Neil Young & The Stray Gators – Last Album Forum (no label)

Last Album Forum (no label)

The Forum, Inglewood, CA – March 25th, 1973

Disc 1 (51:50):  Sugar Mountain, Tell Me Why, Old Man, Heart Of Gold, LA, The Loner, Time Fades Away, Don’t Be Denied, Lookout Joe

Disc 2 (50:10):  Alabama, Last Dance, New Mama, Yonder Stands The Sinner, Southern Man, Are You Ready For The Country?, Cinnamon Girl

What makes classic rock endure and makes it still appealing is the range of emotion and honesty expressed.  Catchy tunes and transient sentiments are what fuel the hit parade, but true art in the rock medium comes from revelation and self-expression which the audience can grasp on some level. 

Last Album Forum documents the show in Los Angeles two weeks after the famous Bakersfield show documented on the vinyl Last Album bootleg.  The sound quality is very good but slightly muffled. It is complete except “Are You Ready For The Country?” cuts out after three minutes.

Mellow acoustic solo numbers start off the show.  In “Sugar Mountain” Young tries several times to get the audience to sing along to some degree of success.  “Tell Me Why” follows and the ending of the song peters out into a stuttering Young explaining that he wanted to do a segueway “but the feedback prevented that.”

The Stray Gators come onstage to help out with “Old Man” and “Heart Of Gold.”  Young again plays solo when he attempts the new song “LA.”  When there is a delay before the song starts Young tells the audience to “shut up so I can play the song without bugging you.  I guess I don’t mind if you yell all between the songs you know that’s sort of like a scratch on a record….I really would like to connect, you know??”

“Don’t Be Denied” is introduced as “about a Canadian folk singer I once knew at one time,” a strange way to refer to his youth.  The first half of the show ends with “Look Out Joe,” which is dedicated to all of the soldiers coming home from Vietnam.

At this point Young introduces David Crosby and Graham Nash who join the band for the rest of the show and inject their own style and harmony into the arrangements.  They’re also very chatty and lighten the mood considerably.  After “Alabama,” Crosby rattles on about the Forum saying:  “Welcome to the world’s biggest hatbox.  Actually we think it looks more like a wedding cake.  Graham decided he was going to put two guys…I mean a girl and a guy on top with wedding clothes, you know?  With  a top hat … black suit … wedding dress … giant.  Two or three feet high.”

“Yonder Stands The Sinner” is called “bible rock” and Young is trying to join the spirited stage presence of his guests, telling the audience:  “It’s good to be here in LA, it really is.  I’ll tell you … we’ve been playing pretty good on this tour.  Some nights … we played some average nights.  Our music is like everything else it goes up and down.  We’ve played some really good nights and we’ve played some bad ones.  … We played one tune or a couple of tunes better tonight here than to my ears than there, so make some noise!”

The Bible belter is the final new song in the set, something which Nash laments.  He tells the audience that:  “It’s fun for us to do new songs.  It’s fun for you if we do old songs but fun for us to do new songs.”  The band behind him play the opening of The Byrds’ arrangement of “Mr. Tambourine Man.”  “That’s bullshit.”  “You’re pushing too hard” Young interjects.

They continue with “Southern Man,” sounding very sloppy on the harmonies and ends the show.  “Are You Ready For The Country?” is the first encore and a very long and improvisational version of “Cinnamon Girl” closes the night.   

Last Album Forum is the first silver pressing of the Los Angeles show.  Given the title, it is obviously considered to be a sequel or companion of sorts to the Bakersfield show two weeks before released on Zeus.  The sound quality is comparable and the performance is simply outstanding.  All Neil Young collectors have to have this title in their collection. 

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