Tag Archives: Neil Young

Update for the Touch Blog

MI0000337411So I go to my Vinyl Preservation Society of North Texas  meeting last month and my friend Vince is there.  He commented that he had read my blog on the group and eponymously titled album “Touch” and he brought something to show me.  He had a copy of the album by Elyse Weinberg that “Touch” performed on as her backup band.  They were credited on the album as a band called “Band of Thieves”.  We looked on the back cover and low and behold, Bob Garlucci is credited as the arranger of all the songs.  In addition, Neil Young sings back up on one of the tracks.  The song “Band of Thieves” which was written by Elyse Weinberg is the same song the Cher covered.  Elyse Weinberg is an interesting story herself.  I am going to try to borrow this album and do a blog on it so that I can tell her story as well.  Stay tuned for further details.  It was quite a treat to hold this album in my hand.  I asked Vince if he had listened to it. He said he only played it once and it didn’t really grab him.  It was great verification of the research I had done on the “Touch” LP.

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“Time Fades Away”, but this album won’t…

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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:

Side 1:

Time Fades Away

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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

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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

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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.

L.A.

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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

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 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.

Side 2

Don’t Be Denied

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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…

The Bridge

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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…”

Last Dance

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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.

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Posted in Rock Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Up next, A series of blogs about Live LP’s…

My next project is to write a series of blogs about 3 very different, but highly collectible “Live” LP’s.  The first blog will be about the worst live album from one of the most famous live bands. I am referring to Steal Your Face” by the Grateful Dead.  This LP is widely considered to be the worst live recording of the Dead.  The LP is still highly collectible, however; because of the album cover.  Exterior condition is almost more important to the value of the LP than the interior condition of the actual vinyl.  Here’s what the cover looks like:

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This is the first appearance of the famous Grateful Dead logo.  I think the album is better than advertised.

Next up will be a “Live” LP from an artist who is also known for his high quality “Live” performances.  This record is a fantastic “Live” LP, but the artist has attempted to suppress it in spite of attempts by his fans to force him to re-release it.  The LP I am referring to is:  Time Fades Away by Neil Young.  When the LP came out it got great reviews and sold over 1,000,000 copies.  It was his first “Live” LP. It was never released on CD and Neil doesn’t even plan to include it in the next volume of his Archives.  He has his reasons and we will discuss them in the blog at that time…

Here’s the album cover:

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Last but not least is a “Live” LP from three Jazz giants: McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, and Sonny Rollins.  This is a truly great “Live” LP, and yet; I had never heard of this album before.  I bought this LP by chance when I bought over 500 LP’s for $50 at a garage sale.  I never knew the three of them had toured together and recorded a “Live” LP!  This is music making at a very high level.  It’s a mystery to me that this LP is not more well known.  The LP is called “Milestone Jazzstars:  Ron Carter, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner – In Concert”

Here’s the Album Cover:

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All three of these LP’s are collectible in their own right. Each is collectible for a different reason. I’m lucky to have all three. Each LP has a fascinating story behind it too. We will delve into each one. First up: The worst “Live” LP from one of the most famous “Live” bands in Rock-n-Roll history. The Grateful Dead – “Steal Your Face”…

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Did Led Zeppelin Rip Off Spirit???? The Story of Spirit Continued…

 

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So my Spirit posting last week brought out some great comments from my faithful readers.  First my brother brought up the story that Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin ripped off the guitar intro to “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirits song “Taurus”.  I had left this story out because I could not find the song and hear it myself.  My brother sent me the song by Dropbox so I’ll share it with you now and let you decide for yourself.

Taurus

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So what do you think? Pretty obvious isn’t it?

Next I received a comment from a reader who goes by the name realgreecer.  He is circulating an on-line petition to get Spirit inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I think this is long over due so I signed the petition immediately and I am posting the link to the petition below.  Please sign it and tell others you know to do so as well.  Let’s get this terrible oversight corrected as soon as possible.

http://www.petitiononline.com/12dreams/petition.html

Wouldn’t be funny to have Neil Young be the inductor for Spirit.  He and Randy California used to be friends.  There is a famous story about one of the reunion tours of Spirit where Neil Young tried to walk out on stage to sing “Like a Rolling Stone” with the band.  The keyboard player John Locke had invited Neil to join the band for the encore but Randy didn’t know anything about it.  Randy felt Neil was trying to upstage him on his comeback tour so he punched out Neil Young and pushed him off the stage!  John Locke got so angry about it that he stood up and announced that he was leaving the band and walked off stage.  That ended the 1975 come back tour of Spirit.  Last is the synthesizer that Randy California introduced to Jimmy Page called the Theremin.  Several readers weren’t sure what I was talking about so I am posting a photo of a Theremin below.


