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Neil Young – Road Of Plenty: The Unreleased Songs 1966 – 2010 & Live Rarities 1969 – 1984 (Godfather Records BOX04)

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 Road Of Plenty: The Unreleased Songs 1966 – 2010 & Live Rarities 1969 – 1984 (Godfather Records BOX04)

Neil Young is rightly regarded as one of the most influential singer-songwriters, ranking with Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney in influence and prolificacy.  And much like the other two, he has amassed an extensive archive of unpublished and unreleased songs which he’s begun to touch with his massive Archive series of box sets.

Road Of Plenty is perhaps the most ambitious unofficial Neil Young release in recent memory.  It is a comprehensive six disc collection of songs which have never been released (and probably never will).  A majority are sourced from excellent live audience recordings (since that is the only source we have for them), but there are other excellent quality studio outtakes included as well.  

According to the label:  “Putting together this collection helped us to understand why Neil has taken so long to put together his Archives… A complex, interesting, fluid, prolific & also frustrating artist. This amazing compilation is the result of over six months of planning, editing, writing, researching and assembling and was done as a labor of love. Deciding which version was the best certainly took up a lot of time.

“This is one of those things we’ve wanted to do for a long time…and it was a hell of a lot of work putting it all together. Many of these recordings are fantastic, but like any old tapes / archive recordings some songs are subject to wow and flutter, tape damage, or simply in some cases Neil and the band’s performance doesn’t cut it, or at least what they did on the night wasn’t captured that well to tape.

“So putting together a compilation like this is our way of enjoying our favorite moments from a tour… the selections were culled from the highest quality recordings. Some of the selections we have used do too, but the ones we kept in were very much unique, or at least unique in their high quality.”

The first four discs “are limited to unreleased songs. These songs would remain unheard by the public until now (June 2011). Many unreleased songs have only been heard by the select group of people very close to Neil, and are unlikely ever to surface to the world at large. Some songs Neil will write very quickly, just as the muse hits him, perform only once, then reject and abandon, leaving (if we are fortunate enough) a rare live tape to present the performance for posterity.”

Discs five and six collect “together some of the higher quality recordings of Neil Young live, some are recorded with his musician friends (1969 – 1984). Fifteen years of rarities from the once-played to the infrequently-played, all in one place. This set is all about the songs you haven’t heard that often and haven’t grown tired of, culled to create a listening experience. This was an ideal way for us to collect some great Neil Young performances that don’t easily fit on any other compilation….a great selection of high quality recordings.”

One or two tracks are taken from inferior recordings, but since they are the only source available they are included for completeness.  Much like the official recordings, these songs reveal the eclectic nature of his composition and tendency to push the boundaries of musical styles.  “You can call me erratic,” Young said when asked at the time about his tendency toward musical shape-shifting, “but I’ve been consistent about it, consistently erratic.”

Road Of Plenty:  The Unreleased Songs 1966 – 2010 – CD 1 & 2 (Godfather Records BOX 04 A/B)

Disc 1 (70:51):  I’ll Wait Forever, Come Along And Say You Will, Sweet Joni, Greensleeves, Hawaiian Sunrise, Homefires, Homefires, Love Art Blues, Love Art Blues, Traces, Traces, Mediterranean, Kansas, Try, Separate Ways, Separate Ways, Give Me Strength, Give Me Strength, Evening Coconut, No One Seems To Know, No One Seems To Know, No One Seems To Know

Disc 2 (66:34):  Sad Movies, Sad Movies, Lady Wingshot, Lady Wingshot, Winward Passage, Bright Sunny Day, Turbine, I Wonder Why, If You Got Love, If You Got Love, Johnny, Raining In Paradise, Berlin, Love Hotel, Rock Rock Rock, So Tired

The collection begins with one of the ultimate Neil Young rarities.  Dating from January 1966, “I’ll Wait Forever” is a demo recording of the Mynah Birds, Young’s first group.  Comprised of Young and future Buffalo Springfield band mate Bruce Palmer and Rick James of future “Super Freak” fame.  The band were singed to Motown, but their career was ended when James was arrested for being AWOL from the Navy.  Young and Palmer left soon after that.

