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John Lennon - Free As A Bird - The Dakota Beatle Demos

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Scan submitted/created by [Beatleg Extension]
HQ Scans:
Publisher: Pegboy
Reference :Pegboy 1001
Date :1996
Made In :
Quality :AAD
Booklet & packaging :Contains a 24 pages booklet containing informative notes, relevant photos and sketches from the pen of John Lennon.
Total duration: 71:40

This collection features the best of John Lennon's original home demos recorded at the Dakota between 1976 and 1980. John's original demos used for the new beatle's songs: free as a bird & real love are here as well as the talked about, but never heard, 3rd "beatle '95" demo now and then. Also included are several never before heard Lennon compositions.

In 1980, John Lennon wanted his public to believe that his music had deserted him for five long years before miraculously returning with a fury. While the story makes for good PR, this collection of home demos from the "Dakota Years" evidences exactly the opposite.

Much talk of John's home demos surrounded the release of The Beatles' Anthology, and rightfully so. Over the past two years, Yoko presented Paul, George and Ringo with a selection of four Lennon demos dating from the period 1977-1980. Three of these compositions (Grow Old With Me, Real Love, and Free As A Bird) were available to the public for several years prior to their resurfacing, giving us a unique insight to the recording process in reverse. Much speculation has surrounded the fourth recording. Scant, cryptic details from those "in the know" sent us scouring through the Lennon archives in search fof the elusive track. After much searching, we are pleased to present the premiere appearance of Now And Then. But the surprises don't end there. The majority of this release is taken from unadulterated source tapes, some of them possessing an ambience so true, you'd think John was performing in your living room.

Core collection    Track identified    Version validated    Lyrics available    Version details available    Audio excerpt available    Participants list available   
Free As A Bird(Lennon)
Core collection
Version validated
Version details available
Take 1 - Piano
13 Aug 1977
John Lennon
"Free - as a boid"
Free As A Bird no longer needs an introduction. Recorded in 1977, John ran through a mere three passes at the Dakota upright before moving on. Presented here from a tape source is Take 1 which suffers from the early stages of "demo-us interruptus" unlike the broadcast version which was artificially extended.
Take 3, whose vocal is now instantly recognizable, appears elsewhere on this collection. Listening to these takes, it becomes apparent that the backing track of the recording was indeed a composite of John's demos, rather than a single take
Real Love(Lennon)
Take 1
(date unknown)
John Lennon
Originally conceived as a part of "The Ballad Of John And Yoko", Real Love has recently been immortalized as the latest Beatles' recording. We are proud to present from a tape source, Take 1 of John's Dakota piano demo which premieres the joining of Real Life with Baby Make Love To You.
Now And Then(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
Now And Then, the elusive thrid "Beatle track" which was never completed during the Spring, 1995 sessions, is introduced here in its original form, replete with "the buzz" which plagued co-producer Jeff Lynne. A careful listen reveals John's slip into She's A Friend Of Dorothy's during the instrumental break.
Grow Old With Me(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
What was once John's best known unfinished work due to its inclusion on Milk And Honey, Grow Old With Me possesses all of the elements of the "standard" treatment Yoko still envisions for it. The version appearing on this compilation is the stark piano and Rhythm-Ace recording prior to being tweaked for official release. You can actually discern both parts of John's double-tracked vocal.
Free As A Bird(Lennon)
Core collection
Version validated
Version details available
Piano Demo
Take 3
John Lennon
Features spoken intro: "hello, hello, free, three"
Dear John(Lennon)
Nov 1980
John Lennon
Dating from early November, 1980, Dear John is one of the last known Lennon compositions to materialize. With trademark introspective lyrics still unfinished, John backs himself rigidly on acoustic guitar, yet urges himself to relax. John's vocal registers his embarrassment at being caught nicking a melody for the chorus - September Song. The keen-eared amongst you will note the longer fade, available here for the first time.
Real Life(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
Listed as ""That's the Way the World is""

