Neil Young's Upcoming Record Store Day 4 LP Box Set Produced From Master Tapes AAA (Now Delayed Until November)

(Late breaking news: the set has been pushed back until probably November).

Neil Young's previously announced 4 LP box set due to arrive on Record Store Day, April 19th will definitely be issued AAA from the original master tapes. I know that for a fact because I had the tapes in my hands Thursday evening March 13th in Chris Bellman's room at Bernie Grundman Mastering.

The albums in the box set are: Time Fades Away, On the Beach, Tonight's the Night and Zuma. No duds there!

So why can't you see the tapes? I asked Chris if I could take a picture. Chris felt it best to check with John Nowland, Neil's "go to" engineer and keeper of the tapes since 1983. Nowland initially said "yes" but as I was about to snap the photos, the phone rang and he said "no."

Why no? Because he didn't feel in a position to grant permission. My take based on this experience is that Neil could be asked and say "Why did you even bother asking"? or had he not been asked and seen the images perhaps have gotten very upset. Nowland should know, so if he thought better of granting permission, I'm good with that.

If the situation changes and Neil says "okay", Chris Bellman promises to take the photo and send and then it will be posted here so you can see the tapes. I like seeing master tapes, not to mention holding them!

They are old tapes and at least one required baking. This may be the final analog pass for vinyl so we should all be happy that Chris Bellman has them, will do the cutting and Pallas will press.

If you're a Neil fan, don't pass this one up because it probably won't come around again. I wonder if the reissued On the Beach will include the original's full color, flowered inner jacket.

recordhead's picture

but, my experience has been you gotta know somebody to get the good stuff.  

Michael Fremer's picture


recordhead's picture

Most RSD items (at least from my experience) like this box will not make it to the average customer.  Love the site! 

cement_head's picture

I've always been able to find everything for RSD listed - at ShakeIt (Cincy).

DLKG's picture

Or get to the record store really really early on Record Store Day.  I hope it's not too cold out !!



firedog55's picture

Hopefully they will sell  well done hi-res versions. If the tapes are deteriorating, that will be the version for posterity.

Glotz's picture

With the analog tapes deteriorating, I can see why this may be the last time to get our hands on these smokin' lps! 

Do they usually include the extra 'liner' notes (Tonight's) and cool touches like the flowered beach umbrella (Beach)?  

Seems for the prices they ask they should without question.  

What about the single release lp's?  I own 2 copies of each, except for Time Fades Away, and probably won't want to part with the $100 the set will cost.

PS- What's with the Scotch tape on the cover?  I imagine a really obvious pun, but I am brain dead today...

RobWynn's picture

Sorry if I missed that you were joking and already knew what it meant.

gregroe's picture

Now I just got to find a record store that will carry them

RobWynn's picture

Just about 2 weeks ago I finally took out the 4 LPs from the first box, poly'd them, and put 'em on the shelf, as well as played Time Fades Away and On The Beach thinking to myself "When is the next 4LP box set coming out?".  I got my answer pretty quickly.

And just last weekend I found two copies of Metheny's "80/81" when I had told myself I gotta look out for that next time I hit the store.

I gotta start thinking of more LPs as they tend to materialize quickly, and this time more rare titles.

I hope this NY box isn't only available on RSD as it will mean I'll likely need to camp out the night before at my local store as people are getting there earlier and earlier with each passing year.  But I'm guessing it is going to be limited like the last box, but hopefully with individual releases like others are hoping, just in case. 

Paul Boudreau's picture

"I gotta start thinking of more LPs as they tend to materialize quickly, and this time more rare titles."

I think the rule these days is buy 'em when you see them or hear about them.  Chasing OOP already-not-cheap vinyl is a sucker's game.

Bigrasshopper's picture

The initial release will be on record store day, but at only 3,500 copies you can be sure that this will not be the only edition of this box set.  That would be crazy.  Personally, I refuse to join a snarling feeding frenzy, only to come away hungry.  I'll will wait.  I can't remember if the 1-4 box was a record store day release or before it's time, but I bought mine from Warner's Music Matters.  Box 5-8 is a is a major release for Young's reissue series, and it's nuts to think that 3,500 is it.  Just because there is no publicity about a later release dosn't mean it isn't in the works.  I think your suggestion is borderline inflamitory or at least alarmist.  But I know your passing along what you know.

From Pitch Fork- According to a publicist, there won't be a wider reissue of the album until the second volume of the Archives box sets are released—no word on when that will be.

I can't find anything about it from the NY or Warner's vinyl website.  

RobWynn's picture

Box 1-4 LPs was only 3,000 and sold out almost exclusively through online sites, so them only pressing 3,500 copies of Box 5-8 is highly likely.  Those were the numbered copies of the LPs but each title was also made available individually but not numbered. So it all comes down to how interested you are in having a numbered copy or not, if that is what they do with these next 4 titles.

Bigrasshopper's picture

When Micheal says -"don't pass this up because it probably won't come around again."-  I guess I panicked,  my impression was that he was implying that this box was the only way to get these new remasters and pressings, since he didn't mention these remasterd albums being released separately.  So I suppose it's safe to assume that these will be released separately and those of us without large record stores in our area can relax, and just take a pass on the box ?  I called the only record store in the area that sells new records where I'm going to be on that date and the guy that answered said He didn't think they would be requesting any copies.  Perhaps if I do a bit more pushing I could get them to order one.  This guy says that even if it is ordered it's not at all a sure thing that they would even get one because Record Store releases work as a kind of lottery.  I really have no clue as whether 3,500 copies is enough to satisfy all orders, or if this guy is correct?  If so it seems rather nebulous to me and I would have prefered that at least some of the production was set aside for an on line order option.  I mean, what if I were handicaped?  

