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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Neil Young's "Ditch Quadrilogy" Re-Re-Release Coming

Neil Young's "Ditch Quadrilogy"

Back in 2014, Neil Young and Warner Bros. Records announced the release of Young's upcoming Neil Young Official Series 2 Vinyl Box Set, which was intended to come out on Record Store Day, but was delayed due to several other projects that Young has in the works that he wishes to focus on. In November 2014, the 4 classic albums Time Fades Away, On The Beach, Tonight's The Night and Zuma were released.

The four long-delayed Neil Young vinyl reissues, including the reprint of rare 1973 album Time Fades Away, will finally be released on September 6. (Time Fades Away was long exclusive to Young’s Pono service.)

So after 10 years or so, the Re-Release "Time Fades Away" Petition will finally be retired with over 150,000 visitors, we'll just to keep referring to Neil Young's elusive "Time Fades Away" album and it's hostage status as "It's like stashing Mona Lisa in the basement."

Time Fades Away -- it's been called the "missing link" of the "Ditch Trilogy".

Neil Young's 1973 Time Fades Away is one of the most remarkable live albums ever recorded. Certainly at the time of release, it was almost unprecedented for an artist to release a live concert recording of previously unreleased material. Long out of print on vinyl, still unavailable on CD in the early 21st century and widely bootlegged, the album is considered to be the "Holy Grail" of all Neil Young albums.

In an effort to gain wider distribution of this essential Neil Young recording, fans have started a petition requesting that the album be officially released. Those interested in obtaining a legal copy of Time Fades Away are urged to sign the petition today.

In 2003, it seemed that an official release was near when four of the "Missing 6" Neil Young albums surfaced. (On The Beach, one of the four albums released after a long hiatus, was also the subject of a fan's petition drive which would eventually gather over 5,000 signatures from the Neil Young Internet fan community Rust and Human Highway.)

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At 8/16/2016 10:50:00 AM, Blogger Edward Lawrence said...

I didn't quite understand your post.

Are you saying that you are going to retire the petition?

The issue is that Time Fades Away is still not available on CD so the petition is very much valid, isn't it?

At 8/16/2016 10:59:00 AM, Blogger sab1024 said...

Never checked but wonder what an original copy of "Time Fades Away" would go for? I'm keeping mine. I'll be sitting in my easy chair when I'm 80 spinning the Quads on my 1960s turntable. Time fades away.

At 8/16/2016 10:59:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I retired my turntable decades ago and don't like mp3s - give us Time Fades Away on cd! I was at the OKlahoma City show that provided two songs, I need the souvenir!

At 8/16/2016 11:05:00 AM, Blogger sab1024 said...

"JTTP" from Time Fades was taken from the Cleveland show in '73. My first Neil show. I couldn't believe my mother would let me go! Thanks Mom. And I even have the canceled check she wrote for the tickets at $5 a piece.

At 8/16/2016 12:02:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

The reviews in 1973 weren't kind in the MM & NME TFA is now rightly looked upon as one of Neils top 3 records. I also have a cherished vinyl copy with the handwritten lyric sheets. Live In My Mind is such a simple song and for me represents Neil at his very best. His voice at the time was viewed as the weak link compared with C & N. The record works because of the quality of the songs which are all out of the top draw.

At 8/16/2016 12:15:00 PM, Blogger African Mango said...

The Dead had released Europe '72, which was mostly unreleased "new material." Same with Skull and Roses. So it wasn't really all that much of a risk for Neil to do something similar. It was more like the Dead were doing: releasing stuff they were doing live that hadn't made it onto an album yet.

At 8/16/2016 12:34:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@Edward - well now, that's a good point about the CD. This marks the 3rd vinyl release of TFA, but yet no CD?! maybe we're just too anxious to archive this petition after such a long run and so many signatures.

Obviously, time never fades away...

@ sab1024 - Yes, keep it! Last we checked when we wrote the petition back in like 2006 or something, copies were going for almost $100 on eBay. But probably much less now with all of the re-releases. See

@ Unknown - you were at the Oklahoma City show?! Very cool. Tell us more, tell us more!

@ sab1024 - you were at the Cleveland show in '73?! Very cool. Tell us more, tell us more! (being a broken record on this thread is appropriate.)

@ Andy - The handwritten lyric sheet is definitely a neat souveneir. Funny how we don't have things like this in the age of digital?

@A.M. - Good point on the GD releases. Thanks.

At 8/16/2016 12:54:00 PM, Blogger sergio falcone said...

We all want cds!

At 8/16/2016 02:12:00 PM, Blogger joseph werfelman said...

You can make a cd(CD-R) from the record
if you have the equipment. There are several companies that offer built in turntable CD player with the ability to record
an LP in to a CD-R.

At 8/16/2016 03:17:00 PM, Blogger andrea1bianco said...

I want cds. I have already the vinyl albums. And please, Neil, release unreleased stuff from the 70's.
So Tired.

