meta-scriptInside Neil Young's 'Before And After': Where All 13 Songs Came From | GRAMMY.com
Inside Neil Young's 'Before And After': Where All 13 Songs Came From
Neil Young performs in concert during Farm Aid 2023

Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images

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Inside Neil Young's 'Before And After': Where All 13 Songs Came From

The folk-rock titan's newest LP is a journey through the past — whether recent or decades in the rearview. But 'Before And After' is far more interesting than just an album of re-recordings.

GRAMMYs/Dec 7, 2023 - 02:56 pm

More than his fragile tenor, knife-twisting pump organ, swarming Old Black guitar, or any other aural hallmark, Neil Young is defined by his dogged, locomotive-like (and somewhat wackadoo) resolve to surge forward. Come hell or high water, Young will continue the mission.

Which doesn't mean innovate, necessarily — even though innumerable contemporary indie and Americana artists owe their livelihoods to him. It's just that the fire he ignited in 1966, when he wrote his first song as a Buffalo Springfielder, remains furiously burning in 2023.

"I don't care. I figured that's why they like it, because I don't care. It's what I have to do. I want to do this," the two-time GRAMMY winner and 28-time nominee told a tickled Zane Lowe last year, while promoting his latest album with Crazy Horse, World Record. "That's why there's 51, 52 albums: because I want to do this, and I can still feel it. I'd be crazy to stop."


All of a year after
World Record, Young is back with a new album, Before and After. (Would that be his 53rd? His recent cavalcade of archival releases renders the number hopelessly blurry.)

Before and After, out Dec. 8 is a collection of solo re-recordings of old songs; it shows that even with his foot on the accelerator, he tends to drift into a figure 8. Some tunes, like "Mr. Soul," are classics. Others, like the Trans outtake "If You Got Love," are exclusively recognizable to the real heads.

But despite his litany of stylistic detours, Young's essentially the same musician as when we met him; as such, this sequence is seamless. Which leads to another wrinkle; Young designed Before and After to be an unbroken suite of music.

"Songs from my life, recently recorded, create a music montage with no beginnings or endings," he wrote in a press release. "The feeling is captured, not in pieces, but as a whole piece — designed to be listened to that way. This music presentation defies shuffling, digital organization, separation. Only for listening. That says it all."

And another wrinkle: Although it's not billed as such, there are signs that the album was recorded live, with a few overdubs added in post — which he's done before, on albums like Rust Never Sleeps and Earth. Not only does the tracklist hew closely to the setlists from his West Coast solo tour last summer, but crowd noise is faintly audible in several spots, and the credits declare the recording location to simply be "USA."

As usual with this most mercurial of artists, Before and After seems simple, but there are layers of Youngian mystery. But where these songs initially hail from is no mystery at all. Here's a quick breakdown of exactly what we're hearing on Before and After.

"I'm the Ocean" (Mirror Ball, 1995)

A warts-and-all collaboration with Pearl Jam recorded in record time, Mirror Ball's actual songs have always had a hard time peeking through what Young described as "a big smoldering mass of sound." (Well, except the undeniable, immediate "Downtown" — perhaps the exception that proves the rule.)

But although its songs were written entirely in the span of the four-day recording session, the passage of time and a fair amount of dedicated listening — will bear out their merits. The Before and After version of "I'm the Ocean" is proof positive: What sounded a bit like an interminable garage-rock workout reveals itself to be a "Thrasher"-esque folk epic.

"I'm not present/ I'm a drug that makes you dream/ I'm an aerostar/ I'm a Cutlass Supreme," Young evocatively sings. "In the wrong lane/Trying to turn against the flow/ I'm the ocean/ I'm the giant undertow."

"Homefires" (Neil Young Archives Volume II: 1972-1976, 2020)

No doubt, it was a treat to hear Homegrown, one of Young's whitest whales. Recorded in 1974 and '75, it was shelved until Young finally released it in 2020 — the tip of the spear for a lot of unreleased material in its wake.

But for those steeped in Young lore, it seemed like there was a lot missing: where's "Give Me Strength"? Where's "Frozen Man"? Where's "Homefires"? Clearly, he didn't forget about the latter; there's a perfectly lovely version here.

But take it under advisement to seek out the original recording, which is deliciously vibey and aching as so much early Young music was.

"Burned" (Buffalo Springfield, 1966)

All these decades on, the bond between Young and his Buffalo Springfield/CSNY partner Stephen Stills is ironclad: if nothing's changed since early 2023, the musical brothers still get together to jam every Wednesday.

Young's devastated, precocious "Burned," from the eponymous first Springfield album, has lost none of its sting; it's downright thrilling to hear Young lay into it. Buffalo Springfield may have come out 57 years ago, but burned out on these tunes he is not.

"On the Way Home" (Last Time Around, 1968)

The studio recording of the yearning "On the Way Home" always felt a little incongruous with its sunshine-pop production; the solo, acoustic version on 2007's Live at Massey Hall 1971 always seemed like the take.

While that possibly remains true, this version acts as a worthy bookend, the after to the before: "Though we rush ahead to save our time/ We are only what we feel," Young sings, summing up his entire career.

**"If You Got Love" (dropped from Trans, 1983)**

Decades of snickers later, the electronic Trans has been redeemed in the critical aggregate.

It was never a thumbed-nose, label-baiting genre excursion like some of his other '80s albums. Rather, it was an honest response to parenthood of a nonverbal son. (And, it must be said, his burgeoning love of — bordering on a fixation on — Devo.)

While outtake "If You Got Love" lacks the aggressive vocoder of its Trans brethren, it remains shockingly commercial and soft-rock for this artist: Young himself called it "wimpy."

While your mileage may vary on the OG version, Young's Before and After take corrects that perception; performed alone on his trademark, rickety pump organ, reveals it to be blindingly pure and simple, a harbinger of Young's hymnlike, borderline childlike material in the new millennium.

"A Dream That Can Last" (Sleeps with Angels, 1994)

The largely muted Sleeps with Angels might be the most underrated album in Young's catalog. In terms of evocative songcraft, brooding atmosphere, and smoldering performances from Crazy Horse, it belongs near the top of the heap.

Two of its highlights are its bookends, both on sonorous tack piano: "My Heart" and "A Dream That Can Last." And this version sounds as emotionally naked as its predecessor, as Young revisits his vision of heaven: "The cupboards are bare, but the streets are paved with gold."

"Birds" (After the Gold Rush, 1970)

This slightly deeper cut from After the Gold Rush has followed Young around forever; perhaps the simplicity and companionability of this piano ballad has rendered it timeless.

And as always, it's moving to hear a 78-year-old Young still drawing power from something he sang as a twenty-something in coffeehouses.

Indeed, lines like "When you see me fly away without you" feel poignant in light of the numberless friends and loved ones — many indispensable to his creative arc — that Young has said goodbye to. When comparing original Horseman Danny Whitten to steel guitarist Ben Keith to his ex-wife, Pegi Young, "Birds" still feels elegiac to the maximum.

"My Heart" (Sleeps with Angels, 1994)

The aforementioned "My Heart" kicks off Sleeps with Angels with capacious canyons of silence and windswept lyrics: "When dreams come crashing down like trees/ I don't know what love can do/ When life is hanging in the breeze/ I don't know what love can do."

In reverse order, these two Sleeps with Angels tunes still carry potency and import — although nothing beats the dramatic arc of the original album, which all Young fans must seek out if they haven't.

"When I Hold You in My Arms" (Are You Passionate?, 2002)

Eyeballing the title, this writer figured "When I Hold You In My Arms" was a deep cut from Storytone, his 2014 paean to new love — and now wife and frequent collaborator — Darryl Hannah.

Rather, it's from 2002's Are You Passionate?, Young's curious team-up with Booker T. and the MGs. (Before tracking that one, a handful of its songs — some under different names — ended up on the long-shelved Toast, which Young finally released in 2022.)

But it could just as easily exist on that album-length tribute to new love: "When I hold you in my arms/ It's a breath of fresh air/ When I hold you in my arms/ I forget what's out there." And that's partly what renders this deeper-than-deep cut still resonant on Before and After.

