Classic Rock

Neil Young

Songs For Judy


Acoustic and electric hits, before they became hits. Known to fans informally as the Bernstein Tapes, this 23-strong collection of live acoustic songs (curated by filmmaker Cameron Crowe) is drawn from Neil Young’s November 1976 US tour, taped by photograph­er Joel Bernstein. At the time, Young was playing two sets a night: one solo, relaxed and personal, the other full-on electrifyi­ng with his band Crazy Horse.

The mid-70 saw Young at his most prolific – many of the songs here were not released until years later (and one, the gentle love song No One Seems To Know, only now sees the light of day). It is near-impossible not to give any collection from this fabled period anything less than full marks, such is Young’s surety and vulnerabil­ity and command of the form.

All the staples are here – Heart Of Gold, Mr. Soul, After The Gold Rush, Pocahontas, The Needle And The Damage Done – alongside lesser-known gems such as the political Campaigner (released as the album’s first single). There are loads of A-sides and travelogue­s and intimate stories, indicating Young’s ease with his surroundin­gs. As

Crowe writes: “The shows were reckless and beautiful. The acoustic portion of the evening morphed nightly, often fuelled by a smoke or two just behind the curtain. After a break, Neil and Crazy Horse would return for a barn-burner of an electric set designed to level the place. They succeeded nightly.”

The collection is named for actress/singer Judy Garland – Young tells a barely believable story of meeting her at the beginning of album. It’ s an essential addition to any Young fan’s library.

everett True

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