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Friday, March 05, 2021

"Toast" - A Roadstory: Neil Young Shares Thoughts on Unreleased 2001 Album

by Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse
 “It's got everything that the best Crazy Horse albums have had.” - Neil


In February, we attempted to calculate  Neil Young's upcoming releases (see on Expecting to Calculate Neil Young 2021: Numbers Add Up To Nothin') and mentioned the album "Toast" with Crazy Horse.

Back in 2008, we posted here on TW that:

 ""Toast" is named after a defunct recording studio. "Toast" is "perhaps one of the most under-estimated and deceptive Crazy Horse records of all time, with many songs originally discarded, and then re-recorded with Booker T. and the MGs."

On today's Roadstories | Contrarian-Times | NYA, Neil Young shares his thoughts on the unreleased album "Toast" with Crazy Horse.  As a comment by Dionys summarizes:

"Obviously this is not about some lost album of the 70’s a la "Homegrown". The Roadstory shines an unexpected and dazzling light on the difficulties to maintain one’s autonomy as an artist."

From Roadstories | Contrarian-Times | NYA by Neil Young:

Toast is an album that stands on its own in my collection. 

Unlike any other, Toast was so sad that I couldn’t put it out. I just skipped it and went on to do another album in its place. I couldn’t handle it at that time. 2001.

John Coltrane, one of my heroes, made some music at ‘Toast’ studio back in the day. It may have been called ‘Coast’ then, but maybe not. The name changed a few times back and forth. It was on Mission in SF. The back door opened onto an alley. It was so stuffy in there that we left the door open until one day we saw rats coming in and out. After that, we just went outside for a smoke.

The music of Toast is about a relationship. There is a time in many relationships that go bad, a time long before the break up, where it dawns on one of the people, maybe both, that it’s over. This was that time.

The sound is murky and dark, but not in a bad way. Fat. From the first note, you can feel the sadness that permeates the recording. That song, with its refrain, ”Don’t say you love me”, is called ‘Quit’. The next one, sort of like a Deep Purple hit, is called ‘Standing in the Light’. “I don’t wanna to get personal, or have you put me on the spot” is the opening line. Followed by ‘Goin Home’, these songs paint a landscape where time doesn’t matter - because everything is going south. A lady is lost in her car. The dark city surrounds her - past present and future. It’s a scary place. You be the judge.

Then the scene changes to a religious guy who just lost his job. He’s turning on Jesus. He can’t cut any more trees. He’s a logger. Finally, The ‘Gateway of Love’ beckons with “background noise on a changing sky”. I had forgotten about these songs, put them out of my mind and went on living my life.

It must be said that here Crazy Horse shows a depth never seen or heard before. The greatest group I have ever met. This is a pinnacle. Where they let me go, where they took me, was unbelievable. I couldn’t stay. Then, “I’d like to shake your hand, Mr. Disappointment.” I see you now eye to eye. Murky and dark. There’s no mistaking it. How can you be so real and intangible? 

So we continued on down on the path. “She’s a healer”. But not this time. 

It’s Toast.

Are You Passionate? - 2002
by Neil Young w/ Booker T & M.G.’s


Recall, Neil Young discussed the release of the record with “Rolling Stone” in 2008:

“Toast is done. 

It's an amazing listening experience. It was recorded in 5.1. It's a mind blowing record, and I don't think it's a commercial record, but it's great rock and roll, very moody, kind of jazzy. It was recorded in the same place where Coltrane was recorded, so there's a lot of heavy stuff in there. All of the live ambience for everything was all recorded, so the whole thing has got a massive sound about it. I want to have a premier of it that's in a large art gallery with speakers in all four corners of the room, and huge speakers and really spend some time on the acoustics of the room, so you could have two or three hundred people in there that are in the middle of the sweet spot listening to this thing all around. 

So you came to a real listening experience that you wouldn't be able to get in any other location than right there.”

So "Toast" is a long time coming while sitting on the sidelines always overtaken by other releases.

Also, see Whatever happened to... “Toast” by Neil Young & Crazy Horse? 

Also, see ‘Are You Passionate?’ Turns 10 Years Old and Neil Young's Album of the Week: 'Are You Passionate?' + Defending AYP?

'Are You Passionate?' by Neil Young w/ Booker T & M.G.’s
NYA Album of the Week - Friday, December 13, 2019

Labels: , ,


At 3/05/2021 07:25:00 PM, Blogger Old Black said...

