Recorded live at Civic Auditorium, Bakersfield, CA, March 11, 1973 on Neil’s 1973 American Tour.
A1 Sugar Mountain 7:08
A2 Sweet Joni 2:00
A3 Look Out Joe 4:04
A4 Time Fades Away 5:06
A5 Don’t Be Denied 5:16
B1 New Mama 3:19
B2 Last Dance 9:52
B3 Southern Man 7:43
B4 Closing: Let’s Have a Party 0:52
Backing Vocals – David Crosby (tracks: B1 to B4), Graham Nash (tracks: B1 to B4)
Bass – Tim Drummond
Drums – Johnny Barbata*
Piano – Jack Nitzsche
Steel Guitar – Ben Keith
Release date: First half of 1974
This album was bundled later in the year/early 1975 with Phonygraf’s Neil Young & Crazy Horse (1105) on the GLC label as YOUNG ‘n OLD (# 414)
Some background information on this recording:
“It’s not for nothing that Neil Young has so far refused to release on CD Journey Through The Past (’72), Time Fades Away (’73) and On The Beach (’74), all made within months of each other and sharing the same source of guilt, self-doubt and regret. That’s a lot of pain to pour out onto three albums over three years after hitting the ceiling with Harvest and the million selling single, Heart Of Gold, in 1972.
Each of those albums drew long, deep reviews from the leading rock magazines of the time. Everybody wanted to know why Neil Young was bent on alienating his fans.
Those were chaotic days. One day Young was showing off his new hi-fi to Graham Nash while sitting in a small row boat floating in the middle of the lake next to his home. With the wave of his arms, music boomed across the lake from two huge speakers on either side of the lake. By late ’72, while rehearsing for his 1973 solo tour, Young dismissed his guitarist Danny Whitten with a plane ticket and a $50 note. The next night Whitten was dead from $50 worth of raw heroin.
But the show had to go on. Young was booked into large 20,000-seater venues for a 65-date, year-long tour. Journey Through The Past was recently released to mixed reviews. Anticipation was high to see the star of Harvest and Heart Of Gold.
While the later period of this tour has been covered in bootlegs like Sunset Strip and Roxy Night, there has been no complete show until now from the first three months of the tour, when the gravity of Whitten’s death was still fresh in mind. Last Album is a two-CD set that offers the complete Civic Auditorium show in Bakersfield on March 11, 1973.
It starkly captures Young’s mood at the time. Nostalgic and pained. He opens with the innocence of Sugar Mountain and Tell Me Why and a new song, Sweet Joni, about Joni Mitchell, capturing the folk flavour of Buffalo Springfield. Sweet Joni remains unreleased.
The popular Old Man and Heart Of Gold receive loud cheers. The new songs Look Out Joe, about a Vietnam veteran returning home, and Don’t Be Denied, his strongest autobiographical song about finding himself, pushes the show into the lonely places of Time Fades Away, New Mama and Last Dance, all unfamiliar new songs you wouldn’t play on your first solo tour in large halls.
These early shows were reportedly erratic. Drugs, booze and money had opened a gulf between Young and his band. While The Straygators had Tim Drummond, Kenny Buttrey, Jack Nitzsche and the sad/tragic pedal steel of Ben Keith, they seldom matched the power they had in the studio. On the longer numbers like Cinnamon Girl, Young plays one way while the band strays on another path.
And without Whitten to offer backup and vocal support, Young sounds out of tune at times and hoarse. By the time the tour reached Bakersfield, Crosby and Nash were invited by a sullen Young to offer support and they come on for six songs here including Alabama, Southern Man, Cinnamon Girl and Are You Ready For The Country, all of them angry and in no need of the soothing harmonies of Crosby and Nash. This was rock star excess in self-destruct mode. It is this strain that lends the bootleg its title, Last Album.
When Young was asked in 1975 what he was up to with this tour, he said he felt something was dying when he’d achieved his hit record. “I realised I had a long way to go and this wasn’t going to be the most satisfying thing, just sitting around basking in the glory of having a hit record. It’s really a very shallow experience. It’s actually a very empty experience. It’s nothing concrete except ego-gratification, which is an extremely unnerving kind of feeling.”
He would spend two years searching for inner satisfaction to balance the material wealth he was earning. One day when Young feels like releasing those three albums, don’t even hesitate. Buy them.
