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Live at Massey Hall 1971

4.9 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 13, 2007
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One of the greatest singer-songwriters of the rock era. Solo. Acoustic. January 19, 1971. Live At Massey Hall, the legendary concert from Neil Young, is finally officially released, and in highresolution stereo. The acclaimed Toronto performance features classics "Old Man" and, in a suite, "A Man Needs A Maid" and "Heart Of Gold" (before they were recorded for Harvest) along with some of his most popular songs ("Cowgirl In The Sand," "Ohio") as well as the most obscure ("Bad Fog Of Loneliness"). Live At Massey Hall is a newly mined rock gem.

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"I'm gonna sing mostly new songs tonight," Neil Young tells the rapt Massey Hall audience, "...I've written so many new ones that I can't think of anything else to do with them other than sing 'em." He steps to the mic unadorned, distant from CSNY's rippled harmonies or Crazy Horse's yowl, hypnotically nailing 17 tracks on this unreleased 1971 solo set. You hear him tower at vocal heights on the chorus for "Old Man" (then a debuted, brand-new song) and name-check Canada on "Journey to the Past" and North Ontario on "Helpless," much to the Toronto crowd's delight. The sound is impeccable, and the closeness to Young in this spare setting exhilarates--especially his vocal quavering in the high registers, his intricate guitar work, and an overall vibe that exceeds description. And the DVD: Here you catch Young in tightly framed, starkly-lit shots, flourishing in the early years of an unparalleled rock career. Not only that, you get commentary from 1997, a rare window on how Young thinks, how he speaks, his humor. --Andrew Bartlett
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 13, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Reprise Records
  • ASIN: B000MTPANG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,470 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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.
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