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Thursday, April 13, 2023

Neil Young's Original Bootleg Series Releases: ‘Somewhere Under The Rainbow” & ‘High Flyin’

‘High Flyin’ & ‘Somewhere Under The Rainbow”  
Neil Young's Original Bootleg Series Releases
(Click photo to enlarge)


While tonight's the night, tomorrow's the day!

Neil Young's Original Bootleg Series has two new releases tomorrow, Friday April 14: ‘Somewhere Under The Rainbow” and ‘High Flyin’.

‘Somewhere Under The Rainbow” features Neil Young with the Santa Monica Flyers, recorded live at the Rainbow Theatre in London on Nov. 5, 1973. ‘High Flyin’ features Neil Young with The Ducks on a 3LP live album recorded over the summer of 1977.

From Glide Magazine by

"The recording of Neil Young's 'Somewhere Under The Rainbow' radiates palpable resolve and despair in almost equal measure, plus an air of genuine catharsis."


 Under The Rainbow* - Nov 3*, 1973
Nils Lofgren says as he’s played in England over the past 30 years there’s always at least one person who’ll apologize for “booing and yelling for hits” during that Rainbow concert, telling him:
 “’and now I realize I witnessed one of the greatest artistic nights of my life.’” 
(via ABC Audio)

"Tonight’s the Night may sound like your drunk uncle at a wake, but it’s cathartic, funereal country-rock at its finest, simultaneously agonizing yet gorgeous. “It was a healing, commiserative experience since we were trying to deal with the fact that all our friends and heroes were starting to drop dead,” Lofgren recently told Rolling Stone. "


More on  Neil Young's Official Bootleg Series.

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At 4/13/2023 08:07:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...


High Flyin’ Ducks features 5 Neil Young songs?

So, 3 singers, Neil sings 5?

Or Neil sings all, 5 songs written by him?

Thanks. Have a great day!

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 4/13/2023 08:30:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

Everyone sang in the Ducks, Neil only sang on his tunes, the other guys like Jeff Blackburn sang their own songs.

At 4/13/2023 10:58:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

Don't let the fact that Neil songs only constitute about 25% of the songs deter anyone from enjoying The Ducks. Based on the couple tapes I have, all the songs are pretty enjoyable. Plus, Neil is ripping on Ol' Black the entire time. The Ducks are worth checking out, especially if the sound quality is better, which I'm assuming will be on this release.

At 4/14/2023 01:34:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

Some of the recordings have the ambiance of listening to the band in a very small room, others are recorded in larger venues (Catalyst?). The singers take turns depending on whose song is played. The new guitar player is all over the place with things that were to appear a lot later on other albums. Seemingly the Ducks in their time were a playground to enlarge or widen the scope of guitar work, with nothing to prove, other than with the Echos at OPL, when the other band had to prove themselves that they really still had it in them.

At 4/14/2023 02:22:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

So funny I didn’t think to cue it up on Thanks for info.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 4/14/2023 03:49:00 AM, Blogger Shakeydave said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4/14/2023 08:13:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Right! I haven’t posted much recently: (mostly because if I did, nobody would have any incentive at all to subscribe to my bloody patreon page.)

But I’ve been enjoying following the discussions here, and I have some typically-sprawling notes on the Somewhere Under the Rainbow bootleg series, which I’ll be sharing here shortly (within hours or days).

The Ducks? I haven’t even listened to it yet - and it’s been out for a whole 12 hours!

Hope everybody is well and enjoying 2023. It’s been a weird year for me, so far.

No matter. Music will sort things out.


At 4/14/2023 01:19:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Aside from Neil, 1 singer is not so good, the other is good. It’s fun to hear NY playing guitar on these tracks (from what I have heard so far). It must have been fun for him to take a back seat and get out of his comfort zone. I was hoping for more American Stars n Bars stuff, maybe with LR & EH singing background on Bite the Bullet. I can have my fantasies, right? Anyone know if we have a live version as I describe, coming to us in the future?

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 4/14/2023 02:26:00 PM, Blogger Tomatron said...

High Flyin is nearly two hours long! I did have the opportunity to rock the first half of it before work this morning. My takeaway is that it’s a remarkably consistent album, keeping that good times country rockin’ vibe throughout, which makes it feel like you are there, even though “there” is a handful of different venues. Bob might be the standout vocalist but the songwriting of each member and arrangements of all the tracks really complement one another. “Human Highway” and “Sail Away” may be familiar from very different contexts but they sound right at home in this set. This feels to me like a sunny laidback weekend kind of listen.

At 4/14/2023 03:30:00 PM, Blogger rolandthompsongunner said...

Today is just an embarassment of riches. Two essentially new live albums... a bonus return from Scotz!!

I logged on to comment on High Flyin', but Tomatron basically nailed it. I'm on Silver Wings, the song rocks, and it really is quite consistent as a whole. I really enjoy it. It's a very warm day, and I was looking forward to cranking this album out while I take in the evening in a little bit (much like Tomatron surmised with his sunny laidback comment).