"Mother Earth" (Ragged Glory, 1990)

Back in 1990, the chief ecological concern arguably wasn't global warming, but the hole in the ozone. Still, "Mother Earth" feels prescient — not only due to current climate woes, but as per Young's catalog itself, which has come to be saturated with climate-centric songs.

But Young's topical songs have always been most powerful when they sound deeply personal, too — and this fragile, organ-led version of "Mother Earth" sounds like a devotional by the Lorax.

"Mr. Soul" (Buffalo Springfield Again, 1967)

Like fellow Buffalo Springfield stone classic "Burned," "Mr. Soul" still feels bluesy and badass, best delivered with a heavy dose of spite. (Young's solo version on 1991's Unplugged, for which he was in the mother of bad moods, is stormy and unforgettable.

The kinder, gentler version on Before and After, though, is no less indispensable, for how ancient it sounds behind the organ — as if Young dredged it from the earth as a young man and it shines eternal.

"Comes a Time" (Comes a Time, 1978)

The ambling "Comes a Time" and its attendant, eponymous album have always been fan favorites: that rootsy 1978 album is where Young crossed a rubicon of earned maturity.

And despite Young's declaration that "I don't want to come back and do the same songs again" on said West Coast tour — if, in fact, this was drawn from that — "Comes a Time" feels like a requisite greatest hit. Which doesn't mean it's not good to hear it — quite the opposite.

"Don't Forget Love" (Barn, 2021)

Young bringing out an aged and grizzled Crazy Horse for three albums in a row — 2019's Colorado, 2021's Barn and 2022's World Record — might come across as a declaration to rawk

But paradoxically — as Young has always been — these albums have featured some of the most restrained performances by the Horse since Sleeps with Angels

Colorado concluded on a whisper-light note with "I Do," and Barn does the same, with the dreamlike "Don't Forget Love," performed here on upright piano.

These 13 songs may span seven decades, but Young is immutably Young — and if he gets to add more decades of work to his voluminous songbook, he will remain so. That's the thing about this prestige artist: most of us celebrate the Before, but the After is arguably even more interesting.

21 Albums Turning 50 In 2024: 'Diamond Dogs,' 'Jolene,' 'Natty Dread' & More

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21 Albums Turning 50 In 2024: 'Diamond Dogs,' 'Jolene,' 'Natty Dread' & More

Dozens of albums were released in 1974 and, 50 years later, continue to stand the test of time. GRAMMY.com reflects on 21 records that demand another look and are guaranteed to hook first-time listeners.

GRAMMYs/Jan 5, 2024 - 04:08 pm

Despite claims by surveyed CNN readers, 1974 was not a year marked by bad music. The Ramones played their first gig. ABBA won Eurovision with the earworm "Waterloo," which became an international hit and launched the Swedes to stardom. Those 365 days were marked by chart-topping debuts, British bangers and prog-rock dystopian masterpieces. Disenchantment, southern pride, pencil thin mustaches and tongue-in-cheek warnings to "not eat yellow snow" filled the soundwaves.  

1974 was defined by uncertainty and chaos following a prolonged period of crisis. The ongoing OPEC oil embargo and the resulting energy shortage caused skyrocketing inflation, exacerbating the national turmoil that preceded President Nixon’s resignation following the Watergate scandal. Other major events also shaped the zeitgeist: Stephen King published his first novel, Carrie, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman slugged it out for the heavyweight title at "The Rumble in the Jungle," and People Magazine published its first issue. 

Musicians reflected a general malaise. Themes of imprisonment, disillusionment and depression — delivered with sardonic wit and sarcasm — found their way on many of the records released that year. The mood reflects a few of the many reasons these artistic works still resonate.  

From reggae to rock, cosmic country to folk fused with jazz, to the introduction of a new Afro-Trinidadian music style, take a trip back 18,262 days to recall 20 albums celebrating their 50th anniversaries in 2024. 

Joni Mitchell - Court & Spark

Joni Mitchell’s Court & Spark is often hailed as the pinnacle of her artistic career and highlights the singer/songwriter’s growing interest in jazz, backed by a who’s who of West Coast session musicians including members of the Crusaders and L.A. Express. 

As her most commercially successful record, the nine-time GRAMMY winner presents a mix of playful and somber songs. In an introspective tone, Mitchell searches for freedom from the shackles of big-city life and grapples with the complexities of love lost and found. The record went platinum — it hit No.1 on the Billboard charts in her native Canada and No. 2 in the U.S., received three GRAMMY nominations and featured a pair of hits: "Help Me" (her only career Top 10) and "Free Man in Paris," an autobiographical song about music mogul David Geffen.

Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown

In 2023 we lost legendary songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. He left behind a treasure trove of country-folk classics, several featured on his album Sundown. These songs resonated deeply with teenagers who came of age in the early to mid-1970s — many sang along in their bedrooms and learned to strum these storied songs on acoustic guitars. 

Recorded in Toronto, at Eastern Sound Studios, the album includes the only No.1 Billboard topper of the singer/songwriter’s career. The title cut, "Sundown," speaks of "a hard-loving woman, got me feeling mean" and hit No. 1 on both the pop and the adult contemporary charts. 

In Canada, the album hit No.1 on the RPM Top 100 in and stayed there for five consecutive weeks. A second single, "Carefree Highway," peaked at the tenth spot on the Billboard Hot 100, but hit No.1 on the Easy Listening charts.

Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Boulevard

Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard sold more than two million copies worldwide. His second solo studio record followed a three-year absence while Clapton battled heroin addiction. The record’s title is the address where "Slowhand" stayed in the Sunshine State while recording this record at Miami’s Criteria Studios. 

A mix of blues, funk and soulful rock, only two of the 10 songs were penned by the Englishman. Clapton’s cover of Bob Marley’s "I Shot the Sheriff," was a massive hit for the 17-time GRAMMY winner and the only No.1 of his career, eclipsing the Top 10 in nine countries. In 2003, the guitar virtuoso’s version of the reggae song was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping

No sophomore slump here. This "second helping" from these good ole boys is a serious serving of classic southern rock ‘n’ roll with cupfuls of soul. Following the commercial success of their debut the previous year, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s second studio album featured the band’s biggest hit: "Sweet Home Alabama." 

The anthem is a celebration of Southern pride; it was written in response to two Neil Young songs ("Alabama" and "Southern Man") that critiqued the land below the Mason-Dixon line. The song was the band’s only Top 10, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Top 100. Recorded primarily at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, other songs worth a second listen here include: the swampy cover of J.J. Cale's "Call Me The Breeze," the boogie-woogie foot-stomper "Don’t Ask Me No Questions" and the country-rocker "The Ballad of Curtis Loew." 

Bad Company - Bad Company

A little bit of blues, a token ballad, and plenty of hard-edged rock, Bad Company released a dazzling self-titled debut album. The English band formed from the crumbs left behind by a few other British groups: ex-Free band members including singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke, former King Crimson member bassist Boz Burrel, and guitarist Mick Ralphs from Mott the Hoople. 

Certified five-times platinum, Bad Company hit No.1 on the Billboard 200 and No. 3 in the UK, where it spent 25 weeks. Recorded at Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studio, the album was the first record released on Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label. Five of the eight tracks were in regular FM rotation throughout 1974; "Bad Company," "Can’t Get Enough" and "Ready for Love" remain staples of classic rock radio a half century later. 

Supertramp - Crime of the Century

"Dreamer, you know you are a dreamer …" sings Supertramp’s lead singer Roger Hodgson on the first single from their third studio album. The infectious B-side track "Bloody Well Right," became even more popular than fan favorite, "Dreamer." 

The British rockers' dreams of stardom beyond England materialized with Crime of the Century. The album fused prog-rock with pop and hit all the right notes leading to the band’s breakthrough in several countries — a Top 5 spot in the U.S. and a No.1 spot in Canada where it stayed for more than two years and sold more than two million copies. A live version of "Dreamer," released six years later, was a Top 20 hit in the U.S. 

Big Star - Radio City

As one of the year’s first releases, the reception for this sophomore effort from American band Big Star was praised by critics despite initial lukewarm sales (which were due largely to distribution problems). Today, the riveting record by these Memphis musicians is considered a touchstone of power pop; its melodic stylings influenced many indie rock bands in the 1980s and 1990s, including R.E.M. and the Replacements. One of Big Star’s biggest songs, "September Gurls," appears here and was later covered by The Bangles. 

