Famous “Lost” Albums that May Never Be Released

Although the trend toward releasing compilation CDs that contain rarities, outtakes and B-sides has made many actual songs available, there still exists a number of actual albums that are said to be “lost.” What that means is not that the tapes were lost or erased, but that the plans to release those songs in album form were scrapped for one reason or another. In a great many cases albums that are said to be lost actually turn up in another form; it is the lack of the original and authentic collection that makes them such curiosities.

Smile-The Beach Boys.

Quite possibly the most famous album never released. Almost all the songs that were scheduled to be released on this song are available on subsequent albums. Smile was to be the Beach Boys’ follow-up to their masterpiece Pet Sounds, an album that Paul McCartney said was a tremendous influence on the Beatles when they were creating Sgt. Pepper. The album was intended to be a long form experiment with the way that the band created its iconic single “Good Vibrations.” What few people realize is that “Good Vibrations” in its original form consists of about thirty minutes of music made in what is best termed a collage style in which almost unrelated music was recorded separately and then edited together and cut down to create a perfect three minute long pop masterpiece. “Smile” was going to transform that into a Herculean effort to create an entire album in the same way. Quite possibly this idea may be a glimpse into what drove Brian Wilson insane. Well, either that or the drugs.

Household Objects-Pink Floyd.

Talk about another project guaranteed to drive you insane. Pink Floyd was looking for something truly worthy to be a follow-up to their ridiculously successful Dark Side of the Moon album. They spent several months in a valiant attempt to create music using instruments made from, well, household objects. Drums made from cardboard boxes. Guitars made from rubber bands. Different sounds made from crystal glasses with various amounts of water in them. After several months they found they had about ten minutes of usable music and the realization dawned on them: why waste so much time trying to create the sound of a drum or guitar when you could so much more easily just pick up a guitar or sit behind a drum?

Electric Nebraska-Bruce Springsteen.

Springsteen’s best album of all time is his acoustic masterpiece Nebraska. The original intention for Nebraska was to be just another E Street Band album, however. Only after comparing his original demo tapes to the finished electric versions did Springsteen recognize that the true power lay in the bare, sparse arrangement consisting of just his voice, guitar and occasional harmonica. The entire album exists in electric form backed by the E Street Band, however.

Songs from the Black Hole-Weezer.

This audacious concept album was to be the follow-up to Weezer’s successful and influential debut album popularly known as the Blue Album. Actually closer to a rock opera, Songs from the Black Hole was to feature a collection of songs that flowed into each other much like on a Pink Floyd album or the famous medley on side two of Abbey Road. According to Rivers Cuomo, the founder of Weezer, the story is loosely constructed but basically has to do with a space crew sent on a mission to “rescue somebody or something.” The album would feature characters voiced by members of Weezer as well as special guests. The album supposedly exists in demo form recorded by Rivers on 8-track tape, but was eventually scrapped as he turned his attention to what actually become the band’s next album, Pinkerton. Some of the songs to be featured on Black Hole wound up on that album or as B-sides on singles.