That's The Way The World Is combines elements which would eventually unravel into two distinctly different styled songs, Real Love and I'm Stepping Out. A Dakota piano demo with single-tracked vocal, it appears here with a considerably longer introduction than its broadcast counterpart.
(date unknown)
John Lennon
Forsaken by the "Lost Lennon Tapes" radio series, India makes its world premiere on this collection. Featuring an unheard set of lyrics atop a polished guitar backing, the melody marries an upbeat version of Tennessee with the chorus of Serve Yourself. Talk about potential!
Mirror, Mirror (On The Wall)(Lennon)
Take 1
John Lennon
John recorded 5 takes of Mirror, Mirror (On The Wall) on the Dakota piano in the fall of 1977 for inclusion on "The Ballad Of John And Yoko". Take 1 is presented here, excerpted from a rambling composing sequence.
Gone From This Place(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
Unfortunately, John's acoustic guitar accompaniment obstructs his prophetic lyrics on this take of the unreleased Gone From This Place. Slightly longer than the broadcast version, this take couples the catchy melody with another original, She Runs Them Around In Circles.
Across The River(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
Across The River appeared previously on "The Lost Lennon Tapes" as part of what has come to be known as the J-9 Medley. The take appearing here was never aired as a part of the radio series, and features John accompanied by acoustic guitar and Rhythm-Ace.
Don't Be Crazy(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
Don't Be Crazy was one of many compositions incorporated into (Just Like) Starting Over. On John's piano demo we hear the bridge/middle-eight portion taking shape, albeit with alternate lyrics.
Illusions (Not For Love Nor Money)(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
Another title overlooked by the radio series is Illusions (A.K.A. Not For Love Nor Money), a close miked acoustic guitar demo reminiscent of Serve Yourself and I'm Stepping Out. Once again we have an unknown set of lyrics dealing with disillusion.
Real Life(Lennon)
Piano - Composing Sequence
John Lennon
Listed as ""Baby Make Love To You"

Part of a lengthy composing sequence, Baby Make Love To You offers a fascinating experience of hearing John discover the chord progression which would eventually develop into the verse of Real Love.
Life Begins At Forty(Lennon)
Acoustic Demo
Nov 1980
John Lennon
Recorded at the "Dakota Country And Western Club" on acoustic guitar and Rhythm-Ace, Live Begins At 40 makes its most complete appearance to date. This demo was given to Ringo when he met with John at The Plaza hotel in late November, 1980 for inclusion on what was to become Stop And Smell The Roses
She's A Friend Of Dorothy's(Lennon)
Take 7
John Lennon
Take 7 of She's A Friend Of Dorothy's dates from 1977 (it was first demoed the preceding year) and was also slated for "The Ballad Of John And Yoko". Lyrically, it's one of John's more intriguing works.
You Saved My Soul (With Your True Love)(Lennon)
14 Nov 1980
John Lennon
You Saved My Soul is most likely John Lennon's last home recording to surface. Taken from a tape dated November 14, 1980, this electric guitar based demo is an excerpt of a longer "stream of conciousness" composing sequence which, among the false starts, also includes the well known Serve Yourself and interuptig vocalization Pop Is The Name Of The Game.
Sally And Billy(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
From the early house husband years is Sally And Billy. Dating from 1976, this piano/drum machine based demo updates the Titenhurst Park version which was recorded towards the end of 1970. Note that the chorus still retains the melody used several years earlier on the Mind Games track Only People.
Whatever Happened To...?(Lennon)
Core collection
Version validated
Piano Demo
John Lennon
Taken from the same cassette as Free As A Bird, Whatever Happened To... was another of the several tracks composed for the unrealized stage play "The Ballad Of John And Yoko". John punctuates his vocal with a staccato acoustic guitar on this demo which dates from 1977.
One Of The Boys(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
One Of The Boys is another unreleased original committed to tape shortly after the Lennon's returned from their Japanese holiday towards the end of 1977. Recorded at the Dakota, two takes have surfaced, both with a spirited acoustic guitar accompaniment. The last of these known takes is presented here. The slightly familiar melody (and lyrics!) which appear towards the end of take 2 belong to a tune entitled Caribbean - popularized nearly twenty years earlier by Mitchell Torok and also revisited by the Plastic Ono Elephant's Memory Band during their 1972 Record Plant breakfast jam.
Help Me To Help Myself(Lennon)
(date unknown)
John Lennon
Help Me To Help Myself is an original piano based demo, presented in a gospel style. It was recorded prior to the Dylanesque guitar/drum machine demo also heard on "The Lost Lennon Tapes".
Real Love(Lennon)
Take 4
(date unknown)
John Lennon
This is take 4 of a series of acoustic demos John recorded of Real Love (AKA Boys And Girls) in early 1980. Take 6 appeared previously on the Imagine: John Lennon soundtrack. Interestingly enough, the lyrics to both takes are "Real Life" rather than "Real Love"
Core collection    Track identified    Version validated    Lyrics available    Version details available    Audio excerpt available    Participants list available   

