|Neil Young & Crazy Horse:
Live at the Fillmore East, March 6-7 1970 Label: Reprise
This album is stunning, as much for what it isn't as for what it is: During an age in which dinosaur rockers are pumped up far beyond reason – the subpar rendered legendary, the drug fiends made out to be sex-god poets – Neil Young releases, with little fanfare, one of the shows most responsible for his iconographic stature. The refreshingly minimalist liner notes consist of a clipped newspaper review and a few credits.
Why are they refreshing? There is no pompous essay explaining how, for one night, the few people who paid the cover saw one of the greatest rock shows of the 20th century. No ads for the Neil Young Archives Performance Series spam/mailing list/telemarketing signups. No explaining how super-producer of the era Paul Rothchild punched up the original tapes last year and somehow managed to make this 37-year-old show sound better than half of Young's studio output. There are no apologies for the CD’s six-song length (including a 12-and-a half-minute "Down by the River," and 16-plus minutes of "Cowgirl in the Sand"), filling up an LP-like 43 minutes and change. That also means there's no filler, no outtakes, no distracting talk, and no interview tracks.
Of course, no one points out that Danny Whitten – the guitarist whose fatal overdose would haunt Young's compositions for years; who turned what could have been a dominating creative partnership into a short-lived phenomenon; who sentenced Young to an inconsistent career of red-hot peaks and ice-cold valleys – is here in full force.
No, all this stuff doesn't come with the disc. You just gotta figure it out yourself. Or you could simply pop it into the CD player and enjoy it for what it is: High quality tuneage from perhaps the absolute peak of Crazy Horse. Dig it.