Sunday, June 15, 2014

Neil Young - Chrome Dreams

Neil Young – Chrome Dreams

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

Side A:

1.  Pocahontas
2.  Will To Love
3.  Star of Bethlehem
4.  Like A Hurricane
5.  Too Far Gone

Side B:
6.  Hold Back The Tears
7.  Homegrown
8.  Captain Kennedy
9.  Stringman
10.  Sedan Delivery
11.  Powderfinger
12.  Look Out For My Love

By overwhelming request, this is a reconstruction of the famous unreleased 1977 Neil Young album Chrome Dreams.  Originally compiled from material recorded between 1974-1977 and slated for a release after an acetate was allegedly compiled, Young withdrew the album and restructured it into American Stars ‘n Bars.  This reconstruction collects all the best possible source tapes into the sequence generally accepted as being Chrome Dreams.   It is banded as a cohesive album and attempts were made to create a large dynamic range between the acoustic Young songs and the full-band Crazy Horse songs.   While my reconstruction isn’t necessarily anything that hasn’t been heard before, it attempts to be as close to a finished album as possible with the best possible soundquality, an improvement on circulating bootlegs.

Ups and downs and an epic back-catalog of recordings were Neil Young’s modus operandi throughout the 1970s, the true seeds of what would eventually become—and then not become—Chrome Dreams.  So epic in fact, that Young simultaneously worked on different albums and collections of songs thought the mid 70s, in as much as cultivating numerous projects that either never materialized or were shifted into something else, often completely unrelated to each other.  After his triumphant success with 1972’s Harvest, Young attempted to undo the very success he initially strived to reach by recording his “Ditch Trilogy”—the more challenging Time Fades Away, On The Beach and Tonight’s The Night albums—partially instigated by the death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten.  As well as “The Ditch Trilogy” albums, Young also composed a set of ‘Water Songs’ meant as a concept album about, well, water, which was never realized and the songs scattered to other projects.

Aside from those three albums and abandoned concept, Young also offered a slew of originals for the reformed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album Human Highway which never materialized either (but of which this blog has already tackled).  And still aside from those five projects Young also recorded an entire folk/country album concerning his separation from his wife Carrie Snodgrass, entitled Homegrown.  That project nearly saw the light of day as the second album of the ‘Ditch Trilogy’, but Young scrapped the more somber and painful Homegrown for the more raw and immediate Tonight’s The Night (which the label put on hold making it the third album of the Trilogy).  Young’s classic 1975 album ZUMA collected some of the scattered leftovers from the six mid-70s projects, following it with a duet album with Stephen Stills, 1976’s Long May You Run.

Finally bringing us to Young’s next project in 1977, it was to be a hodge-podge of new material and leftovers that dated back to the unreleased Homegrown album.  Titled Chrome Dreams, it was to be a fairly schizophrenic record, jumping from Nashville country-rock, solo acoustic folk and full-blown Crazy Horse rock anthems, all tracks simply culled from his personal vaults, recorded between 1974-1977.  The few that have heard Chrome Dreams commented that it could have been one of his strongest albums of the 1970s.  But for reasons unknown to this day, Young scrapped the album and recorded a completely different set of forgettable songs as the meat of American Stars n Bars, which was released in Chrome Dreams’ place in 1977.  While this completely new set of mediocre songs occupied all of side A, four of the original songs slated for Chrome Dreams found its way onto side B, giving the second half of the album a hint at the greatness Chrome Dreams could have been.

A few of the Chrome Dreams songs—“Pocahontas”, “Sedan Delivery” and “Powderfinger”—were re-recorded for Young’s triumphant finale of the 1970s, Rust Never Sleeps.  Aside from a few more trickling out over time and mediocre follow-up albums, Chrome Dreams was never a shared dream with anyone outside Young’s inner circle.  Its reputation grew over time, accumulating to an officially released sequel in 2007, Chrome Dreams II, a completely new set of songs by a Neil Young not without a sense of humor.  Luckily a few acetates of the original tracks have leaked out into the bootleg market as well as an alleged copy of the album’s tapebox (although denied as being accurate by some close to Neil, but never necessarily confirmed).  With all of the material existing either on bootlegs or the original 1970s albums, we will be able to reconstruct one of the great Neil Young albums that never were.

