Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Review: Neil Young's 'Live At Massey Hall'

Once in a while an album comes along by a favorite musician that is like listening to him for the first time all over again.

One such album is Neil Young’s new Live at Massey Hall (Reprise/Wea), a captivating collection of 17 songs recorded by the great singer-songwriter at a solo concert in January 1971 but never before released.

"I'm gonna sing mostly new songs tonight," Toronto-born Young tells the hometown audience, "I've written so many new ones that I can't think of anything else to do with them other than sing 'em."

And sing 'em he does in his distinctive nasal tenor -- a 26 year old who already had blazed a white-hot trail through folk and rock and was on the verge of superstardom.

It isn't possible to name highlights from the album, a phenomenal high-resolution recording of a quality that would have been unthinkable back in the day.

There is not a weak song on Live at Massey Hall, but "Tell Me Why," "The Needle and The Damage Done," "Down By the River" and "Ohio" – as well as my all-time Young fave "Cowgirl in the Sand" -- stopped me dead in my tracks. I had to put down whatever I was doing and simply listen.

Young, of course, has remained determinedly true to his school – an outspoken critic of government deceit and advocate for environmentalism and small farmers then and now. What that we had a few more like him.

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An enhanced two-CD/DVD version of Live At Massey Hall also is available that includes film footage of the concert. Click here for more info.

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