Classic Rock Review

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Neil Young Rock ‘n’ Roll Cowboy (1994)

0143RocknRollCowboy196694C1_thumb1From bbchron.blogspot.co.uk

In the late ’80s, Neil Young casually mentioned in an interview that he was planning a box set of rarities and outtakes (entitled The Neil Young Archives), which would be ready for release shortly. It never appeared, even though it’s supposedly still being assembled and finalized to this day. To alleviate the fans’ frustration, this bootleg four-CD Italian (Great Dane Records) box set appeared, and it covers all the phases of Young’s lengthy concert career. The first disc (1966-1973) proves to be the best.

It’s here that you’ll find an early barnstorming guitar version of “Cowgirl in the Sand” (clocking in at 14-and-a-half minutes) and a harmonious Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young take of “Tell Me Why.” A piano-laden medley of “A Man Needs a Maid/Heart of Gold” follows, and the beautiful unreleased acoustic nuggets “Everybody’s Alone” and “Dance Dance Dance” comfort the listener. Disc two (1974-1978) contains material from Young’s dark period, including unplugged versions of “Pardon My Heart” and “On the Beach,” recorded at New York’s Bottom Line. Disc three proves to be the weakest since it covers what is widely regarded as Young’s unfocused years (1982-1985).

“Touch the Night” is essentially a rewrite of “Like a Hurricane,” and there is a reason why “Let Your Fingers Do the Talking” was never released. The countrified “Down by the River” and a banjo version of the reflective “My Boy” save the disc from being a total washout, however. And the final disc (1986-1994) shows Young regaining his strength and focus with the definitive “Rockin’ in the Free World” (from Saturday Night Live) and “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” where he is joined by friends Simon & Garfunkel. The set of four may be a bit too intimidating for more casual fans, but the sound quality is consistent, and it proves to be the ultimate showcase of Young in concert. Also included is a 45-page booklet packed with pictures, song notes, quotes, and a list of every live date played by Young from 1968 to 1993. ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide

Rock ‘n’ Roll Cowboy is a rich, if somewhat frustrating, listening experience. It’s a four-disc set that collects various Neil live performances, spanning from his Springfield days to his Grammy Award show performance of “Philadelphia” in 1994. Among the many treats: “Sweet Joni,” a 1973 piano-based paean to Joni Mitchell apparently only performed once. Other highlights include several Stills-Young Band run-throughs, especially “Southern Man” which features some scintillating guitar solos from both Stills and Young. Other highlights include the unreleased songs “Everybody’s Alone,” “Traces,” “Love Art Blues,” “Give Me Strength,” “Lady Wingshot,” “If You Got Love,” “Gonna Rock Forever,” “Amber Jean,” “Let Your Fingers Do the Talking,” “Grey Riders,” “Nothing is Perfect,” “Ordinary People,” “Silver and Gold,” “Homefires” and “Separate Ways.” Add in several reworked versions of known quantities, such as the Saturday Night Live debut of “Rockin’ in the Free World,” “Shots” (performed acoustically from San Francisco’s Boarding House) and “Helpless” (a stunning take from Neil & the International Harvester’s Austin City Limits appearance in 1984) and “Stringman,” recorded in London in 1976, and you have a great collection. However, thanks to this collection’s breadth–in total, 63 songs taken from upwards of 40 concerts–the sound quality ranges from the near-atrocious to excellent. Thus accounting for the frustration at times. One other comment: The accompanying booklet to Rock ‘n’ Roll Cowboy is excellent, far surpassing many liner notes to legitimate boxed sets, featuring a well-written overview of Neil’s career as well as a track-by-track commentary AND complete tour schedule from Neil’s 1968/69 solo tour through to his 1993 jaunt with Booker T. & the MGs. It does much of what the set itself does, collecting many of Neil’s comments and observations on many of his songs. Despite its sound lapses, until the Archives are released–and possibly even then–this is a true “essential.” (A+)

Track Listings:
Disc 1 (1966-1973):
1. Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing, 2. Birds, 3. Cowgirl in the Sand, 4. Tell Me Why, 5. Only Love Can Break Your Heart, 6. Everybody’s Alone, 7. A Man Needs a Maid/Heart of Gold, 8. Out on the Weekend, 9. Love In Mind, 10. Dance Dance Dance, 11. Cripple Creek Ferry, 12. L.A., 13. Soldier, 14. Harvest, 15. Sweet Joni, 16. Tonight’s the Night, 17. Tired Eyes

Disc 2 (1974-1978): 1. Pardon My Heart, 2. On the Beach, 3. Traces, 4. Human Highway, 5. Love Art Blues, 6. Hawaiian Sunrise, 7. Like a Hurricane, 8, Stringman, 9, Evening Coconut, 10. Long May You Run, 11. Southern Man, 12. Give Me Strength, 13. Comes a Time, 14. Sail Away, 15. Lady Wingshot, 16. Shots, 17. Downtown

Disc 3 (1982-1985): 1. If You Got Love, 2. Transformer Man, 3. My Boy, 4. Old Ways, 5. Kinda Fonda Wanda, 6. Gonna Rock Forever, 7. Touch the Night, 8. Amber Jean, 9. Let Your Fingers Do the Talking, 10. Helpless, 11. Down by the River, 12. Interstate, 13. Grey Riders, 14. Nothing Is Perfect, 15. Southern Pacific