It reminds me a lot of Mudcrutch, when Tom Petty returned to play some of his old mates and they shared duties (with Tom on bass, and Neil here largely playing a bunch of lead guitar). It just puts me in a good frame of mind and mood (and I'm only halfway!)

At 4/15/2023 10:22:00 AM, Blogger ANDREW BYROM said...

Enjoying both releases. NY absolutely ripping on the Ducks Younger Days.

Rodley, UK

At 4/15/2023 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Tomatron said...

Will the digital version of Somewhere Under The Rainbow have the complete concert file released along with the album like most of the previous OBS albums had? I don’t recall there being a gap between the release of these albums last year and the addition of the full show minus edits, but maybe someone recalls more clearly. I did not, in a search of the site, find any separate updates regarding complete concert tracks. Of course they are only available for streaming and download through NYA. I did notice while listening to the amazing 11/5/73 live album that there are a few places where edits occur, and am wondering if the full unedited concert is available from Pete Long’s audience recording they utilized for the official bootleg release.

At 4/15/2023 05:46:00 PM, Blogger Tomatron said...

Man, Blackburn’s on fire on this Ducks album. Big mallard voice, high flyin’ tunes. Wish he and Neil had done more. Bring in those Ducks bonus tracks!

At 4/15/2023 09:24:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

big mallard voice!! They are loud ducks. I remember talking them down.

At 4/16/2023 01:54:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

High Flyin’ : These guys are singing together but not quite hitting the right notes, not harmonizing.

Fun when Neil lets it rip a bit more on Old Black. Tore Down is a great blues song that this singer managed to diminish.

I love hearing NY’s timings in uteri, later showing up on Rust Never Sleeps, improved and acoustic.

Just got Royce Hall finally. I will not be buying High Flyin’. But hey, who needs to, so am on !

Now to check out Under the Rainbow.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 4/16/2023 05:22:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

According to folklore, go to the end of the rainbow, and you’ll find a pot of gold.

The gold is imaginary, of course.

But that’s okay. Because life’s pleasures are all in the mind, anyway — one way or another.

I think that’s a particularly useful “lens” to look through when appreciating (not “enjoying”: that would be the wrong word) an album like Somewhere Under the Rainbow.

If you come looking for showroom sound-quality… you ain’t gonna find it. Disappointment looms. Instead, the best way to approach this album is the same way we should approach all audience-tapes — as a potent tonic (and *stimulant*) for our imaginations.

Look for the “story” in the experience, and it no longer matters that the sound quality is decidedly rustic. In fact, in this particular instance, it may even be a good thing. Because the listener’s imagination has to work that bit harder. It has to actively dig in, get down in the trenches, instead of having the experience served up on a silver platter.

Enjoying an audience recording is not an effortless experience. It requires active *engagement*. And engagement is more important to enjoyment than sound quality.

Listening to this tape, our minds wander away to the Rainbow Theatre in London. It’s a drizzly evening—we imagine—in November 1973. Everything around us is in black-and-white, and our eyes are blurred — it’s as if we’ve mislaid our glasses, or contact lenses. Or perhaps we’ve just had too much to drink… just like the musicians on-stage.

Without being able to see clearly, we instead start to dream. The shackles of reality are tossed aside. We hear the sound of Ralph’s drums bouncing off the mahogany walls (I’m imagining they’re mahogany). Ben Keith’s steel guitar seems to bathe us in tequila at the same time it stabs us in the gut.

Neil Young isn’t quite visible. We can hear him, we can feel his soul communicating with us. But this isn’t a 4k video — It’s a rough-around-the-edges audience tape. And of course, that’s not at all the biting criticism it would read as if not preceded by the previous nine paragraphs.

In an ideal word, of course, perhaps we’d have a recording of this show that combined the best of both worlds: increased clarity *and* license-to-dream atmosphere, simultaneously.

But it’s important to note that it’s impossible to fully go to both extremes at once. Because when a dream becomes crystal-clear, it’s no longer identifiable as a dream at all. And music is all about dreaming.

Somewhere Under the Rainbow will be ignored by some because of its lo-fi sound quality. But being forced to steer clear of extreme clarity (because a better quality tape doesn’t exist) doesn’t do this record as much harm as we might expect. It’s an album that does everything it’s supposed to do, for anybody who cares enough to *lean into* the experience instead of shying away.

The gritty razor’s edge of the performance is sharpened and “pumped up” to danger levels by the overloaded recording. It’s a case of the art being in sync with the medium it’s presented on — causing the medium itself to become part of the art.

(End of part one — part two is below).

At 4/16/2023 05:24:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

(Part two).

How about the music itself? Ask a Neil Young fan what Tonight’s the Night is all about, and maybe he’ll reply “Bruce Berry”. (Bruce is mentioned by name in the first two words of the title track’s lyrics, and his photo is on the back cover of Somewhere Under the Rainbow.)

