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Sunday, October 10, 2021

First Impressions: Carnegie Hall by Neil Young | The Old Grey Cat

Neil Young
The Neil Young Official Bootleg Series -- Carnegie Hall 1970 (back cover)

During our  "unplanned/forced sabbatical" here at Thrasher's Wheat, we're posting occasionally to keep discussion flowin' in the Neil Young Fan/RUST communities.

From the always insightful The Old Grey Cat, First Impressions: Carnegie Hall by Neil Young.

The main difference between the December [Carnegie Hall] and January [Massey Hall 1971 and  Young Shakespeare] shows can be found in the set lists; the December concerts contained only a smattering of unreleased songs, while the January gigs reversed the ratio.

The change in emphasis is hinted at here, actually, when Neil says after a few (very faint) requests following “Birds” that, “I, you know, could do all those songs, you know, but I have new songs I’m more interested in. I’ve outgrown some of those other songs.” Yet, as the below track list demonstrates, this show relied primarily on the tried-and-true; only five of the 23 songs were unknown to the audience at the time, though – if they didn’t buy 45s – “Sugar Mountain” may have been new to them, as well, as that was only released as a b-side. (For comparison’s sake, the Massey Hall concerts featured 10 new songs out of an 18-song set.)

I’m getting far afield, I know, so back on point: The midnight show at Carnegie Hall was recorded and released by bootleggers; I’d hazard a guess that it’s in the collections of most hardcore fans, be it on tape, vinyl or compact disc, though not necessarily under the Carnegie Hall title. In the old fogey days of the original Old Grey Cat website, in fact, it was one of my favorites of the many unofficial releases that passed across my desk—as evidenced by its inclusion on this “best of the unofficial canon” piece I wrote for the short-lived Da Boot ‘zine in late 1999. The two shows are similar, obviously, with the main difference being the placement of “Sugar Mountain,” which closed the first set during the early show, and the exclusion of “Dance, Dance, Dance.” Beyond that, he’s in the zone for both.

The performance and songs of the official Carnegie Hall bootleg are great and that the sound is topnotch; if you listen via headphones and close your eyes, you’ll swear you’re in the room. 

If you’re a fan, in other words, you’ll love it. In a way, it’s essentially a greatest hits-type review of Neil’s career up until that point in time, though both artist and audience weren’t aware of that fact. I know some folks decry his vocal abilities, but to my ears that high lonesome voice echoes aspects of my soul. As way of an example, I played Carnegie Hall during my eight hour-drive home after a few days of visiting family up north last week. 

Listening to these bittersweet odes about love, life and more while on the road was akin to hearing my childhood, young adulthood and early middle-age fade into the horizon behind me. “Don’t let it bring you down/it’s only castles burning,” indeed.



Thanks so much Jeff @ OGC! Exactly on the audio quality and headphones -- we feel like we're inside Carnegie Hall and its magnificent acoustics. So clean and pristine.

And thanks again to all for your continuing support of this blog with your comments and love while we try to keep the candle burning here @ TW during our  "unplanned/forced sabbatical".

peace & love,


Neil Young's Official Bootleg Series
image via Rusted Moon 

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At 10/10/2021 04:59:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Nice review. Thanks for sharing.

I ended up waiting to hear the vinyl version of Carnegie Hall instead of streaming, and I must say it is a brilliant concert along with a beautiful recording. Neil’s vocals are just so good throughout, and I particularly enjoyed the acoustic version of Southern Man, performed with such an articulate approach both vocally and guitar. Goosebump inducing stuff to be sure.

Every concert Neil has done over the decades have all been unique experiences with different energy and creative choices. Different line ups and different styles of music, so for me personally, I can’t get enough concerts from the man. I don’t care how similar the set lists are, as each show has its own special vibe that only happens that one time. The Timeline Concerts have all been wonderful, with several of them deserving candidates to receive a proper official release. For those who think they have this period covered with the previous archival releases should really reconsider. This Carnegie Hall show deserves to be in every Neil Young collection as the quality of both the performance and the recording is absolutely top tier live material.

I also want to give credit to Chris Bellman for the beautiful job he’s been doing with the LP mastering for Neil. The records he has done have been nothing short of reference quality. For us vinyl junkies out here, it is a real gift, so a big thank you to Chris.

After hearing this first edition of the Bootleg Series I am extremely grateful that we have more additions coming soon. And as Alan said; “It’s a great time to be a Neil Young fan”…….. and I couldn’t agree more.

Peace 🙏

P. S. This isn’t really a review as I’ve only heard this once, so a review sometime in the near future…..

At 10/11/2021 11:46:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

We can't begin to thank you enough for your contributions here on TW Dan.

Your steadfast support of TW over the years -- and more recently during our troubles -- has been both inspiring and humbling.

we can only say that this biog's for you! And for the many other neil fans out there keeping the flame burning.

light that candle and keep it glowin in the free world!


At 10/11/2021 01:16:00 PM, Blogger wardo said...

Hi Thrasher -- hope you and yours are "recovering" (for lack of a better word) from your weather-induced home invasion.

Here's my input into the discussion -- I modified an earlier blog entry since it made sense to install Carnegie into the pantheon that way. Others may disagree, and certainly will. Bring on the Rainbow, Ducks, and Bottom Line!

Here's the link -- and thanks for everything you do.


At 10/12/2021 07:34:00 AM, Blogger Steve L said...

I only just noticed that the full Trocadero concert (1997) is now available as 'Concert of the Moment'.

i.e., both sets are there together.

I am not sure when this happened - I last went looking for second set on Saturday I think it was.

