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Monthly Archives: November 2012
This is the very first “Live” LP Neil Young ever released. The album captures Neil Young on his first major solo tour after he released his best selling LP of his long and illustrious career, “Harvest.” Although this album was widely praised and sold over 1 million copies, Neil Young has refused to re-release it. There are still no plans to release this LP on CD or any other format. There are several reason that Neil has persistently resisted the pressure from his fans to release this LP again. We will get into that later.
I side with his fans. I LOVE THIS RECORD! I love it for many reasons. First of all, I bought this record in 1973 when it first came out, and I couldn’t quit listening to it. The music is fantastic! I had become a fan of Neil Young from the moment I first heard him on “Four Way Street,” the Live album from 1971 by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I went on to purchase “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” the first album Neil made with Crazy Horse. And then I bought “Harvest” the week it came out. I am still a huge fan of Neil Young and I own almost everything the guy has ever recorded. I am also a proud owner of his Blu Ray collection “Neil Young Archives Vol. 1.”
I loved the album cover. I’d love to know who the guy is in the front row throwing up the “Peace Sign.” He must have been the envy of all his friends!
I love the parts on the album where Neil would talk to the audience. It reminded me of all of those moments on “Four Way Street” where they would talk to the audience. “TFA” seemed to echo “FWS” in many other ways. Just like CSN&Y did on their 1971 tour, Neil opened his 1973 shows with an Acoustic set (“Wooden Music”) and then an electric set. I always thought that was cool format for a live show. It seemed to me to be one of the foreshadowing ideas that led to “MTV Unplugged.”
I love the mood of the album. This record has a melancholy that is unmistakable. It truly captures a moment in time. This is reason enough for Neil to reissue this somber masterpiece. It is also the reason he won’t reissue the album…
His friend and fellow member of Crazy Horse, Danny Whitten; was supposed to tour with Neil. Unfortunately, Danny had developed a terrible heroin addiction. Whitten started to get clean so he would be able to tour, but replaced his heroin addiction with pain pills and alcohol. Whitten could not function well enough to get through rehearsals Neil had to fire his friend. Neil met with Danny privately and told him things were not going to work out for the tour, he gave him $50 bucks and a plane ticket back to L.A. Neil never saw him alive again. Danny died the next day of a heroin overdose. Neil blamed himself for Danny’s death. Now he had to go out on tour and play 65 shows in 90 days.
His back up band was “The Stray Gators.” This was the same band he had recorded Harvest with. The fans came out in force to hear all the new hit songs from Harvest, but instead they were greeted by a large number of new songs. These songs were not in the vain of the country-folk sound of many of the songs on Harvest. These songs had a hard edge to them that was closer to the music Neil produced when he was performing with Crazy Horse. The Stray Gators were also uncomfortable with these heavy edgy tunes.
The Stray Gators were basically an “All-star” Nashville band with egos to match. There was a lot of in-fighting among the band members as well as excessive drinking, etc… There are several stories floating around about band members showing up so messed up they didn’t even know what instrument they were playing during the sound-check The first Drummer Kenneth Buttrey quit two-thirds of the way through the tour. He was replaced by Johnny Barbata. Johnny played with CSN&Y on the Four Way Street Tour. He was also their drummer at Woodstock.
Another problem with reissuing the LP as a CD is the manner in which it was recorded. Neil Young wanted to use the very first “digital mixing” soundboard. It was called a “CompuMix.” Later it became known as the “CompuShit” because it was unreliable. The live recordings went straight from the soundboard to the CompuMix. As a result, there are no two track masters of these recordings. This complicates any reissue. Also, the CompuMix made the recording murkier. I think this adds to not subtracts from the awesomeness of this LP.
Very few of these songs have been released in any other format. What you are about to hear is quite rare. These were all new songs being played live. The only exception is “Love in Mind”. It was recorded on the 1971 tour. The same tour that resulted in the live recording on Harvest of “The Needle and the Damage Done.” (Neil’s song about Danny Whitten.)
According to Wikipedia Neil Young has made two main comments about this album. I quote: “It was recorded on my biggest tour ever, 65 shows in 90 days. Money hassles among everyone concerned ruined this tour and record for me but I released it anyway so you folks could see what could happen if you lose it for a while. I was becoming more interested in an audio verite approach than satisfying the public demands for a repetition of Harvest. ”
Also: “Time Fades Away was the worst record I ever made – but as a documentary of what was happening to me, it was a great record. I was onstage and I was playing all these songs that nobody had heard before, recording them, and I didn’t have the right band. It was just an uncomfortable tour. I felt like a product, and I had this band of all-star musicians that couldn’t even look at each other.”
