Friday, January 22, 2021

The Kinks - Never Say Yes (Song Edit) (1965)

Today happens to be my birthday, and I'm a huge Kinks fan. They're my second favorite band behind only the Beatles. So I was very psyched today when a musical friend of mine, MZ, sent me a Kinks song from 1965 that apparently has never been bootlegged before and I'd never even heard of! It must have been played on a radio show recently, because a DJ talked over the start and end of the song. Luckily, the talking was only over some instrumental bits that were repeated elsewhere in the song, so I was able to edit the talking out. The song quality is excellent, and it's a wonderful lost gem of a song. If you're a Kinks fan, you need to hear this!

I was able to dig up some information about this demo. Incredibly, it was meant for Elvis Presley to sing in one of his many movies, but that never came to be. I found a mention of it in a book called "The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night, Day by Day Concerts, Recordings, and Broadcasts, 1961-1996," by Doug Hinman. Here's the relevant excerpt, after the book mentioned that Ray Davies recorded a demo of the song "All Night Stand" in December 1965:

"It's possible but unconfirmed that Ray recorded a second demo, "Never Say Yes." Elvis Presley's UK publisher had asked him to submit one or two songs for the next Presley film "Spinout," which was first intended to be titled "Never Say Yes."  Ray submitted "Never Say Yes" and possibly one other. Although the song(s) were never used, film producer Joe Pasternak apparently did express an interest in it/them."

So we can definitely confirm that factoid now, since the recording exists. ;) Although it's just a demo, it's a full band demo. I assume the Kinks were the backing band, since Davies wasn't known to play with other bands at the time.

I'm including a zip of just the song. But I've also updated my stray tracks album for the time period, "Kwyet Kinks," and I've included the song in that as well. Here's just the song:

And here's the link to the album with the song in it:

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Beck - Song Reader Live - Various Songs (2013)

In late 2012, Beck released a very strange music project. He hadn't released a proper studio album since 2008. But rather than release a new one of those, he released a book of sheet music, which he called "Song Reader." Apparently, he had become fascinated by the sheet music of the 1800s and the first couple decades of the 1900s, before radio or record players became popular. Back then, if you wanted to hear some music, you pretty much had to play it yourself or listen to someone else play it. The book contained the sheet music and/or artwork for dozens of songs, though many songs were just snippets or song titles.

In 2014, a various artists album also called "Song Reader," was released with 20 different artists performing a song from his sheet music book. Beck only played one song on that album. But in order to encourage people to learn the songs on their own, Beck has never released his own versions of any of these songs, except for the one he did on the "Song Reader" album ("Heaven's Ladder"). 

However, mostly in the summer of 2013, he played some of the songs in concert. Although I admire Beck's intentions with this project, these are songs he wrote and I want to hear his versions of them. So I've taken the one studio recording plus the best concert versions I could find, and made the best album "Song Reader" out of them that I could. I call it "Song Reader Live" to distinguish it from the various artists album also called "Song Reader."

The problem with making this album is that Beck has only rarely played these songs. A few of them were played at a handful of concerts, but others were only played once. As a result, I've had very limited options when it comes to bootleg recordings of them. Luckily, it turns out that most of them that he did play in public were recorded well at least once. But there are a few that sound rougher. I've put those near the end.

Even including the songs with less than ideal sound quality, I was only able to come up with 10 songs that are a total of 28 minutes long. That's pretty short for an album (and it's less than half of all the songs he wrote for this project). It so happens that he performed two other songs in the summer of 2013 that were only played at two concerts. These were specifically done for a musical collaboration with a choir. I stuck them on the end of this album, and that's increased the album length to 35 minutes. But none the recordings of those two songs sound fairly rough as well. Consider them bonus tracks of sorts.

The word "Edit" is added to the titles of two of the songs, "Please Leave a Light On When You Go" and "I'm Down." That's because there were some serious flaws in the performances I felt compelled to fix. For instance, with one of those songs (I forget which), he flubbed a section of the song and then redid it. I edited out the flubbed part.

