One of the joys of living in the age of the mp3 is that we have easier access to moments in the careers of legends that otherwise would never have reached our fingertips. Such is the case with Neil Young, easily one of the most prolific recording artists in the history of rock ‘n roll. Now with news that the agonizingly anticipated archives boxed set will actually feature a collection of blue-ray DVDs and NOT, as fans had assumed for so many years, a collection of CDs that offered a rumored treasure chest of outtakes, live numbers, and demos, it appears that Neil will only avail us of those treasures drip by drip as opposed to all at once. Most recently he has teased us with gems like the Massey Hall and Fillmore live sets or the upcoming Toast album he recorded with Crazy Horse and abandoned in 2002. So we thought we would treat you to yet more teasers straight from the Culturespill vaults. Here they are (just click on any of the song titles to listen):
War Song: The esteemed Hyperrust alleges that this track was recorded around the “Harvest timeframe.” However, this anti-war rocker is so raw that it sounds as if it were recorded even earlier than that, perhaps pre-“Ohio”–at a time in Neil’s career when he was still finding his voice as an opponent of war. Nonetheless, we must defer to Hyperrust’s well-established authority on this one. Download the track and come to your own conclusions.
Sedan Delivery (Early Demo): Though this classic Neil tune eventually appeared on 1979’s Rust Never Sleeps, an early and–in our opinion–much grittier version of the song was recorded for the American Stars ‘N Bars sessions in 1977. Neil decided to leave it off of that particular album and, by 1979, the song found new clothes as an almost self-consciously “punk” anthem shrewdly reconstructed to appease prevailing tastes in the late-70s punk scene. As hallowed as the official version of “Sedan Delivery” is, we humbly submit to you that this one–raw, less frenetic, and more straightforward in delivery–will prove just as enjoyable. Give it a chance.
Fuckin’ Up (Live, solo acoustic): A solo-acoustic version of the one and only “Fuckin’ Up,” recorded live as a raucous audience claps and sings along in sheer disbelief that Neil had chosen to do this song in one of his “An Evening With Neil Young” solo acoustic shows–a typically ballsy move, and an absolute delight to hear.
River of Pride: Don’t let the title fool you. This is a very early and raw but rockin’ demo of a song that would later become known as “White Line” from the brilliant Ragged Glory album of 1990. This version, however, was recorded as far back as the late 1970s and is, for that reason, absolutely fascinating to hear. It’s slower and grittier than the version we know and love.