The Mynah Birds tapes were thought to be lost, but they were found several years ago mislabeled in the Motown archives. “I’ll Wait Forever” is the only Young/James song of the collection.  It features James on vocals (trying hard to sound like Marvin Gaye).  Young plays acoustic guitar over the rhythm section, playing a melodic melody which is highly derivative from the early sixties R&B sound (it sounds like “Then He Kissed Me” by The Crystals).

Road Of Plenty then jumps seven years to the Stray Gators tour in 1973.  “Come Along And Say You Will” (aka “Lonely Weekend”) is a Time Fades Away era unreleased track played only eight times on that tour. Godfather uses the very good sounding tape from the incendiary show from Detroit.

“Sweet Joni” is a short piano ballad recorded at the Bakersfield show on March 11th, 1973.  It sounds more like an impromptu performance than a finished track and probably was never meant for release.  This is followed by “Greensleeves” is an acoustic performance taken from the New York show in May 1974.  The melody is the same, but Young gives the piece new lyrics and a very sad vocal performance.  He would play the song one other time as an encore at the 1991 Bridge Benefit, but only as an instrumental.

“Hawaiian Sunrise” is an unreleased track played only four times on the CSN&Y reunion tour in 1974.  Taken from a soundboard tape from the Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, New York, it’s a breezy calypso sung with Graham Nash.

“Homefires” is an Harvest outtake which has never been released.  It was played two times in 1974, nine in 1992 and once in 1997 at the HORDE Festival.  The first version is taken from the July 21st show in Milwaukee, its first public performance.

“Love Art Blues” was written in 1974.  Even though it’s still unreleased, it has received extensive live performance.  Played six times on the CSNY tour and twice in 1992, it has become a live staple in 2007 and 2008.  Young states, given its personal nature, it will probably never been released.

Two versions of “Traces” follow.  The first is the original acetate recording meant for an early version of Tonight’s The Night (but was later changed).  With Young playing acoustic guitar and harp alone, it would be transformed into an all-band electric version when it was played live.  Godfather use the recording from Oakland on the CSNY tour in 1974.

“Mediterranean” is a puzzling, mysterious track.  Young thought about recording an album in 1974 with Steven Stills called either Mediterranean or The Water Album.  It’s too rough to make a good judgment of its artistic worth, but it coveys his early seventies gravitas very well.

“Kansas” dates from the seventies, but was never played until 1999 when someone mentioned it to him.  It made two appearances as an acoustic solo number that year, and six on the Chrome Dreams tours in 2007 and 2008 in a full band arrangement.

“Try” is an unreleased song from the Homegrown project.  It is an upbeat Young piano ballad played twenty times in 2007.  Godfather use a great recording from the December 16th, New York show. 

It is followed by another Homegrown outtake called “Separate Ways.”  Written in the seventies, it wasn’t played live until the 1993 tour with Booker T And The MGS.  It is a full band electric arrangement with female backup singers adding to the harmony. The only performance since was on February 22nd, 2008 in Vienna where Young plays it as a solo piano ballad.

“Give Me Strength” is a mellow acoustic confessional tune written for the Homegrown project.  It was played several times in 1976, once in 1985, and once (and final) time in 1997.  Godfather present recordings from both the 1976 tour and the 1997 performance.

“Evening Coconut,” an unreleased song about Young’s leaky boat, was only played ten times in the summer of 1976 when he was touring with the short lived project with Stephen Stills.  This is sourced from an excellent audience tape from the June 27th Springfield, Massachusetts show.  

The first disc ends with three versions of “No One Seems To Know.”  It is a piano ballad dirge and was one of the staples of the opening set on his solo tour in 1976.  Young conceived the number as a sequel to “A Man Needs A Maid,” and oftentimes played them together live.  The first version is from the March 10th, 1976 Tokyo show.  The other two come from shows in 2003 and 2008, all sounding pretty much the same.

