Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Neil Young - Live at the Cellar Door (Reprise, 2013)

At this point in in his career, singer-songwriter Neil Young’s stock was soaring. After he broke with Buffalo Springfield, he hooked up with Crosby Stills and Nash, rocketing to stardom and beginning a fascinating solo career. Recorded as a solo acoustic show with Young playing guitar and piano and singing, this archival set from late 1970 features songs from the just issued After the Gold Rush LP and the Harvest LP which would be released shortly thereafter. Young is in fine form throughout, friendly to the crowd (perhaps a little too gregarious announcing the final song “Flying on the Ground is Wrong.”) Much of the music is meditative and medium temoped. It is interesting how he adapts his electric rock songs to the acoustic format. “Cinnamon Girl” drops that massive riff the original is built on and “Down By The River” is drastically shortened, focusing the attention on both songs from the electrified music to the lyrics. He takes to the piano quite a bit, playing the soon to be epochal “After the Gold Rush” and singing with a haunted, plaintive cry. “Old Man” which would become a number one hit for him the following year, and it is debuted here, balanced out by some relative obscurities like the beautiful “Expecting to Fly” and “See the Sky About To Rain.” Overall, this is a fine show and well worth a listen for dedicated fans. It took a few listens for me to get into it, but the hushed ambiance of the performance draws you in and the beauty of the songs makes you stay. Live At The Cellar Door - amazon.com

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