Posts Tagged ‘Ben Keith’

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For those of us who were unable to grab one of the 3,000 copies of Neil Young‘s Archives Volume II: 1972—1976 box set released last year, the singer-songwriter has thrown us a line. Last week, Neil Young released “Daughters”, a track recorded during the sessions for the “lost” 1975 album “Homegrown”, also released late last year.

Recorded during Young’s mid-1970s heyday, “Daughters” rings like a classic Neil Young folk song that could have been taken from “After The Goldrush” or even “Harvest”. Though Young’s voice and acoustic guitar sit centre stage, the track also hosts guest contributions from Levon Helm on drums, Emmylou Harris on backing vocals, Ben Keith on pedal steel, and Tim Drummond on bass. 

“Daughters” was just one of 12 previously-unreleased tracks on the 131-track, 10-disc Archives Volume II box set which also featured 50 unheard versions of songs. Unfortunately, the 3,000 copies released last year are still the only ones in the world and the only other way to hear Archives Volume II is with a subscription to the Neil Young Archives.

Neil Young, “Daughters” taken from the recording sessions for 1975’s Homegrown.

Neil Young isn’t releasing his 10-disc collection Archives Volume 2: 1972-1976 until November 22nd, but paid subscribers of The Neil Young Archives website now have access to the previously unreleased song “Come Along and Say You Will.” The tune was recorded at Young’s Broken Arrow Ranch on December 15th, 1972 with drummer Kenny Buttrey, bassist Tim Drummond, and pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith.

Young’s group of musicians were known as The Stray Gators, and also played with on the faultless Harvest in 1972 and the Time Fades Away record from 1973.

‘Come Along and Say You Will’ begins with the pounding lyric “come along and say you will / be the one to change the meaning / of the writing on the wall.” Young later goes on to sing, “I’ll never understand / why walk around a sinner / with a nail through your hand.”

They were weeks away from launching an extensive North American tour where Young would debut several new songs that ultimately wound up on the 1973 live album “Time Fades Away”. “Come Along and Say You Will” didn’t make the cut for Time Fades Away, but it was played at least 11 times during the first month of the tour and live tapes have circulated for years. Nobody has ever heard the studio version prior to this. It’s one of many unheard songs that will appear on Archives Volume 2.

The package begins with material the Stray Gators cut in late 1972 and continues through the Time Fades Away tour, the Tonight’s the Night sessions and tour, the On the Beach and Zuma sessions, and songs he wrote for the Stills-Young Band LP before wrapping up with his 1976 world tour with Crazy Horse.

On November 6th, Young is releasing the live album and movie “Return to Greendale”. Also in the pipeline is a 50th-anniversary edition of After the Gold Rush, official bootlegs taped during a 1970 show at Carnegie Hall and a 1974 gig at the Bottom Line, a 1990 Crazy Horse club gig he’s calling Way Down in the Rust Bucket, and a 2019 European show with Crazy Horse he’s dubbed Noise and Flowers.

Exact dates for most of these releases have yet to be announced, but he hopes they will come at some point in 2021. Young hasn’t played to a live audience since Farm Aid on September 21st, 2019. Earlier this year, he announced plans to bring Crazy Horse to North American arenas. The pandemic forced him to indefinitely delay those plans and he’s largely been holed up at the Colorado home he shares with wife and actress Daryl Hannah. She’s filmed a series of Fireside Sessions acoustic shows on her iPad that show Young playing a series of tunes from throughout his career. The last one was released on July 1st and focused on political songs. It was later released as an EP titled The Times.

Neil Young’s personal life was in free fall by 1974. His wife, actress Carrie Snodgrass, was gone for good, and attempts to rekindle a working relationship with CSNY only resulted in the aborted Human Highway project and the goodwill-shattering “Doom Tour.” It was during this turbulent time that he composed songs for a new collection to be named “Homegrown”.

“It was intense, like trying to make a record in the middle of 42nd Street, or Vietnam,” says producer Elliot Mazer “Here’s a guy going through hell, and this is like a fuckin’ catharsis for him.” Titles like “Frozen Man,” “Separate Ways” and “Love-Art Blues” paint a stark portrait of a lonely and heartbroken man. Those who heard the completed album insisted that it was as strong as Young’s breakthrough smash, Harvest. Cover art was printed, and label executives braced themselves for a million seller.

And then Young changed his mind. He had assembled friends, including the Band’s Rick Danko, at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont to get an opinion on his latest work. As a tape of “Homegrown” came to an end, a mix of the dark, gritty and unreleased “Tonight’s the Night” came on the stereo by chance.

Danko preferred the raw power of “Tonight’s the Night” to the comparatively delicate “Homegrown”. Disregarding advice from his label, Young released it instead that June. “[Homegrown] might be more what people would rather hear from me now, but it was just a very down album,” he told Rolling Stone at the time. “It was a little too personal.  It scared me.