His comment about not having the right band may be a reference to Crazy Horse.
So give it a listen and tell me what you think:
Time Fades Away
This song was recorded in The Myrid, Oklahoma city on March 1, 1973. From the very beginning we are in darkness. “Fourteen junkie too weak to work. One sells Diamonds for what they’re worth. Down on pain street, disappointment lurks. Son don’t be home too late!” Danny Whitten is in his mind from the beginning. Also, this cut establishes the Hard edged audio verite sound more closely associated with the sound of Crazy Horse.
Journey Through The Past
This song was recorded in Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio on February 11, 1973. Neil tells the crowd: “This is a song without a home.” Simple and beautiful…
Yonder Stands The Sinner
After the quiet beauty of Journey Through The Past, we return to the hard edged country STOMP! Right before the song starts you hear David Crosby say: “This will be kind of experimental…” Then you hear someone else in the band say: “This is gonna be GOOD, man!” He turns out to be right… This song was recorded at the Seattle Center Coliseum on March 17, 1973.
This song was recorded at the Same show in Oklahoma City that the same show that the title cut came from. I can’t help but think that this song is about Danny Whitten. It makes the refrain of the song so sad…“Don’t you wish that you could be here too?
Love In Mind
This song is the only song on the record that was not recorded on the 1973 tour. This song was recorded at Royce Hall at UCLA on January 30, 1971. This is the same night that “The Needle and the Damage Done” was recorded. “The Needle…” ended up on Harvest and Love in Mind ended up on this album.
Don’t Be Denied
Side 2 starts with a very emotional rendering of a micro-Biography of Neil’s life. This song was recorded at Memorial Auditorium in Phoenix, Arizona on March 28, 1973. Neil could not be denied. This is just emotion laid bare for all to see. WOW…
This song was recorded in Sacramento, California on April 1, 1973. Yet another very personal song. For a number of years now Neil Young has held a charity fundraising concert for The Bridge School.
The Bridge School is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that individuals with severe speech and physical impairments achieve full participation in their communities through the use of augmentative & alternative means of communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT) applications and through the development, implementation and dissemination of innovative life-long educational strategies.
Neil has two children with these types of disabilities. Neil is still building his “bridge”. “It may take a lot of time…”
This song was recorded on March 29, 1973 in the Sports Arena in San Diego, Ca. Neil growls: “It’s the last dance!” This song captures a mood all of us have felt from one time to another…The grind of working for a living. Is this how he felt on the tour? I love the grind of the song. I love the harmonies provided by David Crosby and Graham Nash. The coda makes the song:
“You wake up in the morning and the sun’s coming up. It’s been up for hours, and hours and hours, and hours, and hours and hours. And you light up the stove and the coffee cup is hot and the orange juice is cold, cold, cold…Monday morning. Wake up, Wake up, Wake up. It’s time to go, time to go to work!! You can live your own life. Making it happen. Workin’ on your time. Laid back and laughing. Oh,no…Oh, no…”
Then at the end he repeats over and over “No, no, no..” and then… “Negative, Negative!!”
Then it’s over… Graham Nash yells “Last Dance!!!” and it was…
So where do we go from hear? Neil says in the next volume of the Archives he will not include any songs from this LP. He said he will include cuts from the earlier part of the tour that included drummer Kenneth Buttrey. Maybe the karma is just too bad for him to bear? Who knows, but Neil has got to stop saying “NO, NO, NO…” This is a powerful rock n roll statement that deserves to shine again.
Steal Your Face is a live LP from the Grateful Dead. The album was recorded during their 1974 “Farewell Tour”, but it was not released until 1976. This album is widely regarded as the worst live recording that the Dead ever released. It was released under duress because the band had to fulfill a contractual obligation with the record company, and the band wasn’t working at the time, so there wasn’t much choice.
As I stated earlier, the LP was recorded in 1974 during a four night stand at the Winterland in San Francisco, CA. It is a kind of “Greatest Hits” live. This tour was supposed to be the last tour ever. After all, the band had been on the road since they formed in 1965! It’s hilarious that they continued on as a band for years and years after this tour was completed. In spite of the overwhelming opinion of “Dead-heads” everywhere that the LP is not up to par, this LP has continued to be highly collectible. The main reason is the awesome cover art: the so called “Stealie” or “Steal Your Face” Logo. This logo is one of the most famous of all Rock-n-Roll art; not to mention some of the most famous Grateful Dead art. The Grateful Dead have a lot of art that is identified with the band. This logo was designed by Owsley Stanley and rendered by Bob Thomas. The skull with a lightning bolt going through it is an overt reference to L.S.D. as well as other drug use by the band and its fans. Not long after this LP came out you could buy this symbol on everything from T-Shirts to Blotter Paper. It captures everything about the Grateful Dead experience within its grinning skull!
