Neil Young

Trail of the Buffalo

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Why is this bootleg of 1967-1974 live material credited to Neil Young, when in fact (according to the track listings) 11 of the 17 songs were recorded at Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young shows, and five of them at Buffalo Springfield gigs? There's a good reason, actually. Most of the CSNY cuts are in fact Young solo, presumably in the interludes when individual members got to do unplugged unaccompanied spots, and the CSNY material with a full band presents Young compositions featuring him as lead singer. This is an interesting set of odds and ends, but anyone who isn't a major Young-head should be warned about the very up-and-down fidelity, which only occasionally even approaches the standard of an official release. If you can bear with that, there are some very cool items here: solo acoustic versions of "Mr. Soul," "Broken Arrow," and "Country Girl," for instance, all from 1969, as well as early solo tunes like "Birds" and "I've Loved Her So Long," and a full CSNY performance of the obscure "Sea of Madness." The version of "Country Girl" sounds virtually good enough to include on an official release yet, at the bottom of the well, the Crazy Horse-backed 1970 "Oh Lonesome Me" boasts joylessly murky sound, and the rest of the tracks hit almost all the posts between those extremes in fidelity (though the performances are good). The Buffalo Springfield cuts, all from 1967, are of considerable historical interest since so little live material of the band exists (even on bootleg), and the five songs here aren't easily found elsewhere. Nonetheless, the mix is poor and the vocals often faint on the band's otherwise cool passes through "Go and Say Goodbye," "Mr. Soul," and "Bluebird," and the two January 1967 tracks (including the tedious guitar jam "Raga III") take a further dive in clarity.