I sincerely hope that someday Beck will officially release his own versions of these songs. But until then, this is the closest we've got.

01 Heaven's Ladder (Beck)
02 Please Leave a Light On When You Go [Edit] (Beck)
03 Sorry (Beck)
04 Just Noise (Beck)
05 I'm Down [Edit] (Beck)
06 Do We, We Do (Beck, Joan Wasser & Conor J. O'Brien)
07 Don't Act like Your Heart Isn't Hard (Beck)
08 Rough on Rats (Beck)
09 Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings (Beck)
10 America, Here's My Boy (Beck)
11 Free Me (Beck)
12 Wake Up (Beck)

I made the album cover out of three different sources. The main image of the strangely dressed people playing musical instruments come from a poster for a November 2013 concert in Los Angeles that featured the songs from the "Song Reader" project. (Beck played, but he was only one of many musicians, so he only did a couple of songs.) I took Beck's name and the album title from another various artists "Song Reader" performance. I added the "Live" myself. Finally, to emphasize the sheet music theme, I added some sheet music visuals to the background.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Jim & Ingrid Croce - Jim and Ingrid Too - Expanded Version (1967-1969)

I just posted the 1969 album "Croce," also known as "Jim and Ingrid Croce." It's the main product of a short period in Jim Croce's musical career when he was part of a musical duet with his wife Ingrid. This is basically an extension of that, gathering up some stray pieces of their musical output from 1967 and 1969.

The main portion of this album are seven songs known as "Jim and Ingrid Too." As far as I can tell, this was never released in Croce's lifetime. (He died in a plane crash in 1973.) Instead, when the "Jim and Ingrid Croce" was re-released in 2004 (yet again), that edition included this group of songs on a second record, called "Jim and Ingrid Too."

According to the liner notes for that album, around the time the "Croce" album was released in 1969, the duo had a chance to become hosts for a children's TV show in Boston. They recorded 21 songs as an audition tape that showed off their musical versatility. They didn't get the job, but the tape survived. Decades later, only seven of those 21 songs were chosen to be publicly released. I hope more of the rest will be made public someday.

Additionally, two more songs ("The Way We Used To" and "Country Girl") from around this time period were released on the archival album "The Faces I've Been" in 1975. So I've added those in.

Finally, the duo performed live in the studio on a radio show in Philadelphia in 1967. I'll bet that Croce made other such performances for radio stations during his career, but for whatever reason an excellent recording of this one appearance has survived while others have not (or at least haven't been made publicly available through bootlegs). Luckily, several of the songs played weren't otherwise recorded by Jim and/or Ingrid, so I've added them at the end.

This is a fairly good album in my opinion, about as good as the "Croce" album from the same time period. It helps that almost all the songs are written by Jim, or by Jim and Ingrid. The only ones that are covers are the last three songs from the 1967 radio show.

However, like the "Croce" album, it's rather short. Even with all the added songs, it's only 29 minutes long.

This is the last of Croce's early material that I plan on posting (unless something new emerges). But if you like this stuff, I strongly recommend the archival album "Home Recordings: Americana." It was recorded in 1967, with just Jim and his acoustic guitars, and it consists entirely of covers of classic songs. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I haven't posted that here because it seems to be widely available and well known.

01 Child of Midnight (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
02 Marianne (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
03 Railroads and Riverboats (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
04 Hard Times Are Over (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
05 The Railroad Song (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
06 Maybe Tomorrow (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
07 Pa [Song for a Grandfather] (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
08 The Way We Used to Be (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
09 Country Girl (Jim Croce)
10 Darcy Farrow (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
11 Coconut Grove (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
12 Bringin' Mary Home (Jim Croce)

As far as I can tell, this album has never really existed per se. Instead, the first seven songs have been a bonus disc on a rerelease of a different album. Be that as it may, doing a Google search, I found some album covers for it. All of them used the photo and text in the version shown here, but the photo was either black and white or tinted. I decided to colorize it to give it some more zing.

