Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Beatles - The Esher Demos - Late May 1968, Esher, UK

The Beatles
The Esher Demos
Late May, 1968
Kinfauns (George Harrison's House), Esher, Surrey, UK

Home demo recordings, good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Continuing with my posts of all-time classic bootleg albums, it would be criminal not to include something by The Beatles here. After all, they are probably the most bootlegged act of all-time. And although I am as big a Beatles fan as anyone out there (and have several hundred Beatles bootleg titles), I have never even considered posting any Beatles here, just because Beatles stuff can be found so many other places, there was no need to post them here. But now, this special 5th Anniversary classics posting provides the perfect excuse to feature some Beatles. There are literally thousands of Beatles-related bootlegs out there, ranging from utterly fantastic to complete rubbish, with most somewhere in the middle, and many constituting endless re-sortings and re-compilations of the same batches of outtakes and 'rarities' as so many others, in varying levels of sound quality. So, out of all the Beatles-related bootlegs, from live recordings to all the rarities, outtakes, compilations, remixes, and remasters collections out there, what would be the single greatest Beatles boot? Given that many of the historical outtakes-rarities and remasters bootlegs have been rendered, maybe not obsolete, but certainly less essential, with the official releases of the Anthology series, Let It Be Naked, and the 2009 Remastered albums, probably the one bootleg release that most stands out to me as the best are The Esher Demos. This refers to the collection of acoustic demo recordings made by John, Paul, and George (there is no indication Ringo was present) at George's bungalow home (named Kinfauns) located in Esher, England. Here, in late May 1968, after returning from their trek to India and prior to going back into the recording studio to work on their next album (in June), the boys got together and presented to each other the songs they had each recently come up with. So, using George's Ampex 4-track Reel-to-Reel recorder, they laid down these mostly acoustic demos consisting primarily of early versions of songs that would later become the 'White album', as well as some that would be later released on respective solo albums ('Junk', 'Child of Nature' which was later re-worked to become 'Jealous Guy', and 'Circles'), and a few that were never officially released ('What's the New Mary Jane', 'Sour Milk Sea', 'Not Guilty'). It is a unique and wonderful opportunity and such a historical document to hear these early demo versions. One can imagine them just sitting around sharing their songs with each other, getting feedback, etc. When listening, you can get the feeling of having your own personal, casual and informal concert with them just sitting around your living room. It's quite remarkable. In some cases, the songs are still quite rough, in others, they are very similar to what the song would sound like on the finished album. Most intriguing are the early acoustic versions of songs that became much more electric or 'rockier' (like 'Revolution', 'Everybody's Got Something...Monkey', 'Yer Blues', 'While My Guitar...Weeps', etc). It has been reported that 27-28 songs were recorded over a couple days, after which George Martin had several copies of an acetate of these sessions pressed and distributed to each Beatle for their perusal at home to work with before heading into the studio in the following weeks. There have been many bootleg variations of the Esher demos circulating (with titles such as 'From Kinfauns to Chaos', 'Acoustic Masterpieces', Unsurpassed Demos', 'The Beatles-Unplugged', 'Release from Limitation', and countless others), in varying quality, for many years, but all have consisted of the same 23 songs (it has been rumored that the bootleg releases came from copies of Lennon's own Acetate, which he traded for some other bootlegs). It wasn't until Anthology 3 was released in 1996 that we got to hear 4 additional demo songs recorded at Kinfauns, 'Happiness is a Warm Gun', 'Glass Onion', 'Mean Mr. Mustard', and 'Polythene Pam', all in excellent quality (perhaps the original acetate that was bootlegged did not include these recordings?), but yet very few of the other previously available Esher tracks were included (just 'Junk', 'Piggies', 'Honey Pie' with improved sound and stereo). Thus, even after Anthology, the bootleg Esher demo versions remain the only source for almost all these tracks (Considering the much higher quality available from the original tapes as evident on the Anthology-released tracks, we can only hope that some day all the Esher demos will be officially released, which would make a great full CD release). Until that day, however, we are very fortunate to have these bootleg versions of the Esher Demos. For me then, this is the best single Beatles bootleg. If you only had one Beatles bootleg (as ludicrous a concept as that seems), it probably should be this one (although that would certainly be debatable - any discussion is certainly encouraged). The version I have presented here comes from the excellent Purple Chick 'Deluxe Edition' series, as they have compiled the best quality recordings available from various different bootleg sources. So, if you don't have these already, by all means get them now, as these are essential, and certainly an all-time classic.

1. Julia
2. Blackbird
3. Rocky Raccoon
4. Back In The U.S.S.R.
5. Honey Pie
6. Mother Nature's Son
7. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
8. Junk
9. Dear Prudence
10. Sexy Sadie
11. Cry Baby Cry
12. Child Of Nature
13. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
14. I'm So Tired
15. Yer Blues
16. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
17. What's The New Mary Jane
18. Revolution
19. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
20. Circles
21. Sour Milk Sea
22. Not Guilty
23. Piggies

These are taken from the Purple Chick compilation 'The Beatles - Deluxe Edition Vol. 3' (The Demos)
From Purple Chick's notes - "For what it's worth, not only do these tracks sound better to us than on 'From Kinfauns To Chaos' but they're also in the 'correct order', at the correct speed and in true mono for the first time (as best we can tell)."
However, the Purple Chick collection also included the 4 additional Esher songs taken directly from the official Anthology 3 release. I have not included these tracks here as they are commercially available on Anthology 3. For the other songs that are also included on Anthology 3, I have used the the available bootleg versions, and not the upgraded, remixed, remastered versions available on the commercial release.

