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Rare Paul McCartney demo expected to sell for £10,000 at auction

The cassette tape contains a previously unheard take on 'Attention'

By Joe Goggins

Paul McCartney in a Waterstone's interview, 2021
The demo goes up for auction on April 26. (Photo: YouTube)

A rare Paul McCartney demo, recorded to cassette tape, is expected to fetch £10,000 at auction.

The track, ‘Attention’, was written by McCartney but never officially recored by him; instead, he handed the track over to his fellow Beatle, Ringo Starr, who included his own version of it on his 1981 solo album ‘Stop and Smell the Roses’. Until now, no recording of McCartney playing the song had been made public, but in order to drum up interest, the auction house handling the tape’s sale, Omega Auctions, has shared a 27-second clip – you can hear it below.

The discovery will prove gold dust for one Beatles completist when it goes under the hammer in Liverpool on April 26. The track is on a Maxwell C-60 audio cassette that comes with its original handwritten label. The tape was handed to saxophonist Howie Casey as a point of reference, ahead of the recording session for Starr’s record. The finished version on ‘Stop and Smell the Roses’ includes backing vocals by Casey’s wife, Sheila, and Linda McCartney.

Auctioneer Paul Fairweather said: “To hear [McCartney] unaccompanied working through the bones of a song like this is really fascinating and it does give an insight into his startling talent for songwriting.” The auction comes months after a clip of McCartney seemingly plucking the Beatles classic ‘Get Back’ from thin air during the recording sessions for ‘Let It Be’ went viral on social media; it was taken from Peter Jackson’s acclaimed four-part Disney+ documentary.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, McCartney’s brother, Mike, confirmed pans to open up the pair’s childhood home to unsigned artists. 20 Forthlin Road, where the Beatle grew up and wrote such early tracks as ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, will welcome up-and-comers as part of the brothers’ new initiative, The Forthlin Sessions, in conjunction with the National Trust, which owns the property. 

Speaking to Sky News, Mike said: “This house to me, is a house of hope. And I hope it will be for the young people that come through the doors.” Discussing his memories of Paul’s early musicianship at the house, he continued: “I would be in the other room learning photography, but whilst I’m doing all that I could hear guitar noises coming from this room. In there were what turned out to be two of the world’s greatest songwriters, McCartney and Lennon. They were rehearsing from a school book on the floor, that’s why this house is so unique.”

Also heading to auction are McCartney’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’, a track Starr told Rolling Stone US in 2008 was “the worst track we ever had to record. It went on for fucking weeks. I thought it was mad.”