Neil Young – Live at the Riverboat 1969 (2009)

Let me be your country man

This album is very similar to the recently reviewed “Sugar Mountain – Live at Canterbury House 1968”. Three months later, in February 1969, Neil played solo at the Riverboat coffee house in Toronto. Neil is very talkative and seems to be in a great mode. He has some fun anecdotes from his life. I get the feeling he is more relaxed or more at ease with the venue or perhaps, the audience. I love some of the banter with the audience and when he talks to Bruce Palmer.

This album has much better sound quality as there is almost no hiss at all. The album is as far as I know not released on vinyl. The horror! However it is included in the massive box “The Archives Vol. 1 1963–1972”. When is volume 2 of the Archives coming out? In May?

Again, we find Neil alone on the stage with an acoustic guitar. It is always nice to hear some of these songs in stripped-down versions. Of the twenty tracks only eleven are songs and the rest are spoken words. Just as for “Sugar Mountain” it is fun to hear his banter once or twice but it is a negative to the overall. Six of the songs are repeated from “Sugar Mountain”, but we get four new songs; the Buffalo Springfield songs “Flying on the ground is wrong” and a very nice “I am a child”, as well as “I’ve loved her so long” from Neil’s first album and “Whiskey Boot Hill” from the “Country girl” medley on the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album “Déjà vu”.

“Whiskey Boot Hill” is an extremely rare live song. It may be the only known performance of this little song. That recording is the most interesting thing on this album. The version of “I’ve loved her so long” is also interesting because the intro, as well as some short passages in the song, almost sounds like “Cowgirl in the sand”. Maybe he was in love with the song during this period? It seems likely don’t you think? “Cowgirl” was recorded in January 1969 so it was fresh at the time and it fits with the timeline!

Of the other repeated songs “The last trip to Tulsa” is still the best and he does that guitar thing on “The old laughing lady” again.

The album is not a complete show, it’s pulled from six nights at the Riverboat. On February 9, 1969, he played three sets with a total of 21 songs (but five songs were played twice during the sets). What is it with releasing not complete performances in the Performance Series? Not cool, Neil. Actually, many of the Performance Series are compilations from a few dates. So… my fault. We’re cool, Neil.

It is comforting with Neil alone on stage with his guitar. I love the warmth of his voice and the matching warmth of his acoustic guitar. It’s also a historical document of early solo Neil, so this is great. And for the solo shows of 1968 and 1969 this is the better one due to cleaner sound quality, a super rare song performed and a slightly more groovy performer.

Rating: 6/10

Tracks list:

  1. Introduction
  2. Sugar mountain
  3. Incredible doctor rap
  4. The old laughing lady
  5. Band names rap
  6. Flying on the ground is wrong
  7. On the way home intro
  8. On the way home
  9. Break and second set intro
  10. I’ve loved her so long
  11. Allen A-Dale rap
  12. I am a child
  13. 1956 bubblegum disaster (“Here we are in the years” music, improvised lyrics)
  14. The last trip to Tulsa
  15. Words rap
  16. Broken arrow
  17. Turn down the lights rap
  18. Whiskey Boot Hill
  19. Expecting to fly intro
  20. Expecting to fly

Best songs: “Whiskey Boot Hill”, “I am a child” and “The last trip to Tulsa”

Release on June 2, 2009

Media: 10-disc box, Neil Young Archives – Vol. 1 (1963-1972), 2009

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