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Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Sep 11th, 2019

Neil Young & The Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa

Neil Young & The Stray Gators
Tuscaloosa
(Silver Bow Productions, Inc)

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Dipping back into his history, as he has been wont to do lately (as plenty of classic artists have been doing now with the ease of online releases) Neil Young presents an 11-song live document from highlights of a concert he played at the University Of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 1971. Played with his band, The Stray Gators, at the time (Ben Keith on pedal steel and vocals, Jack Nitzsche on keyboards, Tim Drummond on bass, and Kenny Buttrey on drums) this was recorded during Young’s releases, the hit Harvest and iconic but scary, Tonight’s the Night.

Opener “Here We Are in the Years,” and then “After The Gold Rush,” features just Neil on guitar and piano respectively, his high reed voice falling just short of hitting the higher notes. “Out on the Weekend,” has the band playing ragtag behind Young, Keith’s steel especially placed behind Neil’s pleading of a normal day.

“Old Man,” is needle-drop perfect, Young’s voice possibly warmed-up by this point as he hits all the high notes. A heavy-handed “Heart of Gold,” follows, with Buttrey’s high snap hits pumping Young’s acoustic along. Things get raggedy electric near the end on “Time Fades Away” and “Lookout Joe,” and really loud, slightly discordant, but desperately perfect on the plodding “New Mama.” Here, Young is off-key with his vocals, but the whole mess works.

“Don’t Be Denied,” not great vocals and really plodding, is too loud and it does meander, it’s kind of a weak way to end what is a pretty good live account of a place in time for Neil Young.

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Neil Young & The Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa