lost tracks

Green Day, My Chemical Romance, and the Rare Shelved Albums That Remain Unheard

This week’s release of Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys — the latest album from apocalyptic punks My Chemical Romance — marks the band’s return to record stores after a nearly four-year absence. That hold-up is owed not only to the countless hours the band members must have spent watching Solarbabies, but also to their decision to scrap an early version of the album at the eleventh hour. That means there’s an unheard MCR record sitting in the vaults, out of the reach of fans and bootleggers. But can it remain hidden forever? While, thanks to the Internet, dozens of never-meant-to-be-heard oddities — from Mick Jagger’s unreleased early-‘90s blues album to Prince’s classic Dream Factory — are now easy to track down, a small handful of buried works remain stubbornly uncovered. Will MCR join Green Day, Supergrass, and others in successfully keeping their songs to themselves? Let’s check out the short list of secret shelved albums, and the odds that they’ll ever be heard.

PROJECT: In the wake of 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon, the members of Pink Floyd found themselves rich, famous, and thoroughly freaked out about the prospect of a follow-up. In a move simultaneously inspired and inexplicable, the group decided to abandon traditional instruments in favor of bangable household objects, from wine bottles to saws. “They pounded hammers, they chopped tree trunks with axes, they broke lightbulbs,” writes journalist Gavin Edwards . After only a few weeks of work, however, the band members gave up, leaving behind only a few minutes of recordings. SIGNS OF LIFE: Though a snippet of wine-glass noise made a cameo on 1975’s Wish You Were Here, no bootlegs of the session exist — kind of shocking, considering that Floyd is one of the most heavily documented bands of all time. Still, there’s always hope that Roger Waters will revisit the idea, perhaps in the form of a rock opera about the citizens of an idealistic cutlery drawer rebelling against a fascist wok. ODDS OF EVENTUAL RELEASE: 25 to 1.
PROJECT: Following 2000’s tepidly received Warning, Green Day decided to return to its scaled-down roots, recording nearly twenty new songs (which, given Green Day’s early pop-punk metabolism rate, would have yielded an album about eleven minutes long). But the master tapes were stolen from the recording studio, prompting the band to start over again, a task that resulted in 2004’s American Idiot. SIGNS OF LIFE: For years, fans speculated that Green Day had been releasing Valentines tracks under the guise of the Network, the band’s New Wave side project. But the band members have always denied the charge, and the songs remained forever lost — until this summer, when Green Day recorded Valentines and Cigarettes’s title track for a forthcoming live album. ODDS OF EVENTUAL RELEASE: In its original form? 50 to 1. But we wouldn’t put it past the band to revisit those songs again in the near future.
PROJECT: For years, Korn front man (and nü-metal annüity) Jonathan Davis has been promising fans an entire album’s worth of covers, from Faith No More (sure, why not?) to Prince (uh, ok) to Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam (oof). SIGNS OF LIFE: Though a version of the Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way” leaked online a few years ago — and a cover of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” wound up on the soundtrack for 2005’s xXx: State of the Union — Davis recently announced that Korn Kovers was permanently shelved, most likely owing to legal wrangling (the band’s switched labels multiple times). However, there is still hope that Davis will pursue Korn Covers Corn Coverers, a three-disc concept album about husks. ODDS OF EVENTUAL RELEASE: 10 to 1
PROJECT: Having made a quasi-comeback with 2004’s high-gloss Astronaut, the middle-aged New Romantics headed back to the studio, hoping to recapture the “rawness and energy” of its first album. But the new direction caused rifts among the band members, eventually prompting Andy Taylor to quit the group in 2006; after his departure, Duran Duran went back into the studio, this time working with producer Timbaland. The resulting album, 2007’s Red Carpet Massacre, was a critical and commercial dud. SIGNS OF LIFE: Though the band members have expressed their desire to see Reportage set free — even in bootleg form — it remains a Holy Grail among Duranies, many of whom believe the album will only be heard following a reconciliation with Taylor. Given the numerous breakups and makeups in Duran Duran’s 30-plus-year career, that seems like a given. ODDS OF EVENTUAL RELEASE: 3 to 1
PROJECT: Having recorded several respectably performing rap albums in the nineties, O’Neal (a.k.a. Shaq-Fu) decided to go for a star-studded group effort, recruiting the likes of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Mos Def. According to the album’s Wikipedia page, Superfriends was originally intended to arrive in stores on September 11, 2001, only to be repeatedly delayed, and finally canceled altogether. SIGNS OF LIFE: Though one Superfriends single made it to radio — the Warren G-assisted “Connected” — the album remains in limbo, even though a few review copies were circulated to critics. Perhaps you can wish for it the next time you’re screamed at by a seven-foot-tall boombox-dwelling genie. ODDS OF EVENTUAL RELEASE: 200 to 1
PROJECT: In 2009, beloved Brit-poppers Supergrass — having just signed a new record deal — headed into the studio to work on their seventh album. But despite a few optimistic studio updates, the band unexpectedly announced its breakup this spring, citing “musical differences.” For now, the nearly finished Drones remains on the shelves. SIGNS OF LIFE: With the nostalgia for all things nineties running at a fever pitch, we’re guessing it’ll only be a few years until Supergrass recharge and reform — at which time they’ll (hopefully) finish what they started. If they don’t, they’re going to make a lot of British choir kids really sad. ODDS OF EVENTUAL RELEASE: Even
Green Day, My Chemical Romance, and the Rare Shelved Albums That Remain Unheard