Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Another one from Young's Performance Series, this one comes from a special night, a warm-up gig for the Ragged Glory tour in 1990. Young and Crazy Horse took over the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, California, and did three sets for the lucky few, two and a half hours of tunes. Since this was before the tour, the setlist for his upcoming gigs hadn't been put together yet, so there was a good spirit of fun throughout, with some rare cuts, band favourites and almost all the new album played.

There's already a live album from this tour, Weld, which was released in 1991. It's good, but this beats it, for various reasons. First, there's excellent sound on this thanks to the small club feel. Young's vocals especially are up close and personal, and the venue allowed for a better recording. The setlist is very different from the tour document of Weld, and we get some gems here. "Country Home" was an old Horse number that first appeared back in 1975, made the Ragged Glory album, but wasn't featured on the tour. "Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleaze" was a dud on the RE*AC*TOR album, but it proves much more enjoyable played live. Other old '70's tracks "Danger Bird" and "Bite The Bullet" are welcome as well, deep cuts for strong fans, rather than those hoping for "Helpless." 

Throughout, the band is locked in, and Young sounds invested in the performance. You can tell the difference, he's not acting at being Neil Young, he's enjoying the thrill of teaming up once again with his best band, and letting loose on some different and new material. Young was enjoying himself so much, during Don't Cry No Tears, a normally short tune, he got the group to continue playing it rather than ending, explaining to the crowd, "I just felt like singing it some more." 

Of course, it helps that there were so many good new songs to play. Ragged Glory was a very good album, and individually the songs were even better live. "Love To Burn" was a great song to jam on, a long story with full-sized guitar solo breaks. "F*!#in' Up" quickly became both a band and fan favourite, and "Love And Only Love" matched the intensity of other Crazy Horse epics such as "Cortez The Killer," the show closer. 

Yeah, there's a lot of Neil Young albums out there, but this one has everything going for it, if you're a fan of Crazy Horse tours. If that doesn't tempt you, stand by the next one, Young Shakespeare," coming this Friday, solo acoustic from 1971, featuring Harvest-era songs.

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