What does it sound like?:
This latest NY archive release is the first in the Official Bootleg Series, although it covers much of the same ground as a number of previous Performance Series releases – Fillmore, Massey Hall, Cellar Door and Young Shakespeare among them. It’s a generous 2-disc collection amounting to 90 minutes of music comprising 23 songs culled from Young’s early solo years, with the usual smattering of Buffalo Springfield tracks, Crazy Horse favourites and rarities like Bad Fog of Loneliness and See the Sky About to Rain, which have by now appeared on other archive releases. Given that the package contains 2 discs, it’s not particularly cheap. So why should you bother investing yet again in 23 songs that you have probably heard many times over umpteen previous releases?
Well for starters, despite its purported bootleg status, the sound quality is clear as a mountain stream. And despite a couple of remarks between one or two songs, Young focuses entirely on playing. And it’s the playing and singing here that is particularly good, exquisitely so in fact. The word that kept springing to mind while listening was Afterword word of the week – nuanced. The tempo is toned right down, the acoustic guitar, piano and Young’s voice are all pitch perfect, the audience rightly appreciative. Some of the old crowd pleasers that have been done to death on other live albums – I am a Child, The Loner and Sugar Mountain for instance – sound so fresh. I’ve listened to this album 5 or 6 times on the bounce, something I’ve never felt inclined to do with any of the other Performance Series releases – and yes, I do have all of them. If you’re not a Neil completist (why wouldn’t you be?), and you only want to invest in one live album of acoustic material from the early 70s, this may well be the one to choose.
What does it all *mean*?
Neil Young’s archives, immense as they are, clearly still contain many gems that are worth sharing.
Goes well with…
Any of the Performance Series live albums listed above, although I’ll stick my neck out and say this is probably the best distillation of the early 70s era released so far.
1st October 2021
Might suit people who like…
Er, Neil Young.