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Archive for the ‘NYFAQ Photo Archives’ Category

nybluenotecafeEver since Neil Young began digging deep into his Archives, he has proven to be a master curator of his rather considerable musical legacy.

The one thing that is certain, is the long-awaited arrival of the first installment of several projected Archives boxed-sets back in 2009 – slow train coming that it was – certainly proved to be worth the wait.

But for diehard Neil Young fans, the real fun in finally getting there came in the slow, but steady trickle of live recordings leading up to that opus. Among its many treasures, Neil Young’s Archives Performance Series (or NYAPS) has thus far yielded several legendary live acoustic performances (Massey Hall 1971, and Live At Canterbury House 1968 being chief among them), as well as the blistering amps-turned-up-to-eleven performance heard on Crazy Horse At The Fillmore 1970.

With a similarly timed series of live recordings from the vaults serving as the assumed prequel to the next volume of Neil Young’s Archives apparently now well under way – well, the hits, as they once liked to say in the old-school music business, they just keep on coming.

And in many ways, Bluenote Café may be the best volume yet from this amazing series. If nothing else, it is certainly among the most interesting, both historically and musically.

Bluenote Café captures Neil Young at one of the more pivotal crossroads of his career. Touring behind the album This Note’s For You (best known for how the controversial title track railed against the then still relatively new concept of corporate sponsorship of rock and roll), Neil Young was just coming off the bizarre “lost eighties” period that most fans remember for his ill-fated association with Geffen Records, and for the bizarre series of genre experiments (Trans, Everybody’s Rockin’, Old Ways) that nearly derailed his career for good.

NYFAQ Video Vault: Trans Tour In Berlin 1983

As his first record returning back to the more friendly folks at Reprise, This Note’s For You was also the last of these genre-bending recordings – a big-band blues album.

It also was a surprise hit, largely because of the controversial video for the title track, that MTV was more or less forced into playing (despite their initial reluctance). Neil Young’s next album – 1989’s Freedom, the classic that jump-started his 1990s artistic and commercial resurrection from the dead, was still a few months down the road. But you can hear much of the explosiveness of that period already percolating here.

Much of what is heard on Bluenote Café reflects the semi-forced sounding feel of the last of those 1980’s vanity projects – the big horn section sounds clunky at times, and when Neil Young is playing the role of a blue man singing the whites, it never feels completely natural. Even so, Neil Young sounds more relaxed here than on any of the other officially released live recordings from the much-maligned “lost eighties” period (save for perhaps parts of what is heard on A Treasure, the 2011 NYAPS live recording that captures Neil’s 1980’s country phase).

But Neil Young’s guitar playing throughout this recording is absolutely incendiary, foreshadowing the explosiveness of what was still to come on Freedom, Ragged Glory, Mirror Ball and the rest of his improbable 1990s run of amazing albums. The main draw for fans here will be pre-release versions of Freedom’s “Crime In The City” and the opus “Ordinary People” (which was finally officially released two decades later on 2007’s Chrome Dreams II). Despite the occasionally forced quality of some of the bluesier stuff, the band – particularly those horns – sound tight as a drum.

In short, this is some really great shit.

Grade: A-

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Neil rips off a fiery solo during ABC Music Scene taping, 1969 (photo by Jeff Allen)It’s been awhile since we’ve checked in with Jeff Allen, the photographer who provided us with the previously unseen, now iconic photo that graces the cover of Neil Young FAQ.

At the time Jeff grabbed this amazing shot, he was simply one of the lucky few in attendance when Crosby Stills Nash & Young taped their legendary performance of Young’s “Down By The River” for the prime-time ABC TV concert showcase Music Scene show back in 1969.

Flash forward to the present nearly a half century later, and it becomes clear from the amazing series of photos below that Jeff hasn’t lost a step in terms of his eye for capturing a great live performance from the lens of his camera.

All of the shots below are from Stephen Stills and Neil Young’s performance at the Light Up the Blues concert/benefit on 4-25-15 at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, CA.

Thanks again, Jeff!

