‘CSNY 1974’: Listen to exclusive live tracks from Crosby, Still, Nash and Young

Photo: Joel Bernstein

Not only am I one of those people who gets all squirmy if a concert goes on for much longer than an hour, I tend to really hate live albums. So why did I spend six straight hours yesterday listening intently to CSNY 1974, the new 40 song live box set from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young all the way through twice in back to back playings? Because it’s the best archival rock release of the year…

The coked-out megalomanical circus that saw David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and Neil Young storm across America in the first and most decadent superstar open air stadium tour of the rock era was nicknamed the “Doom Tour” by Crosby because of the feuding, the drugs and the fact that a small army of promoters and hangeroners were sucking at their hyper-megastar corporate rock teets like there was no tomorrow. There had been big rock tours in the past, but CSNY’s extra ginormous 1974 outing—dreamed up by manager Elliot Roberts and put into action by rock promoter Bill Graham—was like plotting an invasion of each new town that the show moved to. The beachheads were 50-70,000 seat football arenas, which saw stages erected and massive PA systems hooked up by a legion of roadies. Other acts on the tour included The Band, Joni Mitchell, Santana and the Beach Boys.

The “Doom Tour” grossed $11 million back when $11 million was still a hell of a lot of money, but the principals only pocketed half a mill each after expenses (and the promoters) were paid. There’s an amusing “oral history” of the trek at Rolling Only Young kept both feet (literally) on the ground, traveling in a bus with his son Zeke and avoiding the insanity, but suffice to say that the debauchery and rockstar egos—at least from the evidence on display here—didn’t interfere with the music, which is insanely good.

“Carry Me”

The musicianship on CSNY 1974  is first rate, better even than their earlier live album 4 Way Street as each member had creatively matured since the 1970 tour. In Stephen Stills we have one of the single most remarkable guitarists of the rock era. Don’t get me wrong, Neil Young is no slouch on the six-string himself, but with Stills—as opposed to with Crazy Horse—his ragged, idiosyncratic playing is obliged to conform to, fight against and to parry with Stills’ more structured and almost architectural guitar style. Musically at least, they bring out the best in each other, but it’s Stills who provides the foundation in CSNY that Young reacts to and then he in turn reacts to what Young does, and lemme tell ya, it’s breathtaking. If, like some people, you approach CSNY solely from the POV of Young’s perhaps more “aloof” contributions, these are some canonical performances by him here that I think any Neil Young freak would go absolutely nuts over. (Five of the songs in the set composed by Young—“Traces,” “Goodbye Dick,” “Love Art Blues,” “Hawaiian Sunrise” and “Pushed It Over the End” –appear on CSNY 1974 for the first time on any official release.)

For all the talk of the backstage feuds, there is simply no sign of this in the onstage camaraderie documented here, which is supportive, fraternal and joyously ecstatic. A good example of this comes with Stills’ delicate piano backing of Young on “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” Other highlights of the set include several “solo” numbers: a simply smouldering take on Young’s “On The Beach,” a gorgeous rendition of Crosby’s confessional “Carry Me” (at that point still un-issued on record), Nash’s “Grave Concern” from his dark, nearly unknown Wild Tales solo LP and Stills’ motherfucker of a rip, spitting his way through a frantic “Word Game.”

