Best Chaw? (Tarantura TCDNY-4-1, 2)
Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – March 6th, 1976
Side Neil Young/Acoustic Set: Opening, Tell Me Why, Mellow My Mind, After The Goldrush, Too Far Gone, Let It Shine, A Man Needs A Maid, No One Seems To Know, Heart Of Gold
Side Crazy Horse/Electric Set: Intermission, Country Home, Don’t Cry No Tears, Down By The River, Band Introduction, Lotta Love, Like A Hurricane, The Losing End, Drive Back, Southern Man (tape damaged in 03:58 ~04: 00 and 04:07 ~04:09), Cinnamon Girl
Best Chaw? is another release of a brand new Neil Young 1976 Japan tape. The last of three nights at the Festival Hall in Osaka has one older tape source which was released before on 76 Part 2 (Vague Records 066/067/068) with the March 8th Fukuoka tape. The paucity of past releases makes this one of the most rare Neil Young show and the excellent sound quality makes this the definitive version.
The only flaws on the tape, and duly noted by the label on the track listing on the back, are two instances of tape damage in the encore “Cinnamon Girl,” between 3:58 ~4:00 and 04:07 ~04:09. Other than that, this is another impressive sounding Young tape which is as good if not better than the previous two released by Tarantura. The volume is boosted very high producing a very clean, immediate, and intense listening experience.
The first disc contains the complete solo acoustic set beginning with a fifty-two minute introduction, recording the audience clapping at Young’s appearance on stage and getting ready for the first song “Tell Me Why.” “It’s nice to be here” is his short introduction to “Mellow My Mind.”
When he finishes “After The Goldrush” he says, “I’d like to play a new song now…I keep hearing that music. Do you hear it? That recorded music? Turn it up! I sometimes forget that you might not understand English too well. I don’t feel any barrier. I’d like an A harmonica. Here’s a new song for you.”
After “Too Far Gone” he plays the yet to be released “Let It Shine.” This is the very first time Young plays this song live and would be released later in the year on Long May You Run. The audience responds favorable to one of the very few overtly religious songs in Young’s oeuvre.
After the surprise new song, the acoustic set returns to normal with the dramatic “song from Harvest,” “A Man Needs A Maid.” The piano interludes between the verses are simplified in this performance with the omission of the grace notes in the melody. Perhaps he is trying to lighten the tune a little? The song’s sequel, the still unreleased “No One Seems To Know,” follows.
Before the final acoustic song “Heart Of Gold” Young doesn’t mention anything about a “wet show” as in the other shows but rather simply says, “This has been a pleasant experience in Osaka…and hope to come back another time.” The acoustic sets for the Japanese shows were, with the exception of this show, very rigid but would be almost completely revamped by the end of the year.
The second disc begins with a thirty second snippet of the intermission before the normal opener “Country Home” which contains an odd guitar solo at the end. There is a small cut in the tape afterwards as the band tune their instruments before playing a rocking version of “Don’t Cry No Tears.”
The closing “Southern Man” is one of the best versions of this song caught on tape with very dramatic solos. The only encore played this night is “Cinnamon Girl” with no indication that “Cortez The Killer” was played at all. Many tapes made in the seventies at the Festival Hall in Osaka have been borderline good, but these Neil Young tapes are all the more impressive being produced in an acoustically challenged hall.
Best Chaw? is limited to one hundred un-numbered copies and is packaged in a gatefold cardboard sleeve with the intense close up of Neil on the front cover.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)