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Beyond ‘Hitchhiker’: 15 Archival Neil Young Albums We’d Like to Hear

From ‘Time Fades Away II’ to ‘Homegrown’ and Crazy Horse’s killer 2003 Bonnaroo set, a look at the best of Young’s overflowing vault

neil young 15 unreleased albums 1976

Now that Neil Young has released his 1976 LP 'Hitchhiker,' we spotlight 15 other works we'd like to see him release.

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Neil Young‘s 2014 book Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life and Cars offered a tantalizing glimpse at a 1976 recording session few fans even knew existed. “One night, [my producer] Mr. [David] Briggs and I jumped into [my truck] Stretch and headed for his favorite place, Indigo Ranch Studios,” Young wrote. “I spent the night there with David and recorded nine solo acoustic songs, completing a tape I called Hitchhiker. It was a complete piece, although I was pretty stony on it, and you can hear it in my performances. … I laid down all of the songs in a row, pausing only for weed, beer, or cocaine. Briggs was in the control room, mixing live on his favorite console.”

The Hitchhiker tape – which features early, raw versions of classic songs like “Powderfinger” and “Pocahontas” alongside rarities like “Hawaii” and “Campaigner” – sat in the vault for 41 years before it was finally unearthed for a release as part of Young’s ongoing Archives series. It hits stores on September 8th. Young also recently unveiled a website that will supposedly house the next volume of his Archives box set. There’s no word on when that might come out, but it got us thinking about his legendary vault of unreleased music. Here’s a look at 15 recordings we’d love to finally see get an official release. (Note: We’re aware that this doesn’t include shelved albums like Island in the Sun, Old Ways I and Times Square. We wanted this to be our absolute favorite obscurities, which means a lot of live Crazy Horse and only the best unreleased albums.)

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Buffalo Springfield Live (2011)

It was a sight few imagined they’d ever see: Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay walking onstage under a giant Buffalo Springfield banner and breaking into the opening harmonies of “On the Way Home.” The reunion was born at the Bridge School Benefit in 2010 (their first public performance since 1968) and continued in 2011 with six California theater shows and a Bonnaroo set. A planned 30-date tour was called off when Young lost interest, but the handful of shows were unforgettable. Furay still had his pipes, Stills had only became a better guitar player and Young-penned tunes like “Burned,” “Broken Arrow” and “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” finally got to live on a concert stage again. 

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Live With Crazy Horse (2013)

Just when it seemed like Neil Young had permanently dismounted from Crazy Horse, they cut two back-to-back albums in 2012 and then went on a tour that lasted two years. The 2012 gigs were marred by a set list that didn’t vary much from night to night and a heavy emphasis on subpar new material, while the 2014 shows were hobbled by the absence of bassist Billy Talbot as he recovered from a minor stroke. The sweet spot came in 2013 when the tour went to Australia and Europe. The sets got longer and unpredictable, with super obscure tunes like “Opera Star” and “Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze” finding their way into the mix. It ended prematurely when a road manager slammed a tour bus door on the hand of Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, but they got in 33 stellar shows before that unfortunate incident. Any one of them would make a great official release.

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