A new box set will bring together three of Neil Young's '80s albums, along with a rare EP making its widest release yet.
Official Release Series Volume 4, available April 29, runs the gamut of Young's eclectic output in the '80s - likely because it only covers his releases on his longtime home base of Reprise Records. (From 1982 to 1987, Young signed instead to Geffen Records.) The '80s were a time of transition and experimentation for Young - much of it done on Geffen, though sparks of that restless spirit are present on this set.
Young's experiments and excavations led to some unique works that feature prominently in this box. The decade kicked off with the quick-fire Hawks & Doves, drawn from sessions spanning from the mid-'70s to 1980, the year of the album's release. (At just under a half-hour, it's one of his shortest LPs.) Young reunited with Crazy Horse for his next work, 1981's Re·ac·tor; this LP was notable for Young's growing interest in the Synclavier synthesizer, which would figure prominently on his Geffen work, particularly the following year's Trans.
After that at-times rocky tenure on Geffen, Young returned to Reprise in 1988 with a new band, The Bluenotes (later renamed Ten Men Working after objections from Harold Melvin). Their album together, This Note's for You, sprung from blues-based mini-sets Young began incorporating into his sets a year prior. ("Nobody was yelling for 'Southern Man' like they've done throughout my whole fucking career," he'd later quip.) Now armed with a new band and a full horn section, This Note's for You also found Young issuing some of his most incisive musical commentary of the decade, thanks to the sardonic title track that mocked the big-budget, sponsor-heavy tours from many of MTV's biggest stars. While the broadsides against some artists was sharp enough that MTV itself initally banned the clip, they'd eventually award it a Video Music Award for Video of the Year.
The box closes out with a harder-to-find Young title: the 1989 EP Eldorado. Recorded primarily with bassist Rick Rosas and drummer Chad Cromwell, who'd played in The Bluenotes and here were dubbed The Restless, these five tracks laid the groundwork to Young's next album Freedom, released later that year and featuring the rock radio hit "Rockin' in the Free World." But only three of the five tracks here actually ended up on Freedom, and in remixed form: "Eldorado" (editing some formidable guitar work by Frank "Pancho" Sampedro), a cover of the Mann-Weil-Lieber-Stoller hit "On Broadway," and "Don't Cry." The other two tracks, "Cocaine Eyes" and "Heavy Love," remain only available on this mini-album, which never came out beyond Australia and Japan. That, of course, changes with this set.
While there will be no digital equivalent of Official Release Series Volume 4 - not sure if you've heard this, but the man has some feelings about some streaming platforms at the moment - it will be available on CD at general retail and on vinyl through indie retailers as well as Young's own web store. Eldorado will also receive a standalone digital release on the same day.
Neil Young, Official Release Series Volume 4 (Reprise, 2022)
CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
LP: Greedy Hand Store
CD/LP 1: Hawks & Doves (Reprise HS 2297, 1980 / ORS 13)
CD/LP 2: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Re·ac·tor (Reprise HS 2304, 1981 / ORS 14)
CD/LP 3: Neil Young & The Blue Notes, This Note's for You (Reprise 25719, 1988 / ORS 20)
CD/LP 4: Neil Young + The Restless, Eldorado (Reprise 25919 (AUS)/20P2-2651 (Japan), 1989 / ORS 21)
Come on Neil.
A 3-and-half record box set, with a five LP gap between records?
mark schlesinger says
What's. Your problem with free speech, Neil. You used to support it.
You seem to go to great lengths to avoid calling this "Discs 13, 14, 20 & 21" - but that's what it is. Has he announced anything about Discs 15-19? I guess it's too much to ask to stick to the damn chronology, but we've certainly come to expect the unexpected...
There were just four Geffen albums, right? So, are we to expect "Freedom" to be #19? And, does it make any sense to have "Eldorado" and "Freedom" in separate boxes?
Oh, Neil. I'm not sure I would've started this journey if I'd thought it was going to take 10 years (and counting) only to go off the rails like this.
Michael Fortes says
There were five Geffen albums — Trans, Everybody’s Rockin’, Old Ways, Landing on Water, and Life. So, Freedom would be #22 by that count, which makes sense since Freedom was released after Eldorado.
I can only imagine that trying to work with Universal on incorporating the Geffen albums into this series is probably somewhat challenging since Neil didn’t have the greatest relationship with Geffen way back when.
I totally understand people wanting the actual discs, and that is the raison d’être of The Second Disc, but I thought I would share my personal experience anyway. I finally let it all go and subscribed to the Neil Young Archives about a year ago. Life has been way easier since then, because literally everything from his career shows up in the archives quickly, in superb quality and in the correct chronology. And the very reasonable annual fee is less than I was spending on Neil releases every year. The best part might be that I no longer have to wince every time he makes an oddball release decision.
Michael Grabowski says
i think that neil has total disregard for his fan base. his releasing of anything he wants ( awful cover art,sub par songs.etc) has some what annoyed his die hard fans. doesnt he care? i think that he does not. thses is nothing new here to the collector.
Can I weigh back in with (another) complaint besides the ridiculous nonsequential nature of this release?
Young changed the physical format of the packaging. It's clearly cheaper and flimsier (and smaller!) than the previous volumes, which were noticeably cheaper than the first volume - which was about as deluxe as a cardboard package can be.
And, the mastering is identical to previous standalone NYA releases. I seriously regret going down this path...