Release it Neil, release it. This sounds like the kind of album I'd love. Tension. Loss. Gravitas. With the horse being skittish, unpredictable, dangerous, and kicking at the stable doors....

a Deep Purple hit? there weren't many! They were my band as a a curve ball if anyone only thinks of "smoke on the water" then listen to the "Fireball" album, very rewarding but understated, ....and although I'm a huge Blackmore fan the solo albums by his replacement when he quit to form Rainbow, "Teaser" and "Private Eyes" by the late, great, Tommy Bolin are exceptional....

Stay safe!

At 3/05/2021 07:34:00 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Well it’s a step closer seeing the actual album artwork

As much as I’ve loved all the NYA releases from the 70s - I’m really looking forward to more from the late 80s-00s
Bluenote cafe, Rust Bucket, Return to greendale, and Dreamin Man have all been essential releases so far
The Neil w/ Pearl Jam live album, freedom live, toast and alchemy can’t come soon enough! Have I forgot any? Would love some live sleeps with Angels - crazy horse played an acoustic bridge school set covering that album - not sure they played that stuff many other times?
Great news to see Arc is getting a vinyl release, a triple LP weld may lead me to an upgrade from the 2LP pressing (weld DVD is coming too - hope they keep all those insane crowd cutaway shots!!!) - 3LP ragged glory too!! Wow - another expensive year ahead

At 3/05/2021 07:47:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

wow - were things already going south with Pegi that far back?

no one seems to know

At 3/05/2021 08:23:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Many thanks to Neil for this tantalizing description. With greatest respect to Dionys, I second Old Black’s motion for a release. I never expected another Homegrown, Chrome Dreams, etc. I’m not looking for perfection, revolution, or Revelation. I just am particularly fascinated by this period of Neil’s (and the Horse’s) career—Toast sounds like something of a lost link between SWA, AYP?, and the latter day Horse outings.

AYP? has long commanded attention from me, despite (or because?) of its idiosyncrasies and drawbacks. I think that’s partly because the same darkness, sadness, uneasy melancholy that Neil associates with Toast remains latent in AYP? as we know it. It’s somewhat oblique in the title track and others, but themes of losing love, regrets, and yearnings run through the set, albeit a bit camouflaged by the polish and swing of the MGs. A long time ago, I gave She’s a Healer the designation of “soul grunge”. I meant it as a compliment and I stand by that assessment.

That being said, I can understand why it wasn’t the first thing on Pancho’s mind when asked by RS about the Horse vaults. The sessions were probably not the happiest memories. Then again, look at TtN or SWA—sometimes, potent art comes out of pain. SWA may be my favorite post-Rust Neil, so clearly I appreciate the “sad” records. At their best, I find they can be incredibly cathartic.

I’ll just say that my feeling on Toast is more about curiosity than expectation and leave it at that.

At 3/06/2021 12:53:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

This is very intriguing! I am looking forward to hearing this quite a lot. I think Neil will release this one on Blu ray audio. I like “AYP?” more than most fans; I can’t wait to hear the Horse do original versions. Alan in Seattle

At 3/06/2021 01:07:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

For whatever reason I never loved SWA as much as most of the other Horse albums. I do like the song Trans Am, and change your Mind. Part of my lack of love for the album was that I am a Gen Xer and Kurt Cobain’s death hit me pretty hard, as did Chris Cornell’s death. I love a lot of Neil’s melancholy music but SWA never took me away like so many of the other albums do. To me, Psychedelic Pill is a million times more accessible and fun than SWA. I love Ramada Inn, the short songs, the long songs. There are a couple of rockers and Light a Candle on FITR that elevate it above SWA for me. But, we get to have it all. And usually My affection for each album grows over time. “There’s no accounting for taste.” Alan in Seattle

At 3/06/2021 03:05:00 AM, Blogger hippiedream said...

RIP Kurt. Your comment reminded me of my question to Neil last year.

At 3/06/2021 03:09:00 AM, Blogger hippiedream said...

... “There’s no accounting for taste.” interesting quote. ;)

At 3/06/2021 05:26:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Neil Young fans, Poncho fans and Steve Earle fans should all have a look at the link below:

9PM, Eastern Time.


