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Sunday, November 09, 2014

REVIEW: The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear: Unreleased Records by the World's Greatest Artists by Bruno MacDonald

The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear:
Unreleased Records by the World's Greatest Artists

(Click photo to enlarge)

We recently picked up the new book The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear: Unreleased Records by the World's Greatest Artists by Bruno MacDonald.

Lots of Neil Young and Crosby, Stills & Nash content to check out if obscure albums are your thing. We'll get back to those chapters in just a moment.

At once fascinating and heartbreaking, The Greatest Albums You’ll Never Hear is a guided tour of rock ’n’ roll’s most intriguing unmade marvels—and a must-read for all music lovers.

A Pink Floyd album with no instruments.

A Sex Pistols album more incendiary than Never Mind the Bollocks.

A sci-fi rock opera by Weezer.

Rock ’n’ roll history is littered with intriguing albums that never saw the light of day, let alone the charts.

Self-destructive ambition, inter-band turmoil, record-company politics, and even death have played their part in creating a fascinating sub-genre of mythic masterpieces. The Greatest Albums You’ll Never Hear untangles the twists of fate, the fights, and the sheer bad luck that prevented these musical gems from being released.

Spanning more than 50 years of music across the genres, these tales take in legends such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, cult heroes like Brian Eno and Frank Zappa, and contemporary artists such as Green Day and Dr Dre. Some of the ideas evolved into classic albums, while others became must-have bootlegs. Some endured a torturous journey to belated release, while others remain tantalizingly unreleased and unheard.

Human Highway

Crosby, Stills & Nash had been together barely a year before the honeymoon period wore off. “It started off as a really beautiful idea,” Stephen Stills reflected to Disc and Music Echo in early 1970. “We were full of enthusiasm and ideals. Now a lot of that feeling has gone . . . Maybe that feeling of us all liking each other a lot will return and we’ll go on working together.” That feeling did return—and, during a four-month reunion, Déjà vu, their first album with Neil Young, topped the U.S. chart. But by September 1970, the group had splintered once more. Nearly three years after that, the quartet reunited in Hawaii to create what could have been, in David Crosby’s optimistic view, “the best album we ever made”. But Human Highway was not to be.


Neil Young’s world fell apart in March 1974. The singer-songwriter had landed in Hawaii, hoping to reunite with actress Carrie Snodgress—his estranged wife and the subject of songs including “A Man Needs a Maid” and “Motion Pictures.” He soon discovered that Snodgress—the mother of his first son, Zeke—wasn’t waiting for him. She was out on a boat trip with another man. “I kinda had a major bummer, which resulted in drinking a lot of tequila,” he told biographer Jimmy McDonough. “And then I went out and played my guitar in God knows where, for God knows who.” In the months that followed, the songs would stream from him like tears and flow onto the unreleased Homegrown album.

There is also a chapter on the long lost Chrome Dreams album, as well.

Each ill-fated album is accompanied by an original artwork of the cover that might have been. The works have been brought to life by a team of acclaimed designers and illustrators, including Vaughan Oliver (Pixies, Bush, Cocteau Twins), John Pasche (The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix), and Bill Smith (Genesis, The Jam, Led Zeppelin).

More on The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear: Unreleased Records by the World's Greatest Artists by Bruno MacDonald.

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