There are various configurations of CSNY 1974 on vinyl, CDs, DVD and Blu-ray Pure Audio discs. Unless you have to have vinyl (and are a masochist who loves flipping six records over) I’d highly suggest going with the version that Rhino sent me, the Blu-ray, which has all 40 songs—there were three sets, two rock sets with an acoustic set in between—on one disc so you can just relax and take it all in for three hours. Another reason to opt for the Blu-ray set is that it sounds really, really good. Produced by Graham Nash and the group’s longtime archivist, Joel Bernstein, the set was culled from the tapes of nine shows that were recorded by Elliot Mazer, the tour’s audio engineer and others. The audio quality here is astonishingly good for 40-year-old live recordings to begin with, but it would be remarkable sounding if it was recorded yesterday. The acoustic guitars chime, the electric leads cut through you like a knife, Stills and Young’s duelling guitars complement and argue with each other. You’ve got the heavenly harmonies of Crosby and Nash mic’d so closely that you can hear their breath. The piano has presence and clarity as if it had been recorded in a studio and not at an open air sports arena in front of 50,000 screaming fans. You get the idea. At least when all of that money was flying out the door unaccounted for, they got these great recordings out of it. The mastering was done by Bernie Grundman (an audiophile mark of distinction) after it was mixed down by Nash, Bernstein and Stanley Tajima Johnston in 192-kHz/24-bit resolution. [To anyone who says that stuff doesn’t make a difference, I defy you to listen to the acoustic set on Blu-ray and tell me you’ve heard a more “intimate” sounding live recording, ever. I suspect that Nash and Bernstein presented their work to Stills and the notoriously picky audiophile Young with confidence. What else would there be for Neil Young to say other than “Hey, great job, guys!”?]

“Grave Concern”

To my mind CSNY 1974 is the “classic rock” release of the year so far. It’s so damned good that I can’t imagine anything coming along and topping it, either, but if that did occur, then 2014 will be a good year for rock snobs, overflowing with an embarrassment of riches like this and the Led Zeppelin remasters.

Like the majority of Amazon reviewers, Ima gonna give CSNY 1974 five stars. One woman writes that she bought it for her husband and gave it to him before they were going to go out and eat. They opted instead to stay home and listen to it all the way through. That was my reaction to it, too. I expected to like it, but I liked it so much that I spent six hours straight with it. Not listening while surfing on my iPad, but listening to it. Listening intently and digging the shit out of it. In summation: CSNY 1974 is fucking good. You want a box set to feel like a good value and Christmas day simultaneously and this one truly does.

(Did I mention that there’s a separate DVD of video performances shot at Wembley Stadium and at Landover, MD’s Capital Centre? That’s awesome, too.)

Here’s something fascinating, a black and white video recording of an impromptu CSNY set taped at Winterland in 1973. It was originally a Stephen Stills and Manassas concert, then some “very special guests” showed up. At the time Neil Young was on his Tonight’s the Night tour with the Santa Monica Flyers and Crosby & Nash were touring as a duo. It’s sloppy, sure, the four hadn’t played together in over two years at this point, but it’s history, baby! Neil Young, perhaps emphasizing his independence from the other three, doesn’t come onstage until the fifth number:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Young & The Band in ‘The Alternate Last Waltz’

Japanese cinema poster

I was looking for something else entirely when I stumbled across THIS buried treasure: The Band’s complete “Last Waltz” concert, as shot from what must have been the house cameras at Winterland. The audio and video sound quality is amazing and best of all, this is not only how it went down, in the order that it went down, and it’s actually how it sounded before Robbie Robertson went in and overdubbed everything. (It’s also not had that blob of cocaine hanging from Neil Young’s nose edited out through frame by frame rotoscoping….)

As much as you might love The Last Waltz, this is probably even better. I do hope that several of you download this for safekeeping, ‘cos it may not last that long…

1. Introduction / Up on Cripple Creek 0:00
2. Shape I’m In 5:55
3. It Makes No Difference 10:15
4. Life Is A Carnival 17:28
5. This Wheel’s On Fire 22:51
6. The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show 27:26
7. Georgia On My Mind 31:20
8. Ophelia 35:05
9. King Harvest (Has Surely Come) 39:18
10. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down 43:26
11. Stage Fright 48:16
12. Rag Mama Rag 53:23
13. Introduction / Who Do You Love (with Ronnie Hawkins) 57:26
14. Such A Night (with Dr. John) 1:02:45
15. Down South in New Orleans (with Dr. John) 1:07:58
16. Mystery Train (with Paul Butterfield) 1:13:23
17. Caledonia (with Muddy Waters) 1:18:27
18. Mannish Boy (with Muddy Waters) 1:26:20

Part two begins with Eric Clapton coming onstage to join The Band, followed by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond and Van Morrison and then poetry from Digger Emmett Grogan, Lenore Kandel, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure and others.