In a review, American rock critic Robert Christgau, called the record "brilliant and addictive." He wrote: "The harmonies sound like the lead sheets are upside down and backwards, the guitar solos sound like screwball readymade pastiches, and the lyrics sound like love is strange, though maybe that's just the context." 

The Eagles - On the Border

The third studio record from California harmonizers, the Eagles, shows the band at a crossroads — evolving ever so slightly from acoustically-inclined country-folk to a more distinct rock ‘n’ roll sound. On the Border marks the studio debut for band member Don Felder. His contributions and influence are seen through his blistering guitar solos, especially in the chart-toppers "Already Gone" and "James Dean." 

On the Border sold two million copies, driven by the chart topping ballad "Best of My Love" — the Eagles first No.1 hit song. The irony: the song was one of only two singles Glyn Johns produced at Olympic Studios in London. Searching for that harder-edged sound, the band hired Bill Szymczyk to produce the rest of the record at the Record Plant in L.A. 

Jimmy Buffett - Livin’ and Dyin in ¾ Time & A1A

Back in 1974, 28-year-old Jimmy Buffett was just hitting his stride. Embracing the good life, Buffett released not just one, but two records that year. Don Grant produced both albums that were the final pair in what is dubbed Buffett’s "Key West phase" for the Florida island city where the artist hung his hat during these years.

The first album, Livin’ and Dyin’ in ¾ Time, was released in February and recorded at Woodland Sound Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. It featured the ballad "Come Monday," which hit No. 30 on the Hot 100 and "Pencil Thin Mustache," a concert staple and Parrothead favorite. A1A arrived in December and hit No. 25 on the Billboard 200 charts. The most beloved songs here are "A Pirate Looks at Forty" and "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season." 

Buffett embarked on a tour and landed some plume gigs, including opening slots for two other artists on this list: Frank Zappa and Lynyrd Skynyrd. 

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Following a successful tour of Europe and North America for their 1973 album, Selling England by the Pound, Genesis booked a three-month stay at the historic Headley Grange in Hampshire, a former workhouse. In this bucolic setting, the band led by frontman Peter Gabriel, embarked on a spiritual journey of self discovery that evolved organically through improvisational jams and lyric-writing sessions. 

This period culminated in a rock opera and English prog-rockers’s magnum opus, a double concept album that follows the surreal story of a Puerto Rican con man named Rael. Songs are rich with American imagery, purposely placed to appeal to this growing and influential fan base across the pond. 

This album marked the final Genesis record with Gabriel at the helm. The divisiveness between the lyricist, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks came to a head during tense recording sessions and led to Gabriel’s departure from the band to pursue a solo career, following a 102-date tour to promote the record. The album reached tenth spot on the UK album charts and hit 41 in the U.S. 

David Bowie - Diamond Dogs

Is Ziggy Stardust truly gone? With David Bowie, the direction of his creative muse was always a mystery, as illustrated by his diverse musical legacy. What is clear is that Bowie’s biographers agree that this self-produced album is one of his finest works. 

At the point of producing Diamond Dogs, the musical chameleon and art-rock outsider had disbanded the band Spiders from Mars and was at a crossroads. His plans for a musical based on the Ziggy character and TV adaptation of George Orwell’s "1984" both fell through. In a place of uncertainty and disenchantment, Bowie creates a new persona: Halloween Jack. The record is lyrically bleak and evokes hopelessness. It marks the final chapter in his glam-rock period — "Rebel Rebel" is the swaggering single that hints at the coming punk-rock movement. 

Bob Marley - Natty Dread

Bob Marley’s album "Natty Dread," released first in Jamaica in October 1974 later globally in 1975, marked his first record without his Rastafari brethren in song Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. It also introduced the back-up vocal stylings of the I Threes (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths.) 

The poet and the prophet Marley waxes on spiritual themes with songs like "So Jah Seh/Natty Dread'' and political commentary with tracks,"Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)" and "Rebel Music (3 O’clock Road Block)." The album also Includes one of the reggae legend’s best-loved songs, the ballad "No Woman No Cry," which paints a picture of "government yards in Trenchtown" where Marley’s feet are his "only carriage." 

Queen - Sheer Heart Attack

The third studio album released by the British rockers, Queen, is a killer. The first single, "Killer Queen," reached No. 2 on the British charts — and was the band’s first U.S. charting single. The record also peaked at No.12 in the U.S. Billboard albums charts. 

This record shows the four-time GRAMMY nominees evolving and shifting from progressive to glam rock. The album features one of the most legendary guitar solos and riffs in modern rock by Brian May on "Brighton Rock." Clocking in at three minutes, the noodling showcases the musician’s talent via his use of multi-tracking and delays to great effect. 

Randy Newman - Good Old Boys

Most recognize seven-time GRAMMY winner Randy Newman for his work on Hollywood blockbuster scores. But, in the decade before composing and scoring movie soundtracks, the songwriter wrote and recorded several albums. Good Old Boys was Newman’s fourth studio effort and his first commercial breakthrough, peaking at No. 36 on the Billboard charts. 

The concept record, rich in sarcasm and wit, requires a focused listen to grasp the nuances of Newman’s savvy political and social commentary. The album relies on a fictitious narrator, Johnny Cutler, to aid the songwriter in exploring themes like "Rednecks" and ingrained generational racism in the South. "Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)" is as relevant today as when Newman penned it as a direct letter to Richard Nixon. Malcolm Gladwell described this record as "unsettling" and a "perplexing work of music." 

Frank Zappa - Apostrophe

Rolling Stone once hailed Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe as "truly a mother of an album." The album cover itself, featuring Zappa’s portrait, seems to challenge listeners to delve into his eccentric musical universe. Apostrophe was the sixth solo album and the 19th record of the musician’s prolific career. The album showcases Zappa’s tight and talented band, his trademark absurdist humor and what Hunter S. Thompson described as "bad craziness."  

Apostrophe was the biggest commercial success of Zappa’s career. The record peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Top 200. The A-side leads off with a four-part suite of songs that begins with "Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow" and ends with "Father Oblivion," a tale of an Eskimo named Nanook. The track "Uncle Remus," tackles systemic racism in the U.S. with dripping irony. In less than three minutes, Zappa captures what many politicians can’t even begin to explain. Musically, Apostrophe is rich in riffs from the two-time GRAMMY winner that showcases his exceptional guitar skills in the title track that features nearly six minutes of noodling.

Gram Parsons - Grievous Angel

Grievous Angel can be summed up in one word: haunting. Recorded in 1973 during substance-fueled summer sessions in Hollywood, the album was released posthumously after Gram Parsons died of a drug overdose at 26. Grievous Angel featured only two new songs that Parsons’ penned hastily in the studio "In My Hour of Darkness" and "Return of the Grievous Angel." 

This final work by the cosmic cowboy comprises nine songs that have since come to define Parson’s short-lived legacy to the Americana canon. The angelic voice of Emmylou Harris looms large — the 13-time GRAMMY winner sings harmony and backup vocals throughout. Other guests include: guitarists James Burton and Bernie Leadon, along with Linda Ronstadt’s vocals on "In My Hour of Darkness." 

Neil Young - On The Beach

On the Beach, along with Tonight’s the Night (recorded in 1973, but not released until 1975) rank as Neil Young’s darkest records. Gone are the sunny sounds of Harvest, replaced with the singer/songwriter’s bleak and mellow meditations on being alone and alienated. 

"Ambulance Blues" is the centerpiece. The nine-minute track takes listeners on a journey back to Young’s "old folkie days" when the "Riverboat was rockin’ in the rain '' referencing lament and pining for time and things lost. The heaviness and gloom are palpable throughout the album, with the beach serving as an extended metaphor for Young’s malaise. 

Dolly Parton - Jolene

Imagine writing not just one, but two iconic classics in the same day. That’s exactly what Dolly Parton did with two tracks featured on this album. The first is the titular song, "Jolene," recorded  at RCA Studio B in Nashville. The song has been covered by more than a dozen artists. 

