Neil Young - Wonderboot

Comments: This 5CD set is comprised of the legendary "Rock and Roll Cowboy" set (Great Dane 9407/ABCD) plus the equally legendary unreleased album "Chroms Dreams" as a bonus 5th CD.

Disc 1: Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing, Birds, Cowgirl in the Sand, Tell Me Why, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Everybody's Alone, A Man Needs a Maid/Heart of Gold, Out on the Weekend, Love In Mind, Dance Dance Dance, Cripple Creek Ferry, L.A., Soldier, Harvest, Sweet Joni, Tonight's the Night

Disc 2: Pardon My Heart, On the Beach, Traces, Human Highway, Love Art Blues, Hawaiian Sunrise, Like a Hurricane, Stringman, Evening Coconut, Long May You Run, Southern Man, Give Me Strength, Comes a Time, Sail Away, Lady Wingshot, Shots, Downtown

Disc 3: If You Got Love, Transformer Man, My Boy, Old Ways, Kinda Fonda Wanda, Gonna Rock Forever, Touch the Night, Amber Jean, Let Your Fingers Do the Talking, Helpless, Down by the River, Interstate, Grey Riders, Nothing Is Perfect, Southern Pacific

Disc 4: Mideast Vacation, Road of Plenty (El Dorado), Computer Age, Bad News, Ordinary People, Rockin' in the Free World, Winterlong, Silver and Gold, Campaigner, Homefires, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Mr. Soul, Separate Ways, Philadelphia

A friend forwarded me the following spot-on review of this set:

Rock 'n' Roll Cowboy is a rich, if frustrating, listening experience. Released by the 
Italian Great Dane record label a few years back, it's a four-disc set that collects 
various Neil live performances, spanning from his Springfield days to his Grammy Award
show performance of "Philadelphia" in 1994. Among the many treats: "Sweet Joni," a 1973
piano-based paean to Joni Mitchell apparently only performed once. It's a fragile song
with fragile lyrics, perhaps in keeping with its subject. Other highlights include 
several Stills-Young Band run-throughs, especially "Southern Man" which features some
scintillating guitar solos from both Stills and Young. Say what you will about Stills'
songwriting abilities, but there's no denying his prowess with a six-string. He's one 
of the best around--always was, always will be. Other highlights include the unreleased
songs "Everybody's Alone," "Traces," "Love Art Blues," "Give Me Strength," "Lady 
Wingshot," "If You Got Love," "Gonna Rock Forever," "Amber Jean," "Let Your Fingers Do
the Talking," "Grey Riders," "Nothing is Perfect," "Ordinary People," "Silver and Gold,"
"Homefires" and "Separate Ways." Add in several reworked versions of known quantities,
such as the Saturday Night Live debut of "Rockin' in the Free World," "Shots" (performed
acoustically from San Francisco's Boarding House) and "Helpless" (a stunning take from 
Neil & the International Harvester's Austin City Limits appearance in 1984) and 
"Stringman," recorded in London in 1976, and you have enough for a two-album set--a 
great one at that, especially if 20-bit remastering and/or HDCD technology is employed
to clean up the sound.

"To clean up the sound." Hmmm. Therein lies the rub, folks. Thanks to this collection's 
breadth--in total, 63 songs taken from upwards of 40 concerts--the sound quality ranges
from the near-atrocious to excellent. A good example of this are the trio of songs 
("Traces," "Human Highway," and "Human Highway") taken from CSNY's 1974 performance at
the Coliseum in Seattle. It sounds like the audio equivalent of sludge--except, of course,
for the harmonies which do come through. Thus, as I said at the outset, this is a rich, if
frustrating, experience. Let's hope that many of its treasured are found in better form on
the Archives when/if that multi-CD set is released.

One other comment: The accompanying booklet to Rock 'n' Roll Cowboy is excellent, far 
surpassing many liner notes to legitimate boxed sets, featuring a well-written overview of
Neil's career as well as a track-by-track commentary AND complete tour schedule from 
Neil's 1968/69 solo tour through to his 1993 jaunt with Booker T. & the MGs. While it 
doesn't tip the scale as far as the set's rating, it does much of what the set itself 
does, collecting many of Neil's comments and observations on many of his songs.  

Despite its sound lapses, until the Archives are released--and possibly even then--this is
a true "essential." (A+)

Chrome Dreams
"Black Label" 17088-02

Track List:
Powderfinger, Captain Kennedy, Pocahontas, Will to Love, Sedan Delivery, White Line, Too Far Gone, Star of Bethlehem, Like a Hurricane, Look Out for My Love, Hold Back the Tears, Homefires, Ride My Llama, Peace of Mind, Stringman

Comments: Here's another review to put this in perspective:

In October of 1976, Neil was set to release the three-lp best-of Decade. At the last minute, however,
he changed his mind and instead requested his record company, Reprise, to shelve the project for one 
year. He had plans for a new album, he said, that would be ready for a November release. He even 
proffered the title: Chrome Dreams. November came and went, of course, and no new Neil product was in
sight. Fast forward to March of 1977: acetates of the proposed album are pressed, with the track 
listing as follows:

Side one: a solo acoustic "Pocahontas," "Will to Love," "Star of Bethlehem," "Like a Hurricane," "Too Far Gone"

Side two: a solo acoustic "Hold Back the Tears," "Homegrown," "Captain Kennedy," "Stringman," a less frenetic 
"Sedan Delivery," a solo acoustic "Powderfinger," "Look Out for My Love." 

Jump ahead to June, when American Stars 'n' Bars is released: five of the songs planned for Chrome Dreams
make the cut. The rest? They'd surface in the years to come, some with nary a change in arrangement and 
others. . . refashioned for the times. The questions surrounding this album, then, are what has kept it 
firmly entrenched in the Neil pantheon as a "mythical" album. What if Neil had released it in instead of 
American Stars 'n' Bars? While ASnB is good--let's face it, it doesn't rank in the same league with this 
lost treasure. And what would have become of Rust Never Sleeps, which shares three tracks? And why, 
exactly, did Neil shelve this masterpiece? Of course, any answers are pure conjecture--which is half the fun. 

All of that leads to this: This Chrome Dreams is not that unreleased album. For one, the bootleggers 
changed up the song order. Two, they substituted a live, 11-minute version of "Like a Hurricane." Three, 
they subtracted "Homegrown" and added a few more tracks: an electric "White Lines" (which they list as 
"River of Pride"), a 1992 acoustic performance of "Homefires," an acoustic 1978 performance of "Ride My 
Llama" and a live "Peace of Mind."

In short, this is a fine--nay, great--bootleg. Performances are topnotch throughout, especially the 
acoustic "red men run son" version of "Powderfinger" and ... all of the other songs. (A+)