Neil Young:Live At Massey Hall 1971

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By: Dennis Cook

Listen to Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall

“This is another song about my ranch. I’m gonna sing mostly new songs tonight. I’ve written so many new ones I can’t think of anything else to do but sing them,” says Neil Young before sitting at the piano for a shudder inducing “Journey Through The Past,” which is exactly what Live At Massey Hall 1971 (Reprise/WEA) is.

This intimate solo acoustic performance is the stuff of legend. The second in Young’s long awaited Archives series gives an official release to one of the most bootlegged gigs in rock history. Fresh from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s unprecedented stadium tour, Young digs into new compositions that would form the backbone of Harvest and other ’70s classics.

Peppered with crowd pleasers like “Helpless” and “Cowgirl In The Sand,” this finds Young at his burning creative peak. For all the music he’s released in the proceeding years it’s these songs that still make his fans swoon. And why not when you’re talking about pearls like “Old Man” and “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” especially when they’re presented with an innocence and cracked sincerity that’s faded a touch with time. 1971 was a very good year for Young. Only in his mid-twenties, he was already a revered, wealthy icon with almost unlimited options for his creative endeavors. That happy sense of possibility infuses these performances. Even heavy sojourns like “Bad Fog Of Loneliness” and “Needle And The Damage Done” are edged with a confidence and bravado that only youth and riches can provide.

It’s a delight to hear Young ramble openly about his inspirations and enthusiasms in the introductions. He’s rarely this chatty nowadays, and it’s a gas to pull up a chair and listen to his stories as he plucks his ringing steel strings and smiles down the darkness of the new decade dawning around him.

JamBase | Canada
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