Neil Young Unplugged (Live)
Q: Included in Q's list of 'The 50 Best Albums Of 1993' - "...a spellbinding hour's music...."
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- Released: June 8, 1993
- Originally Released: 1993
- Label: Reprise / WEA
Rolling Stone - 8/19/93, p.763 Stars - Good - "...Young flashes both sides of his musical personality: the earnest folkie and the edgy heretic....the music has the relaxed aura of a friendly folkside folk sing..."
Entertainment Weekly - 6/18/93, p.57"...while many of these songs sound like earlier versions, there are thrilling exceptions: 'Helpless' takes on a gospel longing, and 'Mr. Soul' becomes a despondent dirge..." - Rating: B
Q - 1/94, p.83Included in Q's list of 'The 50 Best Albums Of 1993' - "...a spellbinding hour's music...."
Q - 7/93, p.985 Stars - Indispensible - "...Just when Unplugged ought to be running out of steam, Neil Young has taken the measure of its possibilities, picked exactly the right balance of material and put one over on everybody who's been there before, including Clapton and Springsteen..."
Q - 8/93, p.1314 Stars - Excellent - "...[a] willingness to re-mold songs by means of unusual instrumentation...marks out this show as probably the best in MTV's UNPLUGGED series..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 11/01, p.151"...Young confidently recasts 'Transformer Man', 'Like a Hurricane' and other classics. The nearest thing to a career-spanning retrospective, and probably the best place for a novice to start."
NME (Magazine) - 12/25/93, p.67Ranked #26 in New Musical Express' list of 'The Top 50 LPs Of 1993' - "...old faves and obscurities from as far back as '69, made quietly reflective with guitar, harmonium and Neil's prarie dog howl. A negative image of the stormy ARC WELD...."
- 1.The Old Laughing Lady
- 2.Mr. Soul
- 3.World On A String
- 6.Like A Hurricane
- 7.The Needle And The Damage Done
- 9.Harvest Moon
- 10.Transformer Man
- 11.Unknown Legend
- 12.Look Out For My Love
- 13.Long May You Run
- 14.From Hank To Hendrix
Personnel: Neil Young (vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano, pump organ); Nils Lofgren (vocals, guitar); Nicolette Larson, Astrid Young (vocals); Ben Keith (dobro); Spooner Oldham (piano, pump organ); Tim Drummond (bass, guitar); Oscar Butterworth (drums); Larry Cragg (broom).
Engineers: David Briggs, John Hanlon, John Nowland, John Hausmann.
Recorded at Universal Studios, Los Angeles, California on February 7, 1993.
Personnel: Neil Young (vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano, organ); Nils Lofgren (vocals, guitar, autoharp, accordion); Astrid Young, Nicolette Larson (vocals); Ben Keith (dobro); Spooner Oldham (piano, organ); Tim Drummond (bass guitar); Oscar Butterworth (drums); Larry Cragg (percussion).
Recording information: Universal Studios, Los Angeles, CA (02/07/1993).
Unknown Contributor Roles: Larry Cragg; Nicolette Larson.
Taped on February 7, 1993, and first broadcast on MTV on March 10, Neil Young's Unplugged appearance was released as a home video to coincide with the release of an audio CD version. This 73-minute tape ran seven minutes longer than the album, the extra time consisting of applause, guitar tuning, and a few scattered asides ("Aw, it's nothin', really," Young said, for example, after an audience member called out, "Thank you, Neil"). Young was anything but videogenic in his leather jacket, Harley Davidson T-shirt, jeans, and boots, sitting hunched over his guitar, often scowling as he turned his face, hooded with unruly, grey-flecked hair and partially covered by a week-old stubble, to the microphone. Yet his casual appearance and introspective demeanor served to focus attention on his music. And a 14-song set that on record seemed a random selection from across his career made more sense on video, as Young began with a series of early songs, accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica, then moving to keyboards and gradually bringing other musicians on-stage to augment the sound. The songs were wistful, midtempo reflections on stardom, love, and the passage of time. Some were familiar, including "Mr. Soul" and "Like a Hurricane," and were given new treatments; others were obscure or even previously unrecorded ("Stringman"). But all were melodic and inviting, especially the selections from Harvest Moon, including the title tune, which featured a broom as a percussion instrument. Unplugged was a low-key Neil Young performance that emphasized the consistency of his work over time and the repetition of certain lyrical themes and musical tendencies. If it avoided some of his best-known folk and country material, it did contain a few crowd-pleasers, and it brought up several forgotten tunes for reconsideration. ~ William Ruhlmann
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