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16 Shoddy Early Demos Of Classic Songs

South Park started life as a wonky cut-out Christmas cartoon with the mouths flying all over the place. There's no doubt a stick-men sketch of the Last Supper changing hands for billions in the world's most exclusive auction houses as we speak. And the same goes for songs – those musical masterpieces don't just land in a band's lap fully formed and ready to eat the charts. Often they'll start out with a crap chorus, mumbling for lyrics, a solo seemingly played on a cheese-grater and all of it recorded onto tape that sounds like it's made of concrete and nuclear waste. We've found some examples of classic songs before they got good – do you know any more?

Muse – Plug In Baby

Never has a fantastic song hovered so close to a recording desperate to be discovered than on this early 1997 incarnation of 'Plug In Baby' – its ecstatic chorus then just a formless verse and the best solo of the 21st Century yet to spurt into existence like molten material from a dying dwarf star.

Oasis – Live Forever

Come back Owen Morris, all is forgiven! With Liam – clearly in an age before he was struck by the rock god lightning bolt - crooning in a bland and sexless fashion and the band leaving their punch and power at the door, here's Britpop biggest cloud-burster rendered, well, a bit dull really.

Queen – Under Pressure

Originally called 'Feel Like', 'Under Pressure' was a series of driving rock chords in need of a chorus until David Bowie turned up and went '''Ere, you know what this needs… 'Pressure!'"

Michael Jackson – Billie Jean

Taking to the mike before he has any real idea who this 'Billie Jean' woman might be, he fuddles and fudges his way through the tune asking for "more kick in the phones" when what he really needed was a kick in the arse to finish the lyrics. I mean, "I sit in a cup in a ride?"

The Libertines – Music When The Lights Go Out

The Libertines' most moving moment started life as an excuse for Pete Doherty to pretend he's playing the Phantom Of The Opera during a particularly weepy scene. He's aiming for Ziggy Stardust and hitting Tim Curry.

Blur – Beetlebum

Recording a song while you're still in the process of writing it has never made for particularly riveting listening, but Blur's half-formed early take on 'Beetlebum' is a fascinating insight into what distance is still left to run even when you've got the chord structure down. Particular nods to Damon for struggling through with only about four words written and whoever tries to turn it into a doom goth synth song halfway through.

Gorillaz – Dirty Harry

Damon Albarn has history of being open about his writing process, going as far as to release an EP of hotel room noodles called 'Democrazy' in 2003. Included was this basic Bontempi idea for 'Dirty Harry' with only the loosest grasp of the time signature and with its electro-rap brilliance still swirling around Albarn's head.

Kasabian – L.S.F./Where Did All The Love Go

Back when Kasabian were Saracuse, some of their best songs were still lurking in the bellies of lesser numbers, like gestating Aliens. Hence the thoroughly pleasant 'Come Back Down' from 1999 hides within its loose funk basslines and Stones-y whoops the rhythmic roots of 'L.S.F.' and the melody line of 'Where Did All The Love Go'. But again with the doom goth interludes – was someone lacing the kettles of UK demo studios with mogadon in the late 90s?

MGMT – Time To Pretend

Testament to the importance of finding the right synth sound, we can only thank Christ this is only 30 seconds long or we'd never be able to listen to the finished version without imagining the agony of dubstep dentistry ever again.

The Human League – Don't You Want Me

You'd have to have had some supernatural precognitive powers to listen to this bedroom fuck-around of one-finger synths and toneless wailing and think 'Number One hit!', particularly when the keyboardist attempts to make the leap beyond one note at a time and stretch themselves into the realms of actual chords towards the end, with catastrophic results.

The Cure – 10:15 Saturday Night

Ironically, if Toy put this out today it'd be seen as a modern classic, but compared to the febrile, taut energy of the version that opened 'Three Imaginary Boys', this slacker-paced home demo sounds like Robert Smith, very stoned indeed, trying to put off having to replace the washer in that tap.

Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness

Proof that even in the twee-est, fluffiest cod-C86 early tune – in this case a hippy-dippy Beatledelic strumalong called 'Behave Yourself Baby' with sodding TRUMPETS on it - you can find the nugget of your best future song (from 1.15 onwards).

John Lennon – Jealous Guy

With its origins in the 'White Album' sessions, 'Jealous Guy' began life as one of Lennon's cheesiest flower-power tunes, sung in a theatrical warble, about being "one of nature's children" and having the windows of his soul fiddled about with by the beauty of mountain ranges, and such shit.

Guns'N'Roses – November Rain

Drunk, much?

The Strokes – Is This It

A classic case of "hey lads, take this bong, pass me the Casio on the paso doble setting and get recording this, I've got a BRILLIANT idea…"

Elton John - Benny And The Jets

Literally just a plodding drumbeat and Elton wailing randomly over the top, you have to imagine the actual chords to what would eventually become one of Elton's most artful classics. You've got to wonder what the point was, especially double-tracking the vocals…


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