Jim & Ingrid Croce - Croce (Jim and Ingrid Croce) (1969)

I just posted Jim Croce's debut album "Facets" from 1966. As I said with that post, I'm posting all of his recorded and available music prior to when he became famous in 1972. There isn't much of it, and it tends to get overlooked. (One exception is the archival release "Home Recordings - Americana" which dates to 1967 but seems widely available and well known, so I don't need to post it here.) Here's the next album in the series.

As I described in my write-up about Croce's 1966 album "Facets," that was an album he recorded and released all by himself, without any record company. Also in 1966, he married a woman named Ingrid who was a talented singer. They became a musical duo and performed in public frequently while they also had day jobs to pay the rent. By 1969, they were ready to record a record together, and this is it. Their profile grew enough by that time that it was released by a major label, Capitol Records. 

Ironically, the limited run of Croce's poorly produced 1966 album did well and sold out, while the much better 1969 album sold poorly, much below expectations. It did so badly that Jim and Ingrid basically dropped out of the music business for a while. (This was helped along by Ingrid getting pregnant and then having a baby, which kept both of them busy.) But in a way, the failure of this album was the key to Croce's later success. He decided to give it one more shot before leaving the music business for good, and he redoubled his songwriting efforts. Not having to tour gave him lots of time to write songs. In this burst of songwriting, he wrote most of the songs on his three hit albums released in 1972 and 1973,

In any case, this album shows his musical skills had drastically improved since his 1966 album. All but two of the songs were written by him either solo or with Ingrid. (The two covers are "the Next Man that I Marry" and "What the Hell.") Croce later realized that the first song here, "Age," was so good that it needed more exposure. So he redid it for his 1973 album "I Got a Name."

Jim Croce dominates this album, but it is a duet album and Ingrid has a prominent role too. She harmonizes with him on every song and occasionally sings lead, especially on the song "The Next Man that I Marry." Her vocals probably won't blow you away, but she certainly was a capable singer. However, for his later albums, Croce continued as a solo artist, even though he stayed happily married to Ingrid until his death in a plane crash in 1973. As far as I know, Ingrid never released any music on her own.

This album is quite short, at only 28 minutes long. Jim and Ingrid did record some other music together around the same time, but I'm saving that for a different album that I'll be posting here.

01 Age (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
02 Spin, Spin, Spin (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
03 I Am Who I Am (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
04 What Do People Do (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
05 Another Day, Another Town (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
06 Vespers (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
07 Big Wheel (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
08 Just Another Day (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
09 The Next Man that I Marry (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
10 What the Hell (Jim & Ingrid Croce)
11 The Man that Is Me (Jim & Ingrid Croce)

This album languished in obscurity until Jim Croce became a big star in 1972 and 1973. Then it got rereleased multiple times, often with different names (including "Bombs Over Puerto Rico," bizarrely enough) and different album covers. I believe the original album cover was very similar to the one I've included above. It had the same photo in the middle, but the area outside that had a peach color and the only word on it was "Croce." I've chosen this version because it also says "Jim and Ingrid Croce" at the bottom. Technically, "Croce" was the original name of the album, but since that's so vague it's often known as "Jim and Ingrid Croce" instead.

Jim Croce - Facets (1966)

As I said in another Jim Croce post recently, Croce's music career goes much further back than most people realize. Croce emerged from obscurity to become a musical star in 1972. He had three hit albums that year and in 1973 before dying in a plane crash towards the end of 1973. His 1972 album "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" was commonly thought to be his debut album, but it wasn't. His real debut album is this one, released all the way back in 1966.

In my opinion, the music on this album is merely good. His musical talents weren't fully developed yet, and his 1972 and 1973 albums would be much better. But I've noticed that his pre-1972 output is little known and very hard to find (with the exception of one archival album, "Home Recordings - Americana"), so I've decided to post it all (except for the "Americana" album) to give it more exposure. 

