Neil Young – Live at the Cellar Door

Recorded at the Cellar Door in Washington DC over a three-day period from November 30 to December 2, 1970, the latest in Neil Young’s “archives” series hits the record store shelves in vinyl format, lagging the CD by a few weeks. If you were patient enough to wait, you will be highly rewarded.

Music editor Bob Gendron gave the digital version of this performance a highly insightful review in Issue 59, but we did not have a vinyl copy at that time to comment on. I concur 100% with Gendron’s assessment of the performance, and the sound quality of this vinyl version is outstanding.  Mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman’s studio, it is easily the equal in fidelity of the Live at Massey Hall and Live at The Fillmore albums.

The epitome of sparse production, the tracks all feature Young on guitar or piano, and while a hint of tape hiss creeps in from time to time, his voice is vibrant, dripping with decay and overtones, in the way that only a magnificent analog recording can – warts and all.  Fortunately, the warts are very few, and on one level, kudos to Young for leaving them in.  If this were a Katy Perry album, it would all be pristinely pitch corrected.

Here’s to a great glimpse into the past of such a great artist, and here’s to hoping Mr. Young will pull a few more recent performances out of his vaults in the months to come.  – Jeff Dorgay

Warner Bros, 180g LP