Released as the first single the previous fall, "Jolene," rocketed to No.1 on the U.S. country charts and garnered the 10-time GRAMMY winner her first Top 10 in the U.K. The song was nominated for a GRAMMY in 1975 and again in 1976 for Best Country Vocal Performance. However, it didn’t take home the golden gramophone until 2017, when a cover by the Pentatonix featuring Parton won a GRAMMY for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. 

Also included on this album is "I Will Always Love You," a song that Whitney Houston famously covered in 1992 for the soundtrack of the romantic thriller, The Bodyguard, earning Parton significant royalties. 

Barry White - Can’t Get Enough

The distinctive bass-baritone of two-time GRAMMY winner Barry White, is unmistakable. The singer/songwriter's sensual, deep vocal delivery is as loved today as it was then. On this record, White is backed by the 40-member strong Love Unlimited Orchestra, one of the best-selling artists of all-time. 

White wrote "Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe," about his wife during a sleepless night. This song is still played everywhere — from bedrooms to bar rooms, even 50 years on. In the U.S., the record hit the top of the R&B pop charts and No.1 on the Billboard 200. Although the album features only seven songs, two of them, including "You’re the First, the Last, My Everything" reached the top spot on the R&B charts. 

Lord Shorty - Endless Vibrations

Lord Shorty, born Garfield Blackman, is considered the godfather and inventor of soca music. This Trindadian musician revolutionized his nation’s Calypso rhythms, creating a vibrant up-tempo style that became synonymous with their world-renowned Carnival. 

Fusing Indian percussion instrumentation with well-established African calypso rhythms, Lord Shorty created what he originally dubbed "sokah," meaning, "calypso soul." The term soca, as it’s known today, emerged because of a journalist’s altered writing of the word, which stuck. The success of this crossover hit made waves across North America and made the island vibrations more accessible outside the island nation. 

Artists Who Are Going On Tour In 2024: The Rolling Stones, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo & More

15 Must-Hear Albums This December: ATEEZ, Nicki Minaj, Neil Young & More
(Clockwise) Tate McRae, Pink, Peter Gabriel, Nicki Minaj, ATEEZ, Atmosphere, Alicia Keys, Chief Keef

Photos: Baeth; Jeff Hahne/Getty Images; Elena Di Vincenzo Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images; Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage; courtesy of KQ Entertainment; Dan Monick; Manny Carabel/WireImage; Prince Williams/WireImage

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15 Must-Hear Albums This December: ATEEZ, Nicki Minaj, Neil Young & More

Just in time to soundtrack your festivities and welcome in an inspiring new year, press play on these 15 releases from Peter Gabriel, Tate McRae, Alicia Keys and others.

GRAMMYs/Dec 1, 2023 - 06:37 pm

December is a time for rejoicing and reflecting. How did this year go? And what will come next? As we look back on the meteoric 2023 and start planning for 2024, there’s a sundry of new music to usher in this journey.

This month, artists like Alicia Keys and the Killers will celebrate 20-year anniversaries with The Diary Of Alicia Keys 20 and Rebel Diamonds, respectively. Others will bring forth much-awaited sequels, like Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday 2 and Chief Keef’s Almighty So 2. Adding to that, live performances by Pink and Khruangbin will get immortalized, while rising star Tate McRae will release her sophomore effort, Think Later, and Dove Cameron will debut Alchemical: Vol. 1.

Below is a guide to all the must-hear releases of December 2023, just in time to soundtrack your festivities and welcome in an inspiring new year. Read on for big releases from ATEEZ, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, and more.

Dove Cameron - Alchemical: Vol. 1

Release date: Dec. 1

Following Dove Cameron's viral, platinum-certified 2022 hit "Boyfriend," expectations were high for the artist's first studio album. The singer and actress will release Alchemical: Vol. 1 at the top of the month.

"I wrote Volume 1 during a period of deep healing and space to process that I had never given myself. I hope you feel yourself in these songs as much as I do. Part 1: tear down. Part 2: rebuild," the singer shared on Instagram, teasing Vol. 2 of the collection (release date yet to be announced).

A follow-up to Cameron’s 2019 debut EP Bloodshot / Waste, Vol. 1 features eight tracks. Aside from "Boyfriend," she has revealed singles "Breakfast," "Lethal Woman," and "Sand," building up a sultry sound and an alluring mystique that prompt her as one to watch.

Dillon Francis - This Mixtape Is Fire TOO

Release date: Dec. 1

Eight years after This Mixtape Is Fire, Dillon Francis' latest "turned out better than I could have ever imagined," the DJ and producer shared on Instagram about his forthcoming album, This Mixtape Is Fire TOO.

"The whole goal of this album was to make amazing songs with artists I love and respect," he added. The 14-track record features several 2022 singles, such as "Free" with Alesso and Clementine Douglas, "LA On Acid" with Good Times Ahead, "Pretty People" with INJI, "Don't Let Me Let Go" with Illenium and Evan Giia and "buttons!" with Knock2.

Aside from collaborating with some of dance music’s biggest names, Francis seems intent on having fun. His latest single, "I’m My Only Friend" with Arden Jones, demonstrates that by pairing up his characteristic high-octane beats with an amusing music video featuring actor Billy Zane in an impromptu road trip adventure.

ATEEZ - THE WORLD EP.FIN: WILL

Release date: Dec. 1

K-pop’s favorite pirates ATEEZ are getting ready to release their second Korean full album: THE WORLD EP.FIN: WILL. The record will conclude the trilogy that began with EPs The World EP.1: Movement and The World EP.2: Outlaw.

With a slew of teaser pictures and a mysterious black-and-white trailer, the eight-member boy band continues to further their lore and leave fans eager to decipher their next chapters. In addition, a tracklist and an instrumental preview of the album’s upcoming 12 songs, including title track "Crazy Form," were revealed, promising exciting twists to their thunderous beats.

EP.FIN: WILL also brings a surprise in its unit and solo songs, all with lyrics co-written by the members: Jongho brings his powerful vocals to "Everything," "Youth" is a duet by Mingi and Yunho, "It’s You" is performed by Yeosang, San, and Wooyoung, and "MATZ" is the long-awaited collaboration between the band’s two eldest members, Hongjoong and Seonghwa.

Khruangbin - Live at Sydney Opera House

Release date: Dec. 1

After a yearlong series of live albums in partnership with other artists (Toro y Moi, Men I Trust, Nubia Garcya and others), Khruangbin will close out 2023 with the upcoming Live at Sydney Opera House — this time on their own.

The double LP was recorded in November 2022, and compiles their three-night residency at one of Australia’s most prestigious venues. With the announcement, the Texas trio also shared a new version of their 2015 hit, "People Everywhere (Shifting Sands Remix)."

The setlist also includes classics like "So We Won’t Forget," "A Calf Born in Winter" and "Friday Morning," attesting to the band’s expertise in highlighting the best of their career while giving tracks a fresh, unexpected spin.

Alicia Keys - The Diary Of Alicia Keys 20

Release date: Dec. 1

The end-of-year celebrations will start early for Alicia Keys and her fans. On Dec. 1, the 15-time GRAMMY winner will release a special version of her multiplatinum sophomore album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, in order to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

The 2023 LP will feature 24 tracks, including nine bonus songs including the previously unreleased "Golden Child." Keys also uprezzed four music videos from that era on YouTube: "Karma," "You Don’t Know My Name," "If I Ain’t Got You" and the live version of "Diary" with Tony! Toni! Toné! and Jermaine Paul.

To make the milestone even more special, Keys will perform the full album in an intimate, one-night-only concert at New York’s Webster Hall on the day of release. A portion of the earnings will be donated to the nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2003, Keep a Child Alive.

Peter Gabriel - i/o

Release date: Dec. 1

During every full moon this year, Peter Gabriel unveiled a new track off his upcoming studio album, i/o. It was a clever way to compensate fans for a lengthy wait. i/o is Gabriel’s first LP of new and original content since 2002’s Up, and has been in the works for almost three decades.

"I’m very happy to see all these new songs back together on the good ship i/o and ready for their journey out into the world," the British singer said in a press release. With 12 tracks "of grace, gravity and great beauty," the album tackles themes like the passage of time, grief and injustice, but never gives up on hope. Each track comes in three versions: the Bright-Side Mix by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, the Dark-Side Mix by Tchad Blake, and the In-Side Mix by Hans-Martin Buff.

