Neil Young is still months away from releasing Homegrown — the legendary lost LP he shelved in 1975 and recently decided to resurrect — but he’s already plotting out his next archival releases. The newest one to enter the picture is a hodgepodge of work he recorded with Crazy Horse in 1986 and a short-lived band he assembled for a 1989 Saturday Night Live appearance. He’s calling it Road of Plenty and is eyeing 2021 release.
The title track is an early version of “Eldorado” from 1989’s Freedom. Young first attempted it during a private Buffalo Springfield reunion in 1986 that imploded very quickly. “It was my fault that we didn’t get together at the time and have a reunion, tour and album,” Young wrote this week in the Road of Plenty announcement. “I don’t even know why. It was my own fault. I should have done it. Apparently I was distracted by other things at the time. Life was moving fast, perhaps a bit too fast for me to see.”
Fans first heard it in 1986 when he toured with Crazy Horse. “We have a monster take of it!” Young writes. “How this song escaped is hard for me to believe… Road of Plenty includes that magical night in Minneapolis where the Horse nailed the song.” (Young seems to be referring to an October 17th, 1986 concert at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota.)
Three years later, he recruited drummer Steve Jordan, bassist Charley Drayton and Crazy Horse guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro for an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Their performance that evening of “Rockin’ In the Free World” is one of the greatest TV moments of Young’s long career.
“During rehearsals for that show, we recorded some amazing music at the Hit Factory in NYC, all of which will appear on Road of Plenty,” Young writes. “Moving around a lot during that time, I was restless and it shows in the music. [Producer] Niko [Bolas] and I have been working on this project for a while and I think it will be a highlight of 2021.”
Proving his point, Young recently shared an explosive, early rendition of the Freedom track “Crime In The City” (titled “Sixty to Zero” at the time) from these sessions on his website.
As of now, the Neil Young Archives’ release schedule for Young’s upcoming archival projects says that Homegrown is coming June 19th, Return to Greendale on July 17th, The Neil Young Archives Volume 2 on August 21st, the 1990 Crazy Horse club gig Rust Bucket on October 16th and the 1971 solo acoustic show Young Shakespeare on November 27th. All of these dates should be seen as provisional at the moment. Plans change very quickly in the world of Neil Young.
On the more immediate horizon is a fourth edition of Young’s ongoing Fireside Sessions. These are homemade concerts Young has been filming at the Colorado home he shares with wife Daryl Hannah. “Fireside Session IV is now in production,” Young writes. “After a little break, we are back filing Fireside sessions at home today.”
Before the pandemic, Young planned on touring America this year with Crazy Horse. He still hopes to take them out when mass gatherings are once again legal and safe. Whenever that happens, there’s a chance that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be out at the same time, which would make new Crazy Horse guitarist Nils Lofgren unable to join them. But Young already has a plan for this. “If Nils is working with Bruce,” he recently wrote to a fan, “Micah [Nelson] says he can play with the Horse!”