Live at Massey Hall 1971

Live at Massey Hall 1971

by Neil Young
4.8 5

Vinyl LP(Long Playing Record)

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Overview

Live at Massey Hall 1971

The second volume of Neil Young's long-promised, suddenly thriving Archives series is Live at Massey Hall, preserving a 1971 acoustic show at the Toronto venue. Where the first volume captured a portion of Neil's past that wasn't particularly well documented on record -- namely, the rampaging original Crazy Horse lineup in its 1970 prime -- this second installment may seem to cover familiar ground, at least to the outside observer who may assume that any solo acoustic Young must sound the same. That, of course, is not the case with an artist as mercurial and willful as Young, who was inarguably on a roll in 1971, coming off successes with Crazy Horse, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and his second solo record, 1970's After the Gold Rush. The concert chronicled on Live at Massey Hall finds Neil dipping into these recent successes for material, as he also airs material that would shortly find a home on 1972's Harvest in addition to playing songs that wouldn't surface until later in the decade -- "Journey Through the Past" and "Love in Mind" wound up on 1973's Time Fades Away, "See the Sky About to Rain" showed up on 1974's On the Beach -- and then there's two songs that never showed up on an official Neil Young album: the stomping hoedown "Dance Dance Dance," which he gave to Crazy Horse, and "Bad Fog of Loneliness," which gets its first release here. This is a remarkably rich set of songs, touching on nearly every aspect of Young's personality, whether it's his sweetness, his sensitivity, his loneliness, or even his often-neglected sense of fun. True, the latter only appears on "Dance Dance Dance," but that comes as a welcome contrast to the stark sadness of "See the Sky About to Rain." But even if "Down by the River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand" retain their intense sense of menace when stripped of the winding guitar workouts of Crazy Horse, this concert isn't dominated by melancholy: it's a warm, giving affair, built upon lovely readings of "Helpless," "Tell Me Why," "Old Man," and an early incarnation of "A Man Needs a Maid" (here played as a medley with "Heart of Gold") that removes the bombast of the Harvest arrangement, revealing the fragile, sweet song that lies underneath. While this concert isn't as freewheeling and rich as Young's studio albums of the early '70s -- each record had a distinctive character different from its predecessor, thanks in part to producer David Briggs, arranger/pianist Jack Nitzsche, and Young's supporting musicians, including Crazy Horse or the Stray Gators -- it nevertheless captures the essence of Neil Young the singer and songwriter at his artistic peak. That's the reason why this concert has been a legendary bootleg for nearly four decades and why its release 36 years after its recording is so special: it may not add an additional narrative to Neil Young's history, but it adds detail, color, and texture to a familiar chapter of his career, rendering it fresh once more. No wonder Briggs wanted to release this concert as an album between After the Gold Rush and Harvest: it not only holds its own against those classics, it enhances them. [Live at Massey Hall was also released as a two-disc set that contained a CD of the show and a DVD containing the same concert in high fidelity audio.]

Product Details

Release Date: 11/24/2008
Label: Reprise / Wea
UPC: 0093624997207
catalogNumber: 43328
Rank: 18155

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Live At Massey Hall 1971 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Had Young gone along with David Briggs and released this concert instead of Time Fades Away, he might have been even a bigger 70s star than he was. Stripped down to piano and guitar, the songs have a a unity they don't posses in the studio versions. I have heard other solo takes of some of them from CSNY's 4 Way Street played on radio but these recordings are superior. I still feel Unplugged is the place to hear Neil acoustic but no serious NY listener should miss this set.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Music that is timeless. His music at its best, really sets a mood, a sense of place,like a novel.
GT_oh More than 1 year ago
How much emotional toughness a confessional singer has to have to give the audience musical vulnerability; physical heroism (Young's back hurt so much he could barely retrieve a dropped guitar pick); the difficult art of seeming artless; the loneliness of stardom; the simple joy of getting an audience to sing along with you--this live album is a revelation from beginning to end. No wonder Young is still making great music.
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