Neil Young "Ditch Trilogy +" LP Box Set Coming For Black Friday RSD. This image is of a Counterfeit!

Note: the sticker on the genuine box set does not have "Times Fades Away". The Neil Young master tapes for this second box set were sitting in Chris Bellman's mastering suite last winter when I visited and interviewed Bernie Grundman about the Blue Note reissues, some of which were originally digitized at BGM Mastering and some of which were cut to lacquer by Chris.

I asked if I could take pictures and at first Chris said 'sure' but then he thought better of it and called John Nowland at Redwood Digital who thought about it a nanosecond and then nixed it, saying something like it's probably no big deal but you never know..

The set was due for last April's Record Store Day but then the mercurial Mr. Young at the last minute pulled it. Now it's supposedly set for Black Friday release on November 28th. The limited edition set features On The Beach (1974), Time Fades Away (1973), Tonight’s The Night (1975) and Zuma (1975). The first two have never before been reissued on vinyl. Chris Bellman cut lacquers from the original analog master tapes. I forgot how Time Fades Away was sourced because there originally was no mix down tape for that. The original LP was mixed 'live" from the multitrack and cut "direct to disk"

Time Fades Away, recorded live during an uncomfortable tour is Neil's least favorite album. The playing is rough, the mood bitter, the all new songs not well-received by the audience and being released following the mellow and masterful Harvest, fans didn't know what to make of it. Today, heard in retrospect Time Fades Away is a low but important link in the Young chronicles. It plus On The Beach and Tonight’s The Night are often referred to as "The Ditch Trilogy" because of what Young hand-wrote in the liner notes to the 3 LP Decade set: " 'Heart of Gold' put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch."

What's odd is that this set was not on Rhino's "Black Friday" release schedule, and I received nothing from Warner Brothers either. Odder yet, read the sticker: "Times Fades Away"? You can pre-order this set on Amazon, Italy, Germany, France and Germany but not Amazon United States. Go figure.

RobWynn's picture

While it may not be on the Rhino and WB official list it is at the RSD website:

More importantly my local shop has already posted a video of a few of the Black Friday goodies, and this box is in the video.

I'm not getting why the sticker is odd.

I can't remember how much I paid for the 1-4 box that I bought from one of the 3 main audiophile online sites, but my local store has this going for $150 on Friday. I'm hoping I can snag it.

RobWynn's picture

The "s" is in the wrong word.

Goochified1's picture

I'm just hoping that these are offered separately as was the case with the last 4-LP bundle (Neil's first four albums). I don't really care about having 'em in a box together, just want to pick each one up over time in between the likely must-haves I will be picking up in the next year.

RobWynn's picture

NOT be part of the separates. I thought I read somewhere that it is only going to be available as part of the box. He would be smart to release them all as separates though, and I'm assuming he will later release at least the other 3 individually.

SimonH's picture

A quick update before dashing to work - This has been available on the net for a while - the sleeves are nice and replicate the originals but not as heavy as vol.1 and are bar coded - my TtN sleeves was coming unglued and OtB has some noise - but records sound really good to me and i am glad to have it. However the box is far too big for the contents tho' and really add's nothing. Also not good value at the EU RSD price of c £125 - £225 when compared to say the Beefheart box that has just come out or the Dylan Bootleg series that have great books as well.

crawfordrocks's picture

My copy of "On The Beach" is noisy & distorted during the title track (1st song, side 2). I mean, it's not listenable. It's kind of a drag as I'd waited forever for this release (& waited in line for 4.5 hrs starting at 6am). It was not inexpensive either. I expected more from a Pallas pressing. Sure would be nice to get my money back or, better yet, a proper copy of "On The Beach."

MikeT's picture

Just came home after going out to my indie record store nearest my home, and came home with this box set. Sticker on the version I purchased was corrected and says "Time Fades Away". This box is also now available on Neil Young's website store, as a NUMBERED edition (where the RSD version is not numbered).