At 3/06/2021 06:23:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

With regards to „Toast“ I used to believe that Neil Young did not release it because he was not content with the outcome, how Crazy Horse performed in the studio or something like that and that’s the reason why he turned to Booker T. & the MGs and re-recorded some of these songs for AYP. So I somewhat took the line “my life’s an open book, you read it on the radio” a little too literally. Neil Young’s description of “Toast” just reminded me of a phase of my own marriage and I compared the situations. If I had come to similar conclusions had I been ready to go public with them at the time, even in artistic form? And, as an ever grateful fan, who always wants to know, I am torn between my nosiness and the respect for human beings with their own load left to hoe. So when the stage props suddenly are removed as is the case with that “tantalizing description” I always find myself somehow in the wrong, very much like I did back after that concert billed as “Live Rust ‘82” on the European tour when I had absolutely no clue what that computer & vocoder thing was about. Of course I want to see / hear “Toast” released and I agree there is nothing wrong with “just asking” per se. But still I would feel like an emotional trespasser now if I did.

At 3/06/2021 06:35:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

Addendum: "sooner or later it all gets real"

At 3/06/2021 10:00:00 AM, Blogger mrtew said...

I love Are You Passionate (except for the album cover) even thought it's not really my type of music. I'd love to hear Toast with Crazy Horse rocking it up a little. It'd be a lot better than ANOTHER collection of the same old songs. That new Archives 2 release is ridiculous. How many copies of On The Beach do we really need? The first one was perfect. I just bought The Roxy album... do I want another copy? Maybe he could at least do a single disc vinyl release of the good new stuff that we haven't heard a hundred times before (especially Barefoot Floors). That's something I'd like to actually buy. Or at least have a playlist on the website so I won't have to scroll up and down that damned file cabinet technology looking for it.

At 3/06/2021 11:00:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@!!!!!!! : As for the DVD of Weld, Neil has spoken about how Elliot Roberts disliked all the focus on the crowd and Neil has said he now agrees with that, so they are recutting the film to focus more on the the band for this reissued version. Personally, I have to agree with Elliot on this one too. I felt all the focus on the audience was an unnecessary distraction for the music. Extended shots of the audience felt gratuitous and unnecessary. I don’t go to concerts to watch the audience, I go to watch the band and feel the music.

As for Toast... I am extremely grateful that Neil is considering releasing this record. Are You Passionate has some real gems but the sequencing tended to feel disjointed, although I still do like the record. These recordings Neil has set aside due to personal reasons tend to be the real extraordinary ones. Homegrown is a remarkable example of that. It was just too personal at the time, so he shelved it. After he released Time Fades Away was disappointed that he did as he thought it wasn’t a good record, yet most Neil fans adore that album, myself included. It sounds like Toast was even more uncomfortable for him than Homegrown, which tells me that this release may be one for the ages.

Time will tell.

Peace 🙏

At 3/06/2021 01:26:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@All, very good insights here! I did not mean to single Dionys out in any way. I think Thrasher may have made more out of Dionys' comments than was intended. That said, many artists tend to be "over-sharers", or at least relatively uninhibited about expressing themselves through their work. Much like Homegrown, Toast may have been "too much" at the time, but my broad reading of Neil's comments is that, in the end, he wants to share it. If I detected greater reluctance, I might very well adjust my tone for sensitivity. On the other hand, it's difficult to imagine anything more unvarnished or soul-bearing than SWA, Homegrown, or the Ditch albums. I feel many of us are used to be experiencing a full spectrum of emotional territories with and through Neil's music. We shouldn't take it all for granted, of course, but it does seem to have become a way of life--for Ny and for many of us.

As an aside, I was unaware or had forgotten the Toast/Coast connection with John Coltrane. As far as I'm concerned, anything inspired by Coltrane is probably worth hearing. Interesting that, with AYP?, Neil ultimately went instead for the soul/rhythm and blues idiom, the common thread being the white rocker's heartfelt tribute to the deep well of black sounds that flows through the soil (and soul) of American popular music.

At 3/06/2021 02:05:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

No, no, I didn’t feel singled out. It’s more that I have a question for orientation and I think Ian answered it. I came to the conclusion that my thoughts are too European bleeding heart complicated in the analysis of rock’n’roll communication, this being a nice little projection that I’ve found with me. Not knowing the details, I assumed and adapted an intra-role conflict between private real NY and the rockstar corporate entity NY that today obviously doesn’t exist (anymore). At the same time it appears to be a cultural thing, too. Someone being an “oversharer” does not necessarily mean to me, that I have to take that person by his or her words, especially when relationships are involved. I just want to be one of the cautious horses and not a David Crosby.

At 3/06/2021 11:18:00 PM, Blogger Setz said...

