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4.8 out of 5 stars
Live at Massey Hall 1971
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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is Neil on stage with just a guitar, a piano and a mike, playing in front of a very appreciative and proud Canadian audience. Though relatively young in age to us at 26 years, Neil sounds mature and seasoned here, and is comfortably "in control" of this crowd. He talks in a down-home manner to the crowd between almost every song, occasionally to introduce a song that they (and sometimes we) have never heard before. The acoustics and mic'ing are fantastic, and Neil is in great voice throughout. He plays about two-thirds of the songs on guitar, and the rest on piano - I've never been more keenly aware of his unique skill at strumming/picking/soloing (sometimes sounds like two!). This is just a fabulous cd that makes you feel like you're right on stage with a gifted yet humble artist who is just coming into his own, playing his "best of" tunes of the time.

Just before I veered way left (or right?) into progressive rock, jazz fusion and classical music, it was folk rock that rang my bell. Listening to these short, sincere, unadorned souvenirs of beauty reminds me of why singer/songwriters like NY were so important to us around 1971...and why their music still rings true today. Recommended.

I value interesting music that is played and recorded well. This cd's rating was based on:
Music quality = 8.5/10; Performance = 9/10; Production = 9/10; CD length = 10/10.
Overall score weighted on my proprietary scale = 8.8 ("4-1/2 stars")
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD
been good times for neil young fans of late. his 2006 studio album, living with war, was excellent. then came the outstanding "live at the fillmore east," now we have "massey hall 1971" hot on its heels. whereas the fillmore album was an electric jamfest of energetic rock and roll, massey hall is an all acoustic show, featuring neil young performing solo on acoustic guitar and piano. the sound quality is absolutely amazing. listening to it on the stereo this evening, i could close my eyes and feel that mr young was playing right there in the living room. the whole thing has a warm and intimate tone, and crystal clear sonics. the performance itself is stunning. mr young's phrasing and delivery is at a high peak of expression, sensitive to nuance and micro-tonal shiftings, making his unique voice all the more haunting. "journey through the past," "helpless," "cowgirl in the sand," "the needle and the damage done," "ohio," and "down by the river" are beautifully rendered, in particular. but the whole set is great, and everybody will have their own favorites here. mr young's acoustic guitar sounds spectacular, as well. anyway, i've got a life to live, so i'll stop gushing, and get back to it. just wanted to have my say. thanks.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Well, as Matthew said below, I guess we now understand why Neil chose to omit the acoustic set from the first installment in his "archives" series; this entirely solo acoustic performance rivals the best live work Neil has ever released. Somehow, it outdoes the intensity of Neil's incomparable "Unplugged" set from 1993, and conjures memories of the night I saw Neil on his solo acoustic tour in 2000 to support the "Silver & Gold" album, which remains the most memorable concert I have ever attended.

Casual Neil Young fans tend to prefer specific dimensions of the wide range of sounds Young has explored throughout his career, but "Live at Massey Hall" is that kind of unifying performance that appeals across the entire spectrum of Young's audience. Crisp, marvelously intimate and characteristically intense, this set captures Neil just before he leapt into superstardom with the phenomenally successful Harvest, and it is just so fascinating to hear Neil perform songs like "Heart of Gold" when they were brand new and no one in the crowd had heard them before.

Several of these tracks would not be released until the following year, and there is a kind of curious and reverent timidity in Neil's performance of songs on this set that later became his staples--"Old Man" and "Needle and the Damage Done" in particular. He had just written them and still seems to explore them with almost the same degree of uncertainty that the audience surely experienced as he introduced them to this then-new material.

Neil's fingers hadn't quite developed the kind of effortless familairity with these melodies that they now possess nearly forty years later, and it's this kind of spontanaeity that distinguishes "Live at Massey Hall" as the most fascinating live album Neil has released in many years--and that includes the Fillmore East set.

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is a tremendous CD which I whole-heartedly recommend. Neil Young announces before the fourth song that he will be playing "mostly new songs tonight." Five of the new songs would appear on the following year's "Harvest" album, which for my money, is Neil Young's finest. Did the audience realize just how extraordinary was this batch of new songs? Did Neil himself have any inkling of the phenomenal acclaim and acceptance "Harvest" would receive?

The songs are all performed solo by Neil, twelve on guitar, six (counting track 7 as two) on piano. (Unplugged, if you will, decades before that term was coined and turned into a marketing tool.)

One of the most interesting piano tracks is "A Man Needs a Maid/Heart of Gold." Neil introduces the song by saying "some people look at their life and say, well, my life is like a movie," then jokes that "this is like a showtune from my movie," perhaps foreshadowing the heavy production "A Man Needs A Maid" would receive on the studio album. However, the spare rendering here is superior, in my opinion. Then midway through the track, Neil segues into a stark version of "Heart of Gold," previewing what can arguably be called his definitive song.

Standout tracks with acoustic guitar include "Old Man," "Needle and the Damage Done," "Cowgirl In The Sand," and "Ohio." But one could as easily point out highlights by repeating the entire track list. Guitarists especially will appreciate how the songs are played in this solo acoustic format. The sound quality of the recording is superb.

