Friday, December 4

Neil Young: Archives Vol II: 1972-1976 Review – Guitar Duels, Live Jams, and Stage Pranks | Music


IIf you’re fresh with the news that the second installment of Neil Young’s historic striptease is finally upon us, it’s too late. The 3,000 copies of this £ 210 box (10 CDs, some rarities not even pirated, all originally scheduled for release in 2014) have already found homes in homes other than his own.

Young has said that he will pursue another run, due to it being shipped in March. But like its predecessor, Archives Vol I: 1963-1972, launched 11 years ago, Archives Vol II: 1972-1976 will be available to broadcast on this maverick artist’s own subscription channel, Neil Young Archives.

Delving into these chronologically themed discards and ephemeral candies is made a bit easier by the fact that three of the box’s constituent discs are already in the public domain. Most live Tuscaloosa was released in 2019, preceded by Roxy: tonight is live night (2018) and followed by June Homegrown, a studio album recorded between 1974 and 1975 and so heartfelt it lasted for a lifetime. The final disc joins two sets of 1976 live performances from the Tokyo Budokan and London’s Hammersmith Odeon; both have been smuggled, if they have never been officially sanctioned.

Those looking for Young’s live improvisations, guitar duels, stage banter, and wet fellowship could do worse than starting at the end. If the 131-song tracklist starts off quietly, with a guitar and vocal studio cut, Letter from ‘Nam culminates with Young’s broader history lesson, Cortez the Killer – more than seven minutes into it. in the European destruction of a peaceful Native American society, which may be a secondary feat to the edifice of the electric guitar that Young himself builds along the way.

On the remaining records, various songs will sound quite familiar, because this is the Neil Young that his most ardent fans think of when they evoke the Canadian guitarist. Here’s the superstar created by After Gold Rush Y Harvest, each time belittling fame, trying to chart a course that could encompass a myriad of approaches and moods. The grunge era did a lot to sow a new generation of admiration for Young, and this is a Neil Young that Kurt Cobain could really relate to. “I need a crowd of people, but I can’t cope with them day by day,” Young confesses in a particularly atmospheric unreleased live mix of On the Beach on Disc 6.

Neil Young in 1973



‘Troubadour more and more troubled’: Neil Young in 1973.

Discs 1 (1972-73) and 6 (1974) are the most packed with unreleased material, but rarities crop up regularly. Often in this myriad of songs, it is the strangest ones that stand out. Canadian compatriot Joni Mitchell makes two surprise appearances, first as the subject of a song called Sweet Joni on Disc 1, and, more memorably, breaking loose with a chaotic Crazy Horse on Disc 3 on her own song, Raised on Robbery.

A song by Young called Goodbye Christians on the Shore was rumored to exist, but had not been heard until now: a strangely magnificent 7/8 tune whose distant-eyed mysticism hides its donkey gait. A few more CDs, a beautiful version of the traditional Greensleeves arrives. His role in Young’s vast canon? The ballad’s use of the phrase “heart of gold” is certainly a starting point.

Throughout these recordings, the increasingly concerned troubadour is reeling from the toll heroin has inflicted on musicians. He is picking up once again with his more consistent backing group Crazy Horse after the death of guitarist Danny Whitten, whose death Young blamed himself. Although other musicians appear regularly, Young often closes guitars here with Whitten’s replacement, Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, who becomes a central element in Young’s myths. However, the autobiography is the highest in the mix, because Young is also confused by his crumbling relationship with Carrie Snodgress, the mother of his son, Zeke, and half in, half out of the rebellious Crosby, Stills. , Nash and Young. his bleakest work, but having some fun musical adventures regardless.

If Disc 1 has more room for unreleased fun – a wildly exciting live version of the sprawling Last Trip to Tulsa, a highlight of Young’s self-titled debut album – Disc 6 doubles up on introspection. It is the home of Frozen Man, an unpublished portrait of the artist as a traveling musician who visits Amsterdam in winter and reflects on his inner emptiness. The contrast comes from Hawaiian Sunrise, whose soft hotel bar vibe almost disguises Young’s inner struggle – between his love and his art.

Here, too, there are no fewer than three takes of a song: Love / Art Blues, a deceptively lighthearted lope in which the touring musician weighs perennial difficulties in maintaining a healthy love life. “All my songs are so long and my words are so sad,” Young reflects without little irony, alternating with harmonica and singing. It is a phrase that could easily be duplicated as a subtitle for this collection.

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