I frequent here often but comment seldom, cause it just doesn't flow out in type as it feels. But I can't get past the short time frame between two of Neil's albums that could maybe be the least received at release but maybe the most coherent stories he has told. It seems clear that AYP came from deep places of love and changes within it. Tours with CSNY in between, which always has had ups and downs, then Greendale comes to light. If your a forward person, who wouldn't want to turn up the light? Greendale shows happiness, love of family and community around the dark shadows we all deal with every day. So I wonder if there would be Greendale without AYP? Now that we've had twenty more years of our own light and shadows, does this art become more relevant?

At 3/06/2021 11:53:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

I am kicking myself right now for missing this! Thanks for giving me fair warning. I was on the road and missed it. The snippet I saw made it look fantastic. I love Steve Earle as well. Maybe I can find it on YouTube. I’d like to see a transcription too! Thanks again. Alan in Seattle

At 3/06/2021 11:56:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Cool! Thanks! I will need to revisit that album and reassess! Alan in Seattle

At 3/07/2021 02:50:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Good question! I enjoy no homework more than this kind.

At 3/07/2021 12:11:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

@Setz - that is a thought-provoking comment for sure...thank you...what an absolutely amazing time to be a Neil Young fan(atic)...just wow

At 3/07/2021 09:36:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Schopenhauer said that all art is an effort at truth and so all art must be about pain

At 3/08/2021 05:48:00 AM, Blogger mrtew said...

Wow Schopenhauer must have been in a lot of pain if he thought pain is the only truth deserving of artistic effort. Bummer.

At 3/08/2021 08:12:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

ha ha ha, mr.tew, good point, and sorry, not just pain but at least pain and pain should be understood in the broad sense. In other words, pain will always show up in any endeavor to represent the human condition.

At 3/08/2021 01:13:00 PM, Blogger Hbheel said...

Toast sounds a lot like Sleeps with Angels!!!!!

At 3/08/2021 04:49:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Well, I would say that SWA must be very different than Toast and AYP? Because SWA is partially about a young music icon who blew his brains out with a shotgun while overdosing on Heroin.

At 3/08/2021 07:36:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

In my opinion, and I could be wrong since I am wasn’t there at the time, SWA is as much about the tragedy of Kurt Cobain as AYP? is about 9/11. In other words, the event had a heavy impact on how the project turned out, but most of the content is not directly related and much of it was already in place beforehand.

I suspect the other poster was referring to the sound and overall feeling of the albums in question. Thinking of say, the subtle jazz undertones of Safeway Cart or the moody noise of Blue Eden, the ambiance Neil ascribes to Toast seems not entirely dissimilar. Aside from memories or fuzzy fan films of the ‘01 Horse tour (the one where Poncho said everything sounded Latin), the only direct evidence we currently have for the sound of Toast is Goin’ Home as transposed onto AYP? I can hear a passing resemblance to SWA’s title track, though the subject matter is obviously different. I’m sure Toast is distinct from SWA and vice versa, but it would make sense if some of the Horse sound developed between SWA and YOH carried over in some form to these sessions.

Finally, I would say that although it’s probably not possible to dissociate SWA from Cobain once that emotional connection is established, I do think it’s theoretically possible that, if you could find someone who had never heard of Kurt Cobain, they could still listen to SWA and get a lot out of it; likewise for AYP? if perchance we could play it for aliens with no knowledge of 9/11. “ ‘It’s but it’s good’, like any other primitive would.”

At 3/09/2021 07:20:00 AM, Blogger SkyandStars said...

A 5.1 release of Toast would be most welcome

At 3/09/2021 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

SWA is about something over and above what Neil Young had ever done (in my opinion). The twists and turns and the blindness of middle age? The final futility of what anyone can do in the face of life's inevitable arc? Meditations on a disintegrating culture made so much darker by the music. A disturbing and righteous attack on sentimentality (which destroys art). Here Neil Young is directly confronting mortality, finitude, and the contingency of life beyond the boundaries of sorrow and misgivings. Unlike Tonights the Night or On the Beach, SWA has no residual or youthful wallowing and mordant lyricism. This is controlled and mature confrontation. The very fact that human beings can do something like this is what holds futility at bay. The only hope is that we can change in the right ways.

At 4/07/2021 01:04:00 PM, Blogger Oakdaddy said...

Perhaps issue it secretly in the guise of an unlicensed bootleg. Who can resist forbidden fruit? It might go straight to the top!


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