The album title that also ended up naming the logo is taken from a song called “He’s Gone”. The lyrics are “Like I told you, what I said, steal your face right off your head”…The song was performed frequently on the tour and every night of the 4 night stand at the Wintergarden, but was not included on the album for some reason.
The main criticism of the album is twofold. First many fans feel that there are much better live recordings of every song on this record. Second that there are no “deep cuts” as well as none of the long jam sessions that made the band so famous. Both points are legitimate, however; I feel that it still does not diminish the performances on this record. I found the LP highly entertaining and I found several of the songs quite emotionally charged in view of the fact that the band thought they were about to call it quits. I think that the slower, mellower songs on the LP are especially effective. I have included the entire two record set for your personal consideration. I love the album! But let me know what you think…
The Promised Land
The LP opens with a straight ahead R&B cover of a Chuck Berry song. The band is tight, together and rockin’! What’s not to like?
Cold Rain & Snow
This song really features the slow grove jam sound that I associate so strongly with the Grateful Dead. There would be no “Jam Band’s” if it wasn’t for the Grateful Dead. They were the father to many children… This is a traditional folk song that was arranged by the Grateful Dead.
Around and Around
The Dead cover another Chuck Berry Classic. Admittedly, not the greatest cover ever, but it is still very hard not to tap your foot to the beat; if you know what I mean…
This is the first original song on the album, and it’s a great one. This song was co-written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. Richard and Jerry were the principle song writers of the Grateful Dead. Richard wrote the lyrics and Jerry wrote the music. Robert Hunter was often referred to as “the non-performing” member of the Grateful Dead. In spite of all the songs he wrote with Jerry Garcia and all the concert halls he went to with the band, he never once appeared on stage as a performer. When the band was inducted into the Rock n Roll hall of fame, Robert was also inducted as a band member. He is the only “non-performer” ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. This is a great “trippy” cut that is tinted at the edges in mellow but deep emotion. This is a beautiful performance.
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
This song is also an original written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. It has all the characteristics of an old folk song. Don’t you love the title. This song just has a happy go lucky feel to it that makes me smile.
Ship Of Fools
In the previous song Jerry Garcia sings the lyrics “When your ship comes in…” and then the next song is “Ship of Fools”. This is also an original song written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. It’s a great slow blues song. It almost has the feel of a spiritual. “Ship of Fools on a cruel sea. Ship of fools, sail away from me…”
Beat It On Down The Line
This song was written by Jesse Fuller. Jesse became famous by performing as a “One Man Band” in the San Francisco bay area. He is best know for a song called “San Francisco Bay Blues”. The Dead also covered other songs by Fuller. This is just a great straight ahead rock song.
So far on the album they have covered Chuck Berry and Jesse Fuller. Why not cover Johnny Cash? The Grateful Dead were such an amazing conglomeration of Rock, Jazz, Country, Folk, and Psychedelia! This is a perfect example of them working their craft.
This song was written by Bob Weir and John Barlow. Bob was, of course, one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead and John Barlow was a poet, essayist, rancher and political activist; who became friends with the Grateful Dead. Very cool stuff, don’t you think?
This song was written by Hunter and Garcia. A song written from the viewpoint of Uncle Sam.
Once you’ve covered Johnny Cash you kind of have to cover Marty Robbins, don’t you? This is a great version of a very well known song. Enjoy…
Once again an original song by Hunter and Garcia. I just really love this song. It just has such a nice way of mellowly rocking along. The lyrics are great too. “Please forget you know my name, my daring Sugaree…” Beautiful subtle guitar work from Jerry Garcia too.
It Must Have Been The Roses
This song was written by Robert Hunter. The lyrics are beautiful. So is the performance. Great music, passionately performed. Again I ask: What’s not to like??
The album closes with one of their best know songs. This was also written by Hunter and Garcia.. Okay, so it’s not the best “live” version of Casey Jones. So what? It is the Grateful Dead at their peak. They are not tired of playing their hits and the perform this song with energy and imagination. It think it’s a great version of this song.
Well there you have it. Steal Your Facein its entity. If you see it buy. Maybe even steal it! But don’t pass it over just because you heard it wsn’t that great. Sure it’s collectible just for the cover, but don’t overlook the contents. This album can be expensive. I’ve seen it on the internet from $25 – $85 or more. If the jacket is in good condition it could cost a pretty penny. All the more reason to enjoy the contents as well as the cover. Personally, I think this album is a Steal. Or should I say Stealie???