Side A begins with the original acoustic version of “Pocahontas”.  While the official version on the Rust Never Sleeps album features subtle overdubs, this is the unadorned version found on the bootleg Chrome Dreams “GF Rust Edition”.  Following are three songs all taken from the album versions of American Stars n Bars: the eerie and ethereal “Will To Love”; “Star of Bethlehem”, a track salvaged from the Homegrown album; and the epic “Like A Hurricane” which became a hit for Neil Young.  “Too Far Gone” releases the tension built up from the hurricane blast, this being the original unreleased version taken from the Black Label bootleg of Chrome Dreams rather than the re-recoded version from 1989’s Freedom.

The longer Side B starts with “Hold Back The Tears”, which was re-recorded for American Stars n Bars; presented here is the original acoustic version taken from the GF Rust bootleg.  "Homegrown" from American Stars n bars is next, a re-recording of the allegedly acoustic title track from the unreleased Homegrown album.  My personal favorite “Captain Kennedy” is an alternate unreleased mix as compared to the version from Hawks & Doves,  also taken from the GF Rust bootleg.  I used it here as it is in true stereo and matches the mixing of the other acoustic songs on the album, probably sourced from the same tape.  My own remaster of “Stringman” from the GF Rust bootleg creates a smoother intro to the song which was otherwise too loud, a track eventually re-recorded for Young’s 1993 Unplugged performance.  The unreleased original studio versions of “Sedan Delivery” and “Powderfinger” follows, taken from the GF Rust bootleg.  Closing the album out is the official album mix of “Look Out For My Love” from Comes A Time.

The last task of our reconstructed Chrome Dreams is an original artwork by LCM, representing the original conceptual artwork for the album: an anthropomorphic grill of a 1955 Chrysler as “a beautiful chick”.  When set alongside Young’s 1970s discography, Chrome Dreams shines brilliantly over its own dull replacement American Stars n Bars, and can fend its own against Young classics ZUMA and Rust Never Sleeps.  According to the man himself, a reconstruction of Chrome Dreams (as well as Homegrown) will appear on Archives Volume II, set to be released later in 2014… allegedly anyways, knowing the vast length and improbability of ‘Neil Young-time’.  Until then, we can only dream.

Sources used:

American Stars n Bars (2003 Reprise CD remaster)
Chrome Dreams (bootleg, 1993 Black Label)
Chrome Dreams (bootleg, 2008 Godfather Records)
Comes A Time (1988 original CD master)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR, Goldwave and Audacity --> flac encoding via TLH lv8

*md5, artwork and tracknotes included


  1. Thanks soniclovenoize,
    I have many versions of this unreleased NY album. While there can't be an "official version" until Neil releases one, I'll enjoy yours because of the time you take to edit, sequence and level out the volumes.

    Thanks for all you do Buddy!

  2. Thank you, great compilation!

  3. thank you for this but im taking exception to your statement on ASB being dull. Side 1 is hardly dull its a hoot Clearly Neil is having a great time and no longer angry as shown on the doom trilogy.The mix on my original vinyl copy just jumps the fiddle is so up in the least thats my opinion

  4. Thanks a lot.Great story also.Will be an pleasure to listen.

  5. Could you try doing a construction of the "Lost" 4th Iggy & The Stooges album (1974) ? For reference you could use:

    as well as these releases: "Night Of Destruction", "Heavy Liquid", "Year Of The Iguana","Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell", "Wild Love: the Detroit Rehearsals and More", "Original Punks", "More Power" among anything else you may find. Downloaded and listened to this amazing album of NY and it's amazing! Keep up the grate work!

  6. Hi, could you do a “what If” album of The Grateful Dead and songs that weren’t present on any of the GD/ solo albums, almost like if they entered the studio to record another studio album in 1971/72 instead of touring Europe/ releasing solo albums. All of these can be found on from studio rehearsals (Soundboards.) Now drift back to a time where Pigpen was slowly deteriorating, his last studio recordings, and Keith was in the band (or leaving, depending on which version of the rehearsal tapes you choose.)
    Here are the tracks:

    1. Bertha: Rehearsals with Keith Godchaux on 1971-09-29 (September 29, 1971) OR Rehearsals on 1979-04-16 (April 16, 1979) (not historically possible but good version.)

