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Watch: Rare 1984 Neil Young Concert Movie 'Solo Trans' Directed By Hal Ashby

by Ben Brock
June 6, 2013 10:22 AM
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Here's an oddity for you oddballs: “Solo Trans," a 1984 Neil Young concert-film-cum-sketch-show that was only ever released on LaserDisc, but has recently found its way onto YouTube. 

In the mid-80s, Young was going through a wildly experimental phase, and in the space of four years released three utterly different albums, one, Trans (1982) full of synthetic electro, another, 1984's Everybody's Rockin' featuring hardcore, high-speed rockabilly, and then, in 1985, Old Ways, a return to the kind of country-and-western that made Young famous in the first place. Somewhere in the middle of all this, Young decided to go on tour and, somehow, to come up with a live show that would make sense of all three albums at once, which he did by inventing a fake TV show called “Trans TV” that would allow him to project clips of himself during his performances, as well as any other skits and sketches that popped into his head. Then he got Hal Ashby (director of "Harold and Maude" and "Shampoo") to make an episode of this fake TV show, as a concert movie, called it “Solo Trans,” and released it. Got that?

Not many people did get it, and not many people had LaserDisc players either (it was a format that even Betamax hipsters didn't understand), so the flick was forgotten by all but the hardest of hardcore Neil Young fans. But here it is, bubbling up out of obscurity, at least until an overzealous copyright enforcer kills it off. Until then, watch and learn why, a little while later, Young's own record label sued him for making “unrepresentative” (i.e. wildly bizarre) material. And after that, be sure to check out our Hal Ashby retrospective. [Dangerous Minds]

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More: Hal Ashby, Neil Young

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  • bobt | June 10, 2013 11:08 PMReply

    Well you predicted that well. Shakey Pictures, Neil etc, is quick with the ban hammer.

  • nyfan | June 7, 2013 1:09 PMReply

    Have this on video for many many years...def. not rare

  • Jack | June 6, 2013 12:25 PMReply

    Deep cut! I don't think Old Ways is anything like Neil's Harvest-style country music, though - it's way more hardcore, Republican-friendly stuff than the folkier styles that made him popular. Terrible album as well. Trans, however, is brilliant.

  • Dave | June 6, 2013 11:34 AMReply

    Thanks Neil. Sure brings back some great memories.

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