Most helpful positive review
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
A great live solo album by Neil Young
on 9 December 2013
This is a great reminder (if we needed one) of just what a fine songwriter Neil Young is. The album is a recording of some solo sets he did in 1970 and they are very good indeed. I had the great good fortune to receive an advance copy of this album, I have played it a lot and the more I play it, the better it gets.
This is the young (sorry) Neil Young with just his guitar and a piano performing some great material like After The Goldrush, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Old Man and others. They are really good, heartfelt performances which in these stripped-down versions often have tremendous emotional power. Don't Let It Bring You Down, for example, really packs an emotional punch for me - perhaps even more than the studio version does. The wonderful chord structures combined with Young's distinctive, ætherial, almost falsetto vocal give it a fabulous, spare beauty and the same is true of many of the other songs here.
The sound quality is excellent and the choice of material is very well balanced, I think. It's hard to get the balance right on a live album between failing to capture enough of the live atmosphere and having so much chat that it becomes tedious on repeated listening, but the producers here have judged it impeccably. There is very little of Neil Young speaking throughout most of the album - generally just a brief introduction to each song, which is exactly enough to give a feel of the live performance without interfering with the music. (And as an aside, although I know this is from 1970, it still brought me up short to hear Only Love Can Break Your Heart introduced as "a song from my new album".) The one exception is a longish, good humoured chat before the last track, Flying On The Ground Is Wrong, and here it is good to get a flavour of the man himself. It is excellently done.
I'm delighted to be able to give this album a rave review. It deserves it, which - let's face it - cannot be said of all Neil Young's work. This, though is among his best which means that it is very good indeed. Don't look for the Crazy-Horse-driven power which made Psychedelic Pill so brilliant last year, for example; this is no less powerful but in that more quietly thoughtful, contemplative Neil Young way. It's an excellent album of great songs, beautifully performed and recorded. Warmly recommended.