He’s called it “the worst record I ever made,” but Neil Young’s putting his 1973 live album Time Fades Away back into print for only the second time, as part of a limited box set for Record Store Day.
The Neil Young Official Release Series Discs 5-8 box set, limited to 3,500 copies at participating independent retailers on this year’s Record Store Day events on April 19, will feature 180-gram reissues of Time Fades Away, On the Beach (1974), Tonight’s the Night (1975) and Zuma (1975), newly remastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering, pressed at Pallas MFG Germany and featuring reproduced artwork overseen by Young’s longtime designer Gary Burden. (In 2009, the first volume in this box set series was released, featuring similarly lush vinyl reissues of Neil Young (1968), Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969), After the Gold Rush (1970) and Harvest (1972).)
Time Fades Away, for its own part, remains a crucial link in Young’s early career. A live album backed by Young’s Harvest-era band The Stray Gators (pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith, pianist Jack Nitzsche, bassist Tim Drummond and drummer Johnny Barbata) and consisting entirely of new material, Time Fades Away was recorded on a lengthy tour marred by alcohol abuse, erratic behavior and, by the trek’s end, a throat infection that required David Crosby and Graham Nash to supply some much-needed support. Recorded directly from the soundboard to 16-track by a Quad-8 CompuMix, the first digital mixer of its kind, the album retained a murky, uncertain quality, but critics were quick to praise it. Despite this, Young has largely disavowed its existence, dismissing the “audio verite” approach in a liner notes passage that was cut from the beloved Decade compilation in 1977. A 1995 HDCD release was scrapped late in development, and despite constant petitions there appear to be no plans to issue the album anywhere other than vinyl. (Young did indicate that a “sequel” drawn from alternate selections on the same tour would appear in the long-gestating Archives Vol. 2 box set.)