Neil Young – Live at the Cellar Door
There’ll be a time when Neil Young is no longer among us. But there’s no reason to believe that his recorded output will end anytime soon. Well known for systematically recording and filming his gigs, there’s a possible world in which a new Neil Young release every, say, six months reaches the digital shelves for at least the next 300 years or thereabouts. The latest from the NYA is a set from late 1970. Actually, it’s a compilation of performances from six separate shows at the Cellar Door in DC in late November/beginning of December of that year. When everything is stacking up for the next major instalment of the NYA to focus on his mid-1980s output, it’s typical of the ornery old fellah to go back to his early 1970s roots. There’s a real historic (read geeky) interest to this release. This set of gigs took place just eleven months after a previous NYA release – Crazy Horse at The Fillmore – and a mere six weeks before yet another still – Live at Massey Hall. Even so, it offers something genuinely original. Unsurprisingly by now, we get some very different versions of standard songs. The piano version of ‘Cinnamon Girl’ is a revelation. And for once ‘Bad Fog of Loneliness’ comes across as almost chipper. What’s more, while the set focuses mainly on After The Goldrush, Harvest is clearly in gestation. Indeed, we’re treated to the first ever outing of Old Man. Pleasingly, this set is also much more intimate than the Massey Hall gig. And the sound is captured just exquisitely. Overall, what’s reassuring about this release is the very Neil Young-ness of it. While he started every one of the Cellar Door gigs with ‘On The Way Home’, it’s not present here at all. As recompense, though, we get perhaps the most beautiful rendition of ‘Flying On The Ground Is Wrong’ that has been released to date. There’s no second-guessing Neil Young and that’s his very attraction. This is yet one more manifestation of the same. And more than welcome it is too.