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Time Fades Away is a 1973 live album by Neil Young, consisting of previously unreleased material. Long out of print on vinyl, still unavailable on CD, and widely pirated, physical copies of the album are highly sought after. Fans started a petition in 2005 requesting that the album be officially released. Songs from the album continue to be played, sometimes by Young but more often by other artists; R.E.M. has cited this album as a source of inspiration for New Adventures in Hi-Fi.


Though "Love In Mind" dates from a 1971 solo tour (on that same tour, on 30 January 1971, "The Needle and the Damage Done" was recorded, the version on Harvest), all other songs on the album were from recordings made during a 62-date tour in early 1973 that featured an acoustic set with Young followed by an electric set with backing band the Stray Gators. Longtime collaborator and former Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, who had just died of a heroin overdose, had been set to join the Gators as a second guitarist but was sent home after it became evident that he was in no condition to embark on a rigorous tour. This motif of death and gloom recurred throughout the period, culminating in Tonight's the Night.

The tour came on the heels of the success of the country-tinged Harvest. Audiences did not always react positively to the new songs premiered; neither were they fond of the Gators' new sound, more reminiscent of the hard-rocking Crazy Horse of old. Young grew mentally unstable as the tour progressed, frustrating drummer Kenneth Buttrey to the point where he left the group two-thirds of the way through. He was replaced by ex-Turtles and CSNY (and future Jefferson Airplane) percussionist Johnny Barbata, who plays on all of the recordings on the album. Similarly frustrated was pianist Jack Nitzsche, who according to producer Elliot Mazer in the book Shakey would often spew obscenities into his switched-off vocal microphone. Similarly, pedal steel/dobro player Ben Keith was so inebriated at one soundcheck that he had no idea of what instrument he was playing. For the tour, Young switched guitars from his trademark Gibson Les Paul to a Gibson Flying V.

Alcohol abuse, combined with his near-falsetto singing style on the tour, would lead Young to develop a throat infection in the final days of the tour. Called in to supplement the harmonies and add some extra guitar were David Crosby and Graham Nash. Clashes continued, with Nitzsche complaining that he couldn't hear himself playing because Crosby's 12-string electric guitar overpowered the sound mix. After ninety days, the tour ended in Salt Lake Citymarker.

Recording, release

Along with the soundtrack to Journey Through the Past, Time Fades Away remains the only officially released Neil Young album unavailable on CD, which may be due to technical issues: Time Fades Away was recorded directly from the soundboard to final 2-track masters using the Quad-8 CompuMix, the unreliable first digital mixing soundboard—against the wishes of producer David Briggs, who referred to it as the "Compufuck" but was forced to yield to the desires of Young. This resulted in a murky-sounding release; because the final mixes were those rough cuts, the album cannot be remixed for improved clarity:

At the time of its release, Time Fades Away was poorly received in comparison to its predecessor, missing the Top 20 and gaining few critical accolades. However, and perhaps due in part to its scarce availability in recent years, consensus among the Young faithful now places the record in the league of his greatest artistic triumphs. In 1995, there were plans to release the album on CD using the HDCD encoding; several test pressings were made. However, the CD release was shelved for unknown reasons. In early 2007, Young's management reiterated that there were no plans to release the album on CD. Pristine vinyl copies are still available in used stores and on eBay, often with the fold-out liner notes still intact; some CDs from the 1995 test pressings exist, and copies of these CDs are circulated as bootlegs. Additionally, some fans have made CDs from the more readily available vinyl copies.

Neil Young commented on Time Fades Away in the original, unreleased liner notes for his 1977 triple-album compilation Decade:

"Time Fades Away" was briefly released as a single, with the B-side of "Last Trip To Tulsa," a live version of the song also taken from the Time Fades Away tour and unavailable anywhere else. In 2008, Young surprised a German concert audience by playing the song.

Track listing

All tracks written by Neil Young.

Side one

  1. "Time Fades Away" – 5:36
    • Recorded at The Myriad, Oklahoma City (March 1, 1973)
  2. "Journey Through the Past" – 3:19
    • Recorded at Public Hall, Cleveland (February 11, 1973)
  3. "Yonder Stands the Sinner" – 3:17
    • Recorded at Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle (March 17, 1973)
  4. "L.A." – 3:11
    • Recorded at The Myriad, Oklahoma City (March 1, 1973)
  5. "Love in Mind" – 1:58
    • Recorded at Royce Hall, UCLA (January 30, 1971)

Side two

  1. "Don't Be Denied" – 5:16
    • Recorded at Memorial Auditorium, Phoenix (March 28, 1973)
  2. "The Bridge" – 3:05
    • Recorded at Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento (April 1, 1973)
  3. "Last Dance" – 8:47
    • Recorded at Sports Arena, San Diego (March 29, 1973)



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