The second disc stars off with two versions of “Sad Movies,” another 1976 rarity.  It is an acoustic solo number ruminating about the appeal of sad films.  It was played only five times in March, 1976 in Europe before it was rediscovered for the 2007 Chrome Dreams tour.  The first version comes from a fair to good audience tape from the March 18th, 1976 Eppleheim show, and the second from a fantastic audience tape from the February 11th, 2008 show in Antwerp.

“Lady Wingshot” is an unreleased tune performed only twice, and Godfather include both.  The first performance dates from a charity gig on November 11th, 1977 for the Children’s Hospital Charity in Miami.  This arrangement is played with the Gone With The Wind Orchestra.  The second performance comes is a faster rock arrangement played on February 18th, 1989 in Eureka, California.

“Winward Passage” is an eight and a half minute long, fast paced instrumental with a similar melody to “Cowgirl In The Sand.”  Both guitar and keyboards carry the passage in music which recalls the dynamic flow of a windstorm.  It was played only three times in 1977 with the Ducks.  Godfather use the best version, played in bar The Catalyst on August 22nd in Santa Cruz.

“Bright Sunny Day” dates from the 1978 Rust Never Sleeps tour with Crazy Horse.  It was played at the Pine Knob Music Theater, Clarkson, Michigan show on September 19th, 1978 and, as far as we know, this is the only time it was ever played.  (Three shows, including the previous night at the same venue, were not taped).  There is only one tape in existence with this song and it’s in poor but listenable sound quality.  The liner notes state it almost wasn’t included for this reason, but the importance outweighed the sound quality and we get an idea of what the song sounds like.

After reaching much success at the end of the seventies, Young slowed down in 1979 and 1980.  While recording Hawks & Doves, he played only one concert in two years, a charity gig in Berkeley on October 3rd, 1980.  “Turbine” is a mid-paced country tune which might have been considered for the LP.  It was recorded for Old Ways, but remains unreleased.  This is the only recording of the track.

“I Wonder Why” is a very personal song, a piano ballad ruminating about the challenges of raising handicapped children.  Neil Young’s two sons, Ben and Zeke, were both born with cerebral palsy, and much of his output in the early eighties were his way of interpreting this.  He recorded the song in both 1981 and 1986, and Godfather use the former recording.

“If You Got Love” was recorded for the Trans LP in 1982.  Young pulled the song at the last minute complaining of its wimpiness.  It was included on the artwork of early copies, and was even played live in 1982.  It was resurrected one more time in 1986 before disappearing forever.  Godfather include both the studio track and a live performance from the October 9th show in Stockholm, Sweden.

The following is a true curiosity.  “Johnny” was recording during the Shocking Pinks era in 1983.  But, with the heavy synthesizer arrangement and drum machine percussion, sounds closer to being a Trans outtake or a Buggles tune.  It was never played live, but the studio recording was played over the PA after some Shocking Pink shows in the mid eighties, and someone was good enough to record it.  Godfather use a very good audience recording of this cute, unreleased Neil Young gem.

“Raining In Paradise” is a studio outtake from the rejected 1982 LP Island In The Sun.  Although some songs were released on Trans, this tune unfortunately has never surfaced.  Thankfully we do have this excellent sounding studio take, and it’s one of the must joyous, ebullient Young songs in the archives and is worthy of official release.

“Berlin” (aka “After Berlin”) was only played on the final night of the 1982 Transband tour on October 19th in Berlin.  It was officially released on the now out of print Live In Berlin video.  It’s a dated song, sounding closer to his mid-seventies output than Trans.  It is great to have and the sound quality is excellent.  Another rarity from this era follows called “Love Hotel.”  Like “Berlin,” it was only played once and can also be found on Like An Inca (Godfather Records GR 617/618).

