Neil Young – C.O.D.E (Complete “Osaka” Definitive Edition) (Seymour Records SR-030/31)


C.O.D.E (Complete “Osaka” Definitive Edition) (Seymour Records SR-030/31)

Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – March 5th, 1976

Disc 1:  Tell Me Why, Mellow My Mind, After The Gold Rush, Too Far Gone, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, A Man Needs A Maid, No One Seems To Now, 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, Cinnamon Girl, Cortez The Killer

Bonus disc, Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – March 4th 1976:  Country Home, Don’t Cry No Tears, Down By The River, Lotta Love, Like A Hurricane, The Losing End, Drive Back, Southern Man, Cinnamon Girl

Complete “Osaka” Definitive Edition on Seymour records is a new release with the second of three shows in Osaka on the 1976 tour of Japan.  Seymour use a new tape source which is the fourth to circulate for this show.  The first tape to surface is a great sounding seventy-two minute fragment with cut and fades between each of the songs.  A second more complete source surfaced later which doesn’t have good sound quality and is missing the final two songs.  A third tape source is complete and sounds good, but the sound quality drops for the final three songs “Southern Man,” “Cinnamon Girl,” and “Cortez The Killer.”  This was released before on 76 Part 1 (Vague Records 063/064/065), a three compact disc set that also has the old tape source for the March 3rd Nagoya show.  Rolling Zuma Revue (Wild Wolf) is another silver release containing tracks from this show along with some songs from the November 15th, Auditorium Theater, Chicago tape.  The label claims this release is “Digital Remastered From New High Quality Master” on the front cover.  The tape is new, complete and in excellent quality coming from the same Mr. Peach cache of tapes that began to be released as a dribble several years ago with the Fukuoka tape on GPK (Watch Tower) and has become a torrent with three more on Tarantura in the past couple of months (Wet Show, We Love You, and Best Chaw?)  It is as clear and detailed as the others whose quality is simply astounding.  Unlike Tarantura, Seymour didn’t crank up the volume on this release so it is gentler on the ears.  There is also a faint layer of hiss during the acoustic set, but becomes a non-issue during the electric. 

The set list for this Osaka show is standard for the tour with no surprises.  The concert begins with no fanfare, just Young walking on stage, sitting down, and beginning the first song with no introductions.  After the opening song Young pauses to say, “It’s good to be here tonight.”  After adjusting his harmonica holder and banjo says nervously, “Very fast paced show.”  He plays the opening of “Mellow My Mind” but stops and says, “a little behind…can’t play right” and tunes the banjo again before playing the song.  After a melodramatic version of “After The Gold Rush” Young says, “I’d like to sing a new song for you now.  It’s called ‘Too Far Gone.’  It’s a very happy song.”  Between “A Man Needs A Maid” and “Nobody Seems To Know” Young says,  “excuse me?  Nobody to back me up.  This is another new song.  It’s called ‘No One Seems To Know.'”  After a half hour of playing solo he says, “It’s getting a bit wet up here but other than that it’s alright.”  He then says cryptically, “from Toledo or something?” before “Heart Of Gold.”  The Osaka audience is very quiet and respectful during the whole performance but greet this song with loud approval.  The electric set with Crazy Horse is, just like the acoustic set, standard for the tour with no surprises. “Down By The River” is the first epic and lasts for nine and a half minutes with Talbot saying, “that’s right, you’re all beautiful” at the song’s conclusion.  “Like A Hurricane” is introduced as “another new song.”  They play it for nine minutes but unlike other stops on this tour is very mellow.

The tape becomes slightly muffled during “Southern Man” but it doesn’t detract from the power of this piece.  An obvious choice for the set closer, the audience follows and claps along to Young’s wails as he delivers the scathing lyrics.  The song is punctuated with he distinctive feedback-laden, screeching solo in the middle.  The taper paused the tape between the final song and the encore, and the two usual encores for this tour are played.  These two alternated from show to show, but on this night “Cinnamon Girl” is played first.  The heavy beats are emphasized by the audience’s clapping in perfect rhythm.  The tape becomes degenerated at 2:47 to the end of the song with unwanted distortion.  The tape clear up again for a majestic, six-minute version of “Cortez The Killer” from Zuma.  Seymour is a label who emphasizes shows by Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and C.O.D.E. is another excellent release from 1976 in line with Madison Hurricane released more than a year ago.  With the use of dull colors and very busy collages on the covers, the artwork for previous Seymour releases have been functional at best, but not very attractive.  But C.O.D.E. is different.  The label use high quality glossy paper inserts and a four-sided insert containing rare live photos from the era.  The front cover is very clean looking featuring a photo of an introspective looking Neil Young.  One hundred copies have a bonus one cdr version of the first Osaka show on March 4th.   It will be interesting to compare this to Tarantura’s version if they do issue this show, but Seymour have released a very nice, high quality version of the tape that is recommended.  (GS)

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