Neil Young – Tuscaloosa (2019)

“Time fades away” redux

In October 1973 Neil Young released the live album “Time fades away”. It was the follow up to the smash hit album “Harvest” from the year before. But as always with Neil he did not pick the easy path and followed “Harvest” up with a similar album. Instead he offered a live album with eight unreleased songs. They were premiered during the Neil Young and the Stray Gators tour following “Harvest”. I have always found “Time fades away” a curiosity more than great. Yeah man, I love it but the songs are somewhat abrasive. Now Neil has released another live-album from the same tour.

Jumping to 2019 and the release of the Neil Young Archives Performance Series 04 “Tuscaloosa”. This is a recording from the February 5, 1973 show in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Only three sides of music, a total of eleven songs of which only two are repeated from “Time fades away”.

This album is clearly a much better representation of the tour 1972-73. Five of the songs are from “Harvest”, including Neil’s most famous tune “Heart of gold”. The other songs are from his self-titled debut “Neil Young”, “After the gold rush” and even two songs from “Tonight’s the night” that was released in the summer of 1975.

Musically this album gives a rather different feeling compared to “Time fades away”. The back-up band is the same as on the “Harvest” sessions, the Stray Gators. Ben Keith on steel and slide guitars, Jack Nitzsche on piano, Tim Drummond slapping the bass and Kenny Buttrey on the drums. This is one of the greatest backing band Neil has had. I love the sound they create. Neil also seems to be in a great mood at this show.

The album is lovely but not without draw-backs. I don’t understand why Neil doesn’t release the full show. Why only give three of four LP sides of music? It is confounding, and sure, I have heard that not all songs were recorded, but why not give us all that were? Also, it is a pity that one of my all-time favourite songs “Harvest” is disturbed by the band introduction. I know there’s nothing to do now about it, but I wish the song could have been “clean”.

The version of “Time fades away” on this track is really shaking. I love it. Isn’t it better than on the album from 1973? Also “Lookout Joe” is a gem.

The album cover photo is great, the energy from the show is in the picture. However, the sound quality is not the best. It’s still quite good, and surely better than most of the bootlegs from this tour. I would have loved to be there back in the days. The shows seems to have been great.

Rating: 7/10

Side A:

  1. Here we are in the years
  2. After the goldrush
  3. Out on the weekend
  4. Harvest

Side B:

  1. Old man
  2. Heart of gold
  3. Time fades away
  4. Lookout Joe

Side C:

  1. New mama
  2. Alabama
  3. Don’t be denied

Best songs: “Out on the weekend”, “Lookout Joe” and “Alabama”

Media: Gatefold 2LP, one side etching, 180 gram, Performance Series 04

Released on June 7, 2019

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