“Rock Rock Rock” (aka “Rock Forever”) dates from early 1984 when Young thought about recording a new album with Crazy Horse plus Ben Keith on saxophone.  It is a hard rocking number, reminiscent of the future “Keep On Rocking In The Free World.”  It was played seven times.  Four at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz where it served as set opener, once in 1985 in Australia and two times in 1986 in Toronto.  Godfather utilize a very good soundboard recording from the February 7th, 1984 show at The Catalyst.

“So Tired” is another unreleased song from the same era.  This was only played at the four Catalyst shows in 1984, following “Rock Rock Rock” in the set list.  It’s a simple feedback laden grunge number.  The lyrics “I’m so tired of talking to strangers / Close my eyes and I see the danger /  feel like making some changes” and repetitive power chords ultimately goes nowhere.  Godfather use the song’s debut performance on February 6th for this collection.

Road Of Plenty:  The Unreleased Songs 1966 – 2010 – CD 3 & 4 (Godfather Records BOX 04 C/D)

Disc 3 (69:31):  Your Love Is Good To Me,  Your Love Is Good To Me, Leavin’ The Top 40 Behind, Hillbilly Band, Time Off For Good Behavior, Your Love Again, Road Of Plenty, Welcome To The Big Room, Last Of His Kind, High Heels, Find Another Shoulder, Bad News, Crime Of The Heart, Doghouse 

Disc 4 (72:11):  Sixty To Zero, Walking After Midnight, Born To Run, Live To Ride, Modern World, Standing In The Name Of Love, Gateway Of Love, Sea Change, Get Around, Mexico, Leia, You Never Call

The third disc picks up where the second leaves off with an unreleased performance from early 1984.  “Your Love Is Good To Me” is another new, unreleased song introduced at the Crazy Horse shows at The Catalyst.  It was later rearranged and played extensively on the Blue Notes tour in 1987/1988.  

Godfather include two versions.  The first is the punk arrangement from the February 6th, 1984 Santa Cruz show which sounds very much like “Train In Vain” by The Clash.  The second track comes from the August 10th, 1988 show in Toronto.  It is given a disco beat and a saxophone solo in the middle.  A much more upbeat and fully realized song.

The next four songs are excellent sounding studio outtakes from Young’s “country” period with the International Harvesters in 1984 and 1985. “Leaving The Top 40 Behind” is an outtake from the Old Ways album.  It was never played live but this excellent studio outtake exists.  It prominently features the fiddle of Rufus Thibodeaux and steel guitar of Ben Keith.  The theme, Young’s leaving his public persona behind, might have been seen a bit too inflammatory for Geffen at the time.

“Hillbilly Band” is an uptempo fun little ditty with tongue in cheek references to themselves.  “Time Off For Good Behavior,” an autobiographical tune about Young’s brother, is another Old Ways outtake.  The final country song is “Your Love Again.”

“Road Of Plenty,” the track which gives this collection a title, dates from the 1986 tour with Crazy Horse.  It is an early version of “Eldorado” from Freedom.  Some of the lyrics are different and it’s a bit more raw, but they share the same gravitas.

“Welcome To The Big Room” dates from the R&B Blue Notes era.  The horn section gives Young’s songs a big sound including this unreleased song.  It served as the set opener for many 1987 Crazy Horse and 1988 Blue Notes shows.  This recording comes from the November 12th, 1987 show at the Old Fillmore in San Francisco.  

“Last Of His Kind” (aka “The Farm Aid Song”) is a solo acoustic ballad written in the mid-eighties.  Sources claim it’s from 1984 but there are no performances before 1987.  It was played eleven times in late August and early September before the third Farm Aid benefit on September 19th in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Since, it has been played at three more Farm Aid events (1993, 1997 and 1998) and at the 2007 Bridge School Benefit.

The 1999 performances was released officially on Farm Aid Vol. 1 compilation CD, but Godfather use an audience tape from the September 3rd, 1987 Michigan show for this collection.

