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Saturday, January 30, 2021

‘Johnny’s Island’: Yet Another Unreleased Neil Young Album Set To Emerge | NYA

Berlin 1982 
Neil Young, Nils Lofgren & Bruce Palmer
 via Times-Contrarian | NYA

 

As the astonishing flood of unreleased Neil Young songs and albums continues unabated, yet another "lost album" is planned for release:  ‘Johnny’s Island’.

Per Neil Young on BERLIN WITH THE TRANSBAND | Times-Contrarian | NYA ‘Johnny’s Island’ is a complete album now being prepared for release.  The album includes a majority of unreleased tracks including ‘Rainin’ in Paradise,’ ‘Johnny,’ and ’Love Hotel,’ among others.

‘Johnny’s Island’ -- which has also been titled as "Island In The Sun" album -- is also expected to contain the tracks "If You Got Love", "Johnny", "Big Pearl" and "Island In The Sun".


"Neil Young in Berlin"
(VHS tape box from TW Archives)

Neil Young's film "Berlin" will be playing this weekend in Hearse Theater | NYA. "Neil Young in Berlin" (1983), directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, is with The Trans Band and filmed in concert on Oct 19, 1982 at Deutschlandhalle, West Berlin, West Germany.


"Sample & Hold"
Neil Young & Nils Lofgren

The film, which runs 60 minutes, with The Trans Band including Nils Lofgren, Bruce Palmer, Ben Keith, Ralph Molina and Joe Lala, is epic in many respects. In particular Neil Young's nearly savage and brutal destruction of Ol Black guitar is almost unbelievable.


Year 1982 - Neil Young Pulled from the Future into the Past
(Out of the Blue, Into the Black)

The concert includes:
Cinnamon Girl / Computer Age / Little Thing Called Love / Old Man / The Needle And The Damage Done / After The Gold Rush / Transformer Man / Sample And Hold / Like A Hurricane / Hey Hey, My My / Berlin


So get your popcorn!

A review comment by our dearest Scotsman ("We have a friend we've never seen, He hides his head inside a dream, Someone should call him and see if he can come out"):

It's one of those performances where, despite the challenges of a sometimes-dysfunctional band and the other pressures of a massive stadium tour, Neil gives it everything he's got. An artist fighting to make it work can sometimes be just as compelling as when it all falls together naturally.

The thing everyone remembers about this one is Neil's tie, and the performance too feels somewhat conservative: polished and professional from Neil, but lacking that edge-of-cliff sense of danger of the best tours. It just doesn't quite click.

Neil's Producer David Briggs was humorously disparaging about the Transband ("...Imagine! Ralph and a bongo player. How would you like to play with a f*!#ing bongo player? Neil knows nothing about chemistry or producing"), hitting the nail on the head in the process. The version of Like A Hurricane from Berlin is popular on Youtube (the "BEST EVER VERSION!!!", apparently), and is one of the better electric performances with this band, but what it really is is the "smooth jazz" version; the version that sounds pretty but sands off the cutting edge. 

Now, I enjoy smooth jazz as much as anybody, but when I listen to electric Neil Young I want something that also has a bit of grit to it, the sense of something excitedly brewing and breaking out from its container. The guitar tone is beautiful, the band play well, the performance is enjoyable and upbeat, but it never really takes off in the same powerful way as the great versions with Crazy Horse (see the Rust Never Sleeps film version for a particularly rewarding way to spend 10 minutes). 

The REALLY great ones, where you somehow feel both utterly invigorated and mentally drained as the guitar solo reaches its transcendent peak and ultimately crashes off the rails into a storm of octave-divided chaos. The ones that somehow sound both serenely beautiful and viciously, captivatingly dangerous at the same time. I don't think Neil's lead guitar playing gets anywhere near as much credit as it deserves.

Ralph Molina. Nils Lofgren. Bruce Palmer. Joe Lala. These are great musicians, but ones who just didn't quite gel as a combined unit. And in some cases, musicians who weren't necessarily at the height of their powers due to substance abuse. Bruce's bass is noticeably odd and inebriated, the very definition of professional smoothness one second and then veering off into the ditch the next.

The most interesting part of Berlin for me are the vocoder songs with Nils, which see Neil doing something completely new and original, the result of intense experimentation with a new expressive form. 

Trans might not make for a great live performance, but it's still an inspiring and moving work of art that is also great fun to watch.

Scotsman.



The Trans Band

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Before the Fall:
Neil Young writes "Love Is All We Need" on the Berlin Wall in 1982

 

"Tomorrow morning in old Berlin
Where they lock you out or lock you in

Won't you save me, save me, save me, save me,
Save me, save me, save me, save me,
From the final day
Save me from the final day
After Berlin."

 
More on Neil Young's TRANS album and era.  Also, see reviews and comments on Neil Young Film "Berlin" This Weekend in Hearse Theater on NYA.



Labels: , , , , ,


16 Comments:

At 1/30/2021 05:12:00 PM, Blogger Harm said...

Speaking of doing something completely original, I found a clip of Neil doing Mr. Soul at that Berlin show, an outtake that didn't even made it to the DVD but was broadcast in t.v. as some point:

https://youtu.be/e_ocu2bQiCE

Further, I find it interesting Neil is applauding Palmer for his performance in this tour when at the time he seemed less content.

 
At 1/30/2021 10:16:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Another lost album! What a great time to be a Neil Young fan! -Alan in Seattle

 
At 1/31/2021 06:42:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I saw two of the Gigs at Wembley Arena on the Trans Tour and we Loved it especially when Neil
played Like An Inca. 😊
I wish Neil would release the Berlin show complete with the songs obviously in the correct order
that they was played in.