There are several new (at the time) songs that didn't wind up on Harvest or any other album. Of particular note is "Dance, Dance, Dance." In the verse you will recognize the seeds of a later more well-known song.

That Neil has remained relevant all these years -- from CSN&Y to Harvest to Rust Never Sleeps to the Pearl Jam collaborations to last year's "Living With War" -- makes this CD much more than a nostalgic look at the past. I highly recommend it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD
When the Neil and Crazy Horse at the Fillmore disc came out, many lamented that it omitted Neil's opening acoustic set. Albeit not from the same shows, here we have almost 70 minutes of unplugged Neil at the height of his creativity. The sparse arrangements of the `Harvest' and Buffalo Springfield material are particularly revelatory and the inclusion of oft-bootlegged tunes like `Bad Fog' and `Dance, Dance, Dance' are a treat to hear.

The audio, like the Fillmore disc, is supreme. An all-around great release!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD
When I was 12 years old, one of my favorite albums was a bootleg called "Young Man's Fancy," taken from this very tour - solo Neil in early 1971. I remember being disappointed when "Harvest" came out that the songs I (by then) knew so well had been milked into something soft and edgeless in the studio. This CD is a revelation - Neil in his absolute prime - and what a joy it is to hear "Dance Dance Dance," "Bad Fog of Loneliness," "Journey Through the Past" and so many others again, in stunning sound quality. Acoustic Neil has always been my preference, and this one captures a moment in time long gone but never forgotten. This is where I hitched my wagon to his train. Hopefully, next up will be his Bottom Line '74 show - "Citizen Kane Junior Blues," "Pardon My Heart," "Greensleeves" and "Ambulance Blues."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2008
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
If one were to look at Neil Young and what he accomplished during the years that Dylan retreated into obscurity, the result would be a peek at what may arguably be the most prolific singer-songwriter in history. While the sixties saw Dylan produce a remarkable string of landmark albums starting with "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" all the way up to "Blonde on Blonde," the late sixties to early seventies saw Neil Young take Dylan's place, opening with a remarkable self-titled solo debut album, and following it up with the stunning "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere", "After the Gold Rush," "Harvest" and "On The Beach", the latter being arguably his greatest, and perhaps one of music's most personal and remarkable achievements. As well, there were probably a host of songs made during that period that to this day he has not released. The speed at which Neil Young's creative fury was moving is purely witnessed on this live cd. As he announces that he "will be singing mostly new songs tonight,' Neil ventures into many raw cuts of the tracks that would come to comprise these subsequent albums. However, the main, and probably the most pivotal difference between Dylan and Young is in the ability of the listener to enter the song. Where Dylan is without a doubt the songwriting genius of our time, and simply one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century in any form, his songs are art, to be placed on a wall and admired, pondered and looked upon from afar. Neil, on the other hand, allows the fan to enter into every song, almost allowing the fan to swear that the song was written about them. Neil Young has been quoted as saying something of this sort: "Of course, the songs are about me, but why should I exclude everyone else from them?" Indeed, when Neil shares his music, he is true to his word. In this intimate concert with Neil Young, one feels as if they are sitting right there on the stage with him; while listening to the experiences of his journey, he always allows the possibility that you have experienced them with him.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I've seen people reviewing the DVD/CD combo and am really suprised at some of the negative comments...at least from the audio side. I really enjoyed this CD alot, its clear, crisp, perfect acoustic Neil. In his youth, with humour and pure talent. Reminds me of his solo tour years ago, like you were one on one with a friend. I don't now what people expect, some of his "fans" are his biggest critics. Read the package, look at the songs on label, look at the setting and the artist, and enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Neil Young-Live At Messey Hall 1971 *****

Live at Messey Hall, 1971, is one of the most intimate and enchanting performances from Neil Young on tape. Recorded when many concidered him to be at the height of his power, the time period of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere,After the Gold Rush , and Harvest. Well this is the album that was supposed to be released between the last two, according to Young anyway. "David Brigg, my producer wanted to release it but I wanted Harvest out, and listening to it all these years later I can see why."

Bridging the gap between the two albums. Showing many of the songs from Harvest in their infant stages, and some in the final forms they would appear on the album. But it is this stripped down version that really brings the magic to some other wise dull tracks. 'There's A World' is breathtaking here. 'A Man Needs A Maid' is also given new life, and it is actually much, much better than the album version.

From After the Gold Rush we also hear the classic 'Don't Let It Bring You Down.' Also included here is a killer version of 'Helpless' and the CSNY classic 'Ohio' which is performed chillingly. 'See The Sky About To Rain' wouldn't see the light of day for a few more albums but this infant variation of the number is maybe more impressive than the cut from On the Beach.

Neil Young's solo acoustic sets have always been impressive, but there is something truly special about this performance, and this collection. Being number three in the series of live albums Young is releasing this 1971 performance in Toronto, Canada at the Messey Hall is nothing short of stunning.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
This is Neil Young at his finest. I held off purchasing at relase beacause I didn't care for Live at Filmore so much. BIG MISTAKE waiting. This CD is pure and beautiful. Everyone should hear these songs again. I just ordered the DVD so I can see it visually. Nothing like having Neil in your living room singing from his soul.
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