FLAC - Beatles - Esher Demos - FLAC

mp3 - Beatles_Esher_Demos_(PC)_mp3.rar
New Link (Updated 10/05/2018)

For those just getting started in the world of Beatles bootlegs, but wanting the full range of available recordings, I would highly recommend getting hold of the complete Purple Chick 'Deluxe Edition' series, which is available for each Beatles album, and consists of the compilation of the best available outtakes, rarities, and unreleased recordings and sessions from each album period. Purple Chick also has a Live series compilation, which again compiles all the best quality live recordings over the Beatles career. Collection of these PC series (which amounts to several dozen CDs worth) contain most all of the Beatles bootleg recordings you would ever need, as they were compiled from many different bootleg sources, keeping the best stuff, and eliminating all the redundant and low quality remainders, and rendering most of the rest of the bootlegs obsolete.
But please, let me know what your favorite Beatles bootlegs are.


Narrow Dog said...

Hi, for the record my favourite bootleg of the live hysteria has got to be Vancouver 1964 with the interviews, and the commentary on the concert plus a line recording from the SB a good quality recording of them playing. Fantastic quotes such as I'm glad I gave my daughter a tranquilliser before she went to the concert. Also the amazing idea of the promoter to sell the fans mini tape recorders so they could record the show. Imagine that now!

david said...

My two cents worth: my favorites would be the 1st Acetate of "Get Back", and the Live in Philadelphia 1964 show. Live Beatles at their peak, and great sound as well.The Indiana State Fair show from the next night would also be in the running.

BBKron said...

Interesting that you both chose live shows from 1964 as among your favorites, whereas for me, the '64 live shows rank fairly low. Although it is certainly fun to watch them from this period (like in the Sullivan shows, etc.), I have little tolerance for listening to these live shows, with all the screaming and hysteria, and the performances affected by the group not being able to hear themselves well. Plus, they just didn't have enough of their best stuff at this point for me. Of the live shows, I much prefer some of the '65 and '66 shows, just because they were playing more interesting songs by that time. Of course the biggest shame is that so many of their greatest songs were never played live at all. Of course, everybody has their own favorite songs, period , and style.
David, I would also include the original Johns 'Get Back' album as one of my favorites, too, and thought about including it here.
Thanks again for commenting.

david said...

I picked the 64 shows more for the sonic quality, rather than song selection. The two shows are direct line, with little annoying audience noise.I completely agree with you , that they are difficult to listen to; I actually prefer the BBC stuff with no audience. There's some great stuff on those 12 cds. I prefer set wise, the last tour material, but the screaming on those shows make them almost unlistenable.The Hollywood Bowl shows are pretty good, as is the direct line Shea show. If you get a copy of the Budokan show from the laser disc, that is actually pretty good too. I agree with you about their best stuff not being played live. So many good boots.....
Have you a copy of the speed corrected "Get Back " 1st acetate ? It's an improvement over what was around previously, even if it does have "Teddy Boy "!
Thanks for keeping your site up, and making all the great music available to those who don't have it.

DINO RATSO said...

My favourite bootleg is Black Album, a compilation with old rock and roll standards from Let It Be sessions. There's another bootleg called Black Album with alternate and rough mixes of the White Album.

Anonymous said...

First of all thanks for this. That said, My favorite Beatlegs would have to fall into those multi disc sets ie: The John Barrett Tapes, lot of variety there.

Your Pal

Narrow Dog said...

I mentioned Vancouver as it is an excellent document of the times. Musically I prefer the the later more creative Beatles, the live version of Hey Jude on the Frost show still brings me out in goose bumps. I still remember seeing this for the first time.

Karl AceModrules Decaux said...

Thanks a lot!

bglobe313 said...


I don't think I have ever heard that Vancouver 1964 recording. Sounds like the kind of artifact that I would like, with the interviews, etc.

Any source for it (non-torrent)?

Ace K.

bglobe313 said...

What does this say about me, I just realized that I think I do have that Vancouver show as part of a Purple Chick collection. I have so much music, I don't even know what I have!

Lennon said...

Hi Fellow Bloggers. I am new to this blog site and in just reading what I've read thus far on all the vast amount of Beatles Bootlegs there are available ..I have to say blows my mind!!! I have to admit and reluctantly and remorsefully that I do not have one Bootleg Lp. The only thing I do have is My total Beatles Collection of all 16 Lps from Capital and Apple (Later ) They were all purchased at the time of their release from 63- to the final Lp. Let it be. They are alas in Mint condition. I would not classify myself as. Beatles Fan. I am so much more than that. The Beatles are so much a part of me and my life and have been since I was 13 yrs old. I guess you could say that they are the most important Band or group in the Soundtrack of My Life. I feel like I've known them as friends all my life well at least 40 plus years. I feel like I have the strongest connection. Soul connection with John Lennon and Paul McCartney and I had. What is so amazing is that 40 yrs later I have found myself falling in Love with the Beatles all over again watching all the old concert footage and interviews on utubw. Every single day. It's Amazing. Because its familiar yet new and exciting and I'm in. A different mind set now more mature. Not that screaming teenage girl mooning over Paul and John but now I can truly have a greater appreciation for their music their songwriting their musicianship the Beatles as. A band. As. A singer/songwriter/ performer myself I also can see them in that light now. It's so exciting to fall in love with the Beatles all over again with new Eyes and Vision. I believe that if we truly love a group or band or a singer musician artist etc. than the best way to keep their spirit I'd the spirit of that band alive is to play their music and look at their photos and share them and your thoughts and stories with other Beatles Lovers or Beatlemaniacs such as myself and that way their Spirit lives on forever as we'll as their music. Thanks for listening sorry it doesn't follow with the theme of Bootlegs Lps but I do hope that you still like it. Beatles Girl 4 Ever. Lennon

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Thankfully this holy grail will be included on the new 50th anniversary White Album release next month! Amazing :)