Living On Borrowed Time (His Master’s Choice HMC 009)
Disc 1 (75:04): Starting Over (piano), Cleanup Time (piano), I’m Losing You (piano), Beautiful Boy (amplified acoustic guitar), Watching The Wheels (electric guitar), Dear Yoko (acoustic guitar), When I Was Lonely And Scared (amplified acoustic guitar), Woman (rhythm box and acoustic guitar, double track), I’m Stepping Out (rhythm box acoustic guitar), I Don’t Wanna Face It (rhythm box and acoustic guitar), Real Love (piano take 4), Borrowed Time (rhythm box and acoustic guitar), Happy Rishikesh Song (acoustic guitar), Something Is Wrong (acoustic guitar), Beautiful Boy (acoustic guitar), Watching The Wheels (piano), Grow Old With Me (rhythm box and piano), Grow Old With Me (acoustic guitar), Grow Old With Me (piano), Cleanup Time (piano incomplete), I’m Stepping Out / Real Love (piano)
Disc 2 (76:15): Starting Over, Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him, Cleanup Time, I’m Losing You, Beautiful Boy, Watching The Wheels, Dear Yoko, Woman, I’m Stepping Out, I’m Stepping Out, I Don’t Wanna Face It, Nobody Told Me, Borrowed Time, (Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princes, Grow Old With Me, Borrowed Time, I Don’t Wanna Face It, I’m Stepping Out, (Forgive Me) My Little Flower Prince. Another home demo: Grow Old With Me
Living On Borrowed Time is another installment of His Master’s Choice’s John Lennon unreleased demo and outtakes series, following It’s Gonna Be Alright (His Master’s Choice HMC002), Remember New York City (His Master’s Choice HMC003), Come On, Listen To Me (His Master’s Choice HMC 004) and last year’s At Home (His Master’s Choice HMC 008). HMC009 focuses upon demos from the Double Fantasy and Milk & Honey era of the late seventies and 1980. Most of the material has been out before, but there are some tracks that are exclusive to this title alone.
The first song “My Life” is the piano demo for “Starting Over” with slightly different lyrics. This is also found on At Home, but the demo for “Cleanup Time,” with several starts, is new to this collection. “Stranger’s Room,” the demo for “I’m Losing You,” is the same take found on At Home but lasts forty-five seconds longer. “Beautiful Boy,” “Dear Yoko,” “When I Was Lonely And Scared” and “Woman” are all known versions that are featured on other collections. “Watching The Wheels” is also a known take, but has a longer introduction and run-off at the end.
“Stepping Out” is a demo with the drum / rhythm machine keeping time as Lennon works out the melody and is followed by “I Don’t Wanna Face It,” which is new. “Real Love” is the same take as found in Anthology but “Borrowed Time,” the demo with the drum machine, is completely new. The “Happy Rishikesh/ Something Is Wrong” track is from Anthology but is unedited finally. “Beautiful Boy” is the same version that has circulated but with a longer introduction.
“Watching The Wheels” is the “after lunch, take one” track (named from Lennon’s statement at the beginning) but is an improvement in sound quality. “Grow Old With Me” with piano and rhythm box is the version from Milk & Honey but without the heavy echo effects on the vocals. Two new demos of “Grow Old With Me” follow.
The first features John on acoustic guitar and with a tentative vocal delivery which suggests this to be the very first demo of the song. The sound quality of this track is excellent. A piano demo follows in a bit lesser quality since it seems to come from an amateur source. Lennon can be heard saying “bit for a middle eight” at the very beginning.
The first disc ends with the first part of the At Home version of the piano demo of “Cleanup Time,” poorly cut off at the end followed by a fifty-seven second fragment of a demo for “Real Love” (aka “Life”) which is a known version but sounds better than the Lost Lennon Tapes.
The first ten tracks on disc two are Double Fantasy sessions that have been out before many times. They are fascinating and in great sound quality but offer nothing new. But “I Don’t Wanna Face It” is an unreleased third take which is new. “Borrowed Time” is also a newly found multi-track outtake.