The following two tracks, “High Heels” and “Find Another Shoulder” both come from the November 12th 1987 early show at the Old Fillmore in San Francisco, the same show which contributed “Welcome To The Big Room” to this collection.  These two are some of the earliest songs written by Neil, dating back to his first group The Squires.  The former is a bouncy pop number which benefits from the Blue Notes’ instrumentation.  The latter is a slow blues number.

“Bad News” (aka “Bad News Has Come To Town”) is an unreleased Blue Notes era song.  It’s a slow R&B tune which can be heard at the beginning of the “This Note’s For You” video.  Godfather use a very good audience recording from the August 18th, 1988 Toronto show.  

Two more unreleased Blue Notes tunes follow.  “Crime Of The Heart” is an energetic song with heavy brass and guitars and a reference to Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”  It was played thirteen times by the Blue Notes and at the six Ten Men Workin’ shows in October, 1988.  “Doghouse” is a novelty song with lots of barking.  It was played several times in 1988 in the Blue Notes shows and, funnily enough, in three Pegi Young and The Survivors shows in 2010.  Godfather use the September 4th, 1988 Detroit show as a source for these two unreleased songs.

“Sixty To Zero” opens the the fourth disc.  This is the complete, nineteen minute epic uncut version of “Crime In The City” played during the 1988 Blue Notes tour.  Godfather use the excellent August 18th, 1988 Toronto audience tape.  In this early state, it is a long ballad with Young on acoustic guitar backed by the band.  The eighteen minutes seem to fly by with various instrumental interludes from the saxophone and guitar.  It’s reminiscent of some of Bob Dylan’s great epics.  

The song would be shortened when it was officially recorded and released on Freedom and would be rearranged with a more rock oriented version.  

“Walking After Midnight” is another unreleased Blue Notes song.  Played only once in the April 19th, 1988 New York show, it’s a fine mid-paced walking blues tune with a heavy swing beat.  The author of the liner notes for Road Of Plenty points out that there are many songs from this collaboration in this collection.  And if all the unreleased Blue Notes era songs were released together, they would make a great album.

“Born To Run” was written in 1975 during the Zuma sessions, intended for an album of songs by various artists playing songs with the same title as other well-known songs.  It seems like a stupid project and thankfully was never released.  It was never played live, but this perfect studio recording exists.  It’s a derivative but appealing example of his mid-seventies guitar hero feedback phase.

“Live To Ride” (aka “Friend Of Mine” and “Dream Machine”) is a song about Young’s motorcycle, according the comments in this recording.  It was played forty-four times on the 1993 tour with Booker T. & MG’s but was never officially recorded and released.  It sounds more like an excuse to jam on stage than a finished track.

“Modern World” was played six times with Crazy Horse on the 1997 HORDE tour.  It’s basically a poor cover version of Blonde’s “Tide Is High” and has never been played again.

The next two unreleased songs date from the unreleased 2001 album Toast with Crazy Horse.  Neil recorded extensively with Crazy Horse prior to Are You Passionate?  He said that the sessions fell apart because there was really no chemistry with the band at the time and chose to record with Booker T instead.  “Standing” was played twenty-seven times in the summer of 2001 and Godfather use the June 26th Berlin recoding for this collection.  

“Gateway Of Love” was played extensively on the same tour.  It’s an eight minute long epic heavily influenced by surf music.  Godfather use a great recording from Belgium from about a week before the Berlin show.

The disc ends with five recent songs.  “Sea Change” was played several times in 2008 and the liner notes speculate it is about he Obama campaign. 

“Get Around” is from the long form video released to promote Fork In The Road in April 2009.  It is a mellow tune and was played live only once (December 16th, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York).  The label use the video soundtrack for this collection.  Although it is officially released, it’s never appeared on a CD.

“Mexico” is from the Homegrown sessions.  It’s a sad piano ballad sung only four times.  Godfather use the fourth and final live appearance at the March 15th, 2008 Hammersmith Odeon, London show. 

