Lost in America

Sex Pistols, "Did You No Wrong." This B-side, from the "God Save the Queen" seven-inch of '77, was so good that ex-Pistols guitarist Steve Jones returned to it during his late-Eighties biker-rock days. He blew it, though, by turning the song's raw, emotional fury into just another damned hard-rock stomp. Like other lost Pistols tracks, from "I Wanna Be Me" to "Satellite," this one has yet to surface stateside.

Bruce Springsteen, "Incident on 57th Street." When the young, Dylan-esque troubadour originally waxed this grandiose epic back in '73, he rushed it, losing the Scorsese-worthy story line of a street hood in a blur of verbal drama and wordplay. On this live version from '80, however, Springsteen nails it, slowing down the tempo so the saga of Spanish Johnny is set to the beat of real life, with the Spectorian climax of crashing drums and ringing piano becoming thunderous. This one surfaced in 1987 as the B-side to "Fire," and actually saw CD release that same year in Japan on the Live Collection I EP. Sadly, both have been relegated to the high-dollar confines of the collector's world.

Elvis Costello and the Attractions, "Blame It on Cain"/Mystery Dance." When the Rykodisc label began reissuing Costello's Columbia catalogue in 1993, they included not only B-sides relevant to each release, but equally relevant outtakes and demos. When assembling ephemera for My Aim Is True, they somehow overlooked this blazing live pair from 1977, which appeared on the bottom of the "Watching the Detectives" single. Unlike the LP versions, here both songs sound nothing but mean, full of the venom, spit, and sexual frustration that Costello and his band never fully captured in the studio.

R.E.M., "Catapult." They've made some fine albums, sure, but for anyone who heard them in person during their formative years between the "Radio Free Europe" single and Reckoning, R.E.M.'s studio recordings are somewhat disappointing. Too much from those early shows is missing on the albums: the kinetic energy of the rhythm section; the minimalist jabs and slices from the guitarist; the nervous, melodic energy of the vocalist. It's all here, though, on a live version of a Murmur highlight, recorded in 1984 and thrown away on the flip of "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville."

The Who, "Baby Don't Do It." The Marvin Gaye Motown classic done up white-boy style in a molten-metal cover culled from a '72 concert and released that same year on the B-side of "Join Together." How this escaped the compilers of '94's Thirty Years of Maximum R&B box is a mystery.

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