1. All Our Past Times (with Eric Clapton) 0:00
2. Further On Up The Road (with Eric Clapton) 5:39
3. Helpless (with Neil Young) 11:52
4. Four Strong Winds (with Neil Young) 18:01
5. Coyote (with Joni Mitchell) 23:52
6. Shadows And Light (with Joni Mitchell)
7. Furry Sings The Blues (with Joni Mitchell)
8. Dry Your Eyes (with Neil Diamond)
9. Tura Lura Lural (with Van Morrison) 44:10
10. Caravan (with Van Morrison) 48:15
11. Acadian Driftwood (with Joni Mitchell and Neil Young) 54:07
12. Poem (Emmett Grogan) 1:01:18
13. Poem (Hell’s Angel Sweet William) 1:02:41
14. JOY! (Lenore Kandel) 1:06:14
15. Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (Michael McClure) 1:07:36
16. Get Yer Cut Throat Off My Knife / Revolutionary Letter #4
17. Transgressing The Real (Robert Duncan) 1:10:26
18. Poem (Freewheelin Frank Reynolds)
19. The Lord’s Prayer (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
20. Genetic Method 1:14:15
21. Chest Fever 1:20:25
22. The Last Waltz Suite: Evangeline 1:25:45

Bob Dylan and the big jam sessions after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Neil Young’s hard to see ‘Muddy Track’ movie: ‘I don’t know what the f*ck it is’
11:05 am


Neil Young
Crazy Horse

In 1987, Neil Young told an interviewer that 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.”

Young has never shied away from documenting, warts and all, the high points of his career and some pretty low points as well.  When he toured Europe in 1987 with Crazy Horse, disaster was looming. “It was fuckin’ terrible,” to hear Shakey himself describe it. Ticket sales were shitty, band members were often in an alcoholic stupor and played poorly, there were riots and Young even had to deal with the ignominy of a radio interviewer who expressed surprise that Young wasn’t dead yet. Good times! At the end of the tour, Young publicly vowed never to work with Crazy Horse again.

Young, being Young, saw the cinematic possibilities of the chaos of the tour and the result is Muddy Track, a patchwork, out-of-focus Shakey-cam walk in the band’s shoes as they stumbled across Europe. No distributor would touch something like this with a ten ft. pole and so the film remained fairly mysterious until parts of it were seen in the Jim Jarmusch directed Year of the Horse in 1997.

Speaking about his films, Young told MOJO in 1995:

Muddy Track is really my favourite of all of them, though. It’s dark as hell God, it’s a heavy one! (laughs) But it’s funky.

Funky it is! Muddy Track is incoherent, sure, but it’s quite real and immediate in the best sense of Young’s work. Some of the footage is probably a bit too personal (a band meeting that devolves into a tense swearing match is uncomfortable to watch three decades after the fact) but it’s never boring.

Muddy Track is not a documentary,” Young has said “I don’t know what the fuck it is.” 

Thank you Vinícius!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Southern California Brings Me Down’: Pitch perfect Neil Young parody
11:32 am


Neil Young
National Lampoon

This genius, totally spot-on Neil Young parody, “Old Maid (Southern California Brings Me Down”) hails from the 1970s The National Lampoon Radio Hour (and was subsequently released on the Grammy-nominated Good-bye Pop album in 1975). You could probably play this for Neil Young himself and he’d have a hazy recollection of recording it!

Young is played here by Tony Scheuren a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who was once in a band called Chamaeleon Church with a young Chevy Chase and a cast member of National Lampoon’s off-Broadway musical “Lemmings.”

Here’s Scheuren’s wickedly, er, accurate James Taylor parody, “Methadone Maintenance Man”:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When Neil Young met The Monkees and completely tore the roof off the sucker…
11:46 am


Neil Young
Davy Jones

Although the story about Stephen Stills auditioning for the Monkees is apparently at least somewhat apocryphal—Stills says that he only wanted to sell the group’s management some of his songs—he did play guitar on one Monkee’s song, the Head soundtrack’s “Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?

Stills longtime musical partner Neil Young, however, was a Monkee himself—well, so to speak—for four numbers.