At 8/16/2016 04:24:00 PM, Blogger Pabst said...

I bought an original used TFA LP at Waterloo Records in Austin for $9 a few years ago (before the 4 LP set was announced). The sleeve is a bit beat up, but everything else is there and the vinyl is pristine.

You can get them for as cheap as $5 + shipping:

I guess what I'm saying is... TFA vinyl is hardly rare in 2016.

At 8/16/2016 05:48:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

For the time being, if you want a CD copy of Time Fades Away then it's 'out there' on the internet somewhere. Or you could buy the Pono version, which sounds okay, and convert it to CD.

On The Beach is the same excellent master that was released on CD over ten years ago. The original 90's CDs of Zuma and Tonight's The Night still sound fine (despite the cheapo plastic cases).

Important to note that these aren't radical remasters; and in fact, the older versions sound slightly better, at times, presumably due to the masters then being in better condition. For instance, there is some distortion/tape flutter on the remaster of Cortez that is not present on the original CD version.

As Neil himself would tell you: when you keep re-redoing things, there comes a time when you start making it worse, rather than better.


At 8/16/2016 06:02:00 PM, Blogger John said...

I bought an original TFA for about €25 on eBay about 10 years ago. Great condition, still had the insert and sounds perfect.

Don't really see the point of a CD reissue at this stage. The songs are available digitally online and you can snag an LP (original or reissue) easily enough for the sleeve if you need it.

At 8/16/2016 09:01:00 PM, Blogger John Tewks said...

OK I listen to vinyl as much as possible and have really really nice original copies of the 4 ditch records which are definitely some of my favourite NY output ever, and also expensive box set of them from a year or two ago but I can't decide which ones to 'preserve' and which to listen to! Any opinions on that! I do regret signing the TFA petition years ago. I'm now of the opinion that it should be forever available only on analog! Totally worth buying a super nice turntable just for that one record.

At 8/17/2016 01:23:00 AM, Blogger RichieCruz said...

I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I think Time Fades Away is mediocre at best, its mythical status covers the fact that it's really not that good.

The title track is fun, and "Don't Be Denied" is a legitimate classic, but the rest? Sorry, but as I've gotten older, it just grates on me. Neil was miserable on this tour, playing crappy guitar on a crappy Flying V. The Stray Gators were stiff as boards, and Crosby/Nash weren't helping things.

I think there's a pretty good reason why Neil finally released stuff like On The Beach, but still held off on this one for so long. I just think that deep down Neil doesn't think much of this record, and I gotta agree with him.

At 8/17/2016 05:44:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

An interesting slant on this record - I guess it's status has been maintained due to it's lack of availability - when compared with Are You Passionate, Le Noise, Monsanto, Earth, Broken Arrow & some of the other poor records of the last 15 years TFA is on a different level. It's a rambling shambolic Neil at his best when he had focus and the songs.

At 8/17/2016 07:56:00 AM, Blogger Pocahontas said...

I think TFA has a tinny sound, I guess from the original recording, but I do love the songs and it has a nice flow. I listen to it at work when doing data entry. It's not too melancholy and not to electric so it's perfect background music.

At 8/18/2016 08:21:00 PM, Blogger joseph werfelman said...

Why does everyone rip Le Noise?
Love and War and peaceful valley Blvd
Vintage Neil. Much better record than TFA
which yes have very tinny murky sound

At 8/19/2016 04:30:00 AM, Blogger the rider said...

LA, love in mind, don't be denied

At 8/19/2016 04:27:00 PM, Blogger (D.) Ian Kertis said...

On the Beach is my favorite "ditch" record, particularly side 2, and particularly the title song and Motion Pictures).Also, See the Sky About to Rain is incredibly overlooked in my opinion. Even so, Time Fades Away, which I have a good second hand vinyl LP of, has definite moments for me: Journey Through the Past, The Bridge, and Love in Mind are beautiful acoustic tracks. I've always liked the urgency and attitude of Yonder Stands the Sinner. I do think TFA has attained a mythical/legendary status partly due to its lack of consistent availability over the years, and it's possible that the reputation would be impossible for any album to live up to for some people. Nonetheless I'm glad to hear it's being made more widely available. I love vinyl myself and in any event, I think a petition to release anything on CD is a little out of date. Indeed, Neil may be choosing now to rerelease TFA on formats other than CD because CDs are finally becoming obsolete and he feels that the current formats, including both his Pono system and the resurgent vinyl, are the best showcase for the album.

@Joseph Werefelman: Good point about Le Noise. I'd have thought Fork in the Road would be a much likelier target, recalling the virtual rioting that took shape on this very blog back in 2009.

