Review : Neil Young - Sugar Mountain: Live At Canterbury House 1968
UncutOn May 5, 1968, in Long Beach, California, Neil Young played his final show with Buffalo Springfield, a band he’d already left and re-joined at least twice. “I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do next,” he told me in 1989. This seemed unlikely. For someone with only a vague notion of what he was going to do, he moved decisively, quickly hiring Elliot Roberts as his manager. Roberts - on his way to becoming one of the most powerful people in the American music business - had worked briefly with the Springfield earlier in their last disputatious year together, before being sacked by Neil for playing golf when he should have been attending to the group’s multiple whims. Roberts now signed his new client to Reprise, where apart from a short and unhappy liaison with Geffen Records, Young would remain for the rest of his career. That summer, Neil started work on his first solo album.
The next step was to get Young in front of an audience, to test their reactions. In November, with the release of his debut solo album, Neil Young, now looming, two shows were booked, at Canterbury House, part of the University Of Michigan. The gigs were recorded on two-track tape, and exactly 40 years later finally see the light of the proverbial day as Sugar Mountain....full text
AllmusicSugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968 the third installment from Neil Young's Archives — although through some weird filing system this is Vol. 00, possibly because this dates before either of the previously released volumes in Archives Performance Series — culls highlights from Neil Young's two shows at Canterbury House in Ann Arbor, MI on November 9 and 10, 1968. Like its two predecessors in the Archives series, the concerts captured on Sugar Mountain are legendary among Neil Young collectors, in this case because of the gentle, tentative version of the title track that showed up on Decade — prior to this, the only official release from the concert. At first glance, Sugar Mountain might seem similar to Live at Massey Hall 1971, as they're both solo acoustic sets, but the tenor of the two shows is quite different. Massey Hall captured Neil in full flight, just before the release of Harvest, whereas the concerts on Sugar Mountain were just a month or two shy of the release of his first solo album. He had hits with Buffalo Springfield — much of the set list leans heavily on Springfield songs, such as "Mr. Soul," "Expecting to Fly," "Birds," "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing," and "Broken Arrow" — but he had yet to prove himself as a solo artist, so the endearing tentative quality of his performances shouldn't come as a surprise, and yet it does: Young's reputation as a steely renegade often suggests that he never second-guesses his moves. Neil doesn't second-guess here but he is fragile and human, telling stories (sometimes at considerable length) before sliding into these delicate songs, wryly lamenting that he should have some happy songs to sing before testing out the melody for "Winterlong," stopping short because the song isn't quite written yet. It's a marvelously intimate performance, unguarded and open-hearted, unique in its delicate touch: it's Neil Young before the myth crystallized, and listening to it anew, it's easy to fall in love with him all over again....full text
PrefixmagThe question of necessity arises when discussing Neil Young’s solo acoustic Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968, the third release in his long-anticipated Archives series -- especially because Young already put out a solo acoustic concert, Live at Massey Hall 1971, just over a year ago. That question is rendered moot, however, as soon as the songs begin to roll: The Neil Young featured here is not the same man whose eccentric genius dominates Live at Massey Hall.
On that album, Young was on the other side of having released 1970’s After the Gold Rush and was on the cusp of delivering 1972’s Harvest; he was already solidifying into the rock legend we now know him as. On Sugar Mountain, however, Young’s band Buffalo Springfield had collapsed just six months earlier, his solo debut was untested and unreleased to the public, and, reportedly, he was so terrified to perform alone that he had to be coaxed from a mound of huddled blankets on his hotel room bed and driven to the unexpectedly sold-out crowd at the Canterbury House. Sugar Mountain is the sound of man just discovering his potential as a solo artist and a songwriter, and realizing how shattering that potential could be....full text
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