Young plays guitar on Head‘s gorgeous “As We Go Along” and he also played on a few tracks recorded by Davy Jones in a session produced just days after he left The Buffalo Springfield: The lovely, but slight “Smile”; a backing track for the never completed “That’s What It’s Like Loving You” and the simply incredible “You And I,” which appeared on the underrated Instant Replay album in 1969.

This features some of the best, most blistering Neil Young guitar work like… ever. Such a great pop song. Why was this not a massive, massive hit?


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Neil Young announces ‘Live at the Cellar Door’
07:12 am


Neil Young

Neil Young has announced the impending release of Live At The Cellar Door, a collection of performances recorded over the course of a week in late 1970. Via Hennemusic:

The album collects recordings made during Young’s intimate six-show solo stand at The Cellar Door in Washington D.C. between November 30th and December 2nd, 1970, a few months after the release of his classic third solo album, After the Gold Rush.

The album, which features Young performing on acoustic guitar and piano, includes a mix of solo and Buffalo Springfield tracks. It also includes early, raw performances of songs that wouldn’t appear until subsequent Young albums, including the rarity “Bad Fog Of Loneliness” (which appears on Live at Massey Hall ‘71 – released in 2007- but was previously unreleased until the studio band version was included on Archives Vol. 1 1963-1972), “Old Man” (released two years later on 1972’s Harvest album), and “Down By The River” from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.

The announced release date is December 10th. The track listing is as follows:

1. Tell Me Why  
2. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
3. After the Gold Rush
4. Expecting To Fly
5. Bad Fog of Loneliness
6. Old Man
7. Birds
8. Don’t Let It Bring You Down
9. See the Sky About To Rain
10. Cinnamon Girl
11. I Am a Child
12. Down By the River
13. Flying On the Ground Is Wrong

Young has released a video trailer for the album, which you can repeatedly enjoy here to your heart’s content while you wait a month for the album to drop.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Watch this amazing Neil Young footage before it gets taken down!
11:12 am


Neil Young

As someone who has collected many a Neil Young bootleg over the years—especially on video—I’m of the opinion that this B&W pro-shot performance from 1976 is one of the very best. Watch it now, it probably won’t be there for long.

Taped during four shows at London’s Hammersmith Odeon that were part of Young’s Europe and Japan tour with Crazy Horse (the music video for “Like a Hurricane” with the famous fan blowing Neil’s hair furiously, as seen in Year of the Horse was shot at one of these shows). A fellow named Tony Fahy was in attendance at all four shows and had this to say in a few consecutive Facebook posts back in 2011 on the Thrasher’s Wheat (a great Neil Young blog) page back in 2011:

Tony Fahy: I was at this gig in Hammersmith. All four in fact! 3 on the last three days of March and the fourth on the 1st April 1976. Best set of gigs I was ever at.

[T]here was a huge fan to the side of the stage, that Neil would just lean into when he played lead. He actually balanced against this ‘hurricane.’ If the fan had been turned off, he would have fallen on his face! The fan was about 5 feet in circumference…if my memory isn’t fooling me. I took a pic, which is still the best I’ve ever seen of Neil leaning in…

There was another guy who was there the first three nights he shouted out for Neil to sing: “I am a child’. Finally on the last night a very loud ‘I AM A CHILD’ was heard all over the theatre….Neil said dryly into the microphone: “Me too, man!”

In those days, there were no bouncers and immediately after the last gig, I waited till the crowd had gone, climbed up on the stage only to run straight into Neil! Had a long chat with him and somehow had the nerve to ask him why he had never played Ireland. He said to me that they had considered it back in Hamburg, but because of what they were reading in the paper about what was going on in Ireland, that they wouldn’t play there!

I said to him: (wherever I got the nerve from): ‘Neil, you should listen to your own songs more!’ ‘I guess you’re right at that’ he said. The next European tour, he did play Ireland. I often wondered if I’d played a part!

Here’s a pic Tony took of Neil leaning into the fan.

The songs included here are “Tell Me Why,” “Stringman,” “Human Highway,” a strong “Down By The River” and then an outstanding rip through “Cortez The Killer.” At the end, the famous clip of Neil Young busking in Glasgow is tacked on.

