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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 10, 2013
This is a great reminder (if we needed one) of just what a fine songwriter Neil Young is. The album is a recording of some solo sets he did in 1970 and they are very good indeed. I had the great good fortune to receive an advance copy of this album, I have played it a lot and the more I play it, the better it gets.

This is the young (sorry) Neil Young with just his guitar and a piano performing some great material like After The Goldrush, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Old Man and others. They are really good, heartfelt performances which in these stripped-down versions often have tremendous emotional power. Don't Let It Bring You Down, for example, really packs an emotional punch for me - perhaps even more than the studio version does. The wonderful chord structures combined with Young's distinctive, ætherial, almost falsetto vocal give it a fabulous, spare beauty and the same is true of many of the other songs here.

The sound quality is excellent and the choice of material is very well balanced, I think. It's hard to get the balance right on a live album between failing to capture enough of the live atmosphere and having so much chat that it becomes tedious on repeated listening, but the producers here have judged it impeccably. There is very little of Neil Young speaking throughout most of the album - generally just a brief introduction to each song, which is exactly enough to give a feel of the live performance without interfering with the music. (And as an aside, although I know this is from 1970, it still brought me up short to hear Only Love Can Break Your Heart introduced as "a song from my new album".) The one exception is a longish, good humoured chat before the last track, Flying On The Ground Is Wrong, and here it is good to get a flavour of the man himself. It is excellently done.

I'm delighted to be able to give this album a rave review. It deserves it, which - let's face it - cannot be said of all Neil Young's work. This, though is among his best which means that it is very good indeed. Don't look for the Crazy-Horse-driven power which made Psychedelic Pill so brilliant last year, for example; this is no less powerful but in that more quietly thoughtful, contemplative Neil Young way. It's an excellent album of great songs, beautifully performed and recorded. Warmly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 10, 2013
As a long-time Neil Young fan it is truly special to be able to experience a performance like this one which was compiled from a series of gigs that happened at the Cellar Door over a three day period in late 1970 when I was a mere 8 months old. The audio quality is excellent here as Neil performs songs solo-acoustically playing some on the guitar and others on the piano.

The then 25 year old Neil's songwriting takes center stage here with these acoustic performances and we're given a glimpse at what his career had in store for him. I'm sure everyone has their own favorite Young songs, but I really enjoyed the renditions of Cinnamon Girl, Don't Let It Bring You Down, Old Man and After The Gold Rush that appear here.

Anyone that has followed Neil Young knows he goes back and forth between the sonic bombast that his electric music brings and the stripped down sweetness of the acoustic versions. Here we see a great representation of the acoustic side.

If you're a long-time Neil Young fan there is no doubt that you'll want this disc, the sound quality and performances are top notch.

If you're not familiar with Neil Young and you're looking to get into his work there are probably a few better places to start, but they will all eventually lead you here anyway so you may as well give this one a try!
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on December 10, 2013
The perfect balance as far as "Acoustic Neil" goes...this straddles the fence between the Live 1968 Canterbury House set and Massey Hall from 1971...and it's probably (to me anyway) the best of the three. The audio is great...the song selection is tops and the delivery isn't overly broken up by dialogue (which I like...but thought Canterbury had too much)...there IS one great spoken Neil moment on this...the intro to Flying on The Ground is...well, ya gotta hear it for yourself...but it cracks me up every time!
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on December 12, 2013
This is an wonderfully beautiful live offering from Neil Young - an early offering from the After The Gold Rush days live at The Cellar Door in Washington D.C in late 1970 - it's a solo performance - just Neil with his guitar and piano.. I live in the area and used to go to The Cellar Door years ago...and it was always one of my favorite venues for a performance - small, intimate and very personal...and that's what this CD offers - an intimate and very personal concert with Neil doing some of his finest solo work and some real gems from his Buffalo Springfield days - boy, I wish I had seen this show, it would've been one for the ages..........

There are several tracks on this - like Expecting To Fly, Birds, Don't Let It Bring You Down, and I Am a Child - that will send shivers up your back - If there wasn't the polite and subdued applause at the end of each track, this could easily pass for a studio recording. The folks in attendance here got a very special treat from Neil. I really like the version of Old Man on this as well - there's just a lot to like on this. This is one of those CD's that when you've finished listening to queue it up again because there's nothing else that can follow that fits....

I'm usually reluctant to buy Neil's live stuff - he can tend to get a little sloppy, but that's Neil and it's not been a problem for most Neil Young fans - this is NOT one bit sloppy, Neil's voice is strong and clear....lush, rich and beautifully mixed and edited, I don't know if I've ever heard a better live performance by Neil. I am wonderfully glad I bought this CD.

The only tracks that I wish had either been done differently or just replaced with different tracks would be Cinnamon Girl and Down by the River - the originals were pretty rocking cuts, but here he tones it down and does a pure acoustic version of each - and I prefer the more rocking version - but that's just my opinion and you may find it suits your tastes well.

