Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972); Live at the Fillmore East; Live at Massey Hall Archives Performance Series 200 gram vinyl

With the most recently announced release date of February 24th coming and going, Neil Young's fans are going to have to continue to wait for the first installment in his highly anticipated Archives series. The continued delays have not, however, quelled speculation about what format or formats the archives will eventually end up on.

Ten-disc Blu-Ray high-def and standard DVD boxsets have already been announced, spanning Young's early career from 1963-1972. Speculation has been rampant, however, whether the set will also be released on compact disc or vinyl. This latest speculation regarding a vinyl release gained momentum after it was rumoured that each part of the ten-disc set would also be available separately. That, combined with the fact that two of the three installments of the Archives Performance Series that have been released thus far, Live at the Fillmore East and Live at Massey Hall , have also been released on 200 gram vinyl, only added fuel to the fire. Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House, is also expected to get a vinyl release.

Cd only edition

For those who haven't picked up the 200 gram vinyl versions of the first two installments of the Archives Performance Series, Live at The Fillmore East and Live at Massey Hall, they are both well worth it.

Live at The Fillmore East, contains highlights of a 1970 show with Young's backing band, Crazy Horse and although the overall running time is fairly short, the live versions of Down by the River and Cowgirl in the Sand alone justify the price of admission. Mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, the sonics are generally excellent, especially for a live recording. Compared to the cd/dvd release, the vinyl captures the ever-present crunchy guitars with a bit more grit and realism.


While the Fillmore release is excellent, Live at Massey Hall is simply superb in every way. Recorded at Massey Hall Auditorium in Toronto in 1971, between After the Gold Rush and Harvest, this intimate recording brings the listener to Massey Hall and places him in one of the first few rows. This is indeed a very special perforance; in particular, Young delivers songs such as Old Man and The Needle and the Damage Done, that had yet to appear on Harvest, with a sensitivity and vulnerability that would not reappear.

The sonics on Massey Hall are worthy of the superb performance. Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering captures all of the detail of this intimate performance. While the CD/DVD sounds very good, the two discs of 200 gram vinyl reveal layers of Young's voice that can't be heard on the digital releases.

I give this vinyl release my highest recommendation for both performance and sound quality. Do not miss this.


NY fan said...

I have "Live At Massey Hall" in the CD/DVD package, and it's just about the best live recording ever, in just about every way. The sound, the performance, everything. "Live At the Fillmore East" is one I don't have yet, though. I do hope to buy both of these on vinyl someday. I'll probably get "Live At the Fillmore East" on CD/DVD first, 'cause I really can't listen to vinyl right now; I have no working turntable! Good review, anyways.

Anonymous said...

All the clapping on Massey Hall is very distracting. They should have cut all the audience out. I think Nirvana's live (can't remember the exact title) acoustic show like Massey Hall is hard to listen to with all the clapping.

Anonymous said...

Massey Hall is really amazing, I agree with Anonymous said ... clapping is distracting. In one instance I think Journey thru Past, Young sing Canada and the audience clap because they get excited to hear the word "Canada" ...

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