There's an interesting story behind this album. Croce's parents loved music, and he built his musical knowledge off their record collection. But, like many parents, they wanted him to have a safe and dependable career so they were against him becoming a professional musician. In 1966, Jim Croce married Ingrid, who would remain his wife until his death. Apparently trying some reverse psychology, his parents gave them $500 as a wedding gift, with the stipulation that they had to use it to record an album. It seems they thought the album would fail to sell and Croce would be so discouraged that he would give up his plans for a music career. But what actually happened was he recorded the album presented here, printed up 500 copies, and then sold them for $5 each. The printing sold out due to him promoting it with concerts in clubs and he made a fair amount of money on it. So the wedding gift scheme backfired and only increased his desire to be a professional musician.

Unfortunately, this was a DIY (do it yourself) project recorded on the cheap without a proper producer, so the sound isn't great. It was officially rereleased many years after his death, but I guess there wasn't much they could do to improve the sound. It's not bad by any means, but don't expect the high fidelity typical of studio albums.

Croce began publicly performing music in the early 1960s while he was a college student. I'm not aware of any good publicly available live recordings of him prior to 1972... except for a short one all the way back in 1964! I have no idea how he was recorded well that far back, but one archival release does have a few songs from that 1964 concert. A couple of those songs didn't sound good to me, mainly because of too much audience noise drowning out the music, but I've added three of those 1964 songs to the end of this album.

Note that in these early years, Croce was only beginning to become a talented songwriter. Just two of the songs, "Texas Rodeo" and "Sun Came Up," are originals. Plus, for "The Ballad of Gunga Din," he took the lyrics from a poem by Rudyard Kipling and added his own music to it.

This is a short album. The actual album is only 27 minutes long. Since I added three songs at the end, the total is 33 minutes long.

01 Steel Rail Blues (Jim Croce)
02 Coal Tattoo (Jim Croce)
03 Texas Rodeo (Jim Croce)
04 Charley Green, Play That Slide Trombone (Jim Croce)
05 The Ballad of Gunga Din (Jim Croce)
06 Hard Hearted Hannah [The Vamp from Savannah] (Jim Croce)
07 Sun Come Up (Jim Croce)
08 The Blizzard (Jim Croce)
09 Running Maggie (Jim Croce)
10 Big Fat Woman (Jim Croce)
11 Until It's Time for Me to Go (Jim Croce)
12 San Francisco Bay Blues (Jim Croce)
13 Washington at Valley Forge (Jim Croce)
14 La Bamba (Jim Croce)

The original album cover for this album is awful, quite possibly the worst I've ever seen! It basically looks like someone stuck a Post-It note to a plain background and called that the cover. No doubt that wasn't some ironically simple statement, but just a reflection of the cheap DIY way the album was made.

Rather than use that one, I decided to come up with one myself. I found a photo of Croce that looked to be from the late 1960s, though I don't know the year. It was of him and his wife Ingrid, and she had a hand on one of his shoulders. I cropped her out of the picture and removed the hand in Photoshop so the focus would be entirely on him. That's the album cover at the top.

After I did that, I found out that when the album was officially rereleased decades later, it was given a different cover that was much better than the original. I've included that mostly black one here too, for those who prefer that one.

Larkin Poe - Yet Even Still More Further Tip O' the Hat - Various Cover Songs

Running the blog, one of the very favorite album series I've put together is this one. Since 2017, the roots rock duo Larkin Poe has been periodically releasing acoustic cover versions of songs they like on YouTube. I've been gathering them as they come out and compiling them into albums. This is the sixth one so far. If you haven't given any of these a listen yet, why not get started with this one? 

As with past albums in this series, Larkin Poe has chosen an interesting mix of famous songs and lesser known gems and given them their talented acoustic treatment. Compared to previous albums though, I'd say there are more lesser known gems. I prefer that, as it helps me discover some good songs I sometimes overlooked.

By the way, Larkin Poe has stopped calling these performances their "Tip O' the Hat" series. Instead, they just call it their "Cover Channel." But it will always be the "Tip O' the Hat" to me, so I plan on keep calling it that. ;) 

Also by the way, the three Christmas themed songs near the end actually aren't a part of the series, but come from a video the duo did for "Fender Play Live" in December 2020. Since they're acoustic cover versions and I didn't have a better spot for them, I've included them here.

