As a veteran of some 570 reviews - most of which are about quality CD reissues - I bow my head in shame on this one.
I'll admit that "Live At Massey Hall 1971" slipped past my radar somehow. How did I 'not' get to hear this absolute gem?
Firstly - as pointed out by many other reviewers - the audio quality on this HDCD release is just INCREDIBLE. Clear, warm, present - it's like an ultra high-quality 90's or 00's 'unplugged' performance. Both JOHN NOWLAND and TIM MULLIGAN worked on the Restoration, Transfers and Mastering of the original Analogue tapes and they have produced what has to be a Grammy-winning result.
But best of all is the music and Neil Young's performance. With just guitar and piano - the intimacy of the gig is as beautiful as a singer-songwriter concert gets. And of course - there's the date...
Recorded in front of a home crowd on 19 January 1971 at Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada - Young had the brilliance of both the "After The Gold Rush" and "Harvest" albums to draw on. And with a smattering of CSYN and Buffalo Springfield tracks thrown in for good measure, the effect is pretty much devastating. After each song - the crowd erupts in genuine pleasure.
Then there's the feeling of eavesdropping on a gig that has gone to that magical place of an Artist and Audience engaged in a shared intimacy. When he sings songs that are now part of culture like "Old Man" (lyrics above) and "Heart Of Gold" (beautifully blended into "A Man Needs A Maid") - he is doing so here with a freshness that is thrilling. His vocals are slightly nervous yet beautiful - his ache is real. And he even tries to sell some of the songs to the audience with story-banter in between tunes. Neil Young gets personal - yikes!
And as if this isn't enough - someone only went and filmed parts of it. The DVD is gorgeous - concert footage, lyrics, and interviews...wow!
We played "Live At Massey Hall 1971" in-store a few days ago and were deluged at the counter. Most of our customers were unaware of it. And all walked away - both impressed and even moved.
A genuinely sensational reissue in the on-going 'Neil Young Archives' series - get this treat into your life as soon as possible...