    2. Brown-eyed Woman: Studio rehearsal on 1971-09-29 (September 29th, 1971), Studio Rehearsal on 1971-09-30 (September 30, 1971), OR (1971-10-01 (October 1, 1971)

    3. Jack Straw: Studio rehearsal on 1971-09-29 (Sept. 29th 1971), Studio rehearsal on 1971-09-30 (September 30, 1971), Studio rehearsal on 1971-10-01 (October 1, 1971) (2 Takes) OR on 1979-04-16 (April 16, 1979) (again not historically possible but whatever.)

    4. Tennessee Jed: Studio Rehearsals with Keith Godchaux on 1971-09-29 (September 29, 1971) OR 1971-09-30 (September 30, 1971) OR 1971-10-01 (October 1, 1971)

    5. I’m a Loving Man (Pig with NRPS ): Studio Takes on 1970-00-00 (1970)
    6. C.C Rider (Pigpen Demos) (Studio Takes on 1970-00-00 (1970)

    7. Wharf Rat (Studio rehearsal: 1971-02-01 (February 1, 1971) OR Studio rehearsal 1976-05-28 (May 28, 1976) (2 different takes)

    8. Taste Bud: Workingman's Dead Outtakes on 1970-01-01 (January 1, 1970)
    9. Cumberland Blues: Studio rehearsal on 1971-10-01 (October 1, 1971)
    10. Mason’s Children: Workingman's Dead Outtakes on 1970-01-01 (January 1, 1970)
    11. Baby Please Don’t Go (Studio Takes on 1970-00-00 (1970)
    12. Katie Mae (Studio Takes on 1970-00-00 (1970)

  7. This is a good idea, but a lot of those songs wouldn't have got anywhere near a Dead studio album. If the Dead had released a new album in 1972 (I think 1971 is unlikely), it would've been dominated by new Hunter/Garcia songs in much the same way the previous couple of albums and the subsequent albums would be. Sure, a few from Weir (who was very prolific during this period) and perhaps one or two from Pigpen, but mostly Hunter/Garcia. Cover versions? Very unlikely IMHO. With the amount of new material they were writing, I think it highly unlikely they'd revisit out-takes from 1970 either. I'd therefore suggest this is the basic pool of songs that would've been under consideration:

    Playing in the Band (Weir / Hunter)
    Bertha (Garcia / Hunter)
    Wharf Rat (Garcia / Hunter)
    He's Gone (Garcia / Hunter)
    Jack Straw (Weir / Hunter)
    Brown Eyed Women (Garcia / Hunter)
    Ramble On Rose (Garcia / Hunter)
    Mr Charlie (Mckernan / Hunter)
    Tennessee Jed (Garcia / Hunter)
    The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion) (McKernan)
    Greatest Story Ever Told (Weir / Hunter)

    I'd be inclined not to consider anything from Jerry's first solo LP (released January 1972), which I suspect would've come out as it is anyway, even with a new GD album on the horizon.

    I'd also tend to think Weir would've still saved most of the songs he'd been writing with John Barlow for his first solo LP, although possibly one could be used (Looks Like Rain?)

    Whether good enough sources exist to really do this, I'm not sure. Obviously, some of the Weir tracks can be taken from 'Ace' (which the Dead backed him on anyway).

    Ps 'Cumberland Blues' was on 'Workingmans Dead'!!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. As I highly missed for some strange reason that CB was on WD, I reformed the track listing into a 10-song set (with CB, before I read this post.) I then edited it down to still a 10-song set:
    Bertha + (Studio rehearsal)
    Wharf Rat +(Studio rehearsal)
    He's Gone (Europe 72)
    Jack Straw (+ Studio rehearsal or "Ace Demos")
    Brown Eyed Women +(Studio rehearsal)
    Ramble On Rose (Europe 72)
    I'm a Loving Man + (Studio rehearsal)
    Tennessee Jed + (Studio rehearsal)
    Mason's Children + (outtake)
    No Time + (Pigpen)

    I have the sources for these tracks (most are studio rehearsals), I'd just need to clean them up. the + sign = Need cleaning up.