For most of the less-loved albums, I could point out at least a couple of worthy tracks. I'll probably go to my grave defending Are You Passionate?, which I find a really interesting experiment with soul and Motown sounds. A while ago, I called She's a Healer as soul-grunge, a description I still adhere to, and could point out a handful of others: the title number, Two Old Friends, Mr. Disappointment, Differently, and course, the Crazy Horse interlude Goin' Home, complete with Ralph Molina's impression of Native American battle drums. Add in a couple of highly textured numbers that seem tailor-made for lovemaking (When I Hold You in My Arms, Quit) and Be With You, a shot of soul almost straight out of Sam & Dave territory, with just the right seasoning of gospel to fit an album that I'm sure is partly Neil's ode to the legacy of African American musicians on popular music of the last century, and there's an album that covers an impressive breadth of feelings and themes.

I admit, I wish APY? weren't so overshadowed by Let's Roll. The song was likely an instantaneous response to events (particularly the tragedy of Flight 93) at the time, but understandably leaves mixed impressions years later in a world that is not only post-9/11, but also post-Iraq invasion and still deeply entangled in the Mideast. However, NY's performance of "Imagine" at a 9/11 benefit show, not to mention Greendale and the 2006 CSN+Y Freedom of Speech US tour, should reaffirm that our Neil's heart is in the right place. I like to think that the anguish of Are You Passionate? (the song) and the earnest peace-seeking of Two Old Friends are more nuanced, temperate counterpoints to the bombast and bellicosity of Let's Roll. It could even be that the specter of 9/11, as presented directly through Let's Roll, is part of what gives AYP? (the album) emotional thrust. It shows how harrowing things can get "in a world that never stops turning on you", and lends deep credence to the central, urgent insistence that "We've got hold onto something in this life".

It's really a shame that AYP? is often dismissed as A) Another simple genre exercise and B) A series of repetitive, sappy love songs interrupted by a brief outburst of uncharacteristic flag-waving, when it may actually be one of Neil Young's most emotionally honest and unrestrained albums since the psychological depths of the Ditch era this thread is celebration, while still managing to be a (mostly) entertaining and even fun tribute to the sounds of '60s soul.

At 8/20/2016 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

So does this mean that there isn't going to be a remastered CD reissue of these albums - just vinyl reissues? I don't want to pay upwards of $25 for albums I already have on vinyl. I want remastered CD's with all the original artwork intact, kind of like he did with his 1st 4 albums when he issued them on CD about 10 or so years ago.

At 8/20/2016 05:20:00 PM, Blogger rkennke said...

I find this whole discussion about hires audio formats rather religious than anything else. Sure you get tons more information in 192KHz/24bits depth, but IMO it's all useless. It's pretty much proven that humans cannot hear anything beyond 20-22Khz. Most people fail to hear anything around 15Khz already. Try it out yourself. As per the Nyquist theorem (, a sampling freq of 44Khz is about perfect. Hence the 44Khz of regular CDs. Remains the discussion about dynamic depth of 16 bits. This could be debated, but I haven't heard of a single double-blind study yet that conclusively proves it makes a difference to anybody.

I believe the notion of CD quality being inferior stems from badly mastered CDs. Back in the 80s and into the 90s, equipment for CD mastering and engineering experience hasn't been as good as it is now. We really got lots of badly mastered CDs, and Neil Young's catalogue is no exception, sadly. And we still do, nowadays CDs are often mastered too loud. But it's not a failure of the format, it's a failure of proper mastering. Some records are just superb (e.g. the remastered 1st 4 from Neil Young), especially in recent years, there are many excellent CD quality records out there.

As for vinyl records. I love them. But I do not love them for their superior sound quality. I love them for the improved artwork. I love them for the ritualistic putting record on the turntable, then placing the needle on the record, later, turning the record around, heck even the slightly romantic crackling of dust. Sound quality? Well... for one, the dynamic range is fairly limited on a record. The groove can give you just so much. Especially in the lower ranges, the range is so limited that records are mastered with lower frequencies turned down, and the playback equipment required to amplify it back up ( The 'sampling frequency' is fairly limited too: vinyl consists of crystals, and you just don't get infinite many crystals (e.g. samples) within a groove. Then there's the issue that 'outer grooves' have a better quality then 'inner grooves', that's because the stylus has a higher effective speed over the vinyl at the outer edge than it has at the middle (kindof like higher sampling frequency). That's one of the reasons why often you find quieter songs at the end of one LP side. A well mastered LP will leave a lot of empty space in the middle for that reason. There are some terrible LPs (take NYs Freedom) that squeeze 30minutes+ on each side. Modern well mastered LPs only take up 12-20 minutes per side. And real hi-fidelity pressings even come in 45rpm (as some of Radiohead's records do, for example). LPs are really not that great, sound-quality wise.

I hope that Neil makes up his mind and re-releases TFA, TTN and Zuma (On The Beach is fine as it is) on CD. It's still the most common format, even though declining, and no, neither MP3 nor PONO is for me. LP with CD quality download seems ok. (Will the re-releases come with such download option?) In the meantime, find the pulled TFA HDCD master from the 90s out there.. it's great (better than any LP rip).


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