That’s true, of course. But there’s more to it than that. Tonight’s the Night is about the realisation that “all that glitters is not gold” (Don’t Be Denied) and “Everything is cheaper than it looks”.

And even more than that, it’s about Danny Whitten.

Danny’s death overshadows this entire period — from Tuscaloosa to Times Fades Away, to the Roxy, to a place under the rainbow where the musicians on stage ignite their sorrows in burning liquor.

30 years later, Neil would write Leave the Driving and Carmichael. These songs have always felt like blood relatives of Tonight’s the Night — direct descendants.

What connects them? Drugs, death, mourning, grief, and guilt.

Maybe your opinion parallels mine: many of Neil’s fans need to work a little harder at understanding exactly why Times Fades Away is Neil’s least favourite record. Because once we do that, we can see why the move from arenas to the Roxy was so cathartic, and why Tonight’s the Night is infused with heartwarming sadness whilst Tuscaloosa is merely depressed.

The song at the heart of all this is Don’t Be Denied. Written the day after Danny’s death, the song has an inspiring element to it *and* a tortured element. Why? Because the singer believes he can save others, and maybe even save himself. But he knows it’s too late to save Danny.

(As outsiders with a healthy distance from the subject, we can instantly recognise two things: Neil Young was not personally responsible for Danny Whitten’s death, but must have felt like he was for a long, long time.)

At the Rainbow, Don’t be Denied grabs us by the throat *and* keels over backwards in a pool of tequila — simultaneously. And that description kind of sums this record as a whole. It’s edgier than Roxy… less controlled, less of a laid-back party, and more of an intense exorcising of demons.

The floodgates open, and we pick through the mess.

I’ve always had a soft spot for audience recordings. Because they have character. A well-mixed professional recording will often have more wow-factor, nuance and detail, but only the best (including more than a few of the concerts featured on the NYA timeline) can match them for magic.

I like to hear the room the music was made in — the haunting reverb (though not as artificial-sounding and tunnel-like as on Noise and Flowers).

Most of all, I like music that inspires the listener to become involved.

And Somewhere Under the Rainbow does that, in abundance. Oh, It’s a scary record, for sure — and I’m glad not all of Neil’s record sound like this. But I’m also glad this one does.

And listen to Neil’s voice floating in the air on Human Highway, conjuring a few ghosts along with it, and you may even charitably decide that the quality of this album isn’t just acceptable: it’s actually the definitive document of a complex, captivating period that demands a close look, and a empathetic listen.


At 4/16/2023 12:37:00 PM, Blogger Greying Rider said...

Like many of us, I'd been looking forward to these two entries in the OBS for quite some time now and picked up my vinyl hurriedly (I like the way the Ducks was filed, as it should be, under "D" in my record store and not to be found in the NY section). The sound quality of Somewhere Under The Rainbow was indeed a disappointment to begin with but Scotsman nails it (as always) - this is a proper boot from an audience tape and, as with Citizen Kane Jr Blues, this adds to the charm. So atmospheric. Real. We already have Roxy for reasonable fidelity, so this is the more woozy companion piece to give those of us not fortunate enough to have been able to experience TTN live an authentic taste of what is was really like. Impossible question: There, live, what would I have made of this set, hearing this music for the first time?

It's early days, but on the first listen some delightful variations jumped out here and there, as one would expect of a true live show with these musicians. Pt II of TTN is particularly visceral. I like to think the wonderful picture of Neil screaming on the inside cover is the "out on the MAINLINE" moment. On that note, the vinyl is beautiful. Perfect waterface cover. Bruce on the back and Danny on the inlay. Superb liner notes. And the bonus tracks are much more than I hoped for. I wasn't expecting the solo acoustic section and having Don't Be Denied and an epically ragged Cowgirl are just perfect. As one of these people who avoids set/track lists so I can enjoy the surprise of hearing a concert/album for the first time, this album is particularly refreshing blend of Neil's output to this time.

The Ducks though are the revelation. Not having delved particularly deeply into boots, this was all completely new to me. It's superb from start to finish. Sound quality is significantly better than Rainbow and I just love hearing Old Black all over the place. Classic country rock. So much so, and thinking how much a few of the tracks remind me of the Eagles, is there some pun/dig intended on the Ducks name? Silly birds not taking themselves seriously in small clubs around Santa Cruz compared to the imperious Eagles in their gilded hotel?

Final thought is that I'm getting a lot of Dangerbird (Rust Bucket version) coming through on this glorious version of Little Wing. For me these two birds are of the same feather, soaring together, taking me to a special place.

How privileged we are to be fans of such a fecund artist.

At 4/16/2023 02:08:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Have you ever seen a skein of canvasbacks coming out of the fog? Amazing birds. But I get the point. Neil frequently makes use of Birds. He knows their power.

At 4/16/2023 05:25:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks for all the comments here!

Updates posted including a CotM by Scotsman!

@ Greying Rider - privileged, very privileged we are.

oh the fecundity!


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