Gabriel also spent a good part of 2023 on the i/o Tour across Europe and North America. Attendees were lucky to witness the album played in full and some of the singer’s biggest hits, as well as the unreleased track "What Lies Ahead."

Atmosphere - Talk Talk EP

Release date: Dec. 1

From "Talk Talk (feat. Bat Flower)," a track off Atmosphere’s May album So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously, comes Talk Talk EP. According to a press release, the Minneapolis duo was so captivated by that song’s "vaguely alien and deeply human" sounds that they had to develop it into a ten-track deep dive.

In the album, rapper Slug and DJ/producer Ant "dart across threads of space-time" and become "titans of the electro-rap that was foundational to their youths," citing names like Kraftwerk and Egyptian Lover as inspirations. The press release also mentions that Talk Talk EP is a testament to rap’s connection to electronic music of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

That statement rings true, for instance, in the two singles they have released so far, aside from "Talk Talk": the sparkly "Rotary Telephone," and the haunting album closer, "Traveling Forever."

Pink - Trustfall Tour Deluxe Edition

Release date: Dec. 1

Following the smashing success of her ninth studio album, February’s Trustfall, and of her back-to-back Summer Carnival stadium tour and Trustfall arena tour this year, pop giant Pink will wrap it all up with the release of Trustfall Tour Deluxe Edition on Dec. 1.

The special record features six live recordings (from Summer Carnival), including "Cover Me in Sunshine" with her daughter Willow Sage Hart, as well as covers of Sade’s "No Ordinary Love" and Sinead O’Connor’s "Nothing Compares 2 U," with Brandi Carlile. It also includes July’s protest song "Irrelevant" and two new singles: "Dreaming" with Marshmello and Sting and "All Out of Fight."

As the unstoppable artist that she is, Pink has already announced a slew of 2024 Summer Carnival tour dates for Oceania in February and March, and the U.K. and Europe throughout June and July.

Tate McRae - Think Later

Release date: Dec. 8

"Here’s to 20 years old and figuring who the f[—] i am," celebrated rising sensation Tate McRae wrote on Instagram. Writing her sophomore album, Think Later, was "one of the most stressful, exciting, nerve racking, and fun things I’ve ever gone through. For the first time in my life I lived this year a little less with my head and a little more with my intuition — and I [really] hope [you] guys can feel that through the music," she added.

Produced by Ryan Tedder, the album dives into "the all-too-relatable feelings of falling in love and embracing the raw emotions that you experience as a result of leading with your intuition and heart," according to a press release. It is preceded by singles "Greedy" — of recent TikTok fame — and "Exes."

The Canadian singer has also announced an eponymous tour in support of the new album. McRae will visit Europe and North America from April to August 2024, bringing it to a close in Oceania throughout November.

Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday 2

Release date: Dec. 8

After several postponements, rap superstar Nicki Minaj is celebrating her birthday by bringing Pink Friday 2 to the world. The much-expected release marks Minaj’s first studio album since 2018’s Queen.

The album is a sequel to her acclaimed debut, 2010’s Pink Friday, and is supported by two singles, "Super Freaky Girl" and "Last Time I Saw You." During an Instagram Live on Oct. 24, as reported by People, Minaj shared that "this entire album will be the biggest gift I have ever given humanity thus far. I can stand by that. I will bet any amount of money that Pink Friday 2, the album, is going to make people fall in love immediately."

The Trinidadian American icon recently announced a 2024 tour in North America and Europe. Exact dates are yet to be announced, but the commotion was such that Minaj’s fandom, Barbz, crashed her website upon hearing the news.

The Killers - Rebel Diamonds

Release date: Dec. 8

It’s been almost 20 years since the Killers burst into the rock scene with their 2004 debut Hot Fuss. To honor that achievement, the Las Vegas band will release Rebel Diamonds, a compilation of 20 hits encompassing all their seven LPs, plus new track "Spirit."

In the tracklist, fans will be able to take a trip down memory lane with singles like "Mr. Brightside," "When You Were Young," and "Human," among other classics. "See, it’s been said that what’s remembered, lives," frontman Brandon Flowers said in a trailer for the album. "And we’ve racked up stadiums full of memories the past 20 years, enough to fill lifetimes." 

Flowers continued: "It sounds a bit like Bowie. Or is it Brando? Or maybe it's somewhere in between? It always is with us. And to our legion of victims, thank you, thank you, thank you. And do not fear. There is more mining to be done." The Killers released another best of in 2013, Direct Hits.

Neil Young - Before and After

Release date: Dec. 8

"Songs from my life, recently recorded, create a music montage with no beginnings or endings." That’s how folk legend Neil Young described his upcoming 45th studio album, Before and After, in a press statement.

The record spans a collection of 13 solo acoustic re-recordings among Young’s favorites in his catalog. The statement adds that "each of the songs blend and create one continuous flow, clocking in at a 48-minute pure and intimate listening experience," with Young summarizing it as an experience where "the feeling is captured, not in pieces, but as a whole piece — designed to be listened to that way."

Young also co-produced and co-mixed the record, which includes the previously-unreleased track "If You Got Love," among classics such as 1966’s "Burned," 1970’s "Birds" and 1994’s "A Dream That Can Last." Before and After is the latest in a series of archival releases by Young, arriving just a few months after "lost" album Chrome Dreams

Car Seat Headrest - Faces From the Masquerade

Release date: Dec. 8

In March 2022, indie band Car Seat Headrest was playing a three-night residency at New York’s Brooklyn Steel. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they asked the audience to mask up, but also to "accoutre yourself in whatever further costumery you please" for an evening of "music, dancing, and identity loss," according to a press release.

The result of that experience is Faces From the Masquerade, CSH’s upcoming double album that will bring the magic of those nights to the world. "The 2022 Masquerade was a crazy tour that ignited with a particular ferocity once we touched ground on the east coast," said vocalist Will Toledo in a statement. "Our time in New York captures that momentary magic where we’re playing at our peak and the crowd is responding as one giant body."

Faces From the Masquerade features 14 of the band’s best tracks as rearranged, revamped live versions — for example, "Deadlines" went through adjustments "to turn it into the climactic dance monster it always wanted to be," added Toledo. The record has been described as "simultaneously a joyride through the greatest hits and a conversation with the devoted and ever-growing following that has formed around the band, their songs and live communions."

Michael Nau - Accompany

Release date: Dec. 8

Multihyphenate Michael Nau has been building an extensive indie discography since the mid-’00s, both as the frontman of bands Cotton Jones and Page France and as a soloist. Next month, he will add on to that by releasing his fifth studio album, Accompany.

The album came to be when producer Adrien Olsen (the Killers, Lucy Dacus) invited Nau to record at his Richmond, Virginia studio. "I didn’t have much of a plan before Adrien reached out, so I wrote some songs specifically for the session," Nau explained in a release. "It had been a while since I’d made music in a room with other people. We just sort of started playing and didn’t really talk about what was happening."

The record's 11 tracks "come together to paint a beautiful picture" with imaginative lyrics that manage to be "introspective, but vague and open-ended. Nau recently announced tour dates across the U.S. from February to April 2024.

Chief Keef - Almighty So 2

Release date: Dec. 15

Rumors about Almighty So 2, the sequel to Chief Keef’s revered 2013 mixtape of the same name, have been going on since 2018. The Chicago drill pioneer went as far as teasing the cover art on Instagram in 2019 — only to spend years without further updates. In any case, it seems like the wait is finally over: Almighty So 2 is scheduled to drop on Dec. 15.

In the beginning of November, Keef shared two new cover arts for the album on Instagram, under the caption "2 real soon." While there’s no further info, the album will feature 17 tracks, including 2022 singles "Tony Montana Flow" and "Racks Stuffed Inna Couch," according to Apple Music.

Almighty So 2 is Chief Keef’s fifth studio album, arriving after 2021’s 4NEM. Recently, the rapper was featured on the track "All The Parties" off Drake’s latest album, For All The Dogs. This collaboration increased speculations about a possible Drake feature on Keef’s album as well — the latter commented "Don’t forget them vocals, crody" on Drake’s Instagram back in August.

