Thursday, December 21, 2023

Album Review: Neil Young - Odeon Budokan

Neil Young 
Odeon Budokan
***and1/2 out of *****

Mid 70's Neil Young was incredibly prolific, following his notoriously finicky muse anywhere it directed him.  After his Ditch Trilogy, Young reunited with a revamped Crazy Horse as Frank "Poncho" Sampedro took over the second guitar slot, and the band released the fantastic Zuma. The tour supporting that album took them across the globe, and this vinyl Record Store Day release captures the opening solo acoustic set at the Hammersmith Odeon on March 31st, 1976 and the second side features the closing full band electric sets at the Nippon Budokan Hall on March 10th and 11th, 1976.

Originally slated to be released in 1976, like many of Neil's albums it was shelved and the first time this show was official heard was in the large Archives Volume II Box Set,. Now, having been pulled out for a special vinyl release, it can be showcased individually. Both Young and the Horse are on top of their game here.

The opening acoustic outing finds Young in a playful mood, even telling the crowd they need to elect a spokesperson for requests. On the opener, "The Old Laughing Lady", Young sings additional lyrics, titled "Guilty Train" before the pristine solo version of "After The Gold Rush". Mixing hits like that and "Old Man" with lesser known acoustic numbers like "Too Far Gone" and "Stringman" really speak to Neil's range and his ability to show the crowd his individual talents. 

The second side finds the electricity crackling as Crazy Horse amps the wattage. A solid stomping version of "Don't Cry No Tears" kicks off the set that features a strong "Cowgirl In The Sand" a rare "Drive Back" and the album highlight, a meaty delivery of "Cortez The Killer". This first outing of a revamped Horse holds it's own. Even better is Sampedro's retelling of playing this show which is worth posting here:
"Billy and I both dropped acid because that night, after the show, we were flying to Copenhagen. We didn’t want to carry any drugs with us and I had these two tabs of acid. We each took one. It was so funny...everything was starting to get crazy. Psychedelic patterns and shit flying around. I didn’t talk to anybody all night on-stage. I kept my eyes closed most of the time. Only a couple of times I opened them. The first time was horrific. I hit my guitar strings and I saw them bounce off the floor and up to the ceiling in rainbow colors. I was just like, 'Oh, shit.' I kept feeling them on my arm! The vibrations coming off the strings "We did 'Cowgirl in the Sand' and Billy and Ralph went up to sing the backgrounds. I opened my eyes and saw big mandalas comin' out of the back of both their heads, all these colors and shit. I couldn't even look up, I was so high. I'd hit the strings of my guitar: they were like eighty different colors, and they bounced off the floors and hit the ceiling. At the end of the second song Neil came runnin' over, stuck his head between me and Billy and goes, 'Man, we're psychedelic tonight!' I just looked at Billy, thinkin', 'He told him, he told him.' The whole rest of the night I don’t even think we made a mistake. It was unbelievable."
While the record doesn't reach true psychedelia heights that Poncho experienced on stage, it is still a strong capturing of this mid-career Neil Young and Crazy Horse lineup and a solid edition to Young's already impressive official live albums

Support the artist, buy the vinyl and peep some video below:

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