Neil Young – Live at the Fillmore East (2006)

Purple words on a grey background

This is the very first Performance Series to see the light of day. It was released back in 2006, and it’s a glorious vinyl record. Neil and Crazy Horse live at Fillmore East, New York, in March 1970. Neil is joined by the second line-up of Crazy Horse with Danny Whitten, Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina and added Jack Nitzsche on piano. This brief early 1970 tour was the last tour with Danny Whitten who tragically died in 1972.

Each show consisted of two parts; first a solo acoustic part with Neil alone on the stage, and a second electric set with the band. The recordings are from two days at Fillmore East and they played two shows per day. The album consists of six of the seven songs played during the electric sets. Strangely enough “Cinnamon girl” is omitted. It was planned to be included on the vinyl release, but it is still missing in action. The song can be bought online (Apple Music, Google Music…). The version is straight forward with frenzied guitar work. It stands up compared to the versions on “Live Rust” and “Weld”. I like it better than those versions actually, as it is driven more by the guitars than the drums. The backing vocals are better on the newer versions though.

But enough about the song that didn’t make the album. Of the six tracks three weren’t released at the time of the concerts. “Winterlong” was written 1969 and almost included on the “Tonight’s the night” album 1975. It was finally released on the compilation album “Decade” in 1977. It is a slow rocker with country influences. It fits the band perfectly and this is a fun early stripped-down live version. The version on “Decade” is more polished and produced, this one is rougher.

“Wonderin’” is a wonderful little song that would have fitted perfectly on “Everybody knows this is nowhere”. It was in the vault until it turned up on one of Neil’s strangest albums, the rockabilly album “Everybody’s rockin” from 1983. On the studio version it even has doo-wop backing vocals.

Lastly, we have Danny Whitten’s fun rocker “Come on baby let’s go downtown”. A studio version of this song was released in 1971 on the first, and self-titled, Crazy Horse album. A live version from the 1970’s era was included on Neil’s “Tonight’s the night”, as a homage to Whitten. The versions are very similar but not the same (I think).

To round things off we also get three tracks from “Everybody knows this is nowhere”. The album is started off with a nice and slightly rougher version of the title track from the studio album, “Everybody knows this is nowhere”. The version is almost identical to the studio version.

But finally, the gold of this album is long live versions of two of my favourite songs with extended guitar-drenched instrumental sections.  “Down by the river” is 12 minutes of niceties. It is a laid-back slow version with some nice guitar duels between Neil and Danny. “Cowgirl in the sand” clocks in at almost 15 minutes of pure bliss. It must be played loud! It is groovy and almost hypnotic in its long guitar jams. This version clearly surpasses the live version available on the “Road Rock Vol. 1” from 2000.

All in all, this is a very good live album with an early line-up of Crazy Horse. It also gives us great live versions of two of Neil’s best songs.

Rating: 8/10

Side A:

  1. Everybody knows this is nowhere
  2. Winterlong
  3. Down by the river

Side B:

  1. Wonderin’
  2. Come on baby let’s go downtown
  3. Cowgirl in the sand

Downloaded: “Cinnamon girl”

Best songs: “Cowgirl in the sand” and “Down by the river”

Media: 180 gram vinyl, foldout, 2006, Neil Young Archives Performance Series 02

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