Sunday, March 30, 2008

Unreal Live Performance - Neil Young

I am reading the only officially authorized Neil Young biography, called Shakey. I really want to post a review when I am done but I am not sure where I will start. The book is almost 900 pages long and there is so much great stuff in it.

I guess it could be a multi-part review, but seriously, I have been reading this book for a month and am only up to 1989.

Which brings me to this post. As you may know, Neil had a pretty bad period in the 80s. He was struggling with some personal issues, and had a bit of an identity crisis. He released weird tangential albums - rockabilly, country, blues, 50s style rock and even a computerized album inspired by Devo, called Trans.

Put it this way - his 80s albums were so weird and sold so poorly that his own record company at the time (Geffen) sued him for making noncommercial albums. Classic!

So after being totally written off by everyone as a has-been and total hack, he comes out with this Saturday Night Live barnburner.

This is probably one of my all time favorite clips. It's up there with The Who slaughtering Young Man Blues at the Isle of Wight gig in 1970. Which is saying a lot (but that is another post altogether).

A couple of factoids from the book about this clip. Neil worked out with a trainer for an hour and a half right before getting onstage, so he could be in a physical and mental state similar to being at the tail end of a live show.

The drummer, Steve Jordan, had done so much televised work before that he knew he needed to bring the largest cymbals possible if he wanted to be heard. The author of the book says that the band look like 'a bunch of car thieves.'

I find this video so inspiring, I want to go out and form a band to just slaughter songs like this. And Neil was 44 at the time.

This embodies everything I love about Neil Young and for any of my friends who have never understood, just watch the video!


Sue said...

isorski - I never listen to music like this but when I hear it I like it. Makes me think - like a lot of things - I'm missed out on something.

Don Capone said...

Wow! They just nailed that song. Thanks for posting. Steve Jordan was amazing. Who are the other band members?

Isorski said...

Sue - if you like the rocking side of Neil, here are some albums to check out:

--Ragged Glory
--Rust Never Sleeps
--Live Rust

All except for Ragged Glory have quieter material interspersed. None are as assaulting as the SNL video.

Quieter Neil you might enjoy:

--Harvest Moon
--Silver and Gold

Don, the bass player is Charley Drayton and the other guitarist is Frank "Pedro" Sampedro. Drayton and drummer Jordan were in Keith Richards' band at about the same time as this video. Sampedro is in Crazy Horse and has played with Young off and on since 1975's Zuma.

You see why they call Neil the Godfather of Grunge? Look at all the bands that tried to do this kind of high intensity stuff post 1989!!! Pearl Jam, Nirvana, etc etc.

Also, that crazy tone he gets is from his amps. He steps on stomp boxes that change the settings on his amps – no fuzz boxes or distortion pedals here. It’s all very pure.

Chris said...

Neil puts the "stomp" in stomp boxes on that clip, for sure. That's friggin' awesome.

2007 was the year I went nuts over Neil Young. I have Shakey as well but haven't read it yet. I guess I'm going to have to move it up in my queue.

For mellow Neil Young stuff, I highly recommend the "Live at Massey Hall" thing that came out last year. It is Neil solo on acoustic, and it is just phenomenal. I picked it up just prior to a trip where I knew I was doing a lot of driving in Manitoba, and it just blew me away. Great, great stuff.

Not to bogart the thread, but I also picked up that "Isle of Wight" Who DVD a couple months ago as well. I wish I could have seen those guys back in the day, it's freakin' awesome.

Isorski said...

Hey Chris, I totally forgot about "Live at Massey Hall." I got that last month too and it is unreal.

You also ought to get "Live From the Fillmore East" too. It's Neil and Crazy Horse back in 1970 and is pretty rockin.

Sue said...

isorski - thanks. I might check them out. Actually sometimes I like the 'assulting' music.

Sue said...

isorski - I didn't connect N.Young with Heart of Gold. That is an awesome song.

VoxMoose said...

Amazing clip, Isorski. Got the chills. For some reason, reminded me a bit of our old Fred days.

Looking forward to your Who post...

Sue said...

isorski - after googling NY, I went out and got two cd's - Harvest and a Favorites since there wasn't much of a choice. Besides H of G, I like needle and damage done, and only love can break your heart. I want to get
something like the one on your video for contrast.

Isorski said...

VoxMoose, it reminded me of the New Years Eve gigs in Bill's driveway. I think this is what we were always shooting for. I looked forward to that one annual show all year long.

Sue, for contrast I would recommend Ragged Glory. You can get it on Amazon as a CD or a digital download. iTunes ought to have it as well. It's just a great, straight ahead rock album. That one always brings me up.