Last Album is a document of painful honesty that will likely never be repeated.
There are 11 songs on Disc Two which are taken from other shows in New York and Florida in January and February. They are the seldom performed Dance Dance Dance, LA, Borrowed Tune and Yonder Stands The Sinner (wrongly titled Lonely Weekend). These are all mono audience recordings with a good live ambience. Sound is very good. – Michael Cheah
Note: Tonight’s The Night was recorded right after the ’73 tour in early ’74. Many of the songs from that album were previewed on this tour. The album was released in mid-1975. It is the only album from this dark period that is on CD.
The above review was written before the reissue of On The Beach in 2003. Since the release of Last Album, many Neil Young shows from 1973 have also surfaced among collectors.”
Location: Bakersfield, CA
Venue: Civic Auditorium
Taping Gear: unknown mics>Sony TC-126
Taped By: D & D
D & D Archives Master Series Volume 22
02. Sugar Mountain
03. Tell Me Why
04. Sweet Joni
05. Old Man
06. Band Introductions
07. Heart Of Gold
08. The Loner
09. Lookout Joe
10. Time Fades Away
11. Don’t Be Denied
14. New Mama*
15. Last Dance*
16. Southern Man*
17. Cinnamon Girl*
18. Are You Ready For The Country?*
* with David Crosby & Graham Nash
JEMS is proud to be able to partner with and present some of the choice recordings in the D & D archives. Some of these recordings have been around for years but none of the master tapes or safety copies in some cases have ever been digitized until now. Dave and Donn taped many shows in and around the Seattle area in the 70’s and also were contemporaries of some of the JEMS members. Volume 22 captures Neil Young taped by Donn on a field trip down from the Pacific Northwest to California. This is an absolutely spectacular recording that has circulated for ages but most likely no copies have ever circulated from an analog source this close to the master prior.”
“Neil Young’s March 11th, 1973 date in Bakersfield, California is one of the best sounding recordings of this difficult time in his career. […] Sound quality of this tape is one of the best from the era for Neil Young. It is from right in front of the stage and captures the complete concert in stereo. It first surfaced in the seventies on the vinyl release Last Album.
The show starts off with a long version of “Sugar Mountain.” Young’s voice is very rough, lending a hostile quality to much of the material. He stops the song in the middle and says to the crowd, “let’s do that chorus again so I can hear what Bakersfield sounds like” and even stops playing guitar.
“sorry we had to cancel, hope we didn’t inconvenience you too much” “my closest friends have never heard this song” before “Sweet Joni.” This is the first of only two performances of the song. It is a slow piano ballad with a simple harmonica at the end. The lyrics, giving a slice-of-life glimpse into the life of Joni Mitchell, are oblique and laughable. It would be preformed in the next show two nights later in Denver then disappear forever. And since no tape of that show exists, this is the only recording in circulation of “Sweet Joni.”
The rest of the band comes out for “Old Man.” There is some sort of ruckus onstage. The tapers mention something about Young’s mother and Neil can be heard yelling, “I got a concert going on here, man” to someone off-mic.
“Lookout Joe” is dedicated to “all the soldiers coming home from war.” Two new songs follow, both recorded on this tour for the next album Time Fades Away. “Don’t Be Denied,” due to Young’s hoarse voice, sounds much more raw and intimidating than the performance in Phoenix used for the LP.
The mood lightens when David Crosby and Graham Nash come onstage, joining for heavy renditions of “Alabama” and “New Mama.” But afterwards there is a delay because of the equipment, and a considerable about of time is spent tuning up. Crosby plays the opening notes to The Byrds’ arrangement of “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Young jokes that “Last Dance” is for “all the wallflowers.”
The new song is long and obviously challenging to the musicians onstage, and Crosby jokes “take pity and do a song I know the chords to for once” before “Southern Man.” There is another delay and Nash tells the audience that “it’s a three hour tour – don’t sweat it” while they tune up again and asks if the restaurant they went to is the same one Merle Haggard uses.
Then Young introduces “Cinnamon Girl,” speaking about the girl he saw and chased when he was eighteen, chasing her even after being married. When they come for the encore there is a short jam before “Are You Ready For The Country?” [Source: collectorsmusicreviews.com]