Neil Young - Live at the Cellar Door

by Kevin Wierzbicki

At this point in time few people think of Neil Young in the context of being an ex-member of Buffalo Springfield but he was only a couple years removed from that group when these songs were recorded in late 1970 during a series of solo acoustic shows in Washington, DC at the now-defunct Cellar Door.

Young had already toured with Crosby, Stills & Nash too and appeared on the Déjà Vu album. But full-blown superstardom wouldn't come for Young until 1972 and the release of his breakthrough album, Harvest.

Here fans really get a good listen to stripped-down versions of many early tunes like Down By The River from the Everybody Knows This is Nowhere album along with four cuts from his then current After the Gold Rush album; Tell Me Why, Birds, Only Love Can Break Your Heart and the title cut.

Young plays either guitar or piano throughout and surprisingly performs Cinnamon Girl, a fuzz guitar-based rocker in its studio incarnation, on the piano. Young indicates it was the first time he'd ever done the song that way but judging by how good the arrangement sounded, it probably wasn't the last.

Other surprises include a demo-esque take on Old Man, one of Harvest's future hits, and the sad See the Sky About to Rain, a cut not released until 1974's On the Beach. Buffalo Springfield tunes Expecting to Fly and Flying on the Ground is Wrong are performed and Young introduces the latter by explaining that the song is about dope, mostly marijuana and from his goofy giggling while doing so it's very likely that he was himself indulging at the time.

Fans of Young's early albums should be absolutely thrilled with Live at the Cellar Door.

Neil Young - Live at the Cellar Door

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