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NeilDolbyposter

The wonderful work of Jeff Allen is of course no secret to readers of Neil Young FAQ, since he is the man responsible for the book’s amazing cover shot – a previously unseen photo of Neil Young taken during the 1969 TV taping of ABC’s short-lived Music Scene show, with Crosby Stills Nash & Young.

So, obviously we were delighted when Jeff contacted us earlier this week to let us know that he had scored prime seats for Neil’s four-night run of solo acoustic shows at the prestigious Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

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Best of all, Jeff Allen attended the show with camera in tow.

As these photos – published here for the first time anywhere – show, it is also clear that Jeff hasn’t lost his touch all these years later. The following is just a short sample of what Jeff was able to capture, despite what he described as the sort of very heavy security one might expect at a Neil Young show these days:

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Man, will you just look at all of those guitars!

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Thanks again Jeff, and we’ll try our best to do better getting you a photo-pass next time!

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*You can find more of Jeff Allen’s work at the Cache Agency.

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Those who have read Neil Young FAQ or follow this site will already be familiar with the work of Arizona based photographer Mary Andrews. Several of her pictures — spanning Neil Young’s entire career — are featured in the book, and she was also the subject of a previous NYFAQ Photo Archives spotlight here.

But we still couldn’t resist posting Mary Andrews latest coup — in the form of this new gallery of amazing pictures Mary shot over this past weekend’s annual Farm-Aid benefit show.

In our own opinion — and we do admit to some level of bias here, since Mary is a personal friend — these stunning photographs of Willie Nelson, Neil Young and company represent some of her best work to date.

You can check out the entire collection — which in addition to the sampling displayed here, includes great shots of Crazy Horse, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and the rest of this year’s Farm-Aid lineup — by pointing your browsers towards Mary Andrews facebook page.

But just below, you’ll find some of our favorites from Mary’s personal 2012 Farm-Aid album. We hope you enjoy these as much as we did:

Neil Young:

Neil & Pegi Young:

Willie Nelson:

Rick “The Bass Player” Rosas:

Willie, Neil & Poncho:

Check out the rest of Mary’s Farm-Aid 2012 portfolio here. We also encourage our readers to support the great work of Farm-Aid by visiting their website and making a donation to help support America’s family farms.

And Thanks Again, Mary!

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Back in July, on the anniversary of Ben Keith’s passing, we spotlighted a sample of photographer Tony Stack’s work here for the Neil Young FAQ book, focusing on his shots of Ben and Neil in one of their final performances together.

Enough time has now passed, that we feel it’s time to give Tony’s great work a more complete airing — including a number of shots that never made the book.

But before we go there, we feel it is only appropriate that we shine the spotlight on one of our favorite shots ever — and one that did make the book — this beautiful picture of Neil Young’s guitars all lined up nice and neat, taken from a 2007 performance at Portland, Oregon’s Keller Theatre:

Another one we really liked from this show, is this shot of a particularly intense looking Neil during this same performance.

Any guesses as to the song he was playing at the time? We know for sure that it wasn’t “Southern Man,” “Motion Pictures” or “Ambulance Blues” — but could it have been “Ohio,” or maybe a rare acoustic rendering of “Tonight’s The Night”? We’ll never know for sure. But the one thing that is certain is that Tony captured Neil in a moment of rather intense concentration here:

We also liked the shots that Tony got from CSNY’s 2006 Freedom Of Speech tour a lot — and particularly this one which shows CSNY in what appears to be nothing less than full-on jam band mode. This shot comes from a performance at Denver’s world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheater:

From the same performance that Tony’s Ben Keith shots came from, there is also this great one from Denver’s Magness Arena in 2009. Here, Neil appears to be particularly locked into that “zone” that Rusties know so well — and which one can only hope we will see more of when the Crazy Horse reunion tour resumes in just a few weeks.

We suspect that Neil himself probably wouldn’t appreciate the close-up of his balding head here (now we know why he’s been wearing those hats so much lately), but it’s a great shot that captures Neil in full-on shred mode nonetheless.

Finally, we also like this one from the Twisted Road tour in Portland a lot. If nothing else — in the midst of all the heavy Neil Young activity coming up this fall, just a few weeks away, this one serves to remind us why we can’t wait for the release of Neil Young Journeys on home video.

Thanks again, Tony!

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