Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Great "Unreleased" Album--Join The Rust!

Here's a bootleg Haahnster highly recommends: CHROME DREAMS by Neil Young. What follows are the liner notes, written by Jules Gray:

Neil Young
Chrome Dreams (Rust Edition)

Source/Lineage: Remastered from the best available sources of each track.
No other version of Chrome Dreams can compare to this.

01. Pocahontas
02. Will To Love
03. Star Of Bethlehem
04. Like A Hurricane
05. Too Far Gone
06. Hold Back The Tears
07. Homegrown
08. Captain Kennedy
09. Stringman
10. Sedan Delivery
11. Powderfinger
12. Look Out For My Love
Bonus Tracks:
13. River Of Pride ('White Line', Unreleased Studio Version, 27 NOV 75)
14. Campaigner (Unedited, Unreleased Studio Version, Summer 1976)
15. No One Seems To Know (Live, Tokyo, Japan, 10 Mar 76)
16. Give Me Strength (Live, Chicago, IL, 15 Nov 76)
17. Peace Of Mind (Live, Chicago, IL, 15 Nov 76)
18. Human Highway (CSNY, Unreleased Studio Version, April 76)

Artwork by Paleojack.


Neil Young was on a creative high in 1975. By the end of the Summer, "Zuma" was finished, though still not released, yet Neil carried on recording his new songs. Sometimes he recorded solo and sometimes with
Crazy Horse. Lots of these songs would remain unheard by the public until quite a while later, but by late '75 Neil had already written and recorded versions of such future classics as Like a Hurricane, Powderfinger,
Sedan Delivery, Pocahontas and Ride My Llama.

He carried on recording in 1976. More great songs were put down on tape, such as Will To Love, Stringman and Campaigner. Some of us may feel that the "Long May You Run" album with Stephen Stills robbed us of the
natural successor to "Zuma", but Stills always suspected that Neil was holding back his best stuff for his solo album. That solo album was a work in progress throughout this period. Titles were reported in the press.
"Ride My Llama". "In My Neighborhood". "American Stars 'n Bars". "Chrome Dreams".

When "American Stars 'n Bars" was released in 1977, Neil had scrapped most of the material he'd been recording since late '75, replacing much of it with a series of rough hewn cowboy songs. Fun stuff to be sure, but had Neil committed the latest in a series of difficult to explain career suicides? Who else, except maybe Bob Dylan, would sit on a stash of such quality songs and not let the public hear them?

Tracks 1 to 12 of this compilation are thought to be the unreleased "Chrome Dreams" album, readied for release weeks before Neil recorded those country hoedowns and rethought his strategy. Some of these song titles will be more than familiar to you, but the actual performances may surprise you. Powderfinger is performed as an unadorned solo acoustic song; Sedan Delivery, a second song destined for 'Rust Never Sleeps' is presented in its pre-punked up arrangement and in many people's opinion sounds all the better for that; you'll also find the definitive Stringman, a song not given an official airing until Neil's 'Unplugged' set, heard here in a 1976 live performance enhanced by subtle yet beautiful studio vocal and guitar overdubs; Hold Back the Tears is another solo performance, longer and more ghostly than its later remake for "American Stars 'n Bars"; Pocahontas is the same performance as the one that made "Rust Never Sleeps", but in its original 'naked' mix; Too Far Gone wouldn't be officially released until the "Freedom" album in 1989, yet here's a version from 14 years earlier with Poncho Sampedro adding a tasty mandolin part.

The other six songs from the album were released unchanged on the albums "American Stars 'n Bars", "Comes a Time" and "Hawks and Doves", yet you may still be able to pick out slight differences in the mixes. Homegrown, for one, would seem to have a little more fire in the guitars. Have a listen and see what you think.

We've chosen a select batch of bonus cuts to give you a further taste of just how creative Neil was during this fertile period. If the version of White Line (here retitled River of Pride, maybe because Neil forgot to sing the actual "white line" lyric) didn't make the "Chrome Dreams" shortlist, then its continued circulation amongst collectors is something of a mystery. Maybe it was pressed onto acetate as a possible contender for "Decade", which Neil was also preparing at this time. Whatever the truth, it's a stupendous version of the song, recorded in 1975 with a loose and joyful Crazy Horse. Neil's remake for "Ragged Glory" in 1990 may have been fine, but it doesn't quite capture the spirit of this earlier version. Campaigner did make "Decade", but not before losing one of its verses. You can hear the full length version here.

Three live cuts follow: No One Seems to Know is an aching piano ballad that Neil once described as part 2 of A Man Needs a Maid, it's first class but remains unreleased; Give me Strength dates from an earlier ill-fated album called 'Homegrown' (an album that would have also featured Star of Bethlehem, the oldest cut in this collection) and is another lost classic; Peace of Mind is heard as an electric rock song played with the Horse and very different from the version Neil released on "Comes a Time".

And as a nod to "Zuma", we close with Crosby Stills Nash & Young. Human Highway was recorded during the Stills-Young Band sessions in 1976. The song was always meant to be a CSNY track, but Neil had run out of
patience by the "Comes a Time" LP. Now you can have a glimpse of what might have been.

Which, come to think of it, is also true of the whole collection.

Jules Gray, 20 May 2004

Haahnster Note: If you are interested in more Neil Young information, here's a GREAT site called hyper-rust. Great discography and lyrics, searchable by album or by song, including known unreleased songs.

Also, consider joining the "rust-list", a Yahoo Group, which serves as an online community, discussing all things Neil, and lots of other threads of discussion as well. Tons of good music sharing and trading opportunities (maybe even CHROME DREAMS, "Rust Edition"!!!).


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