First up I need to say a big thank you to Steve Worek who provided me some invaluable input.
In the Bee Gees Demos – part 21 I listed a number of bootleg CDs and their track listings. Steve rightly pointed out that a number of the tracks were misidentified, and supplied some useful information.
The point of the post
Anyone of you who has managed to get your hands on any of the myriad of Gibb-related demo tapes will be interested in this. Okay, I know I’m showing my age and they’re invariably on CD now, but to me they’ll always be Demo Tapes!
Anyway, moving on … Many of the bootleg CDs are re-hashes of previous releases with maybe one or two differences. This has only served to perpetuate the myths surrounding some of the tracks. They will always be noted as being supposedly by one or more of the brothers, either solo or as the Bee Gees.
Now, the more experienced among you will know to take such claims with a pinch of salt … at least until you can prove otherwise.
The first port-of-call for me will always be Joe Brennan’s “Gibb Songs” site. If you can’t find any record of the Gibbs recording the song on here then the chances are pretty slim that it’s going to be genuine. Although, as you’ll find, this is not infallible.
Of course, actually listening to the track can be a good indicator too. We all know that the brothers have produced such a wide variety of music covering many genres, that to simply say “It doesn’t sound like them” is not enough.
So, the point of this post is to try to provide you with a list of known errors on these CDs, so that if you are lucky enough to become the owner of any demos then you’ll know whether to be excited about the “bonus” stuff.
This has appeared on a small number of bootleg offerings and is quite obviously Rolf Harris singing Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport.
Quite how the unscrupulous bootlegger who dreamed this up thought it would fool anyone, is beyond me.
Let It Be
The myth of the Gibb-version of this song was given a lot of credence when it was mentioned in the Tales From The Brothers Gibb book, which described it as “a warm-up from the Spirits Having Flown sessions”.
Despite this one should not assume that, if it’s on a Bee Gees bootleg, that it’s actually them performing. This, in and of itself, makes identifying Gibb-versions of such tracks very difficult, so whilst it’s entirely plausible that they did perform the song, the chances of it actually being recorded are fairly slim.
The consensus of opinion with regards to the known versions of this track are that they are most likely going to be by an artist named Aaron Neville, and NOT Barry.
Another interesting one.
Again it is mentioned in the “Tales …” book as being a Maurice Gibb/Billy Lawrie composition, so at first glance it would appear that this is an actual Gibb-related song. However, I’ve performed a search of the BMI database for both Maurice and Billy and the song does not show up in either list.
As far as anyone can tell this song has no Gibb connection whatsoever, but no-one can shed any light on who the song is actually by.
The main problem with this and “Let It Be” is that Joe Brennan was at least consulted for the “Tales …” book because he is listed amongst the authors, so why were these points not picked up?
She’s Like The Devil
This one is the Beatles singing Devil In Her Heart. The song was originally recorded as “Devil in His Heart” by The Donays.
What A Wonderful You
Is often included in compilations of Maurice songs despite the fact that most people by now know that it most certainly is not Maurice. Again, the artist is unknown.
What’s New Mary Jane
Another track often attributed to Maurice is the Beatles’ What’s The New Mary Jane. The song was written by Lennon & McCartney and finally released on Anthology 3 in 1996.
More info on the song can be found at the Beatles Bible.
Is actually a song performed by Peter & Gordon.
It was written by Paul McCartney under the pseudonym Bernard Webb, to see if it would be successful without the Lennon/McCartney credit.
I think most fans now know that versions of this song are actually the Bee Gees instrumental “To Dance Again”, recorded in late 1970 as the theme tune for a television version of the Three Musketeers.
The actual song by Maurice and Ringo Starr has no known recording, although it definitely happened because Ringo mentioned it in an interview with a newspaper in March 1969.
Have You Heard The Word
For many years arguments raged over this track and who the artist actually was – many claimed it was the Beatles. However, it really is Maurice with the band Tin Tin. The track was recorded on August 6, 1970.
The song appeared on many early Beatles bootlegs as a rare Beatles recording and was even discovered in John Lennon’s collection of bootlegs, given the Beatles fans much reason to believe it was them.
One to be aware of: apparently there’s a fake Bee Gees’ only version of this Beatles track doing the rounds. The Bee Gees / Alice Cooper version was on the Sgt Pepper soundtrack, but there was never an official Bee Gees version.
Other Bootleg issues
Aside from the above-mentioned problems of mis-identification that can occur, there is also the (possibly even more annoying) problem of poor quality live recordings.
The worst ones are the recordings of concerts from within the audience – if I wanted to hear some woman screaming I’d stay at home!
Some recordings of radio broadcasts are a lot better, although the earlier ones understandably suffer somewhat due to age.
Then there are the blatant recordings straight from the television of various shows that also seem to litter the CDs.
For example, the recordings of Tragedy and Stayin’ Alive from the Keppel Road DVD are often included as “new versions”. Likewise, again from that DVD, the recording of Just In Case which is often referred to as a “demo”.
Even the bootleg of Barry’s “Hawks” soundtrack, known as “Moonlight Madness” was a victim of this kind of “filling”. The tracks Seagull’s Cry, Siren Chase and 3 alternate versions of Celebration de la Vie were all recorded direct from the film and are nothing to do with the soundtrack album at all.
Obviously, these are all included in an effort to “fill up” the CD or to give the impression of being better “value for money”, but if you can’t hear much of anything then why bother?
To sum up
We can debate all day long about whether the inclusion of these tracks is deliberate. It goes without saying that many bootleggers simply copy the material without any regard to what is actually on them, so can we really blame them? After all, they’re only interested in taking the money and running off into the sunset!
By the same token, though, there are some that would appear to be genuinely well-meaning people that unfortunately have got caught up in some of the myths surrounding a lot of this material that they unwittingly continue to perpetuate them.
The release of a lot of the demo tracks on the Rhino releases of the early albums has made them accessible to a wider audience, whilst providing us avid collectors with much better quality recordings than we previously could get hold of.
I would say “long may it continue”, but it doesn’t look as if it’s going to – I guess the previous releases didn’t sell enough!