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The latest nugget from Neil Young’s vaults of unreleased recordings is a live album of a 1970 residency at a Washington DC club, in the aftermath of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s implosion.
Live at the Cellar Door finds Young in solo mode, alone with guitar and piano playing a set dominated by the recently released After the Gold Rush. The acoustic songs are well performed but non-revelatory; more intriguing are the piano numbers.
Buffalo Springfield’s break-up ballad “Expecting to Fly” finds Young slamming his hands on the keys in a manner that’s at once strident and self-pitying while his first hit as a songwriter, “Flying on the Ground Is Wrong”, is introduced as being a “very old song” about “dope”. A robust hippy voice in the background pipes up: “Yeah!” But the song itself is tender and ornate, more Brill Building than west coast rock.
Live at the Cellar Door