Another take of “Borrowed Time” is different than the Milk & Honey cut and sounds much better with a complete legend as it is on the Lennon Legend DVD. “Flower Princess” is the Milk & Honeytake but with a different mix and longer ending. It’s been said that he did this in one take which ended up on the LP. Another new track is “Grow Old With Me” which is new to this release.
Living On Borrowed Timeis packaged in a hard cover book with a multi-paged book detailing the history behind the sessions with many photographs used as graphics. While the advertisement of 80% new material is a bit of an exaggeration, there are enough new songs to keep it interesting and is of course highly recommended for John Lennon collectors.
01. My Life (piano demo) – same as on “At Home”, CD 2, track 11.
02. Clean Up Time – (2:29) *NEW* compared to the 9.07 version on “At Home” and either of the two versions on the fan compiled Between The Lines (BTL) 9 CD set.
03. I’m Losing You – This is actually the same version as on “At Home”, CD 2, track 12. This 6.46 version is now an upgrade and a longer version of “Stranger’s Room”, BTL CD 6, track 09.
04. Beautiful Boy – DT same as on “At Home”, CD 1, track 13 but at 4.10 is 10 secs shorter than on BTL, where it includes John’s burp on the intro.
05. Watching The Wheels (3:16) – electric blues guitar arrangement, upgrade and longer intro than BTL CD 6, # 6.
06. Dear Yoko [takes 2-3] – same as on BTL CD 7, track 2, a definite upgrade but running much too fast, that’s why it clocks in at 30 seconds less here. I suspect almost all of the tracks might be somewhere between slightly off speed and much too fast.
07. When I Was Lonely and Scared – this is take 1 only of “You Saved My Soul”. It is an upgrade.
08. Woman (4:19) – the second of two double tracking attempts (and the one w/o the mistake in the second verse) longer/upgrade to the Anthology edit (4.12).
09. I’m Steppin Out (5:11) – *NEW* single tracked demo of one we have had before as a double tracked demo. Belongs on BTL, CD 8 before track 4.
10. I Don’t Wanna Face It (3:10) – *NEW* as above single tracked version of one we have had before as DT, belongs on CD 8 of BTL as well.
11. Real Love (piano demo, take 4) – same as the Anthology track
12. Borrowed Time (4:30) – single tracked acoustic and percussion NEW take, should be placed on BTL, CD 7.
13. Happy Rishikesh – without “Something Is Wrong” but a definite upgrade.
14. Something is Wrong (2:50) – Longer than before and ending with a reprise of the Happy Rishikesh Song.
15. Beautiful Boy (2:52) – take 1, acoustic guitar demo, a touch longer here but I can hear the frogs better in the intro on BTL, CD 7.
16. Watching the Wheels – actually this is the after lunch “I’m Crazy” on Your Daddy’s Here (CD 5, track 24 on BTL) – UPGRADED.
17. Grow Old With Me – Same as on “Milk & Honey” but clean and no post production, major upgrade to raw tape on Pegboy’s FAB – Dakota Beatle Demos CD
18. Grow Old With Me – acoustic guitar demo *NEW*. Slower. more traditional sounding version compared to what is on “At Home” that starts with the spoken “and the next day” intro (because perhaps they really were from batches recorded a day apart.
19. Grow Old With me – *NEW* single tracked demo of the one double-tracked and used on the CV.
21. I’m Steppin Out/Real Love (0:55) – UPGRADE in quality and also longer than the BTL Real Life Fragment on BTL CD 3, track 13.
Since we are discussing demos (as opposed to DF/M&H sessions) let’s also add these two from CD 2:
15. Grow Old With Me – same as on “At Home”, CD 2, track 1.
20. Grow Old With me (3:21) – *NEW* piano demo
Oy vey, to be a bootlegger with access to a stash of Lennon demos and these bloody takes sound all the same. No wonder we get so many repeats between this set and ‘At Home’…
Well, all they have to do is ask for help. An amazing collection still but 4 repeated tracks is just too many.