This Week’s New Albums: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Delicate Steve, Journey & More
Phantom Blues Band and Magic Beans also released new albums.
Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Delicate Steve, Journey, Magic Beans and Phantom Blues Band. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Toast
Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s “lost” album, Toast, has finally been released. Originally by recorded by Neil Young in 2000 and 2001 at Toast studio in San Francisco with co-producer John Hanlon, the album was held back in favor of 2002’s Are You Passionate?. Also part of the sessions were Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina, bassist Billy Talbot and former guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro. Different recordings of four of the songs on Toast appeared on Are You Passionate?, which was recorded with Booker T. & The M.G.’s and Crazy Horse. The other three songs on Toast are completely unreleased. The Toast tracks “How Ya’ Doin?” and “Boom Boom Boom” are believed to have never been performed live by Young.
In March 2021, Young posted a message on his website detailing the circumstances surrounding the reocording and subsequent shelving of Toast.
Toast is an album that stands on its own in my collection. Unlike any other, Toast was so sad that I couldn’t put it out. I just skipped it and went on to do another album in its place. I couldn’t handle it at that time. 2001.
John Coltrane, one of my heroes, made some music at Toast studio back in the day. It may have been called ‘Coast’ then, but maybe not. The name changed a few times back and forth. It was on Mission in [San Francisco]. The back door opened onto an alley. It was so stuffy in there that we left the door open until one day we saw rats coming in and out. After that, we just went outside for a smoke.
The music of Toast is about a relationship. There is a time in many relationships
that go bad, a time long before the break up, where it dawns on one of the people, maybe both, that it’s over. This was that time.
The sound is murky and dark, but not in a bad way. Fat. From the first note, you can feel the sadness that permeates the recording. That song, with its refrain, ”Don’t say you love me”, is called “Quit.” The next one, sort of like a Deep Purple hit, is called “Standing in the Light.” “I don’t wanna to get personal, or have you put me on the spot” is the opening line. Followed by “Goin Home,” these songs paint a landscape where time doesn’t matter – because everything is going south. A lady is lost in her car. The dark city surrounds her – past present and future. It’s a scary place. You be the judge.
Then the scene changes to a religious guy who just lost his job. He’s turning on Jesus. He can’t cut any more trees. He’s a logger. Finally, The “Gateway of Love” beckons with “background noise on a changing sky.” I had forgotten about these songs, put them out of my mind and went on living my life.
It must be said that here Crazy Horse shows a depth never seen or heard before. The greatest group I have ever met. This is a pinnacle. Where they let me go, where they took me, was unbelievable. I couldn’t stay. Then, “I’d like to shake your hand, Mr. Disappointment.” I see you now eye to eye. Murky and dark. There’s no mistaking it. How can you be so real and intangible? So we continued on down on the path. “She’s a healer.” But not this time. It’s Toast.
Delicate Steve – After Hours
Delicate Steve, guitarist Steve Marion) released his new full length album, After Hours, today via ANTI- Records. Self-produced by Marion, the 10-track LP After Hours is the follow-up to Delicate Steve’s 2019 album Til I Burn Up, which saw Marion experimenting with electronics and sonic manipulation. After Hours, instead sees Marion returning to a more straightforward guitar approach, writing and recording entirely on a 1966 Fender Stratocaster guitar. Marion for the first time brought in outside musicians to contribute to After Hours, which features bassist Shahzad Ismaily (Yoko Ono, Marc Ribot) and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco (David Byrne, Atoms For Peace). Marion, whose credits include working with Paul Simon, Mac Demarco, Dr. Dog and many more — joined The Black Keys as a touring guitarist in 2019 for their Let’s Rock Tour. Needing a reset and with the pandemic sidelining live music, Marion relocated to Tuscon, Arizona where he encountered a “vintage Fender Stratocaster that would rekindle his romance” with the guitar.
“Up to that point, I’d always tried to push the sound of the guitar forward into unexplored territory,” Marion said. “But once I got my hands on that guitar, I started to realize that the most adventurous, unexpected thing I could do was just plug it into an amp and play. I wanted people to find comfort in the music, to find a home in it, because that’s what it did for me. It helped me finally find a home in the sound of the electric guitar.”
Journey – Freedom
Out today from Journey via BMG is Freedom, the band’s first studio album featuring all new songs since 2011’s Eclipse. The 15-track LP was produced by co-founder Neal Schon along with longtime member Jonathan Cain and drummer Narada Michael Walden. Freedom features Journey’s current vocalist, Arnel Pineda, and contributions from bassist Randy Jackson.
Schon used the period while he was stuck at home as COVID struck starting work on Freedom. “During the pandemic, there wasn’t much to do,” he said. “I spent a lot of time in my little studio at home, learning how to play keyboards and looping. Some of those ideas ended up being songs. So it kind of came out of nowhere.”
Magic Beans – Unzipped
Colorado jam quartet Magic Beans return with a new instrumental album, Unzipped. The 10-track LP is the band’s first studio foray into the wordless realm and saw guitarist Scott Hachey handling production duties. Along with Magic Beans’ Casey Russell (keyboards), Cody Wales (drums) and Chris Duffy (bass), Unzipped contains contributions from longtime Beans collaborator Will Trask on percussion. Hachey explained the inspiration and process behind Unzipped:
This record is pretty much a Magic Beans alter ego, one of our split personalities. We took an experimental approach diving into the lo-fi instrumental realm, using analog synths, tape machines, and vintage gear. There’s a lot of influence from producers and collectives like Timbaland, Souliquarians, and Vulfpeck – musicians who developed a signature vibe solely through the instruments and recording equipment they had access to. We want the instrumentals to exist as they are and carry wherever you wanna go, without lyrical direction. All around it’s just a little sexy side piece of an album for our fans to enjoy.
Phantom Blues Band – Blues For Breakfast
Blues For Breakfast is a new studio album released this week by the Phantom Blues Band. Formed by Taj Mahal in the early 1990s, the Phantom Blues Band was made up of drummer Tony Braunagel, bassist/singer Larry Fulcher, guitarist/singer Johnny Lee Schell, saxophonists Joe Sublett, trumpeter Darrell Leonard and keyboardist/singer Mike Finnigan. The band’s previous offerings include 2006’s Out Of The Shadows, 2007’s Footprints and 2012’s Inside Out. There most recent LP, 2020’s Still Cookin’, was the last recorded with Finnigan, who sadly died from cancer in 2021. Veteran keyboardist Jim Pugh was recruited to join the band, who set out to record Blues For Breakfast in honor of Finnigan. Guests on the 12-track album include Bonnie Raitt and Curtis Salgado. Released by the Little Village record label, proceeds from the sales of Blues For Breakfast will go toward the Mike Finnigan School of Music at the Stiefel Theater in Salina, Kansas.
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.