Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Live at the Fillmore East 1970 | Reprise
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  December 11, 2006
3.5 3.5 Stars
Neil Young was starting his transition from pop melodist to free-ranging noisemaker when he played these songs at New York City’s most famous rock hall on a bill with the Steve Miller Band and Miles Davis. Now they’re among the few non-bootleg recordings of Young and the original Crazy Horse — and the first of a series of live releases that will visit Young’s back pages. After nice, clean-cut renditions of “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” and the ballad “Winterlong,” Young and Horse guitarist Danny Whitten start six-string sumo wrestling. Twelve minutes later they end a tai-chi-speed psychedelic barrage of stabbing phrases, mini-melodies, and feedback. Two years later, Whitten would die of an overdose, but he and Young sound entirely alive on a restless version of “Cowgirl in the Sand” — a dash to the outer limits of their playing. Young’s first solo is probing, full of notes that seem to raise unanswerable questions about love and life. Whitten, whose tone is smoother than Young’s heavy-gauge sandpaper, lays down jazzy chords to pave the way back to the verse. And when Young is done singing, he and Whitten spill their instruments’ guts for another nine beautiful minutes. This is music that helped put the “classic” in classic rock.
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