Song Song Studio chat Studio chat
TV/Radio chat/jingle TV/Radio chat/jingle Interview Interview
Cover by another artist Cover by another artist Film Music/Orchestral Film music/orchestral
Concert intro/announcement Concert intro/announcement Advertising Advertising
Song by another artist Song by another artist Medley title Medley title
Book chapter Book chapter
Other type of track Other


Review by: François Vander Linden, tilleul@compuserve.comOn 8 Jun 1999 at 21:38 CEST
This is a big collection of John unreleased songs. Most of them are played on piano. Sometimes an acoustic or electric guitar but with no arrangments at all and so the songs are far from complete on the musical sense.

Most of the songs contains tunes that will lead later to a released song by John. So it seems that John was searching to concatenate musical verses and bridges in different ways.

But some other songs (and the more delightful to hear IMHO) are those that will not lead to a released song. Among these, we can highlight:

Now And Then: sad and beautiful piano
Grow Old With Me: the well known demo found on 'Milk & Honey'
India: though a bit basic
Mirror, Mirror: John's explorating this excellent chord variation: from Major to Major 7 using the intermediate 7Major.
Baby Make Love To You: with some interesting 'Dylanesque' tunes
She's A Friend Of Dorothy: pleasant piano song
Sally and Billy
One Of The Boys

The other songs are not so pleasant to listen to (except Real Love and Free As A Bird) because of John's very basic play on the demos (very notably on guitar songs like YOU SAVED MY SOUL, DEAR JOHN and LIFE BEGINS AT 40 but also on piano like DON'T BE CRAZY)

In conclusion, this is a nice set of unreleased John songs. If you're looking for such a compilation this CD is worth the buy. If you already have the Lost Lennon Tapes, I doubt you'll find this CD interesting.

Final Review: buy it.
Review by: Eric, sink0014@tc.umn.eduOn 14 Mar 2000 at 21:38 CEST
Buy this disc!!! Very interesting demos in their complete form. My favorites are the Free as a Bird demos and Dear John.
Review by: juan cesar, across_the_universe@starmedia.comOn 27 Oct 2000 at 21:38 CEST
very good
Review by: Keith, webmaster@tedbundy.comOn 21 Nov 2000 at 21:38 CEST
If I was arrested and all of my Lennon bootlegs would be seized except one, I would choose this disc.
Review by: MATT, Spadygrove@aol.comOn 28 Oct 2001 at 21:38 CEST
The two solo takes of "Free As a Bird" and the incredible version of the unreleased tune "Whatever Happened To..." alone make this title indepensible. Housed in a lovely box with well-written and extensive liner notes, to boot.
Review by: StarshyneOn 26 Jul 2002 at 07:38 CEST
This is my favorite Lennon solo bootleg. The sound is great. And it really sheds some light to what the "Threetles" had to work with during the Anthology sessions.
Review by: grillo7On 12 Nov 2002 at 07:28 CEST
Although the sound can be sketchy, it's nevertheless my favorite JL bootleg. A must have for your collection...raw and unadorned, each song is just John and a guitar or piano, with an occasional beatbox.
Review by: Steve AnthonyOn 10 Jan 2003 at 06:43 CEST
This is one of my favorite boots. Just superb and a must-have. I have always wondered why Yoko didn't give the Threetles "India"...that would have been a great.
Review by: joolsOn 02 Dec 2003 at 23:01 CEST

Review by: Dan RyanOn 13 Jul 2004 at 04:14 CEST
Whenever I listen to this CD, I feel like I'm invading John's privacy. If he knew people were examining his rough practice tapes and demos for every small detail, he would probably be pretty pissed off. The original version of "Grow Old With Me" found on this release sounds better than the "Milk And Honey" version. Two separate tracks can be heard and it doesn't suffer from heavy handed noise reduction.
Review by: SunflowerOn 28 May 2005 at 02:25 CEST
Great CD. Especially now that the Lennon Musical will feature two unreleased songs. Both of which appear here.

