Neil Young – G P K (Watch Tower WT02005142/43)

G P K (Watch Tower WT02005142/43)

Kyudenkinen Taikukan, Fukuoka, Japan – March 8th, 1976

Disc 1:  Tell Me Why, Mellow My Mind, After The Goldrush, Too Far Gone, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, A Man Needs A Maid, No One Seems To Know, Heart Of Gold

Disc 2:  Country Home, Don’t Cry No Tears, Down By The River, Lotta Love, Like A Hurricane, The Losing End, Drive Back, Southern Man, Cortez The Killer, Cinnamon Girl

On GPK the Watchtower gives us a brand new, excellent sounding but frustratingly incomplete stereo audience recording for Neil Young’s first ever show in Fukuoka, Japan.  It sounds like the taper was sitting very close to the stage and, according to the label, used two mics to pick up all of the dynamics of the performance.  There is some very slight audience conversations by the taper, but are very low down in the mix and are respectful (unlike the rest of the audience who are very vocal throughout the show). 

But the recording is as good as a DAT recording almost a decade before that format became popular marred only by slight tape hiss during the acoustic section.  This tape source ends after “Southern Man”.  Watchtower thankfully edited the older tape source for the final two songs.  The second source is several drops below the first although still listenable. 

The edit is very smooth and professional.

Young’s set list follows the usual pattern of his tour of Japan.  “Only Love” is the only infrequently played song, appearing only five times on his tour of the UK, Europe and Japan.  This is a wonderfully relaxed and playful set given to a very receptive audience.  

“This so far is our favorite city.  The sun was shining brightly this morning, a very beautiful place” Neil says after the opening song “Tell Me Why”.  He responds to some very vocal audience members by sarcastically saying, “you’re very quiet people” before introducing “Only Love” the same was as in Osaka (“Politics can break your body, but only love can break your heart”). 

Before the end of the acoustic set he gives a very strange dedication, saying  “I’d like to do this song for Rodan the flying monster.  It’s alright he’s not here tonight, you don’t need to clap for him” before “Heart Of Gold”. 

A lot of goofy faux-Japanese speak by Crazy Horse act as transitions between the fuzz in the electric set before Young reiterates his love for Fukuoka before “Southern Man”.  The “Down By The River”/”Lotta Love”/”Like A Hurricane” segment is the definite highlight of this part of the concert.  The band are tight and Young’s feedback drenched riffs produce a dirty sounding echo in the mix. 

“The Losing End” isn’t as powerful as in the previous shows, and the audience is very loud again for the “Cinnamon Girl” encore at the end. 

This comes packaged in a double slimline jewel case with several photos from the tour.  The front insert opens up to reveal more of the front cover shot of Young.  Watch Tower have been releasing their titles in standard jewel cases for the past couple of years and have largely done away with the special packaging they used for some of their Zeppelin releases (cardboard sleeves, etc).  But their presentation and mastering of the source material is still some of the best coming out of Japan and GPK is another release worth having.

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