Metal Box Outtakes 1979
(aka Metal Box Demos 1 & 2)

Due to their poor sound quality mystery has always surrounded the exact contents of these infamous bootleg cassettes. Enter our brave reporter Karsten Roekens, who put on his listening hat and waded through all the various versions and variations of the tapes. Finally nailing the contents, once and for all into some sort of order...

Running Order:
1. Death Disco
2. Socialist (2 versions)
3. No Birds Do Sing (3 versions)
4. Beat the Drum For Me (4 versions)

Running Time:
43 minutes (approx)

Sound Quality:
(6) Poor Over-Copied Studio Mixes
Tape Gradings Explained here

© 2000 / F&F Publishing

It is surprising for a band who spent so much time in the studio recording this album that nothing ever leaked out into the bootleg market. Nothing except this one tape. Often labeled 'Metal Box Demos', it features some outtakes and remixes from the 'Metal Box' sessions (recorded at The Manor in Oxfordshire and Townhouse Studios in London, spring 1979). Running orders' are commonly swapped around by traders, with tracks often being duplicated again and again to extend the running time, but this is the definitive break down of what is actually there...

Track by Track Review:
Death Disco (aka Swan Lake)
This is a completely different version to the single or album release, perhaps an earlier version or a later re-recording with Richard Dudanski on drums, who knows? The rhythm track is different and Lydon's vocals are an alternate take too. Although the track starts abruptly mid-song it's still 4:50 long. This take has more dub elements than the known version, beginning with drums only, then echoey guitar with additional synth thrown in, the bass line sets in after half a minute (Wobble even plays a few different notes towards the end of the song). Sometime after the middle of the song all the instruments, except bass and drums, drop out with the reverb looped and set in again after a while - great! It's sickening that the sound quality is so bad... This track is titled as 'Swan Lake' on some versions of the tape...


Two versions here. First we have an alternate take to the album version, there's a short fog-horn like synthesizer sound before the song starts, otherwise it's not much different. The second version of the track is much more interesting, as there are some vocals by Jah Wobble on it. To my ears the rhythm track is the same one as on 'Metal Box' (with one short drum break mixed in mid-song), but there are different synthesizer overdubs on it and some interesting vocoder sounds. During the second half of the song Wobble sings something like "Being a socialist/under the cover" and ending the song with a repeated "Socialist, Socialist, Socialeeeest".

No Birds Do Sing
Three times the album version, perhaps an exercise in trying out different mixes. However, the sound quality is so bad and the variations so minimal (if there are any) that you would never notice. The counting-in on the hi-hat on the first version could sound a little different than on the other two, but I think it's just playing tricks with my ears. What's special about these versions is that they are some 10 seconds longer before they fade out than on 'Metal Box' (you won't find many people who think that's exciting - I do!)

Beat the Drum For Me (aka Moonlight Melody)
Don't get over-excited, this is not an unreleased PiL song but a Jah Wobble solo track recorded during the 'Metal Box' sessions with drummer David Humphrey (see interview). It was released in 1980 on Wobble's first solo album 'Betrayal'. We have 4 versions here: two versions which come pretty close to the final album take, on one of them the majority of the vocals are removed and a few synths are added. Then there are two slowed-down dub mixes, which are tacked onto another so that they form one 9:00 long track...This track is titled 'Moonlight Melody' on some versions of the tape, perhaps a working title, or simply made up by the bootlegger/trader...

The fact that this tape includes PiL AND Jah Wobble outtakes, plus the fact that one PiL track has a Wobble vocal on it is suspicious. In my opinion this tape once belonged to him, (and was most likely copied without him knowing) from the period when he recorded his first album during the PiL sessions (remember it included reworkings of 'The Suit' and 'Graveyard'). It could even be this is the infamous tape that quickened Wobble's departure from the band? It's a shame that endless copying and re-copying reduced the sound quality to such a mess...


"Metal Box Demos 2" - Fake!

Running Order:
1. Albatross
2. No birds Do Sing
3. Graveyard
4. The Suit
5. Socialist
6. Chant
7. Radio 4
8. Death Disco (from 12")
9. Fodderstompf (Megga Mix)
10. Memories (Single Version)
11. Another

© 2000 / F&F Publishing

There is another tape in circulation which allegedly contains "demos" and "remixes" of 'Metal Box' songs Again, labeled "Demos", often as 'Metal Box Demos 2'. Running orders' are commonly duplicated and swapped around by traders, with these tracks even being added to the above takes to confuse things even further...

This is an absolute fake typical for tape traders in the 80's, you can even hear the sound of the needle in the grooves! It's very simple to create "remixes" like that: take a very shitty stereo, turn down all the lows, put it into your bathroom, switch off the right channel and tape it with even shittier equipment, preferably from the corridor. You will be surprised how different it sounds and how many things and nuances you hear that you never noticed before! This is not collectable, at least until the fake itself becomes collectable one day?


(Fake compilation)

Running Order:
1. Memories
2. Death Disco
3. Fodderstompf (megga mix)
4. Poptones
5. Careering
6. Socialist
7. Graveyard
8. The Suit
9. Attack (live)

Running Time:
45 minutes (approx)

Sound Quality:
(7.5) Fake Vinyl Compilation
Tape Gradings Explained here

review by Scott M
© 2000 / F&F Publishing

Despite coming from vinyl, it can still be quite a muddy recording.

Yet another 'rip off' 'Metal Box' "demos" compilation. Again, simply made up of various B-sides, 12" mixes, along with five tracks straight from 'Metal Box', & 'Attack' from 'Paris Au Printemps'. A complete waste of time, which ironically enough doesn't even feature 'Albatross'. Pointless...


Bootleg Guide | Fodderstompf