Over fifty years ago, Paul McCartney gave his Beatles bandmates a custom vinyl mixtape as a Christmas gift. Entitled Unforgettable, it contained sampled songs, original sketches, and avant-garde loops. Only three or four copies were made at the time, but someone managed to get their hands on a recording and posted an 18-minute segment to YouTube (via Rolling Stone).
The snippet includes songs by The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Martha and the Vandellas, and Elvis Presley. In addition, McCartney plays the role of a radio DJ throughout the mix. Hear it below.
As pointed out by Rolling Stone, the little information known about the recording comes from McCartney himself. “It was called Unforgettable and it started with Nat ‘King’ Cole singing ‘Unforgettable,'” McCartney explained to historian Mark Lewisohn in 1995. “Then I came in over the top as the announcer: ‘Yes, unforgettable, that’s what you are! And today in Unforgettable …’ It was like a magazine program: full of weird interviews, experimental music, tape loops, some tracks I knew the others hadn’t heard. It was just a compilation of odd things.”
Like many of the best creations, McCartney’s foray into experimental mixtapes came out of boredom:
“I used to experiment with [a couple of Brenell tape recorders] when I had an afternoon off, which was quite often. [The Beatles would] be playing in the evening… I wasn’t in a routine. I could stay up till three in the morning, sleep through till two in the afternoon, and often did. It was a very free, formless time for me… So I would sit around all day, creating little tapes.
According to Rolling Stone, McCartney even considered releasing his mixtapes as a solo album called Paul McCartney Too Far, but held off despite encouragement from John Lennon. At least the new Unforgettable snippet gives listeners a taste of what could’ve been, and the full mixtape had the ultimate effect of pushing The Beatles to discover new sounds. For The Beatles’ next album, Revolver, the first song they worked on was “Tomorrow Never Knows”, which was created from McCartney’s tape loops.