Disc 4 (1986-1994): 1. Mideast Vacation, 2. Road of Plenty (El Dorado), 3. Computer Age, 4. Bad News, 5. Ordinary People, 6. Rockin’ in the Free World, 7. Winterlong, 8. Silver and Gold, 9. Campaigner, 10. Homefires, 11. Only Love Can Break Your Heart, 12. Mr. Soul, 13. Separate Ways, 14. Philadelphia

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Neil Young Rock n Roll Cowboy | , | Leave a comment

Neil Young Rock ‘n’ Roll Cowboy (1994)

0143RocknRollCowboy196694C1_thumb1From geetarz.org

Rock ‘n’ Roll Cowboy is a rich, if frustrating, listening experience. Released by the Italian Great Dane record label a few years back, it’s a four-disc set that collects various Neil live performances, spanning from his Springfield days to his Grammy Award show performance of “Philadelphia” in 1994.

Among the many treats: “Sweet Joni,” a 1973 piano-based paean to Joni Mitchell apparently only performed once. It’s a fragile song with fragile lyrics, perhaps in keeping with its subject. Other highlights include several Stills-Young Band run-throughs, especially “Southern Man” which features some scintillating guitar solos from both Stills and Young. Say what you will about Stills’ songwriting abilities, but there’s no denying his prowess with a six-string. He’s one of the best around–always was, always will be. Other highlights include the unreleased songs “Everybody’s Alone,” “Traces,” “Love Art Blues,” “Give Me Strength,” “Lady Wingshot,” “If You Got Love,” “Gonna Rock Forever,” “Amber Jean,” “Let Your Fingers Do the Talking,” “Grey Riders,” “Nothing is Perfect,” “Ordinary People,” “Silver and Gold,” “Homefires” and “Separate Ways.”

Add in several reworked versions of known quantities, such as the Saturday Night Live debut of “Rockin’ in the Free World,” “Shots” (performed acoustically from San Francisco’s Boarding House) and “Helpless” (a stunning take from Neil & the International Harvester’s Austin City Limits appearance in 1984) and “Stringman,” recorded in London in 1976, and you have enough for a two-album set–a
great one at that, especially if 20-bit remastering and/or HDCD technology is employed to clean up the sound.

“To clean up the sound.” Hmmm. Therein lies the rub, folks. Thanks to this collection’s breadth–in total, 63 songs taken from upwards of 40 concerts–the sound quality ranges from the near-atrocious to excellent. A good example of this are the trio of songs (“Traces,” “Human Highway,” and “Human Highway”) taken from CSNY’s 1974 performance at the Coliseum in Seattle.

It sounds like the audio equivalent of sludge–except, of course, for the harmonies which do come through. Thus, as I said at the outset, this is a rich, if frustrating, experience. Let’s hope that many of its treasured are found in better form on the Archives when/if that multi-CD set is released.

One other comment: The accompanying booklet to Rock ‘n’ Roll Cowboy is excellent, far surpassing many liner notes to legitimate boxed sets, featuring a well-written overview of Neil’s career as well as a track-by-track commentary AND complete tour schedule from Neil’s 1968/69 solo tour through to his 1993 jaunt with Booker T. & the MGs.

While it doesn’t tip the scale as far as the set’s rating, it does much of what the set itself does, collecting many of Neil’s comments and observations on many of his songs.

Despite its sound lapses, until the Archives are released–and possibly even then–this is a true “essential.” (A+)

February 25, 2013 Posted by | Neil Young Rock n Roll Cowboy | , | Leave a comment

Neil Young: Rock ‘n’ Roll Cowboy (1994)

From allmusic.com

In the late ’80s, Neil Young casually mentioned in an interview that he was planning a box set of rarities and outtakes (entitled The Neil Young Archives), which would be ready for release shortly.

It never appeared, even though it’s supposedly still being assembled and finalized to this day. To alleviate the fans’ frustration, this bootleg four-CD Italian box set appeared, and it covers all the phases of Young’s lengthy concert career. The first disc (1966-1973) proves to be the best. It’s here that you’ll find an early barnstorming guitar version of “Cowgirl in the Sand” (clocking in at 14-and-a-half minutes) and a harmonious Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young take of “Tell Me Why.”

A piano-laden medley of “A Man Needs a Maid/Heart of Gold” follows, and the beautiful unreleased acoustic nuggets “Everybody’s Alone” and “Dance Dance Dance” comfort the listener. Disc two (1974-1978) contains material from Young’s dark period, including unplugged versions of “Pardon My Heart” and “On the Beach,” recorded at New York’s Bottom Line. Disc three proves to be the weakest since it covers what is widely regarded as Young’s unfocused years (1982-1985). “Touch the Night” is essentially a rewrite of “Like a Hurricane,” and there is a reason why “Let Your Fingers Do the Talking” was never released.

The countrified “Down by the River” and a banjo version of the reflective “My Boy” save the disc from being a total washout, however. And the final disc (1986-1994) shows Young regaining his strength and focus with the definitive “Rockin’ in the Free World” (from Saturday Night Live) and “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” where he is joined by friends Simon & Garfunkel.

The set of four may be a bit too costly and intimidating for more casual fans, but the sound quality is consistent, and it proves to be the ultimate showcase of Young in concert.

Also included is a 45-page booklet packed with pictures, song notes, quotes, and a list of every live date played by Young from 1968 to 1993.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Neil Young Rock n Roll Cowboy | , | Leave a comment

   

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