Neil Young is in the final stages of mixing his new album, which he recorded with U2 producer Daniel Lanois in a Los Angeles house earlier this year. Following a longtime tradition, Young only recorded around the peak of the full moon. “We cut a couple of solo acoustic songs, but the rest is very electric,” says Lanois. “There’s no band, but I got in there with my sonics. There’s nothing else out there like it.”
Lanois was surprised when Young called him about working together earlier this year. “He just called me out of the blue,” he says. “He said to me, ‘I want to make an acoustic record. Will you film me and record me?’ Apparently he saw some films I put on YouTube of my new band Black Dub and he really liked them.” (Read more about Black Dub and Lanois’ recent motorcycle crash.) Young often records at his home studio in Northern California, but they decided to cut these sessions at a Los Angeles home Lanois describes as a “beautiful Mediterranean villa.” “We picked it largely because of the cinematic opportunities,” he says. “I have transportable recording equipment and we put something together just for Neil. I put out my best amps, my best pianos and best guitars. He was very impressed by all of it. We cut the whole thing over just nine days during three separate full-moon cycles earlier this year.”
Young is previewing eight of the tracks on his ongoing Twisted Road solo tour — though not always in the same arrangement as they’ll appear on the album. “You Never Call,” a sweet ode to his late longtime creative partner Larry “L.A.” Johnson, has been played on acoustic guitar on the road, but Lanois says they’ll probably use a version they cut on the organ for the album.
The disc was supposed to be called Twisted Road, but “I’m trying to talk him out of that,” laughs Lanois. “We’re hoping to have it out in the late fall.” Lanois will debut footage of four complete songs October 2nd at the Nuit Blanche Festival in Toronto at the stroke of midnight. “They are giving me an entire square in front of city hall to an instillation,” he says. “I am doing a 24-channel sound instillation with pictures. I’ll show the actual takes we used on the album, so the vocal performances by Neil will be seen on the screens.”
In other Neil Young news, the singer announced that the second volume of his Archives box set is imminent. It will contain at least three unreleased albums (1975’s Homegrown, 1977’s Chrome Dreams and 1978’s Oceanside-Countryside) as well as live recordings from Young’s 1976 tour with Crazy Horse. These albums will originally be released in vinyl before they appear on the box set. There’s no word on when exactly when these will come out — or what other material will appear in the collection. Fans are hoping to hear 1973’s long out-of-print Time Fades Away, as well as producer David Briggs’ original cut of Tonight’s the Night and a live concert from the 1973 tour backed by the Santa Monica Flyers.