The holidays are over, but the Neil Young Archives is the gift that keeps on giving. Young has announced a pair of projects centered around his 1982 album Trans. The first is the unreleased LP Johnny’s Island, recorded with the Trans band in 1982, and the second is a new film entitled Trans: The Animated Story.
Trans was a significant departure from Young’s folk-inflected rock, and its release became one of the more controversial moments in his career. With synthesizers and heavy doses of vocoder, it was inspired by the robopop of Kraftwerk as well as his own attempts to communicate with his nonverbal son, Ben. Many fans hated it, and Geffen Records sued Young for not sounding like himself. Almost 40 years later, time has dulled some of the sharper takes, and while few would name it as their favorite Neil Young record, it’s understood to be an important moment in the songwriter’s personal development.
Johnny’s Island was recorded with the same band at Commercial Recorders in Honolulu, Hawaii. In a statement on his website, Young called it a “complete record,” and said it includes “a majority of unreleased tracks including “Big Pearl,” “Island in the Sun”, and “Love Hotel”, plus others you may have heard before.” Young didn’t specify a release date, but called it, “a beautiful record coming to you soon.”
As for Trans: The Animated Story, it is being directed by Micah Nelson, son of Willie, and is said to include “all of the Trans music and characters, telling their story.” No date has been set, but it will drop on Blu-Ray and DVD as well as the NYA’s Hearse Theater. The first installment is “Computer Cowboy”, named after the Trans track, and you can watch it now over at the Archives.
These projects are just the latest that Young has dusted off. Last month he announced a concert film and album, both called Way Down in the Rust Bucket and coming February 26th. He recently unveiled his Archives Vol. 2 box set, and a deluxe vinyl edition of After the Gold Rush is arriving March 19th. This flurry of releases comes after 75-year-old legend sold 50% of the rights to his entire song catalog.