Sound: Neil Young has been making the rounds recently with his more politically charged solo album Living With War, but another record has been recently released that showcases his work back on March 6th and 7th in 1970. It was on those few nights that Young and Crazy Horse performed at the Fillmore East in New York, relaying the true talent that the singer/guitarist has as a showman, a songwriter, and musician. Although there are only 6 songs on the live CD Live At The Fillmore East, the ornate jam sessions make it a worthwhile buy.
Crazy Horse has had several different members over the years, but the Fillmore concert featured the talents of Young (vocals/guitar), Danny Whitten (guitar/vocals), Jack Nitzsche (electric piano), Billy Talbot (bass), and Ralph Molina (drums/vocals). Whitten's (who died at the age of 29 of a drug overdose) work is incredible on the record, which features extensive jam and solo sections in almost every track. And considering that over 3 decades have passed since the actual recording, the sound quality is fairly pristine.
One of the biggest highlights comes in the final song Cowgirl In The Sand. Whitten and Young go crazy with their guitar solos and the harmonies are just chilling throughout. It's unfortunate that you can't really tell which guitarist is taking on which solo, but it's a credit to both of them that they are able to match talents. If you're a fan of short and sweet songs, you might find it hard to get through the Live At The Fillmore East CD, but there is plenty of impeccable musicianship that can be heard on the long overdue release. Cowgirl In The Sand times in at over 15 minutes long, but the band gives you plenty to listen to during the big finish.
During the mid-90's, Young became a godfather of grunge thanks to Pearl Jam's work with him in Keep On Rocking In The Free World. If you weren't convinced that Young deserved such a title, the latest record will likely win over a whole new generation of fans. The vocals are sparse at times, but the percussion and guitars make up for it in the end. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics on Live At The Fillmore East reach their pinnacle in the song Cowgirl In The Sand. The format of the song is atypical from the usual rock song in that it really doesn't have a chorus, only several verses. Each verse has the same sort of delivery, but new imagery is added into the song, keeping it fresh. Young sings, Hello ruby in the dust; Has your band begun to rust? After all the sin we've had; I was hopin' that we'd turn back. The words do take a second place to the jam session that occurs in Cowgirl In The Sand, but they are still worth the attention.
Danny Whitten wrote Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown, which does get a bit repetitive in the chorus, but still has some unusual lyrics in the verse that make up for it. He sings, Snake eyes, French fries; And I got lots of gas; Full moon and a jumpin' tune; Now you don't have to ask. They're just unusual enough to keep your interest, and the melody accompanying them does make it one of the most infectious songs on the CD. // 9
Overall Impression: At the time of this review, we did not yet receive the extra DVD combo-pak that is currently available. While it does not include the actual concert performance on video, it will feature a Hi-Res Stereo version of the album along with photos from the concert, handwritten lyrics from Young, press articles, and other memorabilia associated with Young's career. While it would have been great to have an interview with Young along with the still images, the DVD does look to be an interesting slide show of sorts.
For newcomers to Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Live At The Fillmore East is a great starting spot. You get to hear one of the most heralded performances in Young's career, and the music is both melodic and full of intricate solos. Some may feel there could have been more songs included (there are only 6), but the jam sessions never make it seem like you're missing out on musical content. // 9