November 13, 2006

Two concert venues: The Fillmore East and Las Vegas.

I see Prince has set up his act in a permanent spot in Las Vegas. I approve! He doesn't have to come to us. We'll make our pilgrimmage to him. And it will justify that trip to Las Vegas that might otherwise seem too ridiculous but which is actually pretty fun.

And Neil Young is putting out the album "Live at the Fillmore East: March 6 & 7, 1970."
[His band, Crazy Horse,] featured the guitarist Danny Whitten, who died in 1972; the drummer Ralph Molina; the bassist Billy Talbot; and Jack Nitzsche on electric piano. The rhythm section (except for Mr. Nitzsche) had only basic skills. The band was constructed for open-ended songs with a boom-boom-prap beat at a slouchy medium tempo — does any popular rock band play this slowly anymore? — and acres of Mr. Young’s soloing. (He had just found his true sound through a combination of the right guitar and the right amplifier, his tremolo bar imitating his trembly voice, the low-end roar counterbalancing that vulnerability.) But despite the slobby phrasing, the obdurate needling quality of Mr. Young’s straight eighth notes and the weird effect of a casual delivery at high volume, this music has a serene and direct purpose.

More than half the tracks are concise tunes, less than four minutes, including “Winterlong,” “Wonderin’ ” and “Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown.” But they’re just palate cleansers. The real action is in the long songs — a 12-minute “Down By the River,” in particular, and a 14-minute “Cowgirl in the Sand” — in which the band works within the dimensions of its gigantic, rolling, spacious sound. The record is a blast, but it’s also possibly the first stage in an entirely new way of understanding what Neil Young has done with his life.
Slobby phrasing, the obdurate needling quality... I love that! And please indulge this aging Baby Boomer's gloat: I was there!

14 comments:

TMink said...

OK, gloat accpeted! Wow, I am entirely jealous. I did not understand Neil until I was 30, in 1980. I got to see him on the Trans tour, you know, that computer stuff that everyone but me hates. It was SO cool, him and a computer.

It worked for me! But I would really have enjoyed seeing Neil and Whitten. Color me jealous!

Trey

Anonymous said...

I've loved Neil Young since I first heard "Like a Hurricane," lo these many years ago. I was in high school, so that would be, um, close to 30 years now? God, I'm old.

I'm so jealous.

SteveR said...

Well it doesn't top Lou Reed's Rock n Roll Animal concert of an earlier gloat.

Adam said...

There is no need to be defensive about wanting to go to Vegas.

Doug said...

I was wondering what the price would be for Prince, $125 for a Vegas show isn't too expensive. I think I paid that much to see Danny Gans, which was ok, but not worth that amount of money.

johnstodderinexile said...

I just downloaded this from Rhapsody onto my mp3 player over the weekend, and listened to "Down by the River" and some of the shorter tunes while I was walking my dog. It's great to hear what Neil and the band did with these songs after having lived in them for awhile. The original EKTIN album wsa recorded probably within days of each song being written.

I've seen Neil & Crazy Horse three or four times, but not before Danny Whitten died. I still remember Neil's appearance on the Johnny Cash show when he introduced "Needle and the Damage Done" -- it was shortly after Whitten died and was presumed to be about him. However, that song has led to decades of frustration for Whitten's family. I wrote an Amazon review of the Crazy Horse album without Neil Young (http://tinyurl.com/yavv52) and repeated the factoid that Whitten "died of a heroin overdose." I got a nice note from one of his relatives saying, in fact, his death was due to "an alcohol/drug reaction" so I changed the review. They don't deny he was using heroin, but the heroin wasn't what killed him.

The Crazy Horse album was actually quite good and holds up well. I don't think the rhythm section was as untalented as the obviously musically gifted NY Times reviewer suggests. Whitten wrote most of it, including "I Don't Want to Talk About it," which Rod Stewart turned into a hit. Nils Lofgren was part of the band, and contributed a pretty cool song called "Beggars Day."

And now you know what a geek I am.

Ron said...

Eh? Neil Young in Vegas with Prince?
"You are like a...sexual...hurricane."

Oh? M'bad...

JazzBass said...

He's at his best here.

Rock and Roll Animal tour? with steve hunter and dick wagner and the rest of the boys? now that would have been fine, indeed. it would make up for Lou, even.

Maxine Weiss said...

Oh no, Ann Althouse goes Vegas ??? !!!!

I can't see it, but then again Ann is such a chameleon that it's possible I suppose.

Peace, Maxine

NeeSmart said...

Ann, I`m jealous too.

How were they? him?

Anonymous said...

That's funny. Two days ago I downloaded The Allman Brothers Live at The Fillmore East. (1970). That is a fantastic album and I am sure Neil's will be too.

ignacio said...

I've heard Neil play great concerts and I've also heard him be pretty bad. I take nothing for granted with him.

Ernie Fazio said...

I saw Young first with Buffalo Springfield in '66, then with CSNY at Winterland on my first date with my wife to be, and later with early
Crazy Horse. For my money CSNY was the best each had acoustic riffs, then they all got hard--especially Young, who was great. I'm a Boomer from the Bay Area--summer of '66 til now, including Monterey Pop, Altamont (whew), and People's Park Bail Fund. The latter at Winterland in '69 was the greatest of them all. It started with Elvin Bishop, then Santana, then The Dead (90 minutes,one song), then Creedence, then the Starship, then all of them jammed for hours -Garcia, Fogarty, Carlos, Kaukenon, Balin, Slick, Cassady, etc., etc.

Shaun Mullen said...

There was a brief shining period -- roughly 1968 to 1973 -- when you could go into the Fillmore East or West and see shows like Ann did with eclectic lineups -- B.B. King opening for T. Rex, It's a Beautiful Day for Moby Grape, Miles Davis for the Grateful Dead.

The reason was Bill Graham, whom I vaguely knew. Graham was famous for four things: Those line-ups, a bad temper, picking up trash wherever he saw it, and putting on shows for the love of it, not the money.

By the by, the Fillmore East had a special sound owing to the shape of the room. You can't hear it on that great Allman Brothers album and you probably won't be able to hear it on the new old Crazy Horse album because miking the room was very hard to do in those days. (The famous Dead tapes from the closing week at the Fillmore East were recorded in a janitor's closet to cut down on the audience noise.)

Anyhow, those were the days, and help explain why our Ann is, well . . . a little loopy.