Bigrasshopper's picture

Last time ( first time ) this set came around, I complained because I couldn't confirm whether it was even going to be their for anyone who might be waiting in line for it. This time I had totally forgotten about it, couldn't ask my store cause I didn't see this post till after the they'd closed. So I just tried to let it go till I saw your post that they were available on his site as well as an official email invitation this morning. Tried again to let it go but they are numbered, like my first set and well, you know how it is, but I won't be charged for at least 30 days- on back order. Passed on the 4 T- shirt package for $200 !!! that's why the box is big. Neil goes on at some length about his t-shirts being organic cotton and how the cotton industry is the second biggest consumer of pesticide, how the same cotton seeds pass their oil on in to the food chain and the farm run off. Point taken, and while I do appreciate his sensitivity, Neil and I agree to let slide the unavoidable abrasion that his music is conveyed on nice little " petrochemical spills " albeit stabilized for the present. For now I guess we just accept that sound quality trumps environmental quality. But II'I take my hat off to old Neil, no doubt he's got more irons in the fire.

rakalm's picture

It was $129 at my store this am but I passed on it. Not my favorites of his LP's but I was tempted. Plus the price was good and I get 5% off. Snagged the Miles Davis 10" inch box.

Concertkid's picture

Michael, will you be reviewing this box, or at least the new Time Fades Away mix?

As you know, the original says on the label "This recording was Mastered 16 Track Direct To Disc by Computer - Aug. 22 & 23 1973". The new one says on the label "Mastered for Vinyl from the Original Tapes by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood CA".


Kirby's picture

Sounds really good,only complaint would be that they put a copy of "On The Beach" in my "Time Fades Away". Hope I can get it corrected. Did anyone else have this problem? At least one other person has two copies of "Time Fades away" on their box!

Gabe Walters's picture

A typo on a hype sticker does not a bootleg make. Others have ordered these from third-party sellers at the European Amazon Marketplace sites and unboxed them and posted pictures on message boards. They have CB's stylized initials, Pallas matrix numbers, high quality vinyl pressings and printed sleeves, etc. Warner shipped these out for April's RSD, and they were to sit in a warehouse after Neil postponed their release. Some slipped out and made their way to unscrupulous shops, which sold them at a markup. Really no mystery at all about these.

For Black Friday RSD, some European shops got the box set with the incorrect hype sticker from official sources.

eeilbacher's picture

This box set has been one of the most confusing acquisitions for me ever! I got up at zero-dark-thirty and snagged one at local record store. Get home happy. Mid-Day email in my inbox from Neil's site offering the "Numbered" edition. I prefer that and figure I can sell box from that morning. It is not listed as back ordered or out of stock. I order the $200 Tee-Shirt edition. Get confirmation email. Followed 2 minutes later by the "Sorry your item is Back Ordered" email with possible 30 day wait. Later at 10pm Friday Neil's site has Tee-Shirt Edition listed as $159.99 but states "Out of Stock". I saved a screenshot of the page to prove it. Confused enough yet? It gets better, tonight, 7pm Monday the site lists both Numbered versions with and without tee-shirts priced correctly but neither says Out of Stock. Until you order them I guess. Neil is pretty much a perfectionist, I find it hard to believe that this is under his control, yet it seems anything he does is completely under his control. What's really going on here?

eeilbacher's picture

After all I described in the previous post, no notice of availability prior to ordering, wrong price listed with the expensive set, "Out of Stock" shown at one time and not another. Today's email informs me "My Item Has Shipped"...Go Figure!
I guess what would have made it all sensible from the start would have been for them to list it as a "Pre-Order". That would have been too easy I guess.

LondonCalling's picture

I agree with Gabe that the boxset with the typo on the sticker is not a counterfeit. I asked my local bricks and mortar record store to try and get hold of a copy for RSD Black Friday which they did. I confirmed with them that it had been ordered direct from Warners here in the UK.
The pressing quality is superb, my only complaint is regarding the sleeve for Tonight's The Night which hadn't been gummed together properly but I managed to rectify that myself.