Neil Young’s “people” are usually super aggressive with YouTube takedowns, so watch this while you can.

And just because I’m feeling nice today, here’s another amazing document of Neil Young from 1976: “The Complete Joel Bernstein Tapes.” Joel Bernstein, as every Neil Young fan knows is Young’s biggest fan and longtime archivist. During the acoustic tour in fall of that year supporting Zuma, Bernstein collected the tour’s very best performances from the set list. Eventually, probably on purpose, the compilation he made “escaped” and became one of the most famous Neil Young bootlegs. The full set list is here.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Soundtracks: Cinematic themes from Nick Cave, Sonic Youth, Tom Waits, John Cale and more

Yesterday I blogged about an amazing music mix from ‘70s Sexploitation films. This cinematic compilation is a lovingly curated mixtape of soundtrack and spoken word work which includes Tom Waits, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, John Cale, Neil Young, Sonic Youth and many others. From Fluid Radio on SoundCloud.

Do enjoy!


Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) by Andrew Dominik
Gilles Deleuze on cinema
Bernard Hermann - Taxi Driver (1976) by Martin Scorcese
Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle - One From The Heart (1982) by Francis Ford Coppola
Antoine Duhamel - Méditerranée (1963) by Jean-Daniel Pollet
Jonny Greenwood - Bodysong (2003) by Simon Pummell
Maya Deren on the creative process
John Zorn - In the Mirror of Maya Deren (2002) by Martina Kudlacek
Mihály Vig - Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) by Béla Tarr
Carmine Coppola - Apocalypse Now (1979) by Francis Ford Coppola
Mogwai - Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2004) by Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno
Tindersticks - Trouble Every Day (2000) by Claire Denis
Angelo Badalamenti - Twin Peaks (1990) by David Lynch
Arvo Pärt - Je Vous Salue Sarajevo (1995) by Jean-Luc Godard
Elysian Fields - Sombre (1998) by Philippe Grandrieux
Hilmar Hom Hilmarsson - In the Cut (2003) by Jane Campion
John Cale - Le Vent de la Nuit (1998) by Philippe Garrel
Neil Young - Dead Man (1995) by Jim Jarmusch
Ben Frost and Daniel Bjarnason - Solaris (1972-2012) by Andreï Tarkovski
Lech Jankowski - Institute Benjamenta (1995) by The Brothers Quay
Popol Vuh - Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972) by Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog on the jungle
Sonic Youth - Pola X (1999) by Leos Carax
Danny Elfman & Elliot Smith - Good Will Hunting (1997) by Gus Van Sant

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Neil Young’s million-dollar LincVolt breaks down in the middle of the Sierra Desert
11:11 am

Current Events
Pop Culture

Neil Young

According to South Lake Tahoe Police Watch, Neil Young’s very expensive, one-of-kind electric LincVolt broke down in the middle of the Sierra Desert on August 23.

Officers with the Truckee branch of the California Highway Patrol came upon the stranded Young and helped him get off the highway.

After posing for a few photos and signing autographs, Young repaired his custom-built car and was back on the road, said CHP Public Information Officer Pete Mann.

The Canadian-born rock star told CHP he drives the car across North America promoting green, sustainable living and encouraging less dependency on oil. He was on his way to a green festival in Canada, he told officers.

And there you have it.

Below, Neil Young’s LincVolt in action:

Via CoS

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Neil Young, model train geek
10:39 am

Pop Culture

Neil Young

Neil Young’s 2012 autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream, contains fascinating memories and anecdotes about songwriting, guitars, folk and rock music, musicians, classic cars, Young’s impressive ongoing inventions (including an electric car and a music file format, PureTone, to rival and replace mp3’s), and, unexpectedly, model trains.

Young, like fellow rockers Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen, began as a model train hobbyist and collector – for the love of God, do not call them “toy trains” to a model train collector – and eventually dedicated space in his 2800-square foot barn to a massive 750-feet track layout with landscape, tunnels, and buildings. Young brought this track along on his HORDE tour and allowed fans to play with the display, carefully supervised by the six crew members hired simply to travel with, set up. and tear down the track.

