Top 10: Lost Albums

From Q-Tip to Joe Lean...
Dark Star

So that's it, eh? The new My Bloody Valentine album has arrived.

Whilst it's undeniably a thrill - a miracle, even - to load the new material into iTunes there's a part of us all which has been lost. No more wandering conversations about the whereabouts of Kevin Shields, no more urban myths about the studio budgets he's shattered, the hearing impediments he's earned.

It's here. It's live. It exists.

Thankfully, some lost albums have the good sense to remain lost. Splits, money problems, label rows and drugs can all waylay a career, forcing a once promising act to leave their finest work on the shelf.

ClashMusic counts down ten classic examples - leave your suggestions in the comments section.

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Q-Tip - Open (2004)
You’d imagine Q-Tip would be annoyed at major record labels right now, having had three of his solo albums shelved after his 1999 debut ‘Amplified’ was released to commercial and critical success. However, after signing with Universal Motown, he was finally able to release his triumphant comeback ‘The Renaissance’ in 2008 followed a year later by his shelved 2001 effort ‘Kamaal The Abstract’. Unfortunately his forward-thinking album ‘Open’ (scheduled for 2004) has yet to receive an official release. Shelved by DreamWorks a year before the label went down, the star-studded album features collaborations with D’Angelo, Common and Andre 3000. An ‘Open Mixtape’ circulating the web and YouTube clips of the album have allowed the record to be widely heard by fans. However, an official release could have helped the Q-Tip’s boundary pushing hip-hop statement to reach a wider audience. (JE)

The Avalanches
Can you believe it’s been over twelve years since the release of Since I Left You? The Antipodeans’ wildly inventive debut album – a thrilling collision of literally thousands of samples – still sounds exceptionally fresh today, yet no follow-up has been forthcoming. They’ve apparently been working on album number two since 2005, and in 2006 their record label even put out a statement claiming that The Avalanches had “made the record of their lives.” Yet still we wait to see what these crate-digging superstars will deliver. Mind you, given their magpie tendencies, perhaps the album is ready and they’re just working through the backlog of sample clearances. (JR)

Boards Of Canada Notoriously reclusive - they once forced NME to interview them via fax - Boards Of Canada have been silent since 2006. Yet last year rumours began circulating that not only were the duo working on new material but an ambitious double album was about to spring into the world. Peter Serafinowicz spilled the beans on 6Music, before the duo themselves appeared to corroborate this on Facebook. Since then, though, no fresh material has emerged leading many to believe that this could be yet another diversionary tactic from the ever illusive duo. We shall see... (RM)

My Vitriol - (Untitled) - 2013? 


If even MBV can be roused from their eternal slumber, what about My Vitriol? Finelines will be 12 years old in March, and is still yet to see a follow up. It is perhaps the last of the albums people still speak of in devout tones, of as if it were an impossible mixture of ground unicorn horn and angel spit. The last time an album release was talked about was 2008, when a sprawling double album was mooted by their drummer shortly after they headlined Offset. 

The few drips of material that have surfaced since then have been promising, but the well seemingly ran dry shortly following their self-released 2006 live record. Ironically, 'Cast in Amber' featured a new album sampler with snippets from a forthcoming release that never actually arrived. 

They've retained their fanbase somehow, despite a website that looks like it was created on Geocities, despite a recent woeful Lana Del Ray cover surfacing on Som's Soundcloud, and despite that steady diet of next to nothing. This is mostly due to a mix of nostalgia and that they remain a fine live act. They play Koko in May, and the way things are going this year, there may yet be a grand surprise up their sleeves.