India, India
I Don't Want to Lose You (Now and Then)
Review by: brungtoeweOn 06 Jun 2005 at 19:30 CEST
"I don't want to lose you" is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in my life. If I had to suggest one Lennon bootleg, this would be the one.
Review by: MrkitesbenefitsOn 22 Jun 2005 at 12:02 CEST
Review by: TenniruOn 29 Jun 2005 at 00:46 CEST
A fine bootleg. The songs are great, the quality is decent considering what they came from, and the bootleggers truly put effort into this. (Unfortunately, John Lennon didn't.)

Out of curiosity, does anyone know or have the lyrics from "Gone From This Place"? I can't hear him at all, seeing as how his guitar is drowning out his voice.
Review by: mauriciogOn 29 Jul 2006 at 05:26 CEST
Review by: springfameOn 06 Sep 2006 at 19:45 CEST
Very nice album in good quality. High recommended.
Review by: notahippie76On 21 Jan 2007 at 01:42 CEST
I recomend this bootleg, but have a problem with one of the pieces of information provided here. "Help Me To Help Myself" was composed by John alone, with no input from Paul. It was one of the tracks off of ''Double Fantasy''.
Review by: dohertypgOn 11 Nov 2007 at 14:06 CEST
brillant......I hear Macca is to release 'Now and then' at some stage,hopefuly he does.
Review by: thewalruswasjohnOn 22 Nov 2007 at 22:48 CEST
This boot was probably Pegboy's finest hour.

*** = core version / suggested source

1. FREE AS A BIRD (piano demo - Take 1)*** rec. 1977
John recorded three takes during this sitting. Unfortunately, it seems Pegboy was only able to get a hold of a copy of the first take from tape source. The incomplete take two is nowhere to be found and take 3 is on this CD taken from a transcription disc (see track 5). The complete raw tape is reported to be almost ten minutes long. Despite the noise reduction artifacts audible here, which are not on the original tape, this is the best source for this take; the basis of the Threetles' '94 recording.

2. REAL LOVE (piano demo - take 1)*** rec. 1979 - '80

3. NOW AND THEN (piano demo)*** rec. 1977
The basis for the third 'almost' Threetle track. This preceeds the three takes of FREE AS A BIRD on the original raw tape.

4. GROW OLD WITH ME (piano/drum machine demo)*** rec. 1980
Written during John's productive Bermuda trip in June/July of 1980 (although this performance might have been recorded later at the Dakota). From tape source.

5. FREE AS A BIRD (piano demo - take 3)*** rec. 1977
From program 90-27/4. The raw tape continues for 20 seconds after the fade of this broadcast version.

6. DEAR JOHN (ac. guitar demo)*** rec. early November 1980
Complete here while the version on "Anthology" has an edit at 0'56 - maybe to avoid copyright problems because of the use of German composer Kurt Weill's "September Song".
Pegboy presents us the unedited demo from tape source, on the other hand, there is less tape hiss on "Anthology".

7. "THAT'S THE WAY THE WORLD IS" (piano demo)*** rec. 1979 - '80
From tape source.

8. INDIA (ac. guitar backing)*** rec. 1979 - '80
You heard it here first. That 1968 journey to the Maharishi was good for something after all.

9. "MIRROR, MIRROR (ON THE WALL)" (piano demo - take 1) rec. 1977 - '78
The complete take 1 runs 8'55 and can be found in program 92-06/5 of The Lost Lennon Tapes.

10. GONE FROM THIS PLACE (ac. guitar demo - take 4)***
rec. 1979 - '80
If we could only make out the lyrics. From tape source.

11. ACROSS THE RIVER (ac. guitar/drum machine demo)*** rec. 1979 - '80
John's lyrics for this track had been inspired by the I-Ching.

12. "DON'T BE CRAZY" (piano demo - take 1)*** rec. 1979 - '80
Good that we have it here from tape source because the broadcast version received a voice over. Another piano demo from the same sitting exists (from program 88-25/3). The uncut tape of this demo session runs for about 20 minutes.

