OA: Rock Cesario Column December 05, 2008

Neil Young’s latest release is an instant acoustic classic

Regular readers of this column know how big of a fan of Neil Young I am.

In my humble opinion, no major artist has covered as many genres as Young.

When I heard that his latest release, “Sugar Mountain — Live at Canterbury House 1968,” was coming out this week, I could hardly wait. We are talking about a live show that was recorded before the release of his debut solo recording.

“Amazing,” is all I could think of to describe this.

Of course, I immediately opened it when we received it Monday, and it is great!

The introduction goes like this: “I hope that the waitresses got to you. You really blew our minds because we only expected a lot less people than we got ... I hope you will please welcome back Neil Young (applause).”

Young opens with a great solo acoustic version of “On The Way Home” and then offers up this about songwriting: “As I was saying before about a lot of people ask me what I get out of writing a song. You know, I don’t know the strange thing is a lot of songs take me a long time to write you know and generally they take me an hour and a half or two hours to write, but this one took me five minutes and I only wrote it once. Like I went through it and
I wrote it. Like it, like it takes almost five minutes to sing it. I just wrote it all down. It’s kind of weird but I didn’t change a word. If you can think of a word that needs changed just let me know.”

He then proceeds to sing the best version of “Mr. Soul” I have ever heard.

His voice is young, fresh and full of resonance with a fairly new song sung with sincerity.

Young follows “Mr. Soul” with a rap about the show being recorded and the tech getting upset when the VU meters spike.

The great “Expecting to Fly” is followed by the equally strange “Last Trip to Tulsa,” which later showed up on Young’s debut LP, “Neil Young.”

Young tells a very funny story about working in a bookstore in 1964 before joining a band.

He follows that story with a version of “The Loner” and this quote: “It’s really sort of neat in here with all the ... candles down low and all you folks sitting here.”

He states, “I used to be a lead guitar player,” gives a frenzied guitar riff, then says, “I used to be in a blues band” and plays a blues riff.

After that is a stunning version of one of Young’s most beautiful songs, “Birds.” It later showed up on his third record, “After The Gold Rush.”

The rest of the CD goes the same way, with Young mixing up clever and funny stories with songs.

Those songs are “Out of My Mind,” “If I Could Have Her Tonight,” “Sugar Mountain,” “I’ve Been Waiting For You,” “Nowdays Clancy Can’t Even Sing,” “The Old Laughing Lady” and “Broken Arrow.”

In my opinion, this acoustic show is an instant classic as are several of Young’s “Archive” releases. I’ll be playing the entire CD this Sunday, Dec. 6, while hosting “Acoustic Sunday” on Drive 105.3.

“Sugar Mountain — Live at Canterbury House 1968” also comes with a DVD and would make the perfect stocking stuffer.

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on Drive 105.3 FM. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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