The final two songs are from his current setlist.  “Leia” is a piano ballad about the daughter of a friend of his, and “You Never Call” is about his friend L.A. Johnson who passed away in January, 2010.  Both tracks date from the December 8th, 2010 San Francisco performance and are sourced from an excellent audience tape. 

Road Of Plenty:  Live Rarities 1969-1984 CD 5 & 6 (Godfather BOX 04 E/F)

Disc 5 (74:10):  Mr. Soul, Birds, Sea Of Madness, Country Girl, Helpless, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Everybody’s Alone, Dance Dance Dance, The Loner, Southern Man, Out On The Weekend, The Bridge, Alabama, Soldier, Words, New Mama, World On A String, Flying On The Ground Is Wrong

Disc 6 (70:03):  Pushed It Over The End, Let It Shine, The Last Trip To Tulsa, Homegrown, Stringman, Human Highway, Like An Inca, Goin’ Back, Coastline, Cowgirl In The Sand, California Sunset, Country Home, Barstool Blues, Saddle Up The Palominos, Southern Pacific

While the first four discs focused upon unreleased songs, discs five and six collect officially released songs which haven’t been played too often live.  It starts off with the old Buffalo Springfield tune “Mr. Soul,” which really isn’t all too rare (being played three hundred and seventy-nine times).  Godfather claims to use a recording from the Woodstock rehearsal on August 18th, 1969, but they instead use the actual performance from the show.

“Birds” is another more common song, being played over sixty times.  This performance dates from the August 26th, 1969 Los Angeles performance.  Although there are other versions in the archives, this one features Graham Nash on back-up vocals. 

“Sea Of Madness” is a CSNY outtake played five times in August and September, 1969 including their set at Woodstock.  It’s been officially released on the Woodstock LP in 1970 and the first Neil Young Archives in 2009.  This recording comes from the September 13th, 1969 at Big Sur, California. 

It’s followed by “Country Girl,” which is from the Déjà Vu LP.  It was only played only seven times and Godfather use the December 18th, 1969 Houston performance for this collection.  From the same Houston show comes the next track, “Helpless.”

The next three songs date from a session for KQED in San Francisco on February 19th, 1970.  Sourced from an excellent professional recording, it has one of only three performances of “Everybody’s Alone” and the debut of “Dance, Dance, Dance,” a song which would be featured on the Journey Through The Past tour in 1971.

“The Loner,” from Neil Young, is a very common song, having received over two hundred live performances over the past forty years.  However, it was played only seven times with Crazy Horse when Danny Whitten was in the band when it was a rough, ramshackle jam session.  Godfather use the February 25th, 1970 Cincinnati soundboard for their collection.  They put a lot of work into improving it, making it sound very nice.

“Southern Man” is another common song in an uncommon arrangement.  First released on the Neil Young solo LP After The Goldrush in 1970, it was made its first live performances with CSNY.  There are twelve (or fourteen if one counts the two 1971 solo shows when he was joined by the others as guests) performances, all from 1970.  It wasn’t played in the 1974 reunion.  This comes from a soundboard recording from the June 26th, 1970 at the LA Forum and benefits from Stills’ guitar and Nash’s huge organ sound.  

“Out On The Weekend” follows.  This version of the Harvest tune dates from the February 23rd, 1971 BBC “In Concert” appearance.  It is the song’s debut live performance and comes from a recent rebroadcast, making this the best available audio quality.

“The Bridge” dates from Time Fades Away.  It has been played only three times and twice in 1973 on March 28th in Phoenix, Arizona and April 1st in Sacramento, the version used for the LP.  Its debut was two years before, on February 27th, 1971 in London and a very good audience recording is used in this collection.

“Alabama” is one of Young’s most famous songs, but was played only forty-one times.  Two performances can be found in 1971 when Young was a guest onstage with Crosby & Nash, and the rest date from the Time Fades Away tour in 1973.  Godfather use the Bakersfield performance from March 11th, 1973. He was joined onstage by Crosby and Nash who add out-of-tune vocals to the tune.

