Acoustic Sounds
Neil Young The Ducks
By: Michael Fremer

March 21st, 2023



There's a Story Behind the "Onslaught" of Neil Young Official Bootleg Releases

but he's not yet ready to tell it....

Hopefully, one day soon Neil will reveal the reason he's so rapidly releasing so many Bootleg series titles, but for now he's leaving fans guessing. According to the Warner Music publicist there will be "many more" titles this year. These releases are not randomly chosen. Behind each is a unique story.

The latest two, out April 14th are The Ducks High Flyin' and Neil Young and the Santa Monica Flyers Somewhere Under the Rainbow.

High Flyin' is a double-live album from the summer of 1977. The Ducks were Neil Young (guitar, harmonica and vocals), Bob Mosley (bass and vocals), Jeff Blackburn (guitar and vocals) and Johnny Craviotto (drums & vocals). Mosley of course was bassist for the original, chronically under-appreciated Moby Grape. The band made frequent, unannounced appearances at small, local clubs like Back Room and The Crossroads Club, with crowds fueled by word-of-mouth rumors.

Recordings from these club dates and two evening sessions at the nearby Magical Devices studio have for decades been bootlegged in less than satisfactory sound. This release promised to greatly improve sound quality (review forthcoming here).

The Ducks "Little Wing"

You can listen go The Ducks do "Little Wing" here:

Somewhere Under the Rainbow recorded live at London's Rainbow Theater features Young with an aggregate called the Santa Monica Flyers featuring Nils Lofgren, Ben Keith, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina. Anyone reading this far knows who they are and what they play.

The press blurb for this double LP set describes the performances as "high-wire" and the sonics as "semi-unhinged", adding, "all the musicians were in a free-form state of mind and swung for the fences on every track. The double-disc album captures a sound and soul that still resonates loudly for its daring, and among Neil Young fans is an achievement that is as unconventional as it is unforgettable." Liner notes by recording engineer Pete Long.

Somewhere Under the Rainbow

You can listen to a Somewhere Under the Rainbow track here:

Readers who appreciate my aside anecdotes, here are two:

1) I've never interviewed Neil, but always wanted to. But what happened during the debut of "Journey Through the Past" at The Orson Welles Cinema in Cambridge may be why it's never happened, or maybe my self-importance is talking. Or maybe not. That's a story for a video.

We both appeared in an MTV video about digital along with Peter Gabriel, and Dave Mustaine who said "if you don't like digital you can't play your instrument" or words to that effect. Years ago, Young's long time photographer Joel Bernstein told me my quote "Digital preserves music like formaldehyde preserves frogs: you kill it and it lasts forever" appeared on a Post-it note on Neil's bulletin board. Joel was waiting for the opportune moment to ask about an interview. Neil kept moving the Post-it note around the bulletin board. "It's been there longer than almost anything up there that I can recall", he told me. And then it was gone. Oh well. Maybe anecdote 2 will pique Neils' curiosity.

2) I did an onstage make-out scene with Daryl Hannah at The Groundling's Theater the day she sent on set for "Splash". it's a hilarious story best told in a video.

Meanwhile here's that MTV video:


  • 2023-03-22 07:07:41 PM

    Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

    I need to watch this, but thank YOU for addressing Neil's fervent release schedule! Jeeez, I need to fit this in with the rest of my rabid buying habits... Do tell soon please, Neil.

  • 2023-03-23 01:35:44 AM

    Alex D. da Silva wrote:

    Keep'em coming, Neil!

  • 2023-03-27 06:23:10 AM

    Clarke Skorski wrote:

    You always been my go to guy for vinyl, to many people don't appreciate analog for what it is. And any piece you write is informative and interesting for job swinging for the fences

    Clarke from Detroit

    • 2023-03-27 06:23:40 AM

      Clarke Skorski wrote:

      Good job* not for job

  • 2023-03-28 10:26:24 PM

    Bill Houston wrote:

    Nobody needs to convince me of the superiority of analog over digital but here's Neil Young and Rick Rubin talking about going from analog tape immediately to digital (for mixing and "control over the music") and then back to analog for the master. There's some insightful comments about how fast analog tape wears down and how recording to tape and then immediately transferring to digital sounds better than recording directly to digital. 3m-10m is the meat of the conversation: