Monday, September 27, 2021

B-Sides and Beyond: Exploring Linkin Park’s Lesser Known Discography

Back in 1996, most people never would have believed that the small band formed by three high school students in Agoura Hills, California, would go on to become Linkin Park, one of the most influential rock bands of the modern age.

Initially formed under the name Xero, they were faced with countless rejections from one record company after another for their unique way of blending rock and rap. However, this six-man Los Angeles-based band would soon prove their metal with the release of their debut album, Hybrid Theory, which would go on to become the best-selling debut album, and best-selling rock album, of the 21st century with a sound to define an era.

Evolving throughout the better part of two decades and seven studio albums, Linkin Park has grown far beyond their rap-rock roots. The band is well known for their willingness to push the envelope and take creative risks, enthusiastically experimenting with blending different genres as they jump from metal to electronic to hip-hop to pop and back again flawlessly. Their more recent albums, such as A Thousand Suns and One More Light, showcase their ability to reinvent themselves while still staying true to themselves by creating the music they wish to make.

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Between their official studio albums, remix editions, exclusive Linkin Park Underground fan club releases, and demo tracks, it can be easy for listeners to get lost in a discography as long as Linkin Park’s. While their hit singles receive quite a bit of air time, such as “In The End” and “Numb,” that leaves plenty of tracks that the casual listener may be unfamiliar with.

Let’s take a look at 10 Linkin Park songs that fans may not have heard before.

1. “Dialate (Xero Demo)”

While Hybrid Theory is likely Linkin Park’s most well-known album, fewer fans have probably heard the band’s older music. Demos dating back from when their name was still Hybrid Theory, or Xero before that, have been discovered throughout the years, some exclusively released to the band’s official fan club, the Linkin Park Underground (LPU). Most recently, 12 never-before-released demos were included on the Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Box Set on a disc called “Forgotten Demos,” giving fans the chance to listen to a few of the band’s older, and thus harder to find, gems. “Dialate” was one of the very few tracks previously unknown to fans, and is credited as being one of, if not the first, demo the band ever created.

2. “High Voltage (Reprise Version)”

Sticking to the true definition of a b-side, “High Voltage (Reprise Version)” was one of Linkin Park’s first real b-sides. Released on January 15, 2001, while on tour in the UK, this track was a remix of the original “High Voltage” previously released on the Hybrid Theory EP. This original version was heavily influenced by “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys and was later remixed by band member Mike Shinoda to be included on their debut album, Hybrid Theory. While the remix didn’t make the final cut for Hybrid Theory, “High Voltage (Reprise Edition),” along with another track titled “My December,” were released as the band’s first official b-sides on the “One Step Closer” UK single release. 

3. “Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer”

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“Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer” is the last track on the 2004 remix EP, Collision Course. Collision Course is the revolutionary collaboration between Linkin Park and hip-hop legend Jay-Z. At the time, Jay-Z was at the height of his career and Linkin Park had recently hit it big with the release of their first two studio albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, and their first remix album, Reanimation. In 2004, MTV decided to do a mash-up series of multiple artists. The story goes that when they reached out to Jay-Z, he was the one who was interested in working with Linkin Park to do the remix album. Meanwhile, Linkin Park had already proven their talent at creating strong remixes with Reanimation. Collision Course included six tracks, each one containing mash-ups of hit songs from the two artists. The album’s first and only single, “Numb/Encore,” became the most well-known track off the album, going on to win a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. While “Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer” is not as well known as “Numb/Encore,” it has become a fan favorite for hardcore fans of the album, with some fans consider it to be the best mash-up on Collision Course artistically.

4. “QWERTY”

Unlike most of the Minutes To Midnight era songs, “QWERTY” has a unique origin story. Instead of being created in the studio, Linkin Park wrote this song just three days before the start of their 2006 Japan tour. The music was arranged and fine-tuned in the rehearsal room, with the lyrics finalized by Bennington and Shinoda on the flight to Japan. In the LPU 5.0 newsletter, drummer Rob Bourdon said, “This tour was unique for us because we have never left the studio to play shows in the middle of the recording process. In the past we would never think of leaving the studio, especially to travel to the other side of the world. While recording we are in a completely different state of mind than when on tour …” Another thing that makes this song unique is that the first time fans heard the song was not on an official release. Rather, the track was debuted live in Japan just a few days after its inception. This makes “QWERTY” one of the very few tracks in Linkin Park’s discography to be performed live before being officially released. However, despite praise from fans, the track was not included on the band’s next album, Minutes To Midnight, making it a little less known than some of the band’s other songs. A recording of the song’s live performance and a demo studio version were later released on the LPU 6 CD in 2006.

5. “No Roads Left”

The second official b-side on this list, “No Roads Left” is another Minutes To Midnight era song that, unfortunately, did not make it onto the album. Of the 17 songs recorded for the album, five did not make the final cut, with “No Roads Left,” “Across The Line,” “Blackbirds,” and “What We Don’t Know” confirmed as four of those five tracks. One thing that really makes “No Roads Left” stand out is that it does not feature Chester Bennington on lead vocals. Rather, Mike Shinoda filled this role, making it one of the few Linkin Park songs to have Shinoda as lead vocalist, and as a singer, not a rapper. While “No Roads Left” was not included on Minutes To Midnight, it was released as an iTunes bonus track for the album in 2007, and on the tour edition of the album. As it was not on the standard edition of the album, some fans may not have heard of the song before. This is similar to fellow Minutes To Midnight era song “Blackbirds,” which was also released as an iTunes exclusive bonus track on the band’s following 2010 album A Thousand Suns. “No Roads Left” and “Across The Line” were also later released on a special Mastered for iTunes Deluxe Edition of Minutes To Midnight in 2013, which accidentally used alternate versions of the songs. However, the original version of “Across The Line” had been previously released on the LPU 9: Demos CD.