Neil Young fans have been clamouring for the release of Homegrown, the lost album that was nearly released in 1975 and most recently slated for the still-yet-to-happen Record Store Day 2020. Now, it’s been announced that the album described by Neil as “the missing link between “Harvest, Comes” “A Time, Old Ways” and “Harvest Moon” will finally reach fans on June 19th.

“Homegrown” is all analouge!  The purest sound,” Young wrote in a post on his Neil Young Archives site.  “Hear the vinyl.  Get a nice phonograph player.  This is the record to do that on!  My first ever narration with Ben ‘Longgrain’ Keith and live sound effects.  Some beautiful music and fun rockin’ songs as well.  This is the one that got away.  I am stoked to share this with you.”

While much of the industry is in flux due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Neil hasn’t stopped moving forward with his Archives projects.  Also on the radar is a audiovisual release of a Greendale stage tour performance from Toronto in September 2003 entitled Return to Greendale.  That one is currently set for release on double vinyl in July.

The Neil Young Archives team has also unearthed pro-shot video and multitrack audio tapes of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s celebrated November 1990 show at The Catalyst.  Previews have been posted sporadically in the Hearse Theatre section of the Archives website, whetting the appetite for the October release.  “I think this has to be one of my all-time favorite Crazy Horse performances!” Neil wrote last year.  “It’s hard to believe this did not come out a long time ago! .

Neil will also look back to a solo show from January 1971 with Young Shakespeare, the show came three days after his Massey Hall concert and stands as a career “high water mark,” according to producer John Hanlon.  Currently slated for November 27, Young Shakespeare will include both audio and video content.

If that weren’t enough, it seems that the long-awaited box set Neil Young Archives, Volume 2 will finally arrive on August 21st should all go to plan.  Neil has revealed it will be a 10-CD set covering the prolific period from 1972-1976 and will include Odeon Budokan, a live album and concert film from the Zuma tour’s stops in London and Japan.

Finally, Neil has been in touch with Graham Nash about compiling a 50th Anniversary Edition of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Deja Vu” album which would likely appear by the end of the year.Looking ahead to 2021, Young has announced that he’s also been working on an album called Road of Plentywhich spotlights his work with Crazy Horse during the late ’80s.  The album will feature recordings from the group’s 1986 tour, plus “some amazing music” recorded during the rehearsals for Saturday Night Live in 1989.

This is the first of 5 Archives releases Neil Young has announced for this year. It’s confirmation gives me hope that the other 4 will happen as scheduled. The release schedule is 31st July-“Back To Greendale Live” album plus film of a 2003 Toronto concert of the Greendale album with Crazy Horse complete with actors and stage settings. He has been previewing a song a week on the Archives site
21st #August- Archives Volume 2.The big one-10 cds plus a DVD covering the years 1973 to 1976. Includes the already released Tuscaloosa, Roxy and Songs For Judy..The only other confirmed disc is a live album from the Zuma tour taken from shows at the Hammersmith and Budokan which is also the basis of the DVD. The Homegrown tracks are likely to be included but mixed in with other recordings rather than as a stand alone album.
16th October-Down In The Rust Bucket Live album plus film of a Crazy Horse show at a small club called the Catalyst at the outset of the Ragged Glory tour. Again he has been showing a song a week on the web site.
27th November-Young Shakespeare Live album plus film of a solo show done within a few days of the Massey Hall concert that was in Volume 1. Yet again previews have been on site.

There was some mention this would be part of an expanded After The Gold Rush but lately it is being referred to as a stand alone.
This Will be a great year to be a Neil fan if all this happens. Another good reason to stay safe.

Vinyl issue of a late 1973 recording from New York with the Santa Monica Flyers.

In the second half of 1973, Neil Young formed The Santa Monica Flyers, with Crazy Horse’s rhythm section augmented by Nils Lofgren on guitar and piano and Harvest/Time Fades Away veteran Ben Keith on pedal steel guitar. Deeply affected by the drug-induced deaths of Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry, Young recorded an album specifically inspired by the incidents, “Tonight’s the Night”. The album’s dark tone and rawness led Reprise to delay its release and Young had to pressure them for two years before they would do so; it finally came out on in June 1975.

By late ’73, Young and The Flyers were touring and performing songs, as yet unreleased, later to be included on Tonight’s The Night. On November 15th the ensemble performed at Queen’s College in Flushing, New York, for a show which remains quite staggering and is featured on this CD in its entirety. Including six cuts from Tonight….., plus a smattering of numbers from previous records, this concert, released here for the first time, is unlike any other Neil Young ever played.