“Soldier” is a short and melancholy piano ballad found on Journey Through The Past in 1972 and Decade in 1977.  It was played only in the two New York shows in 1973.  Godfather use the audience tape from the January 21st show in Carnegie Hall.  It’s followed by “Words” from Harvest.  This track was played once in 1973 at the Cobo Hall in Detroit  before being resurrected in 2000.

“New Mama” is a song Young composed for CSNY, but when Human Highway was abandoned he wrote it with Crazy Horse to carry the harmonies.  The only time the song was performed with Crosby, Still and Nash all contributing was on October 4th, 1973 at the Fillmore West.  Manassas, Stills’ new band, were playing but the others were guests that night.  The entire event was video taped and can be found on Wolfgang’s Vault.

The disc ends with “World On A String” from Tonight’s The Night and “Flying On The Ground Is Wrong” from Buffalo Springfield, both from 1973 shows with the Santa Monica Flyers.

The sixth and final disc start off with “Pushed It Over The End” (aka “Citizen Kane Jr. Blues”).  Its debut was in the May 15th, 1974 solo show at The Bottom Line in New York, but also was part of the CSNY setlist during the reunion tour that year, being played twelve times including this recording from the final show at Wembley Stadium in London.  It was released on an Italian one-sided 33 rpm 12″ single that was only included in a box set of Young’s albums.

“Let It Shine” was released on the Young-Stills LP Long May You Run and was played only nine times live, all in 1976.  Six performances were with Crazy Horse in Japan and Europe, and three were on the tour with Stills that summer.  Godfather use a recording from the latter tour, from the June 23rd show in Michigan.  It is followed by “Homegrown” from American Stars N’ Bars.  Taken from the November 22nd, 1976 early show in Boston, it is not particularly rare since it’s been played almost eighty times over the past thirty years.

“Stringman,” on the other hand, is hard to find.  Only played ten times live, it was originally planned for release on a long aborted Crazy Horse live LP, it finally surfaced in 1993 on Unplugged.  Godfather use the March 31st, 1976 show at the Hammersmith Odeon in London for this collection. 

“Human Highway” has been played over eighty times and was debut five years before it’s official release on Comes A Time in 1978.  While it’s not a rare song, this version is unique.  It dates from the United Farm Workers Benefit on August 12th, 1977 when Young was joined onstage by Crosby and Nash adding harmony.

“Like An Inca” is a relic from the Trans era.  It appeared on the LP and was performed twenty-seven times that year and hasn’t been heard since.  The song grew out of the mid seventies song “Hitchhiker” which was finally released in 2010 on Le Noise.  Godfather use a good audience recording from the August 4th, 1982 show in Palo Alto, California.

The next five songs come from a concert played at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Cruz, California on January 3rd, 1983.  This is the first night of a month long Trans “solo” tour.  He was joined only by Larry Cragg on drums, banjo and pedal steel guitar and Joel Bernetin on cocoder, synclavier, synthesizer and acoustic guitar.

Several rarities include “Goin’ Back” from Comes A Time.  This is the only performance before 1999 when it began to make the occasional appearance in the set.  It is followed by a rare performance of “Coastline,” the piano honky tonk song which appears on Hawks & Doves and has been played only four times live.  

“Cowgirl In The Sand” is a very common song, played over two hundred times over the past forty years, but appears in this show in an intense acoustic arrangement.  And “California Sunset,” which would appear on Old Ways in 1985, is given its live debut.  The final Santa Cruz song is “Country Home.”  Young played this song frequently in 1976 with Crazy Horse as an electric-country stomper, but is played here as a mellow acoustic solo number.  

The final three songs date from 1984.  “Barstool Blues,” a song originally released on Zuma, is taken from the February 7th show at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz.