One final note. I naturally called the first album in this series "Tip O' the Hat," then the second one "More Tip O' the Hat." From there, I kept expanding the album titles until they're grown comically long and unwieldy. But I'm having fun with it. If anyone has suggestions on what I should call the next one, please let me know. It's getting harder to expand the titles without breaking grammar rules. ;)

Here's a list of the original artists for each song:

01 Who Do You Love - Bo Diddley
02 If I Needed You - Townes Van Zandt
03 Born to Be Wild -  Steppenwolf
04 Lovin' in My Baby's Eyes - Taj Mahal
05 Angie - Rolling Stones
06 Nothing Breaks like a Heart - Mark Ronson with Miley Cyrus
07 In My Life - Beatles
08 Gasoline Alley - Rod Stewart
09 White Lightning - George Jones
10 These Dreams -  Heart
11 Crocodile Rock - Elton John
12 Hellhound on My Trail - Robert Johnson
13 Kiss from a Rose - Seal
14 The Christmas Song [Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire] - Mel Torme / Nat King Cole
15 Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
16 Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
17 Church Street Blues - Tony Rice

And here's the usual song list:

01 Who Do You Love (Larkin Poe)
02 If I Needed You (Larkin Poe)
03 Born to Be Wild (Larkin Poe)
04 Lovin' in My Baby's Eyes (Larkin Poe)
05 Angie (Larkin Poe)
06 Nothing Breaks like a Heart (Larkin Poe)
07 In My Life (Larkin Poe)
08 Gasoline Alley (Larkin Poe)
09 White Lightning (Larkin Poe)
10 These Dreams (Larkin Poe)
11 Crocodile Rock (Larkin Poe)
12 Hellhound on My Trail (Larkin Poe)
13 Kiss from a Rose (Larkin Poe)
14 The Christmas Song [Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire] (Larkin Poe)
15 Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree (Larkin Poe)
16 Santa Baby (Larkin Poe)
17 Church Street Blues (Larkin Poe)

I found the cover art photo from the duo's Facebook page. It dates to November 2020.

Brinsley Schwarz - A. O. R., Tilburg, Netherlands, 5-18-1974

I've posted a couple of Brinsley Schwarz stray tracks albums already, but I'll bet many of you reading this still aren't familiar with the band. Basically, they were one of the best and best known "pub rock" bands in the early 1970s. Their main singer and songwriter Nick Lowe would go on to greater fame with Rockpile and his solo career. (Strangely, Brinsley Schwarz was the name of one of the band members as well as the band as a whole.) I think they're very underappreciated. They wrote a lot of fun originals, and also had a habit of playing unjustly obscure songs.

I plan on posting a lot more from this band soon. But while I getting some other things ready, I decided to post this concert because I feel it's the best live recording of the band. There's one official live album called "Live Favorites", but this one is better, even though it's a bootleg. The sound quality is excellent, and it's a full show that's slightly shorter than two hours long. ("Live Favorites" by contrast is also from a single concert, but it's only 45 minutes long.)

I didn't have to do much to improve this recording, but I did do a couple of things. The main thing was that I broke the banter between songs into separate tracks and then boosted the volume of that banter. (Lowe does nearly all the talking.) Also, the last fifteen seconds or so of the song "(It's Gonna Be A) Bring Down" was missing. I restored much of that from a similar musical section earlier in the song, then finished it off with a bit of the same song from a bootleg of another concert. I also made a couple other fixes here and there, for instance getting rid of a squall of feedback in the middle of a song by patching in a bit of another part of the song.

This band was in its natural element playing live. The very name of the genre they're closely associated with, pub rock, is all about playing in pubs and other small clubs. If you've never heard this band before, this is a good place to start.