Although listed as a Record Store Day special release in the UK, Neil Young‘s Roxy: Tonight’s The Night Live is freely available to order in the USA on double vinyl, and it’s very cheap, too.
The Tonight’s The Night album was recorded in mid-1973 with the ‘Santa Monica Flyers’ who were Nils Lofgren (piano), Ben Keith (pedal steel guitar), Billy Talbot (bass) and Ralph Molina (drums). The album wasn’t released until 1975 but not long after it was recorded Neil and his band head decided to play it live. Here’s what Neil has to say about it:

“We had finished recording and decided to celebrate with a gig at a new club opening on the Sunset Strip, Roxy. We went there and recorded for a few nights, opening Roxy We really knew the Tonight’s the Night songs after playing them for a month, so we just played them again, the album, top to bottom, without the added songs, two sets a night for a few days. We had a great time.”

The ‘added songs’ Young refers to are Borrowed Tune, Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown and Lookout Joe which were added to the studio the album, but not part of those original sessions (or the live performance). Walk On would end up on 1974’s On The Beach.

None of these live recordings have been released before and with Neil Young vinyl notoriously expensive, this double album is a bargain at $26 on Amazon US – that’s about £19.

Roxy: Tonight’s The Night Live is released in the US on 24th April and will also be for sale in the UK on Record Store Day on 21st April.

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Neil Young has revealed the artwork and track listing for the previously announced archival album “Roxy – Tonight’s the Night Live”, which will be released in April.

The album includes live performances of most of the songs included on the classic album “Tonight’s the Night”, which was recorded in 1973 but not released until 1975. (“Borrowed Tune,” “Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown” and “Lookout Joe,” which are on the 1975 LP, aren’t included on the upcoming album.) You can see the track listing below.

The live tracks were recorded on September. 20th-22nd, 1973, at the first-ever shows at the Roxy venue in West Hollywood, with a band Young named the Santa Monica Flyers — named after their habit of driving home after all-night recording sessions in his 1947 Buick Roadmaster, Black Queen, along Santa Monica Boulevard. The lineup included Nils Lofgren on piano, pedal steel player Ben Keith, Billy Talbot on bass and drummer Ralph Molina.

“We had very recently lost [Crazy Horse member] Danny Whitten and our roadie Bruce Berry to heroin overdoses, so we were missing them and feeling them in the music every night as we played,” Young writes in the liner notes. “Tonight’s the Night was sort of a wake. There was no overdubbing on those nine original songs. They were recorded live, with no clean up. For almost a month we recorded like that, starting around 11PM and playing into the early morning hours. Sometimes we had a small audience. Once Mel Brooks and a few friends came by.

“We drank a lot of tequila, and I wrote Tonight’s the Night’s songs somewhere around the beginning. We had nine songs and played them twice every night for a long time until we thought we had them. … We had finished recording and decided to celebrate with a gig at a new club opening on the Sunset Strip, the Roxy. We went there and recorded for a few nights, opening the Roxy. We really knew the Tonight’s the Night songs after playing them for a month, so we just played them again, the album, top to bottom, two sets a night for a few days. We had a great time.”

Neil Young, ‘Roxy – Tonight’s the Night Live’ Track Listing
“Tonight’s The Night”
“Mellow My Mind”
“World On A String”
“Speakin’ Out”
“Albuquerque”
“New Mama”
“Roll Another Number (For The Road)”
“Tired Eyes”
“Tonight’s The Night”
“Walk On”

A Record Store Day vinyl edition of the album includes two records plus an exclusive print of the band live onstage at the Roxy. That version comes out on April 21st;

When you’ve got 28 studio albums under your belt – as Neil Young did when he released Chrome Dreams II ten years ago today – you’ve no doubt got a few leftover songs, and the Reprise collection kicks off with three great ones, most notably the 18-plus minute epic “Ordinary People.” And though Young is working here with longtime collaborators including guitarist, keyboardist, and steel guitar extraordinaire Ben Keith, bassist Rick Rosas and Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina, The crossing of his two primary rhythm sections is interesting. Crazy Horse fans may miss bassist Billy Talbot, and Horse detractors will long for drummer Chad Cromwell, but the trio has noticeable chemistry, and it is hard to argue with the results. Young himself of course contributes mightily on a multitude of instruments.

This isn’t just a journey through the past; the singer-songwriter also penned strong new material in a variety of styles ranging from country-folk (“Ever After”) to gospel (“Shining Light”) to electric rockers (the Grammy-nominated “No Hidden Path”) is probably the heaviest song, crunchy fuzzed out guitar solo’s are abundant.

While its title references a legendary unreleased album from 1977, All this matters little since Young of course no longer has anything to prove, meaning fans can enjoy the album and others will still not know what they miss. Since the masterwork and two of the better cuts (“Beautiful Bluebird” and “Boxcar”) were written between 20 and 30 years ago,

Chrome Dreams II doesn’t have a stylistic or thematic focus, and that’s kind of the point; it’s an album that revels in driving all over the map.