Young first created a research and development company, Liontech, to help the storied Lionel, LLC train manufacturing company, founded in 1900, create model trains with sound systems and control units. Young then became part owner of Lionel, along with an investment company. It was Young’s designs and inventions for Lionel that helped to bring the company out of bankruptcy in 2008. Young’s first train-related invention was a control unit, the Big Red Button, that enabled his son, who has cerebral palsy, to control the trains. Other inventions of his include the first-ever wireless remote control device for model trains, the TrainMaster Command Control (for which he paid for the development out of his own pocket), Lionel LEGACY Command Control System, LEGACY RailSounds System, and LionVision, which provides each model locomotive with a digital camera and microphone, allowing a train-view to be shown on a video screen or online.

Young helped Lionel design their Postwar Celebration Series, re-imagining classic designs with new technological features, such as the 5344 NYC Hudson train, first manufactured in the 1930’s. In 2004 Lionel released a limited edition train set based on the Neil Young and Crazy Horse album Greendale, set in a fictional California town.

“I remember one day David Crosby and Graham Nash were visiting me at the train barn during the recording of American Dream, a lot of which we did on my ranch at Plywood Digital, a barn that we converted to a recording studio…Anyway, I saw David looking at one of my train rooms full of rolling stock and stealing a glance at Graham that said, This guy is cuckoo. He’s gone nuts. Look at this obsession. I shrugged it off. I need it. For me it is a road back.” – Neil Young, Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream

“Clyde Coil” = Neil Young’s pseudonym for train-related websites and articles. Is this video (I can’t embed it here) a “Bernard Shakey” (another of Young’s nom de plumes) production?

Now I want all future Thomas the Tank Engine movies to feature Neil Young as the voice of the conductor instead of Alec Baldwin.

Below, Young talks model trains with fellow Lionel enthusiast, David Letterman:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Neil Young has a shitfit when he finds bootlegs of his music in a record store in 1971
01:11 am


Neil Young

Neil Young takes a break while shooting Journey Through The Past and visits a music store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. He gets righteously upset when he discovers poorly recorded bootlegs of his live performances. This was back in 1971. Neil is still pissed off. This time around it’s MP3s. You can’t accuse of him not being consistent.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Solo Trans’: Rare Neil Young concert film directed by Hal Ashby
12:58 am


Neil Young
Solo Trans

Solo Trans is an uneasy blend of unfunny skits with a 1984 solo concert by Neil Young in Dayton, Ohio. Neil is in Kraftwerk meets Gene Vincent and Bo Diddley mode with some of the bits feeling downright Daft Punkian.

Solo Trans was directed by Hal Ashby and released on long-out-of-print laserdisc. While it’s not Young at his most sublime, it is an entertaining document of Young at his most whacked-out, unpredictable, contrarian and prophetic. Here’s a rare chance to see it. Thanks YouTube.

“Heart of Gold”
“Old Man”
“Don’t Be Denied”
“I Got a Problem”
“Hello Mr. Soul”
“Payola Blues”
“Get Gone”
“Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me”
“Do You Wanna Dance?

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Neil Young and Rick James’ garage band, The Mynah Birds, 1965

In 1965, a year before hooking up with the musicians who would form The Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young had a brief stint in a Canadian rock group called The Mynah Birds fronted by Rick James (yes, THAT Rick James). At this point in James’ career he was known as Ricky James Matthew and did a stellar imitation of Mick Jagger. The group had a raw exciting sound that hinted at The Stones, Them, and various American garage bands. The Mynah Birds nailed a deal with Motown Records (the first white band to do so) and recorded sixteen tracks in Detroit. But things turned bad.

In his authorized Neil Young biography, Shakey, Jimmy McDonough describes the scene:

The Mynah Birds—in black leather jackets, yellow turtlenecks and boots—had quite a surreal scene going. The band was financed by John Craig Eaton of the Eaton’s department-store dynasty. Legend has it he poured money into the band, establishing a bottomless account for the band’s equipment needs.