01 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
02 You Been Cheating (Brinsley Schwarz)
03 Small Town, Big City (Brinsley Schwarz)
04 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
05 I'll Be Doggone (Brinsley Schwarz)
06 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
07 Love Is Gone (Brinsley Schwarz)
08 It's Been So Long (Brinsley Schwarz)
09 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
10 I've Cried My Last Tear (Brinsley Schwarz)
11 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
12 Happy Doing What We're Doing (Brinsley Schwarz)
13 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
14 I'm Ahead If I Can Quit While I'm Behind (Brinsley Schwarz)
15 Don't Lie to Me (Brinsley Schwarz)
16 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
17 Surrender to the Rhythm (Brinsley Schwarz)
18 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
19 Country Girl (Brinsley Schwarz)
20 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
21 Range War (Brinsley Schwarz)
22 [It's Gonna Be A] Bring Down [Edit] (Brinsley Schwarz)
23 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
24 Save the Last Dance for Me (Brinsley Schwarz)
25 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
26 Down in the Dive (Brinsley Schwarz)
27 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
28 Down in Mexico (Brinsley Schwarz)
29 Ju Ju Man (Brinsley Schwarz)
30 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
31 Wonder Woman (Brinsley Schwarz)
32 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
33 Home in My Hand (Brinsley Schwarz)
34 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
35 Run Rudolph Run (Brinsley Schwarz)
36 talk (Brinsley Schwarz)
37 Brown Sugar (Brinsley Schwarz)

There are very few good color photos of this band, but I managed to find one of them in concert. This comes from an appearance at the Hammersmith Odeon in London in May 1973.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Neil Young - Shots - Various Songs (1976-1978)

Note that I've posted this Neil Young stray tracks album already. However, I just deleted that post and I'm reposting it with a new mp3 download file, due to the fact that I've just posted another Neil Young stray tracks album, "Ranch Romances," that significantly changed what's on this one. I want to make sure that the people who downloaded that also download the latest version of this.

Neil Young has long had a habit of writing a song and then not releasing it for years afterwards, sometimes waiting decades. For all of these stray tracks albums, I've imagined that he released his songs in the normal fashion, putting them on an album a year or two later at the most.

A majority of the songs here would be released by Young in different versions years later. "Peace of Mind" was released on the "Comes a Time" album in 1978, just two years after the version here. However, I've included it here because this is a rocking full band version that's very different from the 1978 country version. It's a similar situation with "Hold Back the Tears." That was on "American Stars n' Bars" in 1977, but this is a different version that remains unreleased. "Cryin' Eyes" came out in a drastically different version on the "Life" album in 1987. "Lost in Space" and "Captain Kennedy" were both recorded in 1977, but not released until the 1980 album "Hawks and Doves." A different version of "The Ways of Love" was included on the 1989 album "Freedom." A rocking version of "Shots" was included on the 1981 album "Re-act-or," but this is an acoustic version.

That leaves just "Windward Passage" and "Lady Wingshot" as songs that are still unreleased in any form today.  "Lady Wingshot" is a song about the famous female sharpshooter Annie Oakley, by the way. This version of "Windward Passage" sounds great, and comes from a soundboard, but it got cut off before it ended. However, I faded it out at a point where I feel it sounds finished.

There's at least one more unreleased original song from this time period, "Bright Sunny Day." Young only played it one time in concert, in 1978. Unfortunately, the bootleg recording of it sounds terrible, so bad that I couldn't even bear to include it as a bonus track. But if you're curious, you can find it on YouTube. 

Chances are, if and when "Archives, Volume III" is released, we'll find out about other unreleased songs or versions. For instance, it's known the song "Unknown Beauty' was first written around 1978, but wasn't released until the "Harvest Moon" album in 1992.

1978 is not just the chronological end of this album, it was the end of an era for Young. He had two hit albums in 1979, "Rust Never Sleeps" and "Live Rust." But they were recorded in 1978. He didn't play any concerts or do any studio recording in 1979 at all, because he'd given birth to a child with cerebral palsy, and taking care of him would end up taking 15 of more hours of his day, every day, for the next few years. So Young's 1970s flood of songwriting creativity ends in 1978. In my opinion, it would take him a long time to fully get his groove back.