6. “We Made It” by Busta Rhymes ft. Linkin Park

This song is another good example of Linkin Park’s talent at collaborating with other artists. “We Made It” is a non-album single released in 2008 by hip-hop artist Busta Rhymes featuring Linkin Park. The band originally met Busta Rhymes while working on Hybrid Theory, years before being asked to work together on “We Made It.” Lesser known than the Collision Course EP, “We Made It” is just one song and credits Linkin Park as a featured artist. In fact, this was the first time the band was featured on someone else’s track, according to an MTV interview with Mike Shinoda while on set filming the music video for “We Made It.” Talking about the inspiration of the song with MTV, Busta Rhymes said, “We wanted people to — as bad as things might look for us sometimes — just know that it ain’t over until you say it’s over at the end of the day. Cause nobody can really dictate what the outcome of your destiny, what your life is going to end up becoming, unless you let it happen that way.”

7. “Not Alone”

“Not Alone” was an unfinished song from the Minutes To Midnight sessions that the band revisited later in 2010. The existing demo was then completed with brand new lyrics in a single day for the compilation album, Download To Donate For Haiti. This project was created by Linkin Park in order to raise awareness for the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, with all profits going toward relief efforts. The album featured songs from many artists, including Weezer, Dave Matthews Band, Lupe Fiasco, and more, with “Not Alone” as the first track. Due to the song being on a compilation album, and the fast-paced nature of its production, it’s not surprising that some fans haven’t heard of this track before. However, this is not the first time Linkin Park has used their musical talent to help others. In 2005, the band founded Music For Relief, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing relief to communities affected by natural disasters, after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. They later created the One More Light Fund in honor of the late Chester Bennington, and have worked to raise mental health awareness alongside his wife, Talinda Bennington, and her program, 320 Changes Direction.

8. “Primo [I’ll Be Gone Longform 2010 Demo]”

“Primo” was the working title for the demo that eventually became “I’ll Be Gone,” the fifth song on Linkin Park’s album Living Things. Initially created in 2008 during the A Thousand Suns sessions, the band spent about five years working on the song, revising it multiple times. While the “final” version of the song was released in 2012 on Living Things, another version was later released in 2013 on the LPU XIII CD, titled “Primo [I’ll Be Gone Longform 2010 Demo].” Since “Primo” was a demo exclusively released to the band’s fan club, it’s easy to understand why some fans may not be as familiar with “Primo” as “I’ll Be Gone.” For members of the Linkin Park Underground, however, “Primo” has secured a place as one of the band’s most popular demos.

9. “A Light That Never Comes” by Steve Aoki x Linkin Park

This track is a collaboration between Linkin Park and DJ and producer Steve Aoki. “A Light That Never Comes” was initially released on LP Recharge, a Facebook game Linkin Park helped develop, showcasing the band’s commitment to experimenting beyond the traditional methods of creating and releasing music. Afterward, it was sent to radio stations as a single before the release of Recharged later that year. Many fans are familiar with Reanimation, the band’s first remix album from 2002 which reimagined songs from Hybrid Theory. However, some fans may not know that Linkin Park came out with a second remix album titled Recharged. Like Reanimation, the tracklist of Recharged was also remixes of the band’s previous album, which in this case was Living Things. The only exception was “A Light That Never Comes,” which was a brand new track only featured on Recharged. A second track called “Darker Than Blood” was later released in 2015 on Aoki’s album Neon Future ll, with Linkin Park as a featured artist.

10. “Could Have Been”

Circling back around to the beginning, “Could Have Been” was one of Linkin Park’s earlier songs before Hybrid Theory. This track is credited as being the first demo recorded after Chester Bennington joined the band, while they were still trying to figure out “their” sound as a band. In Jeff Blue’s recently released book One Step Closer: From Xero to #1: Becoming Linkin Park, he breaks down the “Could Have Been,” stating it had “Chester singing in beautifully tortured voice accompanied by a pretty acoustic guitar and simple bass part, followed by a solid electric guitar riff. Mike blasted in with his rap while Chester accented background parts.” The song then ended with a bass solo performed by Kyle Christener, one of the band’s temporary bass players after their permanent bass player Dave Farrell temporarily left the band due to a previous commitment with another band.

While Linkin Park has been on an extended hiatus since 2017, that does not mean they have been idle. The band recently released a limited edition box set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album, Hybrid Theory. This special box set contained the original album, forgotten demos, b-sides, three vinyl LPs, an 80-page book of previously unseen photographs, and more. Further detail on the Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Box Set can be found here, and fans looking to purchase this exclusive piece of merchandise can find it still available on Linkin Park’s official website.

Also, make sure to check out Mike Shinoda’s newest release, “Happy Endings!” This single was done in collaboration with rising alternative artist UPSAHL, and rapper iann dior, and released earlier this year.

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Katherine
Katherine joined the Nerds and Beyond team as a writer in 2020. Her superpowers include balancing being a part time tutor, and preparing to be a first year teacher. Her lifelong obsessions include World War ll, hard rock, creative writing, solving complex math problems, and kittens. But her biggest loves are Linkin Park, Evanescence, Sleeping At Last, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Stargate, and more. When she isn’t binge watching/listening to her favorites (for the nth time), she can be found traveling the country—mostly to different concerts and conventions.

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