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Inside The Alternate Universe Of Neil Young's 'Chrome Dreams'
Neil Young performing in 1976

Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images

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Inside The Alternate Universe Of Neil Young's 'Chrome Dreams'

Neil Young's 'Chrome Dreams' was shelved in 1977; nine of its 12 tunes made it to ensuing albums. How would its release have altered Young's creative arc?

GRAMMYs/Aug 10, 2023 - 02:03 pm

In the mid-2000s, Neil Young dropped an artifact at fans' doorsteps that was strange even by his standards. It was a new album, Chrome Dreams II — a sequel to that titular album from 1977. The wrinkle? That album didn't exist.

Well, not officially. While perplexed consumers wondered if they'd been unwitting recipients of the Mandela Effect, Chrome Dreams was a known quantity to the heads.

As Jimmy McDonough explained in his 2002 biography of Young, Shakey, Chrome Dreams was an acetate — a proposal of what his next album could be. It even had a cover: a sketch by producer David Briggs of the front end of a '55 Chrysler, blending into a woman's face.

But Chrome Dreams wasn't to be; what the public got was 1977's rowdy, eclectic American Stars 'n Bars. Despite containing the classic "Like a Hurricane" among other luminous deep cuts like "Star of Bethlehem," American Stars 'n Bars feels more like a mixtape than a proper album. McDonough himself called it a "haphazard snapshot."

As part of a deluge of archival releases, Chrome Dreams is finally available in its original form as of Aug. 11. Despite being shelved, most of Chrome Dreams' 12 tunes made it to the public, in one form or another; many of them became bona fide Young classics.

Five tracks destined for Chrome Dreams made it on American Stars 'n Bars, including "Star of Bethlehem" and "Homegrown." "Pocahontas," "Sedan Delivery" and "Powderfinger" appeared on Rust Never Sleeps two years later. A handful of others would surface on various albums, culminating with "Stringman" on 1993's Unplugged.

Now that Chrome Dreams II has a I, a tantalizing question arises: if this album came out as planned, how would Young's discography be fundamentally altered? In some instances, it wouldn't be too far gone. In others, everything would change.

From Homegrown to Hitchhiker to Toast — from 1975, 1976 and 2000-2001, respectively — Young's long-shelved, recently revealed albums have proven to be inextricably linked to the ones we all know.

As such, they provide fascinating windows into his creative process — as well as what-ifs to puzzle over. Here's a guide to every song on Chrome Dreams, and how Young's discography would change if they were initially released in this form.

"Pocahontas"

We've heard this non-overdubbed "Pocahontas" before.

In 2017, Young released the stunning Hitchhiker, a document of a single session in 1976, when Young terminated a tour with Stephen Stills, celebrating the 10th anniversary of their band Buffalo Springfield.

Under a full moon, he holed up in Briggs' Malibu studio with various intoxicants, and ran through some recent songs, alone and unadorned. Despite the bracing intimacy of this setting, Reprise executives shrugged it off as a collection of demos.

If "Pocahontas" had been released on Chrome Dreams, could it still have appeared on Rust Never Sleeps, perhaps in a different format? Unlikely, as that was an album of new material; a tune from just two years prior would have been a sore thumb.

A Rust Never Sleeps without "Pocahontas" would be one with a crucial chunk missing; it's one of the most evocative songs he ever penned, bar none. And it's difficult to think of a potential replacement on its level.

"Will to Love"

The inclusion of "Will to Love" on American Stars 'n Bars accentuates that album's aggressively piecemeal vibe.

There's no analog for "Will to Love" anywhere in his catalog. A seven-minute ballad recorded in front of Young's crackling fireplace, the lo-fi oddity recounts the journey of a trout upstream as a cosmic metaphor. (Critics remain divided; some believe it's one of his most majestic songs, others dismiss it as an indulgent mess.)

On Chrome Dreams, "Will to Love" fits a bit more snugly amid the acoustic material; on American Stars 'n Bars, it's an ugly duckling.

Without five Chrome Dreams tunes on it — three of them the most substantial on the album — American Stars 'n Barscould have succeeded, and perhaps been more consistent, as an album of barroom-ready ragers.

"Star of Bethlehem"

"Star of Bethlehem" was slated for a previously shelved album: Homegrown — recorded in 1974 and 1975, unreleased until 2020.

Because that album didn't see the light of day, the inclusion of "Star of Bethlehem" on Chrome Dreams — and on his 1977 compilation album Decade — would arguably leave its history unaltered.

"Like a Hurricane"

Whether this Young classic was released on Chrome Dreams or another '70s album would be beside the point.

The legacy of this majestic rocker isn't its inclusion on American Stars 'n Bars, but its windswept majesty — especially live. (Its versatility, too; the solo rendition on Unplugged, performed on pump organ, is unforgettable.)

"Too Far Gone"

On Freedom, Young's late-'80s comeback album addressing Reagan-era urban decay, "Too Far Gone" is a throwback; he'd originally recorded it in 1975, with Crazy Horse guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro on mandolin.

The song, about the fallout from a chemical-fueled tryst, fit Freedom like a glove; it works perfectly along seedy yarns like "Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero Part I)." Freedom could have been basically intact without it, but its messaging would lose a personal edge.

"Hold Back the Tears"

Fitting with the rest of side A, the version of "Hold Back the Tears" on American Stars 'n Bars has a lovesick, rootsy quality, deepened by Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson on backing vocals.

On Chrome Dreams, it's starker and more eye-to-eye — just Young alone, harmonizing with himself, a little keyboard and percussion filling out the soundfield.

Both versions are terrific, but if this demo-like take was the released version — without Ronstadt and Larson behind him to really sell it — something would be missing.

"Homegrown"

In any form, "Homegrown" is a mirthful, stoned trifle; paradoxically, it would have served as the title track to one of Young's most revealing and personal albums.

​The Chrome Dreams version — the one with Crazy Horse — is the one available for decades on American Stars 'n Bars; whichever album it appeared on would be irrelevant to its legacy. 

That said, the version initially slated to appear on Homegrown is a wonder — on that later take, Young's backed by Tim Drummond of the Stray Gators, go-to lap slide guitarist Ben Keith, and Karl Himmel, who frequently backed Young throughout the decade.

Where the Horse version of "Homegrown" is a goofy romp, the later version is slippery and strange, befitting an ode to marijuana; if that one had come out, it may have stuck in the craw more.

"Captain Kennedy"

The version of "Captain Kennedy" on Hawks and Doves is the same one on Hitchhiker and Chrome Dreams — they all come from that single, stony session with Briggs.

Excised from the lumpy and politically contradictory Hawks and Doves, it would be a pleasing enigma — Young's crack at a faux-traditional folk ballad, inspired by the real-life mariner Lou Kenedy.

On that 1980 album, though, it takes on shades of patriotism and nationalism, especially near tunes like the proletariat anthem "Comin' Apart at Every Nail."

In that jingoistic context, the uninitiated listener might even think it's not a seaman's ballad at all, but an extended metaphor for a certain doomed president.

"Stringman"

One of the primary revelations of Chrome Dreams is a studio version of "Stringman," one of Young's most emotionally incisive songs.

He wrote it for producer and Stray Gators pianist Jack Nitzsche, who was undergoing an agonizing divorce. Young takes a birds-eye view of the trauma, examining the trauma through metaphorical lenses: a sergeant laying down his weapons, sun-kissed lovers rendered as smut.

On Unplugged, with years under his belt, Young delivers with maximum pathos and gravitas.

But if this earlier version had been in fans' ears, it could only have enriched "Stringman"; it'd be a clinic in how a song can develop an emotional patina with age.

"Sedan Delivery"

Fitting for an album that begins with an evocation of Johnny Rotten, Rust Never Sleeps is charged with a flippant, punky energy for its latter half.

Accordingly, the version of "Sedan Delivery" out since 1979 is far more uptempo than the one on Chrome Dreams. As such, it tends to blur into the sonic violence of its lovably lunkheaded neighbor, "Welfare Mothers."

This more natural tempo and execution suits "Sedan Delivery," and allows space to absorb its harebrained lyrical images; if the world knew it like this, perhaps it'd be more than a race to the end of Rust Never Sleeps.

