in Review

Give Me Some Sugar

Neil Young – Sugar Mountain – Live At Canterbury House 1968

Due to the ongoing winter storm around here, Cat Fancy hasn’t really had a lot of time for posts, but I thought I’d whip something up right here. So while I was Christmas shopping last friday Paul and I decided to do some shopping at Silver Platters. As I was buying gifts and what not I noticed a pile of free posters laid out (as Silver Platters usually does) and my attention was drawn to a poster of none other than Neil Young. It was for a live album that Neil apparently recorded live in 1968 and just recently released. Since I’d decided to take the free poster I figured I might as well check out the album, if I’m going to hang this on my wall. So I browsed the interweb, gave it a listen and found it to be a pleasant addition to this winter season.

Live at Canterbury is an intimate collection of Neil Young’s live, solo acoustic performances at the Canterbury House in Ann Arbor, Michigan from November 9-10 in 1968. A laid back experience, Neil grasps you with nothing more than the sound of his gentle voice and lush country flavored acoustic guitar. The set is for the most part a random collection of Neil’s early songs and his own personal musings. A few of these songs would end up on Neil’s first album such as; “The Loner” and “I’ve Been Waiting For You” while others are Buffalo Springfield numbers. The title track “Sugar Mountain” is actually a song that Neil wrote when he was 19 about his youth in Winnipeg, Manitoba and before this was only available on Neil’s 1978 live album Live Rust. Though some of these may not be all the great hits we know when we think of Neil, he still manages to make this material shine with his delicate approach.

Despite that there are about 23 tracks here, there’s probably just as many tracks of Neil speaking to the audience as there is of him playing songs. Sometimes live albums with that kind of organization kind of slow me down and make me lose interest, but Neil is a little different. He’s not going on about the philosophical aspects of song-writing or using this venue as an opportunity to showcase his beliefs about this and that or whatever. He just reminisces about certain songs and snippets of things from his past and today. He talks about his 1934 Bentley, being out of tune live, when he was fired from a bookstore, and a few introductions to some of the material he plays. It’s all just very casual and sometimes somewhat relatable. I think it helps with his connecting with the audience and gives this whole album a likable kind of personality to tag along with these often bittersweet acoustic numbers.

In the way of live albums it’s not one of the most thrilling but it’s definitely relaxing. The set isn’t the most desirable Young set, but as he continually says on the album, he’s just making this up as he goes along. Neil’s all about being spontaneous, and this unpredictable album is perfect representation of what the acoustic side of Neil Young is all about.

Favorite Tracks: “On The Way Home”, “Mr. Soul”, “Sugar Mountain”


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