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Archive for the ‘NYFAQ Video Vault’ Category

Neil-Young-on-the-beach1

Rolling Stone has just published another one of those lists they like doing so much, but this one definitely caught our eye.

The 10 Best Neil Young Deep Cuts as picked by RS readers doesn’t always get it completely right – we’re still scratching our heads wondering how they could’ve missed “Change Your Mind” from Sleeps With Angels (to cite one fairly major omission).

But overall, it’s a very decent list.

The one thing this list manages to nail is some major love for On The Beach – in our own humble opinion, Neil Young’s single most underrated album. Of the ten “deep cuts” listed here – songs that are rarely played on radio, or even by Neil himself in concert – nearly half of them, at four songs total, come from On The Beach.

And of those four, two of them – “Ambulance Blues” and the title track – come from the second side of this amazing album. As one of our readers put it, this is truly a “desert island side.”

We would have liked to have seen “Motion Pictures” in there too of course.

Although we know Neil has performed that song at least once – at a legendarily bootlegged 1974 show from the Bottom Line in New York – there doesn’t appear to be any single standing video document of it in existence, at least on You Tube.

Fortunately for us, Rolling Stone did find some very decent live performance video of the songs that make up the other two-thirds of that amazing second side of On The Beach – rarely played as they are.

RS leads their entry for the song “On The Beach” – #9 on their list – by saying “If there’s any doubt that Neil Young was super bummed out when he made On The Beach in early 1974, listen no further than kicks off the second side of the LP.”

Gee,’…Ya think?

“Ambulance Blues” – which ranks much higher on this list at #2 – has actually been played a little more often. It was in the setlist every night on Neil’s 2007/08 Chrome Dreams II Continental tour.

But in this version, from the annual Bridge School benefit show from 10/17/98, it gets a much different arrangement with backing from R.E.M.

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eldorado

We’re back.

And to those who stuck it out with us during what turned out to be our longest (albeit unintentional) sabbatical away from the blog to date, we thank you for continuing to check in here despite the sorry lack of any new updates.

Now, with that out of the way…

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 25 years since I went to *that* Neil Young concert at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre back in 1989. That night, I was fully expecting a nostalgic greatest hits sort of thing from an artist who at the time seemed fairly deep into what looked like a near irreversible artistic decline.

What I got instead was…well, this:

The new songs Neil performed that night – some of his best work in a decade or more – were originally supposed to be part of a new album with the working title of Eldorado. This super-rare recording never really got a proper release (at least outside of a very limited edition Japanese five-song E.P.).

But most of the songs – including the soon-to-be-anthemic “Rockin’ In The Free World,” performed for the very first time at that same show I witnessed in Seattle – eventually made their way onto Freedom later that year on Reprise. Freedom, as everyone by now knows, ended up becoming the breakthrough “comeback” hit which signaled Neil Young’s artistic and commercial return from the dead.

At the time of its release, Neil Young was just coming off a nearly ten year period marked by a series of bizarre genre-hopping experiments – an artistic malaise that resulted in a shrinking fan base and declining record sales. Music historians now commonly refer to this period as Neil Young’s “lost eighties” (or occasionally as the “Geffen Years,” in reference to his record label back then – the same one that famously sued him for his refusal to make “Neil Young records”).

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Coming in the aftermath of such albums as Trans and Everybody’s Rockin’, Freedom not only arrived as a shock, but also kicked off a glorious, completely unexpected run of latter-day 1990s classics including Ragged Glory, Harvest Moon, Mirror Ball and Sleeps With Angels. As music “comebacks” go, this one has to be counted as among the greatest of all time.

But where all of this really began, was on that same tour with his small, four piece band The Restless, including that jaw-dropping 1989 Seattle show at the Paramount Theatre. Although decent quality bootleg recordings of that show can be found fairly easily by searching the internet, there doesn’t seem too much out there in the way of video.

The clips we’ve posted up here are from a show in St. Louis that happened a few weeks earlier during the same tour. They sound nearly as good as what I can remember from witnessing that amazing night on a stage in Seattle more than a quarter century ago.