"Powderfinger"

Is "Powderfinger" more powerful as an acoustic or electric song?

Most fans regard the latter with something like religious awe; it's the ultimate marriage of Young's penetrating songwriting with the string-popping frenzy he demonstrates with the Horse.

But there's a case that the solo version on Chrome Dreams and Hitchhiker has just as much impact, just from a different angle.

The Young classic's about a young man attempting to protect his family from an approaching gunboat; when the arrangement can breathe, the story takes on weight and dynamism.

Indeed, when the shot rings out, and the protagonist's "face splashe[s] in the sky," Young's hushed delivery renders the image that much more darkly unforgettable.

Maybe the answer to the above question is a toss-up. But the acoustic version "Powderfinger" provides a crucial side-window into this magnificent song.

"Look Out for My Love"

The hypnotic fan favorite "Look Out for My Love" has a way of getting under your skin; it's an unquestionable highlight of 1978's Comes a Time, and does a mesmerizing job as the closer to Chrome Dreams.

"Look Out for My Love" is exquisite by its own merits; the only difference would have been that Comes a Time would lose a pendulum-like classic.

If the world knew and loved Chrome Dreams, the point of Chrome Dreams II would have clicked immediately — its acoustic-electric yin-yang is spiritually in dialogue with these songs.

But that's Young — if he didn't work in mysterious ways, we'd all want our money back.

In a way, his younger self is his primary collaborator these days; he's on a mission to preserve fleeting visions and headspaces of yore. And in return, his fans have a will to love.

Songbook: Inside Neil Young's Latest Decade And Change, From Americana & Psychedelic Pill To Barn & World Record

15 Must-Hear Albums This August: Jon Batiste, Jihyo, The Hives & More
(Clockwise from left) Victoria Monét, Chief Keef, The Hives, Bebel Gilberto, Jon Batiste, Jihyo, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Shamir, John Lydon of Public Image Ltd., Les Imprimés

Photos: Foxxatron; Prince Williams/WireImage; SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; Bob Wolfensen; Francis Specker/CBS via Getty Images; JYP Entertainment; Gus Stewart/Redferns; Matthew James-Wilson; Jim Dyson/Getty Images; Tor Stensola

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15 Must-Hear Albums This August: Jon Batiste, Jihyo, The Hives & More

For lovers of rock 'n' roll, K-pop, R&B and blues, August has no shortage of gems. Read on for a list of long-awaited comebacks,exciting debuts and groundbreaking endeavors coming out in August 2023.

GRAMMYs/Aug 1, 2023 - 01:11 pm

While peak summer heat may slow down daily activities, August music releases are keeping 2023’s pace running, with an overflow of music releases for the most varied tastes. There’s long-awaited comebacks and exciting debuts, classic rehashes and groundbreaking endeavors, and — most of all — plenty of exciting sounds to discover.

For the lovers of good ol' rock 'n' roll, this is a busy month: bands like the Hives, Public Image Ltd. and virtual outfit Dethklok make their return after many years in the shadows. In more indie domains, Hozier brings forth his third studio album, Unreal Unearth, and The Band CAMINO is back with their sophomore record, The Dark. In other genres, both R&B singer Victoria Monét and K-pop girl group TWICE’s leader Jihyo will release their debut albums, Jaguar II and Zone, respectively. Meanwhile, Dan Auerbach’s label Easy Eye Sound will issue Tell Everybody!, a compilation of the best stars across all strands of blues.

As there is much more to explore and little time to lose, check below for GRAMMY.com’s guide for the 15 must-hear albums dropping in August 2023.

Neil Young - Chrome Dreams

Release date: Aug. 11

Back in 1977, legendary singer and songwriter Neil Young planned to release Chrome Dreams, though the project was ultimately shelved. However, several bootlegs of the original 12-song acetate circulated around in the past decades, deeming its content as one of Young’s strongests.

Almost 50 years later, Chrome Dreams will finally receive justice with a debut release via Reprise Records. The tracklist is filled with classics recorded between 1974 and 1976, such as "Pocahontas" and "Sedan Delivery," and includes four originals never released on vinyl before. On his official website, the album is described as coming to life "exactly how Young perceives it" and of having a "sense of monumentality about it that conveys a place in history."

Chrome Dreams is the latest in Young’s recent string of archival records, following 2022’s 50th anniversary reissue of 1972’s Harvest, the release of 2001’s shelved album Toast with Crazy Horse, and the fourth installment of his Official Release Series.

The Band CAMINO - The Dark

Release date: Aug. 11

The Band CAMINO will give us another dose of their infectious pop-rock on their sophomore album,The Dark.

Comprising 11 tracks — including singles "Told You So," "Last Man In The World," "See You Later," and "What Am I Missing?" — the album expands on the Nashville-based trio’s thrilling energy and lyrics about the highs and lows of love. "It's no secret we suck together / I tell myself that it's for the better / So why does it keep getting worse?" they wonder in "What Am I Missing?"

In support of the release, The Band CAMINO has also announced a North American tour starting Sept. 14 in Philadelphia, and wrapping it up on Oct. 21 in Nashville.

Public Image Ltd. - End of World

Release date: Aug. 11

Marking their return after eight years, post-punk British band Public Image Ltd. will release their 11th studio album, End of World, next month. The record is dedicated to vocalist and former Sex Pistols member John Lydon’s late wife, Nora Forster, who passed away in April after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

"Nora loved the album, she wouldn’t have wanted us to postpone it or change any of our plans," Lydon said  in a statement. Smooth lead single "Hawaii," which works as a love letter to Forster, is "the most personal piece of songwriting and accompanying artwork that John Lydon has ever shared," according to the same statement. But that doesn’t mean PiL’s raucous essence is amiss;l singles "Penge" and "Car Chase" are welcome punches of enthusiasm as only they can deliver.

PiL started working on the album in 2018 during their 40th anniversary tour, but had to pause activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since they got back to the studio, the band was hit with a "massive explosion of ideas," according to Lydon. They will embark on an extensive UK and Europe tour this September.

The Hives - The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons

Release date: Aug. 11

It’s been 11 years since the Swedish rockers of the Hives released new material. With their upcoming sixth studio album, The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, on the horizon, they prove that time only did them favors.

Led by pre-release singles "Bogus Operandi" and "Countdown to Shutdown," The Hives’ electrifying, demanding energy is back for another round. "There’s no maturity or anything like that bulls—, because who the f— wants mature rock’n’roll?" asked frontman Pelle Almqvist in a press release. "Rock’n’roll can’t grow up, it is a perpetual teenager and this album feels exactly like that, which it’s all down to our excitement."

With a title that refers to the supposed death of the band’s mysterious (and never publicly seen) sixth member, manager, and sole songwriter, it also represents a new chapter. What will the Hives do if Randy Fitzsimmons is indeed gone for good? No one knows. But for now, they are focused on making some noise around the world: the band is booked for concerts and festivals all over Europe and the U.S. throughout the rest of the year.

Chief Keef - Almighty So 2

Release date: Aug. 11

After several delays following its announcement in October 2022, Chief Keef’s well-awaited mixtape Almighty So 2 will finally come out on Aug. 11.

A sequel to 2013’s Almighty So, the mixtape features 17 tracks. Two singles have been released so far: "Tony Montana Flow" and "Racks stuffed inna couch." Also a follow-up to Keef’s latest studio album, 2021’s 4NEM, it sees the Chicago rapper continue his prolific run of releases, which includes four studio albums, four EPs, and over 30 mixtapes since his beginnings in 2011.

Last year, Keef announced his new label 43B in partnership with BMG, and his first signing with Atlanta rapper Lil Gnar. He also released an updated version of his debut album Finally Rich, celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Easy Eye Sound - Tell Everybody! (21st Century Juke Joint Blues From Easy Eye Sound) 

Release date: Aug. 11

A 12-song compilation uniting legends and rising stars alike across the blues spectrum, Tell Everybody! is Nashville label Easy Eye Sound’s latest tour de force. The compilation was produced by the label’s founder and the Black Keys’ member Dan Auerbach

Besides featuring Auerbach’s own band and solo work, the anthology also holds names like GRAMMY-nominated R.L. Boyce and Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, as well as newcomers like Nat Myers, Moonrisers, and Dan Carter. 

