard, even if there are flaws elsewhere that dictated the initial rejection, and in some cases it's really in my view not objectively possible to decide what was "best" and so why be forced to chose? Enjoy 'em all..
    - For pop: some artists are so damn amazing and interesting that I want to hear them belch, say "rewind the tape" etc - I want more or less as much as I can get. And some are truly amazing in being able to take a song and approach it from 7 different angles and make every one of them special and worth hearing. And sometimes early and rough but full of fire/passion is actually much better (to me at least) than later and polished but safe and flat-sounding.

    Also, and I hope I can express this well - for really great music/artists, hearing the flawed steps along the way can help me further appreciate the greatness of the final, "best" version. This happens with jazz a lot where tempo is a critical, critical factor in how well a piece comes across. Probably as often as fluffs or someone just playing poorly result in a jazz take being rejected, a poor/ill-fitting tempo was the culprit - too fast, too slow, either can just kill a piece. I'm not sure why but I find it incredibly interesting and illuminating to hear that, juxtaposed against the "right" tempo in the master. It just makes you realize how talented these artists (and producers) are, that they know "That just wasn't right, let's pick up the pace, guys."

    I guess maybe I'm just a frustrated musician inside a physician's body, and this stuff kinda lets me live the process vicariously!
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2022
  5. A Local Bloke

    A Local Bloke Forum President

    The main reason I collect all the official outtakes I can find for a special few artists (Beatles and Hendrix mainly, but also the Stones to an extent) is because it does a good job at removing the mystery that more 'produced' albums have. I can't wait to hear the Revolver outtakes for example, because it's clear so much work went into those songs, but all we hear is the final mix. I can't imagine what it was like listening to Sgt. Pepper for 50 years not knowing multiple alternate early versions of every single song on there. They sort of lay it bare by showing it in multiple forms. It's like 'what's deeper'?

    Here's one outtake I prefer to the released version (I heard this take first (It was on a multi-CD budget set)). I find the sea noises on the official one silly, and generally prefer this performance.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2022
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  6. Darrin L.

    Darrin L. Forum Resident

    Golden, CO well as "You Can't Do that", without the girl group, backup vocals.

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  7. Country Rocker

    Country Rocker Forum Resident

    Looking forward to the launch of the Hoffman forum outtakes. Posts that were deemed not good enough as they were being typed, and hastily rewritten. The box set of drunken posts that will inevitably be released inside a box containing empty beer cans, will no doubt follow, and also be a keeper.
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  8. dee

    dee Senior Member

    ft. lauderdale, fl
    Well I hear you but I mean the only example cited were the Beatles. Perhaps forum forbid they are not the best example for one's interest and demamd for outtakes. Maybe due to their approach and some of their 'earlier' recording years the way the business was, their outtakes aren't as essential as someone else's. For something else loosely 'relevant' to 'outtakes' they are also well represented in number with their BBC work.
    DK Pete likes this.
  9. Chemically altered

    Chemically altered Forum Resident

    Ukraine in Spirit
    Outtakes are musical archeology. We want to know where things originate from and how they develop. Very scientific, my dear Watson.
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  10. nosticker

    nosticker Forum Guy

    Ringwood, NJ
    Personally, I love the whole creative process and its surrounding tedium. I love hearing studio sessions, alternate mixes with overdubs later excised or erased entirely, the whole thing. Whether I return to it several times or not is beside the point...witnessing the gestation is part of the joy. And yes, occasionally, they arguably get it wrong (Mr. Moonlight vs. Leave My Kitten Alone). Even cases where the artist had a subsequent change of heart and retooled an outtake, say "Murder Incorporated" by Springsteen, is interesting(I much, much prefer the piano intro version from '82 or so and its creepy vibe which was not duplicated).

    Listening to some of my idols piddling about in the studio has absolutely influenced me, seeing what worked or didn't, or in some cases, that the struggles, triumphs, and even banter are startlingly similar to those I have experienced.

    Having said that, I can relate first-hand to a session or series of sessions dredging up very bad memories, or perhaps not wanting sub-par performances out there for people to ridicule. Seems like someone finding finger paintings from your childhood and tearing them apart.

    So, outtake audio archaeology might be mental illness, but it's MY mental illness, and I like it. Nyah.

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  11. kanakaris

    kanakaris Forum Resident

    Imagine no outtakes from Hendrix....
  12. Aladdin Sane

    Aladdin Sane Forum Resident

    As a Bowie fan/collector I love the many bootlegs that I own. Songs that never made the cut or demos are an insight to an artist.

