Neil Young is captured in his mid-1970s prime with “Chrome Dreams,” yet another “lost” — or “unreleased” — album officially seeing the light of day as Young originally envisioned nearly half a century ago.
Young, 77, has been delving into his vast archive in recent years to release live albums and studio recordings that were previously slated for release, but for one reason or another never got out.
The long-bootlegged collection of 12 songs, all recorded between 1974 and 1976 and first compiled for a release in 1977, gained legendary status as it sat in the vault. Young even managed to release a titular sequel, “Chrome Dreams II” in 2007, before he got around to putting out the original.
It’s impossible 46 years later to know how “Chrome Dreams” would have altered the Neil Young career narrative had it been released when planned. Certainly, “Chrome Dreams” is a stunning collection, highlighted by beloved Young songs “Powderfinger,””Pocahontas” and “Like a Hurricane.”
In fact, all of the songs on the album have already been released in one version or another, just not in this 1977 sequence.
There are variations here being heard for the first time, but for diehard fans hoping to hear radically different versions of the songs they’ve long been familiar with, “Chrome Dreams” doesn’t offer much.
“Pocahontas” is the same version that was released in 1979 on “Rust Never Sleeps,” just minus the overdubs. “Like a Hurricane” is the same version released in 1977 on “American Stars ‘n Bars.” The version of “Powderfinger” on “Chrome Dreams” is the original, which was previously released in 2017. Young first released another version of the song in 1979 on “Rust Never Sleeps.”
Two other tracks, “Sedan Delivery” and “Hold Back the Tears,” have lyrics not included in the later released versions.
While there’s not a lot that’s new, “Chrome Dreams” succeeds in bringing together yet another tantalizing lost “what if” release from Young’s vast catalog. SCOTT BAUER, MDT/AP