Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Neil Young's TRANS Mixes: "I Need A Unit to Sample and Hold"

Neil Young's TRANS - LincVolt Edition
 (See Neil Young's LincVolt: Out of the Sunset)

Here's something from the TW mailbag that we'll put out to the Grains community for feedback.

Hi Thrasher,

I've noticed a couple of things recently: 

1. (Significant) parts of the Neil Young catalogue seem to be back on streaming platforms (I use TIDAL, cannot really say about Spotify & Co). Not everything, though. A few weeks ago, only the Geffen-era albums have been on TIDAL, apparently because Neil did not like streaming platform's quality. However, TIDAL has always supported high-res formats, too, and recently switched to CD quality even in their lowest-tier offer, so maybe it's that.

2. What I find more interesting is that a different mix of TRANS has appeared on TIDAL, too. In fact, this is the original LP mix. The most notable difference is in Sample&Hold (much shorter and more Crazy-Horse'y), but there are other differences all over the place, too. What strikes me is that I cannot seem to find any information online about why there are two different mixes of TRANS to begin with, or that they even exist. Even NYA doesn't mention it and only features the CD mix. Do you (or your readers) know anything about it?



ps - Actually, the changes seem more likely related to NY's recent transfer of some of his catalogue to Universal Records. I would still be interested in insights about the TRANS mixes.

Thanks for writing Roman.  We did see on NYA that Neil plans to make Trans and other Geffen years albums available in high resolution audio on NYA: “We have finalized our agreement with Universal regarding the Geffen albums. And those albums and tracks will be available on NYA right after the new year.”

Otherwise, we really don't have any ideas about these TRANS mixes.  But likely someone out there in the Grains community might be able to drop a comment below.

Neil Young - TRANS (1982)
Cropped Album Cover


  1. I think the version on Tidal is the original version from Trans, while the mix on NYA is from the Lucky Thirteen album.

  2. It's not only the titles that are on Lucky Thirteen that are different (in-fact, my Lucky Thirteen seems to have the same mixes as my Trans CD), but others too: E.g. Sample&Hold is 5:14 (vs 8:06 on NYA) and quite different mixes overall (the short one starts with guitar only, then builds up, while the long one starts with drums and all, Like an Inca is 8:12 vs 9:46 on NYA - the short mix seems to fade where the long mix has another verse, but is otherwise similar. Most other titles seem to be similar, except maybe some slight variations in the fading.

    When I posted the original question TIDAL had both versions of the album, I just checked again, and now they only seem to have the one with shorter mixes (the other one is still on NYA).

    I've just checked the LP and CDs that I have, my CD seems to match what is on NYA and the LP seems to match what is on TIDAL. My L13 has the long S&H (same as my CD). All versions of Transformer Man have the little drum intro, except for the Lucky Thirteen version, which jumps right into the the song. Also, the labels both on the LP and the CD are wrong: the LP lists LaI as the long one, but is really the short mix. The CD has short running times printed for both S&H and LaI, but really has the long mixes.

  3. Listening to the different versions side by side reveals more subtle differences too: for example, Transformer Man has similar running length on both versions, but one has an almost inaudible hi-hat, while the other has it mixed quite to the front, the voices are different too, etc. I believe other songs also have such subtle differences.

  4. I have an old promo single with, I believe, two mixes of Sample & Hold… I would have to dig it out and check details… Extended or dance mixes for 12” flexi (or maxi)discs were coming in around this time. I don’t know any further details but this could be part of the reason for different mixes floating around.

    Trans is a fascinating, only partly realized project. I’m not sure the decision to turn it into a patchwork with “Island in the Sun” tracks benefits the vocoder or non-vocoder songs, and the decision to include a Mr. Soul redux runs the risk of the whole thing feeling like a cheap novelty gimmick (which it wasn’t). Hopefully NYA will curate the whole thing in context at some point.

  5. @ Roman - thanks again for bringing up this issue on TRANS mixes.

    Lucky 13 is pretty obscure for many Neil fans, we'd say. It seems that issues w/ Geffen releases have been a challenge for NYA in terms of rights, etc.

    But we recall hearing that some breakthrough on Geffen catalog had been reached.

    Hopefully, all will be revealed ...

  6. @ Ian/MR - In deed, Trans is a fascinating. We're really looking fwd to the animation video that Micah Nelson has been working on for sometime.

  7. The Trans Band Euro tour was my first live Neil and I just love this album, even though I agree Ian that it's a pity he didn't keep with the vocoder/electronica vibe all the way through. The Neil/Nils electro-guitar duels on that tour are just fabulous.

    AND I can still get into the tour t-shirt 40 years later.

    I found this list of releases elsewhere on the net, though oddly my physical CD has the timing as 5.09 printed on the disk track listing (like on the album) when it really is the extended 8:03 version.

    Sample and Hold - Trans LP 5:09 *never on cd
    Sample And Hold (extended version/mix) - Trans CD and Lucky Thirteen CD 8:03
    Sample And Hold (live version) - Live In Berlin DVD
    Sample And Hold (Dance remix) - Vinyl 12" 6:48
    Sample And Hold (Single version) - Vinyl 12" 3:54 *probably an edit of the LP version.

    Lucky 13 also has Depression Blues - one of the best Old Ways-era songs not to make it onto Old Ways itself.

    I have my own pet narrative that this is the first of a family history set of songs. The family try to get through the hard times and remain hopeful in Depression Blues, but finally succumb to financial hardship on This Old House (on America Dreams).
    Finally years later, jaded and barely surviving as a couple, they listlessly travel to Ramada Inn (Psychedelic Pill) trying to save a marriage as the booze takes hold.

    and hope you all love the Barn documentary - now on Youtube.

    Tony "Hambone" in the UK

  8. @ Hambone - Thanks on the rundown of various S&H mixes. wonder if any other Neil song has so many official release permutations?

    Ah, yes, Depression Blues. interesting pet narrative. you know, Neil's entire catalog can be hooked together into an impressive narrative arc. while it all be one song, it's a long, varied, w/ many chapters, characters and plot twists.

    Depression Blues, now that's a tune that -- unfortunately -- just never seems to become irrelevant.


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