    As for the "Final" Grateful Dead LP, I composed a "What if" to that as such:

    1.Liberty (Phil+Friends studio album)
    2. Breaking The Hold (Wretches & jabberers soundtrack) (bob weir)
    3. Peggy-O (studio Outtake) (from Go To Heaven Reissue)
    4. Whiskey In The Jar (SMR Boxset) +
    5. Corrina (RatDog Evening Moods Studio album)
    6.Eternity (SMR Boxset) +
    7. Lazy River Road (SMR boxset) +
    8. So Many Roads (1992 Club Front rehearsals SBD) +
    9. Easy Answers (Trios - Rob Wasserman studio album)
    10. Days Between (SMR Boxset) +

  10. Now all we need is a title. Any suggestions?

  11. Thanks a lot for this edition of Chrome Dreams. I appreciate a lot the big effort you put in this work of mixing/re-mixing. Thank you.

  12. How about an Alternate "White Album" by the Beatles using Alt. takes of the songs for the album, a la LIBN sorta

  13. What are these "Water Songs" you speak of don Soniclovenoize? And to BlogBoy - I constructed an alternate White Album (and all their others) replacing lesser tracks with non-album singles and outtakes, specifically: Lady Madonna, What's The New Mary Jane?, Inner Light, Revolution, Hey Bulldog, and Hey Jude. It makes the album, for me, an even greater listen.

  14. Many thanks for this amazing blog! Would you consider doing Buffalo Springfield's "Stampede"?

  15. Great Work.. I like Stars and Bars 'Hold Back' best.

  16. Re-up request.

    Looks very cool. Unfortunately, all links are dead.

  17. Stumbled across the blog doing a search. What an amazing idea to reconstruct un-released albums. Very cool indeed. And a helluva a lot of work!
    May I please request a new link for this N.Y. album? Thanks!!!

  18. Could you please re-upload it? I'd love to hear your reconstruction of Chrome Dreams!!!! Thanks for the fantastic job!

  19. Here's one more vote for a re-upload! Love your work on these albums.

  20. Here is:

  21. Nice to hear the version Sergej posted but I'd still love to check out soniclovenoize's!

  22. Big thanks, soniclovenoize. Love the blog & really appreciate your creativity and work on these albums.

  23. Thanks very much for the re-upload, much appreciated.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.


  26. Hello,
    Could you please make this one available for download on mega?
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Thanks very muc,

  27. Echoing Silvio's call of a week ago, it would be fantastic if you could update the link for this one! Just downloaded Lifehouse and Long Live Rock - Rock Is Dead: looking forward to listening to those tonight. Cheers!

  28. Here's my upgraded ultimate version of Chrome Dreams - would be his greatest album

    1. Pocahontas (Hitchhiker version)
    2. White Line (bootleg version)
    3. Campaigner (Hitchhiker version)
    4. Like a Hurricane (Archives Vol 2 version)
    5. Too Far Gone (Archives Vol 2 version)

    6. Hold Back the Tears (bootleg version)
    7. Hawaii (Archives Vol 2 version)
    8. Captain Kennedy (Hitchhiker version)
    9. Stringman (Archives Vol 2 version)
    10. Powderfinger (Hitchhiker version)
    11. Look Out for My Love (Archives Vol 2 version)

  29. Both files for the FLAC version seemed to have "expired" ... Could you repost them? I would really love to hear it ... Thanks!

  30. I have a whole new appreciation for what you do. This sounds fantastic.

  31. Hi, any chance of a new lossless link ? Thanks in advance.

  32. Sorry for posting a comment on such an old entry. Lately I've been trying to modify the tracklist of Chrome Dreams to better fit with your second reconstruction of Homegrown, ie. removing "Homegrown" and "Star of Bethlehem" and bringing the album down to a more reasonable 40-45 min. Any suggestions?

    1. In regard to my previous post, I ended up using the unused tracklist found in the gatefold and swapped in "Winterlong" and "Deep Forbidden Lake." Thus:
      Side A
      1. Too Far Gone
      2. Will to Love
      3. Deep Forbidden Lake
      4. Like a Hurricane
      Side B
      1. Stringman
      2. Sedan Delivery
      3. Lotta Love
      4. Winterlong
      5. Look Out for My Love

      I'm quite happy with this configuration. It flows surprisingly well.