All bands go through a teething stage were they try to find their sound. Here is some of my favorite early versions of great bands.
Neutral Milk Hotel
The Early Version: “Synthetic Flying Machine”
This is still Neutral Milk Hotel, but is an early version of what would later be known as “King of Carrot Flowers Part 3”. The joy of this song is to hear Neutral Milk Hotel’s early origins, starting as a rather undistinguished 90’s alt-rock band. The greatness is soon to come though.
The Early Version: On A Friday
On A Friday was the early incarnation of Radiohead, before guitarist Jonny Greenwood joined the band. Thom Yorke and friends owed a lot to mid-80’s college rock, but ended up ditching the aesthetic for a more progressive progressive rock sound. Greenwood was one of the lead forces behind this change.
The Early Version: Warsaw
Warsaw was the name of Joy Division before they became as groundbreaking as they would be during their short careers. Here is “Transmission” which was later re-recorded as a Joy Division single. It is interesting to compare the two, hearing the electronic experimentation and roughness of Ian Curtis’s voice in the early version.
The Early Version: The Joys Of Losing Weight
Beirut’s Zach Condon started his musical career at any early age, recording a few songs on the tape The Joys of Losing Weight. This tape was lost for years and later resurfaced with the advent of internet music sharing. All the Beirut qualities were there, but it is fun to hear Zach Condon stripped of orchestral flourishes of his main band.