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Thanks for all the great comments and keep ’em comin’!

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Day 3 at ACL – All Good Things Must Come to an End…

The Head and the Heart performing at ACL 2011

Day three started with breakfast at a great local restaurant in east Austin called “Cisco’s”.  While we were having breakfast one of the bands that we saw perform on Friday came in for breakfast too.  The band was called “Wild Beast”.  They were very nice.  We just told them how much we enjoyed there show and then left them alone.  I’m sure they enjoyed their authentic Tex-Mex breakfast as much as we did.

We got to the concert a little earlier than I thought we would and caught about half the set of another English group called Graffiti 6.  We had not planed to see this group but they were very good.  They sounded kind of Jamiroquai like.  The vocals had a soul edged rock sound to them.  They are about to release their first American single.  They played the song and I liked it.  It sounded kind of like The Spencer Davis Group.

Next up was The Head and the Heart.  There was a lot of pre-show buzz about this band.  They had played South by Southwest earlier in the year, but the venue was really small and very few people got to see them.  A large crowd had assembled to see them this time.  I was very excited about hearing them.  The Head and the Heart are a very Americana sounding band from Seattle Washington.  Their self titled debut album was released by Sub Pop Records.  Band has three main singers who traded off taking the lead vocal on various songs.  Their set started slowly and built to a powerful conclusion.  I really enjoyed this band and highly recommend them.  If you’d like to hear what they sound like live and you have iTunes, you can download a live performance from NPR’s “All Songs Considered”.  Some of the highlights were “Rivers and Roads” and “Lost in my Mind”.  This band has great chemistry with the audience.  The only note I wrote about this performance was “WOW!!”

Back at the main stage we saw a band with the very interesting name of Airborne Toxic Event.  They sounded like a cross between The Clash and Bright Eyes.  The lead singer looked like a tatted up hood but when he spoke to the crowd he was a very kind and thoughtful person.   He dedicated a cover of a song by The Magnetic Fields to his recently deceased Grandparents.  He dedicated another song to our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He also did a very cool cover of the Bruce Springsteen song “Fire”.  Immediately after I made a comment to my friend that they sounded kind of like The Clash they covered “Rockin’ The Kazbar”.  They closed their show with a rousing version of “I Fought the Law and the Law Won”. This band had played ACL before and a large and enthusiastic crowd tuned up to see them.

During the intermission I went to get some food and beer.  Every day I at these Grilled Steak Kebabs from Tim Love’s Lonesome Dove Cafe.  The food at ACL is very, very good.   Especially Tim Love’s food.  Here’s a picture of his sign above their booth.

The Sign above Tim Love's Lonesome Dove Cafe Booth at ACL

The next band I saw was Broken Social Scene.  This band hails from Canada.  They are great practitioners of Phil Spectors “Wall of Sound”.  There were at least 9 people in the band.  There music soars.  They use a lot of distortion.  They were not afraid to make a lot of noise.  Neil Young would have loved their set.  Late in their set they did a very cool cover of a Modest Mouse song.  I would highly recommend this group.

The sun was beginning to set when Fleet Foxes took the stage.  I have heard of this band for some time and I was very interested in seeing them live.  This set was one of the highlights of the entire 3 day event.  This is a very serious band with highly sophisticated music and harmony. They had as good of harmonies as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or The Eagles.  They were every bit as good of musicians too.  What an amazing band!  I loved them.

So that brings me to the end of the show.  The last band standing.  Sunday night September 18, 2011 Arcade Fire burned the house down!  They put on a fantastic show.  They light show was blinding at times.  They are also great practitioners of “The Wall of Sound” .  They remind me of Talking Heads at the end of their career when they did Stop Making Sense.  The lead singer sounds and even has some of the mannerisms of David Bryne.  The woman in Arcade fire that plays all of the different instruments and sings lead vocal on certain  songs, kind of stole the show.  She also got to sing lead on the very last song.  The whole crowd dispersed singing her catchy song.

So there you have it.  Three days of fun and music.  What’s the bottom line?  Well, I thought ACL was extremely well run.  I thought the variety and the quality of the music that was presented was fantastic.  They really have this thing down now in their 10th year.  I highly recommend going.  Register on line and get on the email list.  Next years early bird ticket are already on sale.  The line up has not yet been announced but it doesn’t matter.  I can assure you that it will be well worth the $185.00 ticket price.  I have paid more money to see just  one band.  For the same price I got to see 19 bands. I think they are moving the event to October 14-16 2012.  This is great because it will be much cooler weather than it was this year.   It was an experience I will remember for a long, long time.  So, I say buy a ticket and maybe I’ll see you there next year…

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