When it comes to artists who have entire albums of material just sitting in their own personal vault, Neil Young is one of the kings of the private stash. Only Prince’s stored materials are more legendary, and Young has the added benefit of being able to personally oversee what material of his is set to make the rounds in the current day.
Young has been active in his emptying of the vault, mostly through his ongoing Archives series. That’s how legendary “lost” albums eventually saw the light of day, the most famous recent example being the release of Homegrown, the 1975 album completed by Young but shelved in favour of releasing Tonight’s the Night. Young would feature some of the album’s songs on future releases, but the full-length original version of Homegrown didn’t see a release until 2020.
Now, Young is doing it again with another famed “lost” album. Back in 1987, Young planned to release an album of new studio material under the name Summer Songs. Instead, his dispute with Geffen Records led him to release a new album with Crazy Horse, Life, which was mostly recorded live during gigs at the Universal Amphitheater at the end of 1986. Summer Songs was shelved, and its songs eventually were parcelled out to future albums.
“We have recently found a collection of originals from 1987 named Summer Songs at the time of recording,” Young explains on his website. “That time was about 35 years ago. We are not sure of the exact original dates of these recordings yet. They were all given the same date in the NYA Vault’s records, but they all have a very similar unique sound. To give you an idea of place and time, Farm Aid and the Bridge School Concerts had just begun their long runs.”
“This group of songs had just been written and put down in the studio at Broken Arrow (as far as we can figure),” Young continued. “We cannot completely be sure of the engineer who was recording these, and I don’t remember the sessions at all! Every song in the collection was with acoustic guitar or piano and simple added embellishments — sketches of arrangements we made to preserve the initial ideas.”
“These originals were first introduced in their final master versions on the albums Freedom, American Dream, Psychedelic Pill and Harvest Moon. They will be included in NYA Volume 3 and may be released as a separate Archive album before that. It is a beautiful listen, created over a short period of time, that influenced four albums.”
Young provided the list of songs that will appear on the new release: ‘The Last of His Kind’, ‘For the Love of Man’, ‘American Dream’, ‘Name of Love’, ‘Someday’, ‘One of These Days’, ‘Hangin’ on a Limb’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’. Young also adds that “The words of these originals are significantly different from their subsequent master album releases in many cases. Several completely new and unheard verses are found in the songs of this collection.”
Summer Songs doesn’t yet have a release date, as research is still going on to decode some of the information regarding the sessions. Still, you can listen to the later versions of some of the album’s tracks as they appeared on future albums and live performances down below.