13. NOT FOR LOVE NOR MONEY a.k.a. "ILLUSIONS" (ac. guitar demo)*** rec. 10/10/1979
This was caught on tape as part of the second diary session, apparently taped a day after his birthday in 1979.

14. "BABY MAKE LOVE TO YOU" (piano composing sequence)*** rec. 1979 - '80
This sequence has to be pieced together from the two available sources. Pegboy gives us the first six segments from tape source, including material not used in TLLT broadcast. However, the seriously voiced over version from program 91-27/3, which can be found on Fire Power's "Hidden Archives", also contains material not available here.

15. LIFE BEGINS AT 40 (ac. guitar/drum machine demo)*** rec. fall of 1980
On November 15, 1980 John and Ringo had their last face to face meeting at the Plaza Hotel in New York. John gave Ringo two demos that he had written specifically with Ringo in mind: 'Life Begins At 40' and 'Nobody Told Me'. Ringo was at that time working on an album to be called "Can't Fight Lightning" (a.k.a. "Ringostein"), which eventually saw the light of day in late October 1981 under the new title "Stop And Smell The Roses".
When this demo appeared on "Anthology", it was faded early in comparison to the tape source used here, and objected to a heavy dose of noise reduction, robbing it of most of its original ambiance.

16. SHE'S A FRIEND OF DOROTHY'S (piano demo - take 7)*** rec. 1975 - '76
For take 2 see "Hidden Archives". This is the uptempo version taken from program 89-33/3. It is longer here than the same take on Bag's/Vigotone's CD "The Lost Lennon Tapes Vols. 30 - 32".

17. YOU SAVED MY SOUL (WITH YOUR TRUE LOVE) (electric guitar composing sequence) rec. November 14, 1980
This sequence seems to be made up of four parts and later that month John taped his vocalization "Pop Is The Name Of The Game" (intentionally or unintentionally) over some of this, as he often had done in the past (listen to Vigotone's "Revolution" CD, track 3).
This was aired in its entirety in program 92-08/4 and having this on "Between The Lines: Vol.9" will make the previous reconstruction sources - this CD and "The Lost Lennon Tapes Volume Twenty-Three" LP obsolete.

18. SALLY AND BILLY (piano/drum machine demo - take 2) rec. 1975 - '76
When this was aired in program 91-48/5, a longer fade out was present compared to what we have here. This version can be found on Fire Power's "Hidden Archives".

19. "WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...?" (electric guitar demo - take 2) rec. 1977
Takes 1 and 2 which make up the bulk of the tape source, running for almost 13 minutes, remain unavailable (except for the very end of take 1 but that was buried under narration in program 88-15/1). Madinger & Easter recommend Bag's vinyl "The Lost Lennon Tapes Volume Three" as a source for this track, since it is more complete there.

20. "ONE OF THE BOYS" (ac. guitar demo - take 2)*** rec. 1977 - '78
From program 88-28/1.

21. HELP ME TO HELP MYSELF (piano demo - take 3) rec. 1979 - '80
Again "Hidden Archives" features a slightly longer version, and this time also in context together with the breakdown of take 2 (taken from program 90-49/2). One more take exists, an acoustic guitar & drum machine demo, which is also on the Fire Power CD. Take 3 can also be heard as a bonus track on the remastered version of "Double Fantasy".

22. REAL LOVE (ac. guitar demo - take 4 of 7)*** rec. June of 1980
Probably taken from program 89-29/5 unless someone can confirm that it is from tape source. Probably recorded in Bermuda. The lyrics are dated July 9, 1980.

Review by: arkantozOn 10 Apr 2008 at 13:33 CEST
superb! of course from the master.
Review by: mantra77On 21 Jun 2008 at 00:39 CEST

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Filename: peg1001
Originally filled by: Frédéric Gatet SMAF@MSN.COM
Date of creation: 06 Oct 2001 23:59:59
Last filled by: Aidanymous
Last Revision Date : 11 Mar 2012 21:07:13
Online on : 31 Dec 2001
Type of media: Bootleg CD
Revision history
ver 2 (22 may 1998)
Added track 5 (missing from prev. version).

FVDL tilleul@compuserve.com

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