Michael Fremer's picture

And that is why I wrote that if you want it, try to get it on RSD. That's all....

soundman45's picture

It's good to hear that they are not afraid to use original tapes for cutting. As long as they have been baked and the splices replaced, recording tape is quite robust. The machine transports and heads also must be in top working order as to not stress the material.


Billf's picture

Does anybody else resent Warners' creating the rarity of these boxes by limiting production to 3500 sets, and, not coincidentally jacking up the price? These aren't collectors' Corvettes- they're 40 year-old records, slabs of plastic wrapped in cardboard.

Rant over. Thank you.

Paul Boudreau's picture

The last few years I've bought all my RSD (and now Black Friday) items on eBay.  I'm not sure why some seem to think it's "evil" to do so - that's silly - why shouldn't someone who braved the frenzy be paid a few extra bucks for doing so?  The key, in my experience, is to set up a saved search for the items you want (do your research first) and look for someone who's not trolling for suckers.  That has worked for me so far.

AnalogJ's picture

While the original set might have sold out from the source, the boxes were available online from numerous sources. They were pressed on 180gm vinyl exclusively at first via the set, and released individual on lighter weight vinyl. Later they were released individually on 180gm vinyl. I remember there were issues with the pressings in the original box set, surprising some given that they were pressed at Pallas.

As a more casual fan, I have never actually heard these 2nd four albums from start to finish, only some individual tracks. This may be an opportunity to explore them.

Jim Tavegia's picture

It would seem that if the first ones when like lightning, then why not 5,000 pressings or more?   Is that the life of the metal mother?  Seems like nothing changes in the record business when demand outreaches supply. Marketing guys.....

Concertkid's picture

Michael,  I always thought that Time Fades Away couldn't be redone without it being remastered from the original tapes because of the way it was originally done on the "Compufuck" system? What light can you shed?  

From Wikipedia "Because no two-track stereo master tape was ever made as would commonly be done, the album cannot be remastered in a traditional manner. If any new release was to be attempted, a new mix would need to be made from the original multitrack tapes".


Michael Fremer's picture

Chris Bellman says "The tapes used for "Time Fades Away" are 1/4" 30ips tapes that were run during the first mastering from the multi tracks. They are a flat copy.  I believe they are the only copy of those original mixes."

Concertkid's picture

Thanks Michael! Inquiring minds want to know (even though I'll be camped outside the record store for hours before opening anyway to buy this no matter what)!  

Spin Lps's picture

Anybody know what this set will sell for?

Concertkid's picture

The guy at the record store tonight (who I suspect will be snagging one copy) said that it will be $150-$160. Still, sign me up.

thirtycenturyman's picture

Oh man.  Can't wait for On The Beach!  Revolution Blues was one of those "love at first listen" songs for me.  I've only heard it on CD so I really can't wait.

Also, listening to Zuma as I type.  It's an older UK Reprise pressing that sounds pretty good.  I've never compared it to other versions, but this one is ok by me.  Here's the lowdown on the copy I have:

Kind of a mustard yellow label  with the following numbers in the deadwax:

Side one: MS-2242 (handwritten)      31966 (handwritten)      K-54057-A1 (stamped).   There are also two characters that look like "CI" (stamped) and an "A".(stamped).

Side two: K-54057-B2 (stamped)  Also, an "A" (stamped) and a "4 0" (stamped),with the 4 being above the 0.

I think I paid $10 or so, maybe eight years ago. 

And what's there to say about Tonight's the Night...  So good.  Maybe my favorite!  I have a newer pressing that actually sounds really good, but I have no idea what the source was.  The pressing is great though.  It was given to me new about six years ago or so.

Concertkid's picture

According to NME, Neil just announced that the boxset is postponed until November (Record Store Black Friday?).  Bummer!

David Andrews's picture

If you read the biography Shakey and Neil's memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, Neil has nothing but bad memories of the Time Fades Away tour, the bad-desk mastering of the tapes, and the backlash he got from Warners over the LP, which was slammed critically and seen as a comedown after After the Gold Rush and Harvest.  I've always liked the LP for its batch of previously unrecorded songs - and Neil still plays "Don't be Denied" live from time to time.

Sorry for the placement - I'm actually replying to Bill, below.

scmaculous's picture

I always thought the original mix and pressing was awesome. The new pressings sound great, too. The "Compufuck" may have been a beast, but it all seems to have worked out well.

Billf's picture

He must really despise Time Fades Away!

ebuzz's picture

I fail to understand why record companies (or whoever is responsible for this fiasco) feel the need to artificially create collectors items.  Why would this be limited to only 3500 pressings?  Surely, it would sell more than that if put out on the open market, no?  With that small a number, and the limited availability of RSD items, it's virtually impossible to get this LP.  Then, you'll see them selling on ebay for $$$$, and for what reason?  I just don't get it.  I appreciate the RSD phenomena, but why make it that you can only get an item on THAT day!

Concertkid's picture

Michael, wondering if you've heard anything more about this release?