    Why is it that artists/labels that previously took the stance of prosecuting bootleggers are falling over themselves to release stuff they once tried to stop.
  13. let him run...

    let him run... Senior Member

    Colchester, VT USA
    Doesn’t seem so mysterious. It would seem to me much more of a mystery if outtakes were ignored with little or no interest.
    I think for most of us, being able to track the evolution of a song, a film, a painting can be fascinating. Put enough time between and artists can be quite enamored with this stuff, too.
    It’s not unusual to see an artist surprised by a version of something dismissed at the time, that 20, 30, 40
    or more years later discovering its pretty good.
    Or for the fan wondering, like in the case of the songs redone, on Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, it’s hard to say the rejected versions don’t hold a lot of value.
    Or Springsteen, great songs that don’t fit the narrative of a particular album.
    Absolutely nothing wrong with the song.
    We all (or a lot of us) watched almost 8 hours of The Beatles “Get Back”.
    All four of them, had songs that didn’t make the cut, but all made the cut down the road.
    At the same time, we’ve all heard stuff where we feel lucky that this aspect of one song or another was rejected because it simply didn’t work. You scratch your head and wonder why was this version was even attempted. Almost always fascinating, though.
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  14. PRW94

    PRW94 Forum Resident

    The Southeast
    Honestly … and I plead guilty to seeking outtakes … I think some Beatles fans in particular are searching for some life-changing word or oracle, like that poor wretch who wandered up to Tittenhurst 50 years ago seeking a revelation from John.

    I think there are some Beatles fans who’d buy a collected album of their in-studio farts.
  15. nosticker

    nosticker Forum Guy

    Ringwood, NJ
    Those of us who bought Get Back on DVD/BR actually did this.

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  16. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo Music gives me Eargasms

    Ottawa, Canada
    I used to love outtakes and bootlegs, (especially in the 70s & 80s) but rarely find myself listening to them. I'll give a listen to the new Revolver outtakes a few times, and that will be it.

    But I'm glad they have emptied the barrel, and let us hear them.
  17. Howard Bleach

    Howard Bleach Imperial Aerosol Kid

    green bay, wi
    I love alternate versions of songs or albums I've heard a million times, albums I don't ever need to hear again because I can basically play them in my head in real time, complete with every hit of the ride cymbal. To hear any deviation at all in this context is always exciting. So I buy most of the Zappa and King Crimson boxes, I always try to hear the Neil and Dylan and Fleetwood Mac ones, and while I'm not nearly as big a Beatle fan as many on this board, I am familiar enough with most of their work to notice when there is something unusual or missing or added to a track, so that's fun.

    If I'm not as familiar with the originally released material, these alternate versions are less seductive to me, though I do always think that I'll learn the original album front to back and then the alternates will be a revelation, so why not buy the box set now? But of course, I never end up getting familiar enough with the record itself because who has the time?

    As for "outtakes" and b-sides and whatnot: I'm less interested in those, unless there is some history or legend attached. There were many Neil Young songs in this category until recently; similarly, any Cure fan who skips their b-sides is missing a lot. But a lot of time those outtakes just don't have the same impact, somehow.
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  18. Lexhibit

    Lexhibit Forum Resident

    Not a fan. The worst offender is the outtakes of Round Midnight on the Thelonious Monk Himself 87 CD..
    22 minutes of fumbling around in the middle of the CD! They didn't even put it at the end of the disc even that would have been dumb
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2022
  19. Lexhibit

    Lexhibit Forum Resident

    Syd Barrett albums outtakes are a travesty the released songs sound unfinished already, the outtakes sound like a child getting his first guitar at Christmas and people think it's genius
  20. Lexhibit

    Lexhibit Forum Resident

    I hope they release forum favorites "search search search" and "search engine is your friend" on those box sets really looking forward to that. Not really
  21. ARK

    ARK Forum Miscreant

    Charlton, MA, USA
    Depends on the type of outtake…

    - demos I have little use for

    - alternate versions that were seriously considered for the album and are noticeably different I like
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  22. DK Pete

    DK Pete Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Levittown. NY
    My liking for demos is limited as well. The type of thing I go nuts for is something like And Your Bird Can Sing, three or four complete takes before “the” one. It’s neatly there but the guitar work is slightly different, a bit if a different texture or attack on the drums…the vocals are basically worked out but not quite there. I’m into earlier, arrangement oriented takes of some songs but that last description is the type of thing that sucks me in most.
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  23. Purple Jim

    Purple Jim Senior Member

    There is nothing mysterious about the appeal of outtakes.
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  24. DK Pete

    DK Pete Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Levittown. NY
    What I meant by “mysterious” is how fans clamor for them but the artists in question can’t figure out why.
  25. Purple Jim

    Purple Jim Senior Member

    Oh I'm sure they can.
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