New official bootleg from the Tonight's The Night tour. Taped 5 November 1973 at The Rainbow Theatre, London.
No idea where this Neil Young With The Santa Monica Flyers (ie. Crazy Horse w/ Ben Keith) official boot came from, it appeared on the stockists briefly then disappeared and then showing up in the flesh, and made my week!
Taped in London while previewing material from Tonight’s The Night, this is “ditch-era” Neil Young, but this recording does’t just capture him sitting in the ditch, but driving head first and at speed into it.
There’s the well-trodden over story about how Tonight’s The Night was a rebuttal of the “middle of the roadness” of Harvest and an album mourning the loss of his buddies to ODs, but you can hear it in full flight here. His voice is wavering and busted, he keeps on baiting the crowd (repeatedly welcoming them to Miami Beach) who just want to hear the hits, and when he does play them, he plays the most drawn out version of Helpless that I’ve ever heard and a rendition of a classic so far back on the beat it should be retitled “Cowgirl In The Quicksand.”
A bootleg-made-official, the fidelity on this one is a bit rough, but also lends it a kind of murkiness and body to the recording. The Tonight’s The Night material is particularly haunting, with Ben Keith’s pedal steel whistling through the tape fog of a killer version of Albuquerque.
Don’t know if this is something that’s considered “essential” but it goes a long way to capturing the “ditch era” of Neil both at his most oppositional and cantankerous, but also at his most fragile.