For the bonus track, I've added another version of "Windward Passage." That's because the version I put on the album sounds great since it's from a soundboard bootleg, but is incomplete at about four and a half minutes long. The bonus track version is compete at over eight minutes long, but it comes from an audience bootleg that still sounds decent but doesn't sound as good. Personally, I prefer the shorter version, not only for the sound quality but because I feel the extra four minutes don't do much anyway. Here you can take your choice. (By the way, I tried to merge the two versions together, but I couldn't get that to work, due to different pitches and tempos and so forth. If anyone else can, please let me know.)

01 Shots (Neil Young)
04 Lady Wingshot (Neil Young)
05 Windward Passage [Instrumental] (Neil Young & the Ducks)
06 Cryin' Eyes (Neil Young & the Ducks)
07 Country Home (Neil Young)
07 Lost in Space (Neil Young)
08 Captain Kennedy (Neil Young)
09 Hold Back the Tears (Neil Young)
10 Peace of Mind [Electric Version] (Neil Young)
10 The Ways of Love (Neil Young)

Windward Passage [Instrumental] (Neil Young & the Ducks)

The cover art photo comes from a Crosby, Nash and Young (no Stills!) concert in Santa Cruz in August 1977. I cropped the photo so that Crosby and Nash aren't included.

Neil Young - Ranch Romances - Various Songs (1976)

I'm finishing sorting out Neil Young's prolific mid-1970s songwriting burst. I just posted "Dume" to gather the rest of his stray tracks from 1974 and 1975. This album gathers most of his 1976 stray tracks. I will follow this with a revised version of "Shots" to collect the rest of 1976, plus songs from 1977 and 1978.

Neil Young wrote so many excellent songs in the mid-1970s that he didn't know what to do with them all. There were numerous "lost albums," meaning albums he considered but ultimately didn't release. "Homegrown" is one such 1975 album that was finally released in 2020. "Hitchhiker" was a proposed 1976 album that was released in 2017. But there were more. Around 1976, "Mediterranean," "Chrome Dreams," and "Ranch Romances" were all titles that were considered. I have no idea what the actual song lists were for any of these. I've simply taken the stray tracks from early to mid-1976 and gathered them here. I could have easily chosen another name, but "Ranch Romances" appealed to me. If anyone knows more about these proposed albums and which songs exactly were supposed to be on them, please let me know.

I've already posted a series of albums in which I maximized the number of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young songs and albums. For these albums, I'm doing the opposite, imagining that Young put out all his songs on his solo albums shortly after he wrote and recorded them. As part of that, I'm acting as if the Stills-Young Band album "Long May You Run" next happened. I've included four songs from that - "Let It Shine," "Midnight on the Bay," "Fountainbleau" and "Ocean Girl" - but only "Ocean Girl" is the exact same version as the one on that album.

I've been able to update my Neil Young stray tracks albums due to the release of the "Archives, Volume II" box set in late 2020. But note there are a number of previously unreleased alternate versions on there that I'm not including on any of these albums. Also, the material from that ends in mid-1976. The impact of that here is that I presume a version of the still unreleased song "Evening Coconut" will appear on "Archives, Volume III," whenever that comes out. For now, we have to make do with this slightly rough bootleg version. It's the exact same situation with "Sad Movies," except the song quality of this bootleg version is excellent.

The song "Campaigner" first appeared on the 1977 best of compilation album "Decade." It turns out that version was the exact same version on "Hitchhiker," except that one verse was edited out. I've used the longer version. 

A couple of the other songs here eventually came out on other releases. A live version of "Stringman" was released on the 1993 album "Unplugged." A new version of "Hitchhiker" first came out on the 2010 album "La Noise," then the original 1976 version came out on the 2017 album also called "Hitchhiker."

01 Campaigner [Long Version] (Neil Young)
02 Let It Shine (Neil Young)
03 Sad Movies (Neil Young)
04 Midnight on the Bay (Neil Young)
05 Stringman (Neil Young)
06 Fontainebleau (Stills-Young Band)
07 Evening Coconut (Stills-Young Band)
08 Ocean Girl (Stills-Young Band)
09 Mediterranean (Neil Young)
10 Hitchhiker (Neil Young)

At the time Young wrote these songs, he owned a ranch and he was having a lot of romantic trouble, divorcing his first wife Carrie Snodgress in 1975. So maybe that's why he wanted to call an album "Ranch Romances." But I found out there were a series of pulp novels in the 1970s called "Ranch Romances," and maybe that played into his thinking. For the album title text, I used the exact font taken from the cover of one of the novels. All the novel covers used the exact same font and style.