Oldslat's picture

Perhaps the person responsible for "Times" on the hype sticker is the same person responsible for the text at Neil Young's online store.

From the description of the box set:

Official Release Series Vinyl Box Vol. 2 (Numbered Edition)

Product Description
Includes the next four albums from the official release series: “On The Beach,” “Times Fades Away,” "Tonight’s The Night," and “Zuma.”

The Neil Young Official Release Series Volume 2 limited edition box set includes: “On The Beach,” “Times Fades Away,” "Tonight’s The Night," and “Zuma.”

See it for yourself here:

Denis Combet's picture

I just ordered mine on for 128.55 Euros (137.00 with charges). It said free shipping. Should be here (in Canada) on the 19th of December. I always ordered vinyls and c.d with I had no problem to order with amazon.france, all my information, address, credit card, were in there. Let's hope I won't have problem with the quality of the vinyl. With harvest, On the Beach, TTN, and Zuma are my favorites with Harvest...

Concertkid's picture

Crawfordrocks, that sucks about your On the Beach. After your post I listened criticallyl to the title track and I didn't hear anything like you described.

crawfordrocks's picture

Howdy! Thanks for your post re: On the Beach. It lets me know that there are good pressings out there which is key because I really want to get mine replaced & I'd have been hesitant to buy another one at any point down the line if I thought it was a bad batch as opposed to one bad apple. (My Time Fades Away had a completely split seam too so I guess it just wasn't my day.) Enjoy your tunes & thanks, again, for the feedback...

mkimsey56's picture

Casual Neil Young fans, those who own maybe Harvest, Greatest Hits and After the Goldfish will never "get" these four albums and really shouldn't try, these are not for you.

To appreciate these, you had to be a hardcore fan at this point in time, dealing with his unpredictability and suffering through the triple disappointments of his sabotaging of CSN&Y's Human Highway and the pulling back of what would have been stellar albums; Homegrown and Chrome Dreams. Neil never made logical sense but if you were committed (literally) to the Neil cause back then, these are what you had to live with and find a way to enjoy. An eventually their charms come through but not for the faint of heart.

Zuma does not qualify as one of the "Ditch Trilogy" as it was his first solid album in a few years at that point and I kind of take exception to lumping On the Beach into that trilogy as it's always been a personal favorite.

Actually, I seem to remember the first of the "ditch" albums as being Journey Through the Past and if it wasn't, it confounded fans just as much.

For those of us who were there, these are great reproduction, all paraphernalia included, great sound and only one complaint and that is that the scan of the On the Beach cover is not so hot.

Pretzel Logic's picture

First purchase had two of the four records riddled with repeating tics (spin clean didn't help ...). Second attempt On The Beach had the aforementioned non fill on See The Sky. Three trips and two sets later I've managed to cobble together a reasonable set of four LPs. If you frustrate easily, or feel your time is at all valuable, avoid this box completely for now.

crawfordrocks's picture

Do you mind if I ask how you were able to cobble your final set together? I've contacted Warner Bros. regarding the pressing issues, but I've not heard back from anyone on their end. Were you able to return your defective sets in exchange for less defective ones? Thanks for your time & advice!

Pretzel Logic's picture

Bought at retail store. Fortunately they had a second set and I was able to keep the two best LPs from each box, returning the remaining four as a single "defect" box. This swap out approach wouldn't likely be feasible with on-line purchases...

crawfordrocks's picture

I'm glad that worked out for you. Thanks for getting back to me...

Pretzel Logic's picture

You're welcome. Good luck.

Kurt's picture

The four albums from this box set have been released individually by Reprise on 140-gram vinyl. I bought all four, and though some weren’t perfectly flat or perfectly centered, they were all dead quiet and sounded excellent. The dead wax has a “CB” inscription, so they are presumably from the same stampers as the box set.