Dave Matthews Band
The Lillywhite Sessions (Unreleased album)
Recorded Winter 1999 - Summer 2000, leaked on internet March 2001
Raw (unmastered) session recordings, very good quality
Available in Lossless (FLAC) and mp3 (320 kbps) versions
Here's another classic unreleased album, this one from much more recently and from a more recent band, but one that nonetheless still has some historical significance, and played a key role in the development of the internet for distribution of unreleased and bootleg recordings. And personally, it was this album that first got me started in finding and downloading bootlegs, unofficial releases, and ROIOs via the internet. For some background, it was late 1999, and use of the internet to find, share, and deliver music was just getting established. Two relatively new upstart online music companies, mp3.com and Napster, would change the way music is distributed, shared, and listened to in the emerging online marketplace. Mp3.com, which started in 1998, featured music from mostly independent, unknown acts, and allowed users to download and listen to new music from these emerging artists for free. It was a great opportunity for new and unknown acts to get their music heard, and gain exposure in the marketplace. Napster, which was just started in early 1999, of course, was the first of the online music sharing sites that offered free peer-to-peer sharing of music files among fans, and quickly became primarily used to share copyrighted music. The music industry's response (RIAA and some band's legal representation) to both of these perceived attacks on the music industry status quo was swift and powerful, inundating them with litigation intended to eventually shut them down (which they did by 2001). But in 1999-2000, they were growing and going strong.
At the same time, the Dave Matthews Band had emerged as one of the top rock bands of the nineties, with each of their albums becoming bigger hits than the previous one (Under The Table and Dreaming, 1994, Crash, 1996), culminating with Before these Crowded Streets (1998) reaching Number 1 on the charts, their live shows selling-out stadiums, and their fans becoming rabid for more DMB music. But when DMB head back to the studios in fall 1999 to work on their next album, again with producer Steve Lillywhite, despite finishing many new songs over the next couple months, Dave and the Band were just 'not feeling it'. Most of the songs were much darker in tone and they were just not happy with the overall sound and style of the sessions. By Spring 2000, they announced that they were abandoning the sessions (and their ties to Lillywhite), that they would still tour that summer, but without a new album to release. In the meantime, however, a few of the songs were leaked to various DMB fanbases to overall positive responses, and during the summer tour, they featured some of the 'abandoned' songs, to much acclaim from fans. After their tour, in Fall 2000, a re-energized Matthews met up with producer Glenn Ballard, hit it off big-time, and the two of them proceeded to write a whole new album of songs in a very short time (and generally without any input from the rest of the band). So, the band then went back to the studio with Dave and Glenn's new batch of songs and proceeded to record what would be released as Everyday (2001). But when Everyday was released, although the album was a hit, long-time fans were not pleased with the overly slick, pop style of the new album. Fans started clamoring for the release of the lost Lillywhite sessions and the songs from them that were featured on their last tour. Then in March 2001, a full album of completed, but unmastered songs, that came to be known as The Lillywhite Sessions, was leaked onto the internet from one of the DMB fanbases and distributed via Napster (ironically, the person leaking them thought he had full permission from Lillywhite to release them, but was the victim of a phony email trick). Once they became available (initially only as 96 and 128 kbs mp3 files), there was a frenzy to get and listen to these 'lost' tracks, and the loyal fan base almost unanimously preferred these dark DMB tracks to the slick pop of Everyday. And although the album was still not officially released, it was beginning to achieve the popularity and mainstream support of a commercial release (to the extent that this unreleased album was reviewed by Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and other mainstream media, and received generally better ratings and reviews than the offically released Everyday. To compound this, during the following summer tour, DMB played songs from both Everyday and the unofficial Lillywhite sessions. More than ever, fans were screaming for the official release of the sessions, to no avail.
And this, basically, is where I came in. Like many others, DMB was one of my favorite bands at that time (unfortunately, that changed drastically over the next decade as DMB began a downward spiral of poor decisions, creative lapses, uninspired musical directions, and lack of quality musical output), and I was outraged that there was this whole new album out there that was being talked about, but was not commercially available anywhere. So, that was my incentive to go and get this music online, as I believe it was for many others that had never downloaded music from the internet before. Although I never hooked up to Napster (due to all the controversy surrounding it at the time), I did get hooked up with LimeWire, which used the new Gnutella network (one of many updated offshoots of the Napster concept, but with improvements making them less susceptible to legal shutdown) for P2P sharing. Although it was slow and a bit of a mess (songs in low grades, mislabelled tracks, many interruptions, failures, etc.), I was able to eventually get (song-by-song) the full Lillywhite sessions album, and it was well-worth the trouble, a real gem of an album, even though it was 'scrapped' and deemed not worthy of releasing. Anyway, once I was online in this way, I, of course found much more music of interest that was available, including unreleased demos, outtakes, and albums, and live concert recordings. But I was never interested in getting official commercially-available music for free online, and would not have gotten into online sharing at all for that purpose, but it was the ability of getting music that I could not get anywhere commercially that was most compelling, and it was here, and specifically because of this album, that I first started downloading music. Sure, I had acquired many vinyl bootleg albums in the 70's and 80's, but they were generally expensive and not very good quality, and usually not worth the trouble. But now, with the discovery of so much new music that was not available commercially, it opened a whole new world. So, this album has many fond memories for me, and started me on the path that eventually lead to this blog. I didn't stay on Limewire for very long (don't like the idea and vulnerabilities of P2P), but it got me started, and lead to the other music blogs featuring live, unreleased, and bootleg albums, and eventually the filesharing services, and everything else.
Now, to continue the story of the album, although The Lillywhite Sessions never were officially released and remained a cherished unreleased album, insistence by fans for these songs eventually lead DMB to go back to the studio and re-record most of the Lillywhite songs (9 of the 12 songs were used, along with 2 new songs - songs not included were 'Sweet Up and Down', 'JTR', and 'Monkey Man') for the album that was released as Busted Stuff (2002). Although the sound and recording of the songs is definitely higher quality than the raw recordings on Lillywhite, and Busted Stuff is a fine album itself, most fans still prefer the original recorded versions found on the Lillywhite Sessions, and it remains a must-have album in the DMB collection. Anyway, so here it is, if you don't already have it, The Lillywhite Sessions. And here it is presented in much better quality (lossless and 320 mp3) than those original download versions (later lossless versions became available). So, decide for yourself. Which is better, Lillywhite or Everyday, then Lillywhite or Busted Stuff? Also included here is an additional track (Build You a House') from the Lillywhite sessions (not included on the album), that came from earlier in the sessions, a song that was dropped before further recording for the proposed album was done.
1. Busted Stuff
2. Grey Street
3. Diggin' a Ditch
4. Sweet Up and Down
6. Big Eyed Fish
7. Grace is Gone
8. Captain (Crazy)
10. Monkey Man
11. Kit Kat Jam
13. Build You a House
(Additional track from earlier during Lillywhite recording sessions that was not included on the Lillywhite sessions album)
Note: 'Build You a House' only available as mp3 (192 kbps)
FLAC - DMB_Lillywhite sessions_FLAC
mp3 - DMB_Lillywhite_sessions_mp3.rar