“Saddle Up The Palomino” dates from 1977′s American Stars N Bars, but was performed live only ten times in 1984 with the International Harvesters, and the final song “Southern Pacific,” released on Re*Ac*Tor, was played more frequently.  It was a regular on the International Harvester’s setlists in 1984 and 1985.  It was dropped for fifteen years before appearing in various shows in 1999.

Road Of Plenty is an ambitious collection and is very much worth having.  It follows the same packaging as the other Godfather box sets.  Three tri-fold gatefold sleeves are housed in a box with detailed liner notes in a booklet.  It is a good companion to the official Archives release and would be supplanted only if Young himself were to release these rarities in better sound sound quality.

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Neil Young - Road Of Plenty: The Unreleased Songs 1966 - 2010 & Live Rarities 1969 - 1984 (Godfather Records BOX04), 2.8 out of 5 based on 11 ratings

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  1. Avatar of clark8114
    clark8114 says
    November 21, 2011, 1:10 pm

    THIS is A MUST HAVE!

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  2. Avatar of mats22
    mats22 says
    August 9, 2011, 6:23 am

    Thanks a lot Gsparaco for this great review! My copy arrived today and this is like the two Bruce boxsets I have a labour of love. The guys from Godfather know how a collector’s boxset should be.

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    pookie says
    August 8, 2011, 7:26 am

    Gasparaco’s review settled it quickly-it’s on it’s way to me!!!!!!!!!!! Magnificient review; indeed! Detailed and very informative.

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  4. Avatar of zimbo
    zimbo says
    August 8, 2011, 2:22 am

    Pookie: First I have to say that though I have quite a collection I am probably not the best one to get into the real nitty gritty about which tape sources etc are used. The one thing I can say though is that so far only having had the original “In Celebration of the Comet” LP, this box was quite a revelation. I think the best sounding tape is the same as from the LP, but all of them are truly worth the listen. But you should really read Gasparaco’s review, it’s a really enlightening read – the perfect companion to guide you through the details when listening to the box.

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  5. Avatar of importdiscs
    August 7, 2011, 7:27 pm

    I’ve had my copy for a while, and I must say that this is another example of the great work the guys at Godfather do. Talk about a high bar…

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    crikke says
    August 6, 2011, 10:22 pm

    Great review Gsparaco. Mine is on the way…

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    pookie says
    August 6, 2011, 2:04 pm

    Much superior overall sound to GDRs Rock’n Roll Cowboy; although i love it as well.

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    eddie77 says
    August 6, 2011, 12:57 pm

    How does the sound quality compare with previous box sets compiling his rare songs like “Archives Be Damned” and “Rock’n’Roll Cowboy?”

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    pookie says
    August 6, 2011, 11:06 am

    Thanks! Gsparaco! Yours views are quite superlative; as if you have a degree in journalism; excellent writer!

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  10. Avatar of gsparaco
    gsparaco says
    August 6, 2011, 10:55 am

    I wrote a long, detailed review of the Pink Floyd Rainbow box set which can be found elsewhere on this website.

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    pookie says
    August 6, 2011, 10:33 am

    Zimbo; how good is the sound quality of the Pink Floyd Rainbow Box set??

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  12. Avatar of zimbo
    zimbo says
    August 6, 2011, 9:52 am

    After buying the Springsteen 78 box as well as the Pink Floyd Rainbow box, I kind of told myself that it was time to consolidated the bank account a bit. However, after this review I may have to change my mind. This one seems like a true keeper!

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    kads says
    August 5, 2011, 4:33 pm

    It’s an amazing release. Believe I already mentioned it on the announcement for this release but left a review to the expert(s) as I am just a casual fan. But highly recommended!

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  14. Avatar of pookie
    pookie says
    August 5, 2011, 11:37 am

    Superlative review!!!!!!!! Highly enjoyable piece from Neil’s monumental career.

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  15. Avatar of jerrythebarman
    August 5, 2011, 11:10 am

    Great review as always, sir. My copy is on the way and now I look forward to it all the more.

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