The main reason for dredging up all this history now though, is because (as most fans already know), Neil Young has a new album recorded with Willie Nelson’s sons coming out next month called The Monsanto Years. Whether or not this new record will be the same sort of artistic revelation that Freedom was, of course remains to be seen. But the parallels between “then” and “now” are striking.

For one thing, based on his most recently recorded output over the past few years, a decent argument could be mounted right now that Neil Young is deeply mired in an artistic funk not at all dissimilar to those so-called “lost eighties” years. If you examine Neil Young’s last several studio albums closely, you’ll find that two of them (Americana and A Letter Home – the latter of which was recorded entirely in the phono-booth at Jack White’s record shop), contain no new original material at all.

Of the remaining two, the symphonic arrangements heard on 2014’s Storytone would easily qualify it as ranking right up there with Neil Young’s most bizarre genre experiments in the 1980s. Which, at least among his most recent work, really leaves only 2012’s Psychedelic Pill – his long awaited reunion with Crazy Horse – as the sort of album most fans would recognize as the type of record Neil Young is normally best known for.

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Neil Young premiered several of the new songs from The Monsanto Years at a surprise club show in San Luis Opisbo last month, where he was joined onstage by Promise of the Real, a band featuring Willie Nelson’s two sons Lucas and Micah. The band is also featured on the new album and will be joining Neil Young on tour this summer.

The song titles we’ve seen, including “New Day For the Planet” and “Rock Starbucks” suggest a politically charged album along the lines of Young’s infamous Anti-Bush themed 2006 album Living With War – a proposition which could go either way, artistically speaking. Basically Neil Young is letting us know he’s pissed off about GMOs here. Which, if nothing else, means that The Monsanto Years is a sure-fire candidate to divide his fans right down the middle no matter what.

We’ve included some audio from the San Luis Opispo show below to let you judge for yourself. You can also check out a snippet of the new video for “Rock Starbucks” over at Democracy Now (where the video was previewed this past Friday).

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Like many of you, we took notice of Arcade Fire’s recent cover of Neil Young’s “Come On Baby, Let’s Go Downtown” during their recent show in Winnipeg.

Well okay, maybe it’s more of a Danny Whitten cover. And what’s the deal with the giant heads?

Anyway…

Regardless, Arcade Fire have made these types of cover songs a staple of their current tour. Basically, in each city they perform, they make it a point to perform something by one of that town’s favorite sons.

So, when you come to Winnipeg, a Neil Young connection more than makes sense, right?

But for our purposes here, this got us to thinking about some of our favorite instances of otherwise famous artists covering Neil Young songs.

Let’s start with this one:

A shorter version of this song, from Buddy Miles 1970 Them Changes album, was a staple of the early progressive rock FM stations that briefly flourished from the late 1960s up until around the mid 1970s.

This was right before the corporate interests took over, and the once free-form musical format gave way to the more tightly regimented narrow-casting that remains in place to this day.

Anyway…we’ve always preferred this version, from the long out-of-print Buddy Miles live album.

Buddy was always best known as the power-drummer who played behind the likes of both Mike Bloomfield (in the Electric Flag) and Jimi Hendrix (in the Band of Gypsys). On this stunning version of “Down By The River,” he reveals himself as a surprisingly adept vocalist, and more than capable of a quite soulful interpretation of one of Neil’s greatest songs.

It is hard to imagine there being any voice in modern rock more uniquely qualified (or, for that matter, “matched”) to cover Neil Young than Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

Radiohead have covered Neil Young numerous times onstage – a routine Google or YouTube search will turn up numerous versions of “After The Gold Rush” and “Tell Me Why.”

But our personal favorite has always been this much rarer version of “On The Beach.” The desolate tone of Yorke’s voice here, suits this song perfectly.

Speaking of voices perfectly suited to Neil Young songs, how about the Man In Black?

Although Cash clearly comes from the opposite end of the tonal spectrum, his deep vocal register literally smacks you in the gut here.

