Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Neil Young- this is nowhere?

Anyone with even a vague interest in rock is stoked that ol' Neil has finally dug out some of his archives that he's decided are fit for release. And while it's great to see a roaring 1970 electric set with the original Crazy Horse line-up, he's still got acres of tapes of unreleased material in his vaults, including many songs never officially released. Getting over the disappointment that we'll have to wait longer for this material is balanced by the release of Live at the Fillmore East. But is it really a decent compensation?

Much as I was dying to hear this, I have to say that I was kind of disappointed. You already knew and loved doomed guitarist Danny Whitten's solo turn on "Downtown" as it came out on Tonight's the Night and though the rest is new, most of it comes from the then-recent Everybody Knows This is Nowhere but sadly includes nothing from the soon-to-come After the Goldrush. Other than "Downtown," the two obvious highlights are the extended versions of "Down By the River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand," which add a respective three minutes and five minutes (the last minute is extended applause) to their studio versions. While they sound fine on the live album, if you go back to the studio versions, they come up short.

Listen to both versions of each songs back to back if you don't believe that (these links go to full streaming versions from Napster).

Down By The River (Album Version)
Down By The River [Live]
Cowgirl In The Sand (Original Album Version)
Cowgirl In The Sand [Live]

The original version of "River" not only has a more complex, knotty, exciting interaction between Young and Whitten but also a better build-up dynamic on the chorus to add to the drama and tension of the song. The live version of "Cowgirl" has Jack Nitzsche's keyboard amped up way higher than Whitten's guitar so you miss the interaction he has with Young on the song. Granted that the live versions are both different from the known versions and are still exciting but honestly, you'd be better off dusting off your copy of Nowhere for some real thrills.


Blogger Tony Sclafani said...

Thanks for the tip. I'll wait for the unreleased studio stuff to buy vintage Neil.

6:56 AM  

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