Album review: Neil Young

Neil Young - Songs For Judy (Shakey Pictures Records/Reprise Records)

Neil Young in concert in 1976.

Neil Young in concert in 1976.

WHILE NEIL Young has long been one of the great champions of heavy and distorted guitar, often his finest performances have resulted from playing the acoustic form of that instrument.

Young's archival series, from which he has been releasing regularly for more than a decade now, is a strong argument in favour of this proposition, particularly such outstanding live albums as Sugar Mountain and Live at Massey Hall, which find Young with only his guitar (and, on the latter, piano ) delivering landmark concerts. Last year's Hitchhiker was another highlight along similar lines, albeit on that occasion, recorded in the studio.

Songs For Judy is also in this mould. The album, released last week on vinyl, features 22 tracks from Young's November 1976 US tour, with the majority coming from the shows in Atlanta (November 24 ), New York (November 20 ), and Boston (November 22 ).

Half the tracks are crowd pleasing favourites - 'After The Gold Rush', 'Mr Soul', 'Tell Me Why' - and while always great to hear again, the key reason for Shakey fans to investigate this is the remaining 11. Hearing a song stripped down to just the bare bones of voice and guitar is always fascinating, and in the hands of someone like Young, often thrilling, especially as many of these songs are in very early incarnations or are presented in forms they would not be officially recorded in, such as 'Pocahontas', not formally released until 1979; 'White Line' (1990 ), and 'Give Me Strength' (2017 ), while this is the first time 'No One Seems To Know' has been released in any form.

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