As for the cover photo, I found it with a Rolling Stone magazine article about the "Archives, Volume II" box set. It looks like it dates from that time period, but I don't know the exact details.

Neil Young - Dume - Various Songs (1974-1975)

In 1974 and 1975, Neil Young arguably hit his peak as a songwriter. It wasn't just that the songs he wrote were so good; it's that there were so many of them as well. In 1975, he released the studio albums "Tonight's the Night" and "Zuma." We can discount "Tonight's the Night" because it actually was recorded in 1973. But there was another excellent 1975 album that he sat on until 2020: "Homegrown." On top of that, I've posted another album of excellent songs that could have been released in early 1975: "Homefires." Then, on top of that, there's this album, which mainly consist of outtakes from the "Zuma" sessions. So even with "Tonight's the Night" put aside, that's the equal of four studio albums of excellent songs all from the same year!

A year or two ago, I had already posted a couple of albums of his mid-1970s, which I called "Deep Forbidden Lake" and "Let It Shine." I'm deleting both of those today because they're being replaced by four albums: "Last Dance," "Homefires," "Dume," and "Ranch Romances." If you've downloaded those in the past, I highly recommend you get rid of those. They're obsolete thanks to "Archives, Volume II" released in late 2020, with many previously unreleased songs and versions.  

One thing you may notice about the song list below is that many of the songs here have already been released elsewhere by now. For instance, "Deep Forbidden Lake" came out on the "Decade" compilation in 1977. This exact version of "The Old Homestead" came out on the 1980 album "Hawks and Doves." "Bad News Comes to Town" was done in a drastically different big band version on tour in 1988, and then that version was included in the archival release "Bluenote Cafe" in 2015. A different version of "Too Far Gone" appeared on "Freedom" in 1989. A different version of "Hawaii" came out on the archival release "Hitchhiker" in 2017. Finally, different versions of "Ride My Llama," "Powerfinger" and "Pocahontas" were included on "Rust Never Sleeps" in 1979.

The thing is though, all of those later releases could and should have been released in 1975. But there also are a few songs that appear here for the first time, thanks to "Archives, Volume II," such as "Changing Highways," "Daughters," and "Born to Run."

The first five songs here are still from late 1974 recording sessions. The rest were recorded in the May and June 1975 recording sessions that resulted in the "Zuma" album. The "Archives, Volume II" box set calls the disc with these sessions on it "Dume," so that's the name I've given it as well. This is because most of the songs were recorded at a studio in Point Dume, California, near Malibu. (Similarly, "Zuma" is the name of a beach near Malibu.)

By the way, there was one song, "Love-Art Blues," that I had planned to include on this album. But at the last minute, I decided there was room to include it on the previous album in this series, "Homefires." So please redownload that album or you'll miss that song. Sorry 'bout that. Here's the link:

01 Bad News Comes to Town (Neil Young)
02 Changing Highways (Neil Young)
03 Daughters (Neil Young)
04 The Old Homestead (Neil Young)
05 Deep Forbidden Lake (Neil Young)
06 Born to Run (Neil Young)
07 Hawaii (Neil Young)
08 No One Seems to Know (Neil Young)
09 Too Far Gone (Neil Young)
10 Ride My Llama (Neil Young)
11 Powderfinger (Neil Young)
12 Pocahontas (Neil Young)

This album essentially is a companion album to "Zuma," so I wanted an album cover to reflect that. At the Steve Hoffman music forum, I saw someone took some of the extra artwork from the "Zuma" album, inverted the light and dark, and used that as a cover. I don't remember who that way, sorry, but I liked the idea and decided to do the same. I used one main drawing from the "Zuma" booklet, overlaid on the official "Zuma" cover, then added bits and pieces from a couple other drawings. I added Neil Young's name to the upper left corner.