Cash did some of his greatest work with producer Rick Rubin in his final years on the American Recordings series. This is among the least known, and best. The fact that “Pocahontas” is also one of our very favorite Neil Young songs ever, further qualifies its inclusion here.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

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Although (sadly) we aren’t actually there, we have been closely (if somewhat vicariously) following Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s current European tour, mostly through the reports on Thrasher’s Wheat and the setlist recaps over on Sugar Mountain, and have found things starting to become really interesting.

As most who follow such things already know, Neil tends to stick to a very basic setlist from night to night, (unlike some of his contemporaries – most notably Bruce Springsteen).

But on recent stops, this tour has found Neil starting to subtly mix things up just a bit – at least by the usual Neil Young standards. Most interesting, has been the recent inclusion of “Living With War” into what looks to be shaping up as a regular nightly spot. In light of Neil’s recent decision to cancel a planned show in Isreal – given the currently volatile situation there – the introduction of this song is more timely than ever.


“Living With War”; Mönchengladbach, GER

“Living With War” also plays nicely with the political theme of the sole new song premiered for European audiences this summer, “Who’s Gonna Stand Up and Save the Earth?.”

At this point, no one is really sure what Neil Young’s next record is going to sound like (although our best guess is probably something acoustic, given the shows already being lined up in America, once the Crazy Horse overseas juggernaut is over).

But if this song (even in a quieter format) is any indication, count us as being onboard.


“Who’s Gonna Stand Up and Save the Earth?”; Marquee Cork, Ireland

Also, nice to see this semi-rarity from the Toast sessions (that ended up on Are You Passionate?) dusted off for the European run. Rumor has it that the entire unreleased Toast sessions may end up on either the second or third Archives boxed set.


“Goin’ Home”; Echo Arena, Liverpool, England

And then, there is this.

When we were first looking at some of the setlists for Europe, and saw “Don’t Cry” listed, what we were hoping for was the feedback frenzy of “Don’t Cry” from 1989’s Eldorado/Freedom sessions.

But we’ll definitely settle for this underplayed gem from Zuma.


“Don’t Cry No Tears”; Marquee Cork, Ireland

Obviously, we wish we were out there on the rail with the rest of the diehard Rusties in Europe. But in the meantime, these videos shot by fans make for a very nice snapshot of all the Ragged Glory currently raging across Europe.

See you this fall, Neil.

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Earlier this week, Warner Brothers announced that Neil Young’s A Letter Home will get its proper commercial release on May 27, following last week’s surprise vinyl release through the Third Man Records website on National Record Store Day.

In addition to a standalone commercial CD, the album will also be released in a deluxe boxed set version.

According to the Warner Brothers press release, Reprise will release the complete box set, which includes a special “direct feed from the booth” audiophile vinyl version and a DVD that captured the original electro-mechanical process, on May 27. The box also includes seven 6-inch vinyl discs, and a bonus disc that includes outtakes from the original recordings.

Here are the details, per the press release:

Standard audio LP pressed on 180-gram black vinyl
Audiophile LP pressed on 180-gram black vinyl
Standard audio CD
DVD with footage from the recording
12″ x 12″, 32-page full color booklet
Download card for hi-res Audiophile version of album
Seven 6″ vinyl discs pressed on clear vinyl.
The 7th disc of this set features a version of Dylan’s
“Blowin’ In The Wind” backed with an alternate take / arrangement of “Crazy”

Neilleterbox

Neil Young also released the first video from A Letter Home this week. This cover of Bert Jansch’s “Needle Of Death,” like the rest of A Letter Home, was recorded in the refurbished 1947 Voice-O-Graph recording booth at Third Man’s Nashville headquarters.

Listening to this, it’s easy to see the connection between Jansch’s original composition, and Neil Young’s own “Ambulance Blues” (a connection that Neil himself has acknowledged on a number of occasions). We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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Okay, so our last attempt at posting live 1976 video with Crazy Horse didn’t go exactly as planned. Since then, we found this gem from the 1976 Budokan shows in Japan on YouTube, and figured we’d give it another try.

We’re being a little quieter about this one, but enjoy while you can.

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