Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Neil Young - Live at the Cellar Door

Neil Young Goes Solo on 'Live at the Cellar Door' – Album Premiere
Live set from 1970 features debuts of 'Old Man' and 'See the Sky About to Rain'
By Andy Greene
December 2, 2013

Neil Young was in the middle of a major career transition when he played a six-show stand at the Cellar Door in Washington D.C. in late November and early December 1970. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had quietly split up in July, less than a year after playing their first live gigs. The group made him a superstar, but he was ready to stand on his own two feet and the success of After the Goldrush that August proved that was not going to be a problem.

Drained from a busy two years of touring, Young took time off during the second half of 1970 and began writing songs at his new ranch in northern California. He booked two nights at New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall in December of 1970, and opted to rehearse for the shows at the Cellar Door, playing two solo-acoustic shows a night. A tape recorder was running the whole time.

After 44 years in the vault, the recordings are finally coming out on December 10th on CD and 180-gram vinyl. The set mixes Buffalo Springfield classics like "Flying on the Ground Is Wrong" and "I Am a Child" with new songs like "After the Goldrush" and "Tell My Why." Young plays "Cinnamon Girl" on piano for one of the very few times in his long career. The shows also featured the live debuts of "Old Man" and "See the Sky About to Rain."


Neil Young Releasing 'Cellar Door' Concerts
The solo acoustic shows from 1970 feature the debut performances of "Old Man" and "See the Sky About to Rain'

By Andy Greene
October 21, 2013

Neil Young's ongoing Archive Performance Series will continue on December 10th with the release of Live at the Cellar Door, recorded during Young's six-show stand at Washington D.C.'s matchbox-sized Cellar Door between November 30th, 1970 and December 2nd, 1970. The two-disc set will be available on CD and 180-gram vinyl.

The solo acoustic shows came about four months after the release of After the Goldrush, Young's best selling album to date that featured "Tell Me Why," "Don't Let It Bring You Down," "Birds" as well as the haunting title track. Those songs are all on Live at the Cellar Door along with older favorites like "Down by the River" "Cinnamon Girl" and Buffalo Springfield classics "Expecting to Fly," "I Am a Child" and "Flying on the Ground Is Wrong."

The six Cellar Door shows marked Young's first concerts after a nearly five-month break. He spent some of that time writing new material, and the shows featured the debut performances of "Old Man," "Bad Fog of Loneliness" and "See the Sky About to Rain." It's also one of the few concerts where he played "Cinnamon Girl" on the piano.

He played two shows per evening at the Cellar Door, and they essentially served as a public rehearsal for his two-night stand at New York's Carnegie Hall on December 4th and 5th, 1970. Nobody knew it at the time, but Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young quietly broke up after their summer tour wrapped that July. The success of After the Goldrush demonstrated that Young was a genuine superstar outside of the short-lived supergroup, and his fame would only grow as the decade went on.

The Cellar Door was likely on his mind when he wrote "The Needle and the Damage Done," which he debuted in concert just one month after playing the venue. The song begins with the line, "I caught you knocking at my cellar door."

Live at the Cellar Door is the third volume of Young's Archive Performance Series to spotlight a show taped between March of 1970 and January of 1971, the others being Live at Massey Hall 1971 and Live at the Fillmore. In 2009, he released his long-anticipated box set The Archives Vol. 1 1963-1972, but fans are still awaiting any information about the second box set, which would likely cover the remainder of the 1970s.


Neil Young: Live at the Cellar Door – review

Maddy Costa
The Guardian
Thursday 5 December 2013

The shows Neil Young played at the Cellar Door in Washington DC were late in 1970, two months before the Massey Hall gig that has been issued twice in his Archive series. Seven songs appear in both sets; worse, only three of Cellar Door's 13 tracks haven't already been heard in a similar solo recording from the same brief period of Young's career. Add the inexplicable decision to excise from this release most of Young's banter with his audience – the characterful joy of the acoustic archive – and it's hard to see why anyone should buy it. Except this: the stillness and intimacy of each live recording is singularly enthralling. There's a moment in Cinnamon Girl – lithely played on piano – when Young's vocal subsides into a giggle. He's on piano for Expecting to Fly, too, his voice soaring, tremulous, above chords resolute as granite. Closing with Flying on the Ground Is Wrong, he improvises a playful attack on the piano strings that offsets beautifully the tender solicitude of the song. You don't have to be a Young aficionado to appreciate that.


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