“Lucky thirteen” is a compilation 2-LP album covering the Geffen years. The five albums are represented by two or three songs easch, and added to the end we get two songs from the Bluenotes era (to be highlighted on the following album back on Reprise).
I can enjoy compilation albums and especially if we get new songs, or alternative versions or live versions of known songs. This is a mix of all that. Unfortunalety about half the songs are boring, that is album versions that any Neil collector already own on the original albums.
We start out with two songs from “Trans”, both edits compare to the album. Edits are the least precious of variants that can appear on this kind of album. We get one longer and one shorter. “Sample and hold” is the 8+ minutes version that was unique to the cd release of the album. On the LP the song is only 5:09. It’s nice to have it on vinyl, and this is a great start to the compilation. “Transformer man” (edit) however is almost the same as on the LP, only a slight edit of 5 seconds.
Next up is songs from “Everybody’s rockin”, the 1983 album that Neil threw in instead of the original “Old ways” when the Geffen masters wanted him to do a “rock’n’roll” album, era. Happily we get three completely new songs instead of any album tracks from the era. This is the honey spot of the whole album. First we have “Depression blues” and previously unreleased song from the original “Old ways” session. Neil, it’s brilliant! This is followed up by two unreleased songs performed live in Dayton in September 1983, “Get Gone” and “Don’t Take Your Love Away from Me”. Both songs were planned for the “Everybody’s rockin'” album but left out. They are absolutely great!
Next up are two songs from the 1985 album “Old ways”, the album that actually got made and released. They are good songs, but we get the same versions as on the album proper; “Once an Angel” and “Where is the Highway Tonight?”. Nice songs, but boring choices for this compilation as I feel they are better in their normal surroundings, on the original album that is.
Now we are in the most uninteresting part of this album. Two songs from Neil’s low point, the 1986 album “Landing on water”. “Pressure” is the same as on the album but for “Hippie dream” we get the long edit which clocks in 15 seconds longer. A slight improvement compared to the very same version at least. We also get two songs taken from 1987 “Life”, same versions again, the two songs preoccupied with world politics, “Around the World” and “Mideast Vacation”.
Lastly we get two new live tracks from the Bluenotes tour of 1987-88. These songs were creme de la creme back in the nineties. “Ain’t It the Truth” is an unreleased song. Next, “This Note’s for You” was the title track from the 1988 album, here in an unreleased live version that clocks in at five and a half minutes. The tracks are recorded live in April 1988. The notes on the inner LP covers states that the tracks are taken from the Neil Young Archives and lo and behold, in 2015 Neil released “Bluenote Café”, the Neil Young Archives Performance Series #11 a 4 LP box from the Bluenote tour. Sadly the two songs from “Lucky thirteen” are the same recordings of the tracks that was used in the box. It would have been better if we would have got other live versions.
These kind of albums, compilations, can be hit or miss. “Lucky thirteen” is more hit than miss in my opinion. We get three completelty unreleased songs, all from the 1983 period and it is glorious. It is also rather nice that you can play only sides A,B and D and get all the interesting stuff out of this album.
- Sample and hold (long version)
- Transformer man (edit)
- Depression blues (previous unreleased)
- Get gone (previous unreleased, live 1983)
- Don’t take your love away from me (previous unreleased, live 1983)
- Once an angel
- Where is the highway tonight?
- Hippie dream (long version)
- Around the world
- Mideast vacation
- Ain’t it the truth (live with Bluenotes 1988)
- This note’s for you (live with Bluenotes 1988)
Best songs: “Depression blues”, “Get gone”, and “Don’t take your love away from me”
Released on January 6th, 1993
Media: 2LP, vinyl, 1993