Watch Neil Young's LaserDisc-Exclusive Concert Film 'Solo Trans'

The hour-long document of Young's early '80s period was directed by Hal Ashby

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Apr 3, 2024

Compared to his prolific 1970s, Neil Young's 1980s period could be described as a series of questionable artistic choices — one of which was, "release performance footage from this era's early years exclusively on LaserDisc."

That was the fate of Solo Trans, a Young concert film directed by Hal Ashby which captures a 1983 performance in Dayton, OH, from the musician's tour of the same name.

Thankfully, Solo Trans has found its way online for our viewing pleasure, saving the need to blow cash on the LaserDisc release and accompanying player. The hour-long feature is presented as a broadcast by Trans TV — a name Young gave to the visual accompaniment that would be onscreen behind him on each stop of the tour — complete with standup interviews and hosts.

Parts of the set captured on Solo Trans include an opening set of Young staples like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and his CSN&Y offerings "Helpless" and "Ohio." He then pivots to his more electronic fare of the era, including a nascent "I Got a Problem" (which would later surface on 1986's Landing on Water) and the re-recorded version of "Mr. Soul" which appears on 1983's Trans

It's one thing to hear Young experiment with vocal synthesis on that LP, but to watch him wield the wireless device while sporting wraparound shades and gnarly mutton chops is entirely another. Young then pulls off a costume change and brings out the Shocking Pinks — with whom he recorded 1983's Everybody's Rockin' — for the encore, and their cover of Bobby Freeman's "Do You Want to Dance" (titled "Do You Wanna Dance?") remains exclusive to the Solo Trans film and LaserDisc format.  

When you think about it these decades later, Solo Trans being a LaserDisc exclusive could be a harbinger of Young's more recent evangelism surrounding audio fidelity. While LaserDisc sported higher-quality video and audio than VHS or Betamax video tapes, the format wasn't widely adopted by North American consumers, and was eventually supplanted by DVDs at the turn of the millennium.

Not unlike vinyl records, LaserDiscs required the viewer to occasionally peel themselves off the couch and go flip them over, and the Solo Trans rip seen here comes complete with an onscreen alert to do so.

Young has been busy ahead of heading out on tour with Crazy Horse, standing against anti-trans legislation in Canada, and bringing his music back to Spotify while simultaneously dunking on their plebeian "low-res" audio fidelity. The Canadian icon and his longtime band will also share new album Fu##in' Up this month, which was recorded at Toronto's Rivoli.

Find out where Trans and Everybody's Rockin' stand in Exclaim!'s list of Neil Young Albums Ranked from Worst to Best.

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