Neil Young drops surprise archival album ‘Summer Songs’

The eight-song record was initially tracked in 1987

Neil Young gave fans of his ‘Archives’ project an extra-special Christmas gift this year, dropping the eight-track ‘Summer Songs’ record that he first teased last month.

The archival album was initially recorded in 1987, tracked at the Broken Arrow Ranch in Redwood City, California. It’s unclear who Young made the album with – if anyone – but every instrument played on it was played by Young himself. The version released on Saturday (December 25) was produced by the Volume Dealers and mastered by Tim Mulligan.

Take a listen to ‘Summer Songs’ in its entirety below:

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As seasoned fans will note, most of the tracks on ‘Summer Songs’ would eventually pop up elsewhere in Young’s discography. ‘American Dream’, for example, made it to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s titular ’88 record (as did ‘Name Of Love’).

‘Someday’, ‘Wrecking Ball’ and ‘Hangin’ On A Limb’ all appear on 1989’s ‘Freedom’, while ‘One Of These Days’ went to ‘Harvest Moon’ in ’92, and ‘For The Love Of Man’ appeared on Young’s 2012 album with Crazy Horse, ‘Psychedelic Pill’.

As Young noted with the record’s announcement, however, many of the lyrics featured on these demos “are significantly different from their subsequent master album releases”, with tracks sporting “several completely new and unheard verses”.

‘Summer Songs’ comes as the first chapter of ‘Neil Young Archives Volume III’. The second volume of the project was issued last year, covering unreleased music recorded between 1972 and ’76. Among the records shared was ‘Homegrown’, which – made up of recordings from ’74 and ’75 – languished as an unheard album for decades before its release in June 2020.

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Earlier this month, Young released his 41st studio album (and 14th with long-serving band Crazy Horse), ‘Barn’. In a four-star review, NMEs Rhys Buchanan said: “Raw and rugged at every turn, the album captures the telepathic bond that these rock’n’roll renegades have cultivated over the years.

“Of all the messages we should listen to on this album, the overriding one is that Neil Young remains as vital as he always has been”.

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