As the story goes, Neil Young once bought 200,000 copies of his 1978 album “Comes A Time” after realizing he had approved a test pressing from a bad master tape and shot them with his rifle.
Just before the albums release, Young realized that some of the high frequencies were missing from the album. He called the record company to tell them about the error but they had already printed 200,000 copies and shipped them around the world. Young said it was his fault but insisted that the record be recalled. Reprise Records told him he would have to foot the bill and it would cost over $200,000. One dollar per album plus shipping back from Italy and Japan where they had already been shipped. Young agreed to pay the bill, he said,
“I don’t like throwing money around but I wasn’t going to have this album circulating around the world in bad quality.”
Neil’s father Scott Young recalls and confirms the story about the “Comes A Time” debacle,
“One day, Neil and I dropped into the big storage building where in 1981 he kept his two tour buses and some prime elements in his antique car collection – sixteen-cylinder Cadillacs, a 1934 Bentley, a La Salle, a Buick Roadmaster station wagon, the Packard station wagon. We wandered from there into a smaller storage area filled with scenery, his own travel trunks and some belonging to Joni Mitchell, boxes of… odds and ends… Also in the room were stacks of boxes full of records. ‘You know what they are?’ Neil asked me. I didn’t. ‘Comes A Time copies that were no good,’ he said. The master tape of Comes A Time had been damaged. He checked it, thinking it wasn’t quite right, but not able to identify what. So he okayed it. A week or so later he found one of the tapes taken off the original master. Checking the tape against the album, then ready, he found that some frequencies in the high register were missing altogether from the album.”
As for the chance of these records ever seeing the light of day, Scott said,
“He showed me each case of albums had been fired at with a rifle, piercing each record and making it unusable.”
Besides the audio problems Young was concerned about, there is also a difference in the track listing. Most notably the songs “Lotta Love” and “Peace Of Mind” being swapped.
UPDATE 1: In a March 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Young revealed that he in fact used the 200,000 LPs as shingles for a barn roof which puts into question the shooting them with rifles theory.
On November 9, 2010, a storage facility rented by Young caught fire when his 1959 Lincoln Continental outfitted with electric batteries and a biodiesel-powered generator by his own company LincVolt was left plugged into a wall unsupervised in the storage unit. Young kept guitars, paintings, vintage cars and cases of other memorabilia at the 10,000-square-foot warehouse. I wonder if the recalled bullet ridden “Comes A Time” albums were lost in the fire???
Fire officials said about 70 percent of the belongings were salvaged or are salvageable but no official word on the “Comes A Time” records or the carbon footprint left by his eco car ironically burning up a warehouse.
Did you know that Young also once owned Lionel Trains??? Click below to read about that…