If you are a Neil Young fan, this will not disappoint....boy, I wish I had seen this one....
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on December 12, 2013
I was at one of these Cellar Door shows(sat right in front of this tiny, tiny venue in my former hometown of DC), and can attest that Neil was in his prime, both as a songwriter and guitar player. Cast a spell that is still freshly remembered!
What a surprise and treat to be able to have this cd these 40+ years later!
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on December 10, 2013
Recorded over 40 odd years ago and at the time we didn't know it but Neil Young was in his prime here which would last to the end of the decade closing off with the magnificant 'Rust Never Sleeps'. The set list sees Neil playing some of the strongest songs of his career - before he got lost lost to his own muse. The really odd thing is that this period 1970 was covered in his Archives set from 2009 - why wasn't this included in that? Neil as ever is how own man. I've given this 5 stars becuase for me Neil is at his best solo, without the self indulgent detours of The Pill. The best advert for buying every Neil record from the 70s. This can safely be filed with the Massey Hall recordings released a few years back.Where are the live recordings from 1971 onwards this treads old ground but during this period of Neil's career everything is essential.
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on December 10, 2013
It's absolutely amazing that there are recordings of such quality available for those of us who can recall the magic that Neil Young's music can generate. This recording set in such an intimate atmosphere really is a gift that presumably David Briggs had a lot to do with. Thanks Neil for getting this material recorded so that we can flash back to a time in our lives when things were different. Please continue to release these treasures with the impeccable attention to quality detail to the sound quality that makes you such a great artist.
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on December 12, 2013
"Tell Me Why" is one of my favorite Neil Young songs. I've known it for over 40 years, having heard "After the Goldrush" at the time of its release. A great, great song and it stands up to hundreds of listens.

There are now two more versions of "Tell Me Why." One is on the Massey Hall live CD from early 1971. The second is on this new release, "Live at the Cellar Door, from late 1970. Both versions are very good. Is either version as good as the one on "After the Gold Rush" ? It's arguable. I would say "no."
Are all three versions similar? Absolutely.
Is it easy to tell the two live versions apart? In my opinion, no.
Do you need all three versions of "Tell Me Why?" Up to you.

If you have the "Archives" collection, there's a great live version of "I Am A Child," from the performance at the Riverboat in 1969.
There's also a very nice live version of "I Am A Child" on the Massey Hall live CD.
And now there is a third live version of "I Am A Child" on this new "Cellar Door" CD.
Three live versions of "I Am a Child" recorded between 1969 and early 1971.
Are all three versions good? Yes.
Are all three versions similar? Absolutely.
Do you need all three versions? Up to you.

The larger question is, "Why is Neil Young continuing to put out basically the same live album over and over again?" Why release three versions of essentially the same performance? There are rumors -- or there were rumors -- that Neil Young had a huge backlog of unreleased material -- songs that none of us had ever heard, entire albums recorded and never released. It was supposed to be part of the Archives project that these lost recordings would finally be heard. But instead, he keeps releasing these live albums like "Massey Hall" or "Live at the Cellar Door" that contain almost entirely familiar material.

If you compare this with Bob Dylan's bootleg series you really see a difference. The first bootleg series, "Volume 1 -3" contained dozens of songs that no one had ever heard before. And Dylan continues to surprise us with old material -- like the recently released alternate "Self-Portrait" sessions, which we hadn't even imagined existed.

I guess it bothers me that Neil Young created this longstanding rumor about having a mythic body of work that had never been released and would finally be released in the Archives, and now instead we're getting yet another live recording of tracks from the "After the Gold Rush / Harvest" period.

One last thing if you've read this far: the piano versions of "Flying on the Ground is Wrong,"and "Expecting to Fly," are absolutely amazing. They're great: beautiful and NEW interpretations of long-familiar songs.. That's why this is a three-star review -- there are a few wonderful tracks here -- and Neil's voice is beautiful throughout.

I would even say that if you don't have "Live at Massey Hall" and "Archives," then yes -- you should buy "Live at the Cellar Door" and it will be a "five star" album for you.

If you don't have "After the Gold Rush" -- you should get "After the Gold Rush" first. It's among the greatest albums ever recorded ... by anybody.

But if you don't have "After the Gold Rush," you probably haven't read this far.

And if you do have all of these other albums, then "Live at the Cellar" is not a completely necessary addition to your collection (you might consider buying Mp3 files of those two tracks I mentioned above -- I did).
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VINE VOICEon December 18, 2013
I have picked up all of these Neil Archives releases thus far and have enjoyed them all to various extents, but I must say that after a half-dozen listens, this is my favorite in the series, at least to this point. The sound is quite good, Neil is personable, so on, so forth, but mostly this is a very strong collection of songs and Neil was at the top of his game on these performances.

While, as a rule, I prefer loud, fuzzy Neil to sensitive, folky Neil, these solo performances could certainly lead me the other way, but I would also argue that they are tough, hard-edged performances. This is simply a marvelous disc. If you are an appreciator, you will want (and need) this. If you are new to Young, there are other obvious places to start, but if you're reading the reviews of a set from 1970, you're simply trying to find out if this one is worth getting. Most assuredly: It is.
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on April 10, 2014
I bought this album because it was new and unheard of before and I love me some Neil Young. Now all Neil lovers know there's many different kinds of Neil. There's Neil you can roll your windows down to and drive real fast, there's Neil you can put on while cleaning your house, there's some Neil you don't even put on at all, and there's some Neil you put on while you are sitting on your porch by yourself watching the sunset with a half drank sixer of Labatt's by your feet. This is exactly for the sitting on your porch scenario. Neil solo, acoustic, right when he was really coming into his own. I feel like this album has instantly grown to the top of my most played Neil albums.
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