Those lucky enough to see any of the band’s few gigs say they were electrifying. ‘Neil would stop playing lead, do a harp solo, throw the harmonica way up in the air and Ricky would catch it and continue the solo.’

Unfortunately, everything screeched to a halt when James was busted in the studio for being AWOL from the navy. “We thought he was Canadian,” said Palmer. “Even though there are no Negroes in Canada.” A single, “It’s My Time,” was allegedly pulled the day of release, and the album recordings were shelved and remain unreleased to this day.”

Here’s a couple of hard-rocking tracks from the legendary Motown Mynah Birds’ sessions. The musicians are Young and future Buffalo Springfield member Bruce Palmer and Goldy McJohn and Nick St. Nicholas who would later establish Steppenwolf with John Kay.

“It’s My Time” was co-written by Young and James:

“I’ll Wait Forever”:

“I’ve Got You In My Soul “:

“Go On And Cry”:

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Like a Hurricane’: Neil Young, The Crazy Horse and a wind machine, live 1977
08:13 am


Neil Young

Sublime performance clip of Neil Young and Crazy Horse doing one of Young’s greatest numbers, “Like a Hurricane,” on a French TV show called Jukebox in 1977.

Young wrote “Like a Hurricane” for a girl named Gail that he’d met in a bar after his break-up up with actress Carrie Snodgrass.

In Jimmy McDonough’s Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography it quotes Young’s neighbor, Taylor Phelps talking about the song:

Neil had this amazing intense attraction to this particular woman named Gail – it didn’t happen, he didn’t go home with her. We go back to the ranch and Neil started playing. Young was completely possessed, pacing around the room, hunched over a Stringman keyboard pounding out the song.

In 1975, when Neil Young wrote “Like a Hurricane” he was unable to sing, or even speak, due to a recent operation on his throat. His friend, artist James Mazzeo, recalls Young handing him an envelope with just two lines: “You are like a hurricane. There’s a calm in your eyes.” Crazy Horse messed around on the song for ten days before hitting on the inspired take on 1977’s American Stars N Bars album.

Note that Young—one of the greatest guitar players ever born, as this song ably demonstrates—is seen playing his highly customized 1953 Les Paul Goldtop, “Old Black.” I guess the wind machine was meant to stand-in for an actual hurricane or something…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Hotel California: L.A. from The Byrds to The Eagles,’ an essential rock doc

If you would have told me back when I was a defiant teenage post-punk fanboy—clad in Doc Martens and a black trench coat festooned with badges of PiL, The Residents, Kraftwerk, Nina Hagen and Throbbing Gristle—that one day I’d go through quite a long “phase” (as my wife calls my penchant for perhaps slightly over-exuberant musical enthusiasms) for the type of music that I HATED MOST when I was a kid, the laid-back, singer-songwriter sounds of the Southern California folk-rock, I would not have believed you.

I’d have (truly) been horrified. To me, there was nothing worse than The Eagles (maybe just “Southern rockers” like Lynyrd Skynyrd or Molly Hatchet) and anything that even vaguely smacked of the So Cal sound was shit to my ears.

Part of it was really getting into Neil Young (which for me happened in 2002, only after I first read Jimmy McDonough’s masterpiece of biography, Shakey, a book I’ve re-read twice in the past year alone), The Flying Burrito Brothers and Joni Mitchell, and then it sort of spread out slowly from there. A lot of it also had to do with our own Paul Gallagher sending me a copy of Barney Hoskyns’ excellent 2006 overview of the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter/folkrock sound, Hotel California.

Hotel California‘s subtitle is “The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends” and aside from some of the aforementioned artists, the book also turned me on to the music of both Judee Sill and the Byrd who could not fly, the great Gene Clark. It’s a great place to dive in, a perfect roadmap through the Canyon sound.

I even found, to my surprise, that there were some Eagles songs I really liked. A lot.

It just goes to show. In any case, Hoskyn’s excellent book was made into an equally essential BBC produced documentary, Hotel California: L.A. from the Byrds to the Eagles, a highly entertaining account of the rise and fall of Laurel Canyon rock. It’s a must see and worthy of multiple viewings.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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