Said to draw influences "from acoustic anthems to roiling rock n’ roll" in a press release, Tell Everybody! "continues a commitment to upholding and preserving the blues that sits at the core of Easy Eye Sound’s mission." For a taste of what’s to come, they have shared Robert Finley’s eponymous title track.

Les Imprimés - Rêverie

Release date: Aug. 11

Les Imprimés is a one-man band created by Norwegian singer and songwriter Morten Martens. Blending R&B and soul with a definite modern twist, the project stands as a dreamy refuge to life’s harsh realities.

"It’s soul music, but I don’t exactly have the soul voice," Morten explains on Big Crown Records’ website. "But I do it my own way, in a way that’s mine." Martens’ unique efforts are brought together in his debut album, Rêverie. In the tracklist, a slew of ethereal, captivating singles like "If I" and "Love & Flowers" promise a stirring listening experience, sure to put him on the radar of 2023’s greatests.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You

Release date: Aug. 11

On Will Oldham’s (a.k.a Bonnie "Prince" Billy) Bandcamp page, his forthcoming record Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You is described vaguely as "a tale as old as time," or simply "an album" whose songs are "by and for people together."

Following 2022’s Blind Date Party with Bill Calahan and 2019’s I Made a Place, Keeping Secrets consists of 12 tracks that put Billy "at the nexus of all the kinds of music he can summon, with friends, with family, and community. All roads roll though him. There can be no holding back. A million billion moments are on the line."

The Louisville singer shared two pre-releases as idiosyncratic as the rest of his oeuvre: "Bananas" and "Crazy Blue Bells." Starting September, he will embark on a U.S. tour through November.

Jon Batiste - World Music Radio

Release date: Aug. 18

"World Music Radio is a concept album that takes place in the interstellar regions of the universe," said multihyphenate Jon Batiste on Instagram about his upcoming 7th studio record. "The listener is led through the album by an interstellar traveling griot named Billy Bob Bo Bob, who takes you sonically all around the world at the speed of light."

A follow-up to We Are, his 2021 GRAMMY-winning Album Of The Year, World Music Radio will feature collaborations with stars from all corners of music, including Lana Del Rey, Lil Wayne, and Kenny G. "I created this album with a feeling of liberation in my life and a renewed sense of exploration of my personhood, my craft, and of the world around me unlike anything I ever felt before," Batiste shared further about the 21-track effort.

The album is preceded by lively singles "Calling Your Name," "Drink Water" featuring Jon Bellion and Fireboy DML, and Coca-Cola collaboration "Be Who You Are (Real Magic)," featuring Cat Burns, J.I.D, Camilo, and NewJeans.

Jihyo (TWICE) - Zone

Release date: Aug. 18

Seven years down the road, TWICE — one of the most acclaimed K-pop girl groups in history — have started branching out their skills into solo careers and sub-units. Starting last year, eldest member Nayeon released her EP Im Nayeon, followed by July’s MISAMO (a Japanese sub-unit formed by Mina, Sana, and Momo) and their Masterpiece EP. Now, it’s time for leader and main vocalist Jihyo to show the world her unique colors.

Known for her passionate, energetic performances and a powerful voice, Jihyo’s debut EP, Zone, features lead single "Killin’ Me Good" and six other tracks, including a duet with K-R&B singer Heize. Until the date of release, Jihyo will release a series of spoilers and special contents that will keep fans anticipating the visual and musical direction chosen.

In June, TWICE made history by becoming the first girl group from any country to sell out Los Angeles’ SoFi stadium for their Ready To Be world tour. Still ongoing, the tour includes 38 shows across North America, Asia, Oceania, and Europe.

Hozier - Unreal Unearth

Release date: Aug. 18

Like so many of us during the pandemic lockdown, Irish singer Hozier took the extra time to pick up on his readings, including Dante Alighieri’s epic Inferno. The literary classic ended up inspiring him so much that his upcoming third studio album, Unreal Unearth, is also arranged into "circles" — a concept that Dante used to depict the nine realms of hell in his work.

In an interview with Rolling Stone UK, Hozier explained that "the album can be taken as a collection of songs, but also as a little bit of a journey. It starts with a descent and I’ve arranged the songs according to their themes into nine circles, just playfully reflecting Dante’s nine circles and then an ascent at the end." As for what it sounds like, the singer said it is "quite eclectic" and reflects "something of a retrospective in what the sounds lean into."

Hozier released the EP Eat Your Young in March as a teaser for Unreal Unearth, featuring an eponymous single and tracks "All Things End" and "Through Me (The Flood)" — all of which appear on his forthcoming release. A second single, "Francesca," came out in June. Hozier will embark on a North American, UK, and Europe tour starting September.

Shamir - Homo Anxietatem

Release date: Aug. 18

In a press release, singer/songwriter Shamir revealed that he felt a lot of anxiety during the first quarter of 2020. "I was fresh out the psych ward and had quit smoking weed and cigarettes cold turkey. I spent the first couple months of 2020 knitting this huge baby blue sweater. It’s basically a wearable security blanket that I used to channel all my anxiety into."

The sweater turned into inspiration for indie pop single "Oversized Sweater," off Shamir’s upcoming ninth studio album, Homo Anxietatem. Although the title translates from Latin into "anxious man," the album is meant to depict "what happens when one of the most prolific songwriters of a generation calms down a bit: the search for meaning becomes mundane."

Homo Anxietatem follows 2022’s Heterosexuality, and is also described as a "perfect pop-punk-rock record." On Oct. 2, the Las Vegas singer will play a sole concert in Paris and then hit up the UK for a short tour across 10 cities.

Victoria Monét - Jaguar II

Release date: Aug. 25

Singer Victoria Monét — who became known through her songwriting for artists such as Ariana Grande, BLACKPINK and Fifth Harmony — is releasing her debut studio album, Jaguar II, on Aug. 25. "I feel like I’ve been behind the bushes and in the background, and I think jaguars themselves live in that way," she explained in a Billboard interview. "They find the right moment to attack — and get what they want."

The record is a sequel to her breakthrough 2020 EP Jaguar, diving further into her R&B roots and exploring a variety of sounds that go from dancehall to Southern rap. Some of these influences can be seen in the pre-releases "Smoke" with Lucky Daye, "Party Girls" with Buju Banton, and "On My Mama."

To celebrate the album, Monét has announced a slew of dates across North America starting Sept. 6 in Detroit and ending with two November shows in London.

Dethklok - Dethalbum IV and Metalocalypse - Army of the Doomstar (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Release date: Aug. 22 and Aug. 25

After nearly a decade, the most vicious virtual metal band is back. Dethklok, from Adult Swim’s TV series "Metalocalypse," will release not one, but two full-length albums next month.

The first is Dethalbum IV, the band’s long-awaited fifth studio record, out Aug. 22. Written by "Metalocalypse" creator Brendon Small, it features 11 tracks, including the merciless single "Aortic Desecration."

Three days later comes the official soundtrack to new film Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar’s turn. Also written and directed by Small, the movie boasts a star-studded cast with the likes of King Diamond, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, and Evanescence’s Amy Lee. It will also offer a closing chapter for the show, which was canceled in 2015.

Dethklok will kick off their U.S. tour with Japanese band Babymetal on Aug. 30 in Houston, TX, and cross a slew of cities until the final concert on Oct. 11, in Los Angeles.

Bebel Gilberto - João

Release date: Aug. 25

"More than a tribute to her father, the unforgettable João Gilberto, the album is a visit to Bebel's most fundamental musical memories," says Bebel Gilberto’s website about her upcoming studio album, João.

Also described as a "musical love letter" to the renowned father of bossa nova, who passed away in 2019, the album was produced by pianist Thomas Bartlett, and comprises 11 songs carefully selected by Bebel. Among her choices are classics such as "Ela É Carioca" and "Desafinado," but also "Valsa," a track also known as "(Como São Lindos os Youguis) (Bebel)" and one of João Gilberto’s few compositions dedicated to his daughter.

Bebel shared an emotive first single off the project, "É Preciso Perdoar," and announced tour dates across North America, Asia, the UK, and Europe starting next month.

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