 (TP)

Mylo
Arguably the Isle of Skye’s most famous son, Mylo’s first – and, to date, only – album, Destroy Rock & Roll, came out back in 2004. Its mix of dance, Balearic beats and comedown tunes won many fans, but its most memorable moment came in the form of the title track, which sampled a testimony on the supposed evils of popular music from the New Age organisation, Church Universal and Triumphant. Since the album campaign finished, Mylo has stuck to DJing, though a new untitled track did make it onto Radio 1 in 2009. At the time of writing, Mylo’s official website simply displays a list of error messages, suggesting that new album might be a fair wait yet. (JR)

Brian Eno – My Squelchy Life
Ambient guru Brian Eno took to the studio in 1991 to work on what was to be his 11th studio album ‘My Squelchy Life’. As well as having a name that a primary school pupil might use to describe a farm, the full-length was also supposed to be an uncharacteristically non-ambient, ‘poppy’ offering. After his record company asked for the release date to be pushed back, Eno thought he’d just leave it and let 1992’s Nerve Net be his next release, returning his advance on the album. What a sweetheart. But as a result, unfortunately, we’ll never know what effect Eno-pop has on the ears. (FM)

Weezer - Songs From The Black Hole (1995)
It was near the end of 1995 when Rivers Cuomo realised making a “space-themed rock opera” to follow up their pop-punk smash, ‘The Blue Album’ was a little ambitious. Recorded mostly by Cuomo in solitary on an 8-track at his home in Connecticut, the album was about three guys and two girls “on this mission in space to rescue somebody, or something.” There was also meant to be a robot character (voiced by their roadie, Karl Koch). Meant as an analogy for climbing the charts and gaining success with their first album, the project was discarded and their follow-up ‘Pinkerton’ was released in September 1996. Several songs from the album (including an early version of Pinkerton single, ‘Tired Of Sex’) leaked in 2002 and Cuomo released sheet music and lyrics from this lost masterpiece on MySpace in 2006.

Bob Dylan - The Basement Tapes (1967)
So famous it can scarcely be considered a 'lost' album in the truest sense, 'The Basement Tapes' nonetheless deserve a mention due to Dylan's continual refusal to open the vaults. Widespread bootlegging has revealed countless valuable nuggets, while Griel Marcus' epic tome 'The Invisible Republic' is the idea starting point for navigating your way through Bob & The Band's dense tapestry of allusions to the American folk canon. Sure, the official release is an absolute classic - sitting, as it does, in the bedrock of Americana - but we won't be satisfied until a comprehensive 5CD box set appears on the release schedule. (RM)

Dark Star - Zurich - 2001 


If unfairness and general bad luck was a race, Dark Star have to be considered. Their first album Twenty Twenty Sound had been excellent, brimming with indie rock potential. They'd played Jools, stormed Reading 2000, had the comeback single get a spin from Lamacq on the Evening Session. They had their second album in the bag, ready to be mastered, when EMI pulled the plug after losing interest. Perhaps that's because Zurich lacked a single with the power and intensity of I Am The Sun, or perhaps they'd felt the wind change towards the likes of Coldplay and Travis.

The band split in 2001, and until last year Zurich was the stuff of myth, a can under dust, until it appeared on file sharing networks in 2011, and Soundcloud last year. Given that it hasn't had the final polish their debut had, it still manages to sound fairly clean, menacing in a bassy Six By Seven way on 'Perfectly Simple'. 'Strangers and Madmen', the single that never was, is a fair bit of prime indie guitar beef too, and the rest of the album is, while a touch generic, never anything less than reasonably good. It must have been particularly galling to get so close to releasing a piece of decent work to have your backers vanish. It is no real shock then, to see Zurich mysteriously released into the wild. (TP)

Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong (2008)
Some albums deserve to stay lost. Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong seem to embody all of the cliches hurled at British guitar music: hyped to within an inch of their existence, the band won a major label deal before the inevitable backlash occurred. Completing work on their debut album, the group then decided that it didn't represent their current sound. Little wonder: it was terrible. Splitting shortly after, a few members graduated to the far superior psych outfit TOY while Joe Lean himself pursued acting - making guest appearances in Peep Show, Tudors and more. (RM)

Words by Felicity Martin, Robin Murray, James Evans, Thomas Perry, Joe Rivers

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Got a lost album you would like to nominate? Tell us in the comments section...

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