At 10/12/2021 08:13:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Thanks for the heads up. What a show! I am with Dan on this: Let’s do an official release!

At 10/12/2021 08:25:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Glad the wait paid off, Dan! Yes, the world is in rough shape, but the Neil Young Universe is chock full of blissful mountains of NY recordings. Our decades of fandom are reaping an abundant Harvest. No need to die and go to Heaven to immerse oneself in the full dose; it can be had right here on Earth.

Thank you Neil Young for toiling in your artistry through the decades. We are your grateful fans, soaking it all up like a Sponge, full of gratitude and pleasure.

Thanks to the contributors to TW and to Thrasher & Thrashette for the enduring commitment to the blog and to us, the Hard Core legions of Neil Young fanatics… fan / addicts to the most worthy music Art ever found. Have a great day. Alan in Seattle

At 10/12/2021 08:52:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Alan, really fine words, I totally agree. Before I ever commented on this site, I would look forward to visiting and reading comments. I look back and all I can do is express gratitude both for this blog and what it takes to keep it going and to Neil Young's intense labor over so many decades. A lot of shit going on in my life right now and every day I spend at least a few minutes here on Thrasher's Wheat. Thank you.

At 10/12/2021 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Kevin D. said...

Excellent article thanks.

I would second the notion here about the fidelity of the vinyl issue. I picked up a copy a few days ago and the minute the needle came down on Down By The River I was stunned by how good this record sounded. Dan's comment on the mastering are insightful and I am sure very true. Having spent years listening to the bootleg of the second show a bootleg I thought was a very good listened at an excellent rating. Let me tell you it is nothing compared to this beauty. Maybe the hall itself has something to do with ambience of this record also you certainty feel you are in Carnegie Hall, makes me wonder how good Neil would sound at the Disney Hall in LA whose acoustics are just mind bending. Now I am starting to question whether I should get the other official releases of this tour on vinyl. What a start to this new series offered up by NYA.

For those interested in boots there is a new book on the history of Trade Mark of Quality boots called "A Pig's Tale". There are two Neil entries and on CSNY entry. The Neil entrees are from this 1970/71 tour - Boulder CO, and LA Music Center. Check out the book here

Kevin D. in Morro Bay

At 10/12/2021 09:00:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Hang in there Abner. To quote Danny Barnes, wildly divers Banjo slinger, “Put more water in the soup, there’s better times a’comin’ “ Until then, Squid Game provides a distraction. The show’s creator said Trump winning office made him realize it was time to do it, a project born 10 years ago. One Dystopian Nightmare made other possible. Yikes. Have you checked out the Trocadero show from ‘97 yet? It’s insanely excellent. Sending positive, uplifting vibes your way, hopefully not too much gibberish. Alan in Seattle

At 10/12/2021 09:01:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...


At 10/12/2021 09:02:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

… not divers…..

At 10/12/2021 11:46:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Random sharing, a window into Alan’s taste in music: I was a Deadhead, and part of the ethics of Deadheads back in the day was “Music is free.” We traded tapes. And so, I would never buy a bootleg. I traded tapes with a huge SRV fan from Iceland. Good old Snoori, he had the SRV tapes, and the final show, 9/27/1990 at Alpine Valley, WI. I got a tape of that from him.

I traded CDs with an old Rustie named T-Bone from FL. We met up when I vacationed in Florida in2000. He hooked me up. He ripped me a CD of Time Fades Away ripped from a virgin vinyl copy he scored! He gave me a few other then-unreleased albums on CD like On The Beach, Hawks and Doves, American Stars n Bars, and Re-ac-tor. I was so happy to get these. I lost track of T-Bone. Did any of you remember him?

One of you TW guys gave me a link to rip “A Letter Home” clean version. I thank you for that! . You guys were pretty good sports about the neat crappy quality of that recording. And if you paid like $150 or something you could get the F’n deluxe copy that almost sounded good. Many of the songs were excellent. Some not. On the Road with Jack White pounding on the piano? It was out there with the singing and all. I was pissed at the time for Neil demanding High Res, inspiring me to buy a Blu ray surround system for NYA1.. only to turn around and sell this endearing / shitty sounding, off -speed album. Agh!

Back in the mid 2000’s I scored Dylan’s Basement Tapes in MP3 form before it was put on sale legitimately as a 10disc set. The Mother Lode! That was the world’s first (and ultimate) bootleg LP outside of the NY world.

I bought my first bootleg in 1996, a Stevie Ray Vaughan live rarities bootleg. That was about it for buying bootlegs until the modern era on Amazon.

By now I have snapped up NY Bottom Line ‘74, a few live Soundgarden albums, a few by The Clash, and a live Johnny Cash radio broadcast from Unchained era called “Unchained in a Rusty Cage” which has him playing those songs. But I bought a ton of music and official releases. They made some good money from me.

Allright, I hope I haven’t wasted too much of your time with my ramblings. Stay safe, Be Well. Alan in Seattle

At 10/13/2021 02:34:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

All of my Amazon “boots” are radio broadcasts. So it’s legal. Also got Dylan / Petty live AU 1986.

I am glad Neil is releasing the bootlegs himself with better sound resolution. I need to listen again. I heard greatness.

At 10/13/2021 02:38:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

And I am happy he let the better first show get released instead of the bootleg. I think it’s cool that he improvised like that.

At 10/13/2021 07:23:00 AM, Blogger Phil said...

Song Of The Seasons, first track from the Barn album is available on NYA...

At 10/13/2021 09:11:00 AM, Blogger Peacelover Doc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


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