 
At 1/31/2021 07:31:00 AM, Blogger Phil said...

One more album for 2021 ???

On a letter, he said this week Toast is virtually done and will been released asap... Including unreleased Timberline and Gateway...

And Carnegie Hall 1970 bootleg has a release date (see Surf Shack): 7 may 2021.

If you take all the informations on NYA, I have counted at least 15 albums (or DVD) for this year... Well, if we have a third of them, I will be very happy.

 
At 1/31/2021 11:06:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

I’ve always loved this film from Berlin, but I too wish It could have been the whole show. Besides the last song for both its rarity and beauty, my favorite moment is Sample and Hold. What a unique performance. Visually brilliant and audibly transcendent. The different uses of the vocoder, the body language and the choreography is just so cool. I get goosebumps every time is see it.

As for the new set of albums being announced for release this year, all I can say is, I sure hope I can afford them all, as this isn’t exactly the best year financially for so many of us, but it’s typical Neil.... feast or famine.


Peace 🙏

 
At 1/31/2021 11:25:00 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, give us the whole show NYA! I’ve always loved this show. And yes, best LAH ever!

 
At 1/31/2021 11:26:00 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, give us the whole show NYA! I’ve always loved this show. And yes, best LAH ever!

 
At 1/31/2021 11:45:00 AM, Blogger rustedbugs said...

while the syncing of the video and audio is not perfect... God I just love NILS!!!!! WHAT A WILDMAN!

 
At 1/31/2021 06:59:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

More NY woohoo

 
At 1/31/2021 08:20:00 PM, Blogger (D.) Ian Kertis; The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Great to hear this news. I had always heard of this album as “Island in the Sun”. I wonder who Johnny is? Maybe I’m overthinking things, but this album would have been conceived and produced in 1981-82, with the murder of John Lennon very fresh in the collective consciousness... other significant tribute songs came out in’82: McCartney’s “Here Today” and Elton’s heart-wrenching “Empty Garden”.... and with the 40th anniversary of the murder getting a fair amount of recognition last fall, I sense a certain synchronicity at play. We all shine on.

On the business side, does mean the lingering issues over licensing of Geffin era outtakes are resolved? Perhaps tied into the catalogue sale?

@Phil, Thanks for the note on Toast—if there’s a Holy Grail that cracks the Neil Code, this may be it for me. On a more mundane note, it’s getting hard to keep up with the announcements and rollouts from NYA. I welcome this change but can’t help noting the irony. I guess this glut of content is the price, and the reward, for all the decades of delays and rethinks the NYA concept has summarily rolled through.

 
At 1/31/2021 08:24:00 PM, Blogger (D.) Ian Kertis; The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Thrasher, Looks like mobile is working again for me. Computer Age, indeed: Here we are in the Years.

☮️🌈🕉

 
At 1/31/2021 11:41:00 PM, Blogger Lone Red Rider said...

@Ian- Johnny was shot in Texas, per one verse. So it could also be JFK. I Prefer "Island In The Sun" as a title, both aesthetically and for the reason that this is the title we all "know". Also pleased that Neil has come around to recognizing this as an unreleased album that he is willing to release in its entirety. I was under the impression that he didn't like how Love Hotel turned out. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is certainly an Archive Moment!

 
At 2/01/2021 06:33:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Wembley Arena was half empty if I recall - 'Like An Inca Was' immense

 
At 2/01/2021 11:21:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Harm - thanks on outtake of Neil doing Mr. Soul at that Berlin show,

we'll try and feature here on TW in between all the NYA news drops. As for Palmer, seems ok here for Berlin. We think issues surfaced before or after that tour.

@ Alan - and we know .... always a great time to be a Neil fan!

@ Unknown - the subject has come up full Berlin w/ standard reply of "looking into..."

@ Phil - more Toast!

@ Dan - right Nils on Sample and Hold is goosebump inducing.

@ Tom - so many amazing LAHs. Top 10 for sure.
But this seems to be consensus best all time LAH:

Neil Young and Crazy Horse's setlist at the World Music Theatre in Tinley Park (Chicago), Illinois on the HORDE Festival tour on August 3rd, 1997 has been called "The Unforgettable Concert".
http://neilyoungnews.thrasherswheat.org/2019/08/video-unforgettable-concert-horde.html

Neil & Horse conjured up a full on Cat5 hurricane that night. However, this has occurred multiple times before.

@ rustedbugs - THE WILDMAN!

@ Meta Rocker - good question on who is Johnny?

Somehow we think of Still's Johnny's Garden. Maybe Johnny's Garden is on Johnny's Island?


On the business side, maybe so on licensing of Geffen releases?

still awaiting followon analysis of deal, but details are sparse to non-existent.
ps- good to see comments working again for you. Always appreciate your thoughts here @ TW. Did you change anything?

@ LRR - hmmm, see above. good catch tho on "Johnny was shot in Texas" verse.

a murder most foul ...

@ Andy - how immense, if you recall?

 
At 2/01/2021 11:41:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

In those days you had no idea what Neil was up to or even the band line up. He had that green jacket on went straight into 'On The Way Home' then I saw Nils Lofgren for the next song 'Computer Age' - Bruce Palmer was on bass. Like An Inca premiered I recall if was half empty we went to every show.

 
At 2/02/2021 01:58:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Andy Walters : It’s awesome you went to every show! My first Neil Young concert was supposed to be this tour but Neil got sick and the show was canceled. I still have the poster promoting the show, its framed and hanging on the wall. I would have loved to have seen it once, but every show, wow you are a lucky man my friend.

Peace 🙏

 

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