Neil Young – Like An Inca (Godfather Records GR 617/618)

Like An Inca (Godfather Records GR 617/618)

Stadio dei Pini, Viareggio, Italy – September 11th, 1982

Disc 1 (63:28):  On The Way Home, Don’t Cry No Tears, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Cortez The Killer, If You Got Love, Soul Of A Woman, Are You Ready For The Country?, Southern Man, A Little Thing Called Love, Old Man, The Needle And The Damage Done, Comes A Time, Birds, Beggars Day

Disc 2 (76:34):  Like An Inca, Hey Hey My My (Into The Black), Cinnamon Girl, Like A Hurricane, I Am A Child, Sample And Hold, Mr. Soul.  Bonus Tracks:  Sugar Mountain (Roma, Italy, September 12, 1982), Computer Age (Oslo, Norway, October 7, 1982), Transformer Man (Dortmund, Germany, October 11, 1982), Love Hotel (Birmingham, England, September 24, 1982, first and only performance), I Don’t Want To Talk About It (Sung by Nils Lofgren) (Brussels, Belgium, September 30, 1982)

After reaching superstardom in the late seventies, Neil Young’s career took an interesting turn.  He continued his journey of musical exploration, something that had motivated his entire career.  But he was confronted with both the expectations of his new audience in poor record sales and, after 1981, by Geffen, his new record company. 

His first offering to Geffen, Island In The Sun (“a tropical thing all about sailing, ancient civilisations, islands and water” in his description), was rejected.  The new album Trans, with more new wave arrangements, synthesizers and vocals sung through a vocoder was accepted and set for release in December, 1982. 

When the album was finished, he planned his first tour in four years (Young made only two live appearances in four years.  First at the 1980 Bread & Roses Festival and the second a Michael Bloomfield Tribute in 1981).  There were  several warm-up dates in northern California before the tour started on August 31st in France. 

Young’s three shows in Italy were a career first.  Like An Inca captures the complete show on September 11th in Viareggio.  Godfather utilize and excellent stereo audience recording.  It emphasizes the lower frequencies and there are several small cuts between some songs.  It’s also one of the more “typical” shows from the tour. 

The show starts off with “On The Way Home” which is far from its acoustic arrangement from the seventies.  It’s played on this tour as a mid-paced rocker.  “Don’t Cry No Tears” is stripped of its country roots and played more in the style of arena rock.  

Both “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” and “Cortez The Killer” are played close to the expected arrangements (although the latter has incongruous magical chimes mixed in).  But two unreleased songs follow in succession.  “If You Got Love” dates from the unreleased Island In The Sun LP.  It was supposed to be on Trans (and it was included on the LPs track listing), but was pulled at the last minute and remains unreleased.  It’s a harmless pop-oriented number with a strong hook in the chorus.  Perhaps it was too commercial for Young?  

“Soul Of A Woman” likewise remains unreleased.  It received almost two hundred performances in the eighties (right up through the This Note’s For You tour in 1988).  It is a basic blues number (a rarity for Young) with unimaginative lyrics (“You know a man needs a woman right by his side / A man needs a woman right by his side / She keeps him warm at night, he keeps her satisfied”) but sounds fun to play.

The first song from Trans, “A Little Thing Called Love,” comes almost forty-five minutes into the show.  It is the opening track from the album and one of the more conventional sounding.

In the past Young would open with a half hour long acoustic/solo set before the band would come on with an electric set.  But on this tour the acoustic set is inserted into the middle of the song and is reduced to only several songs.  Three songs, “Old Man,” “The Needle And The Damage Done” and “Comes A Time” are played on acoustic guitar and “Birds” on the piano.  This interlude is followed by Nils Lofgren singing “Beggars Day” from the 1971 LP Crazy Horse.

The second half of the show start with the fifteen minute epic “Like An Inca.”  The second song from Trans (and fourth from Island In The Sun).  The lyric content is obscure, but it serves as a good vehicle for Young and Logren’s feedback-laden fuzz.  The musical structure’s similarity to other Young live epics is probably the reason why it never made it past this tour.

“Hey, Hey, My, My (Into The Black),” “Cinnamon Girl” and a twelve minute “Like A Hurricane” return the show to conventionality.  He ends the main set with a solo acoustic version of “I Am A Child.”  

The first encore is “Sample And Hold.”  The only song in the Viareggio set which Young sings through the vocoder, it was the second single from the album to be released.  It is also the de facto signature tune from Trans due to the heavy rotation it received on the nascent MTV network.  It is undeniably catchy and the closest Young has ever come to a full-blown disco track.  The show closes with the Trans re-arrangement of “Mr. Soul,” the old Buffalo Springfield song recast as a new wave dance track.

The bonus tracks include several rarities from the European tour.  “Sugar Mountain” comes from the following night in Rome and was played as the set closer after “I Am A Child.”  The sound quality of the Rome tape actually sounds better than Viareggio and would have made a great release if it weren’t missing the encores.   

“Computer Age” and “Transformer Man” are two more songs from Transthat were added to the set after the Viareggio show (the former on September 20th in Rotterdam and the latter on September 24th in Birmingham, England).  Both the performances and sound quality of the tapes used by Godfather are very good to excellent.  The show a growing confidence in the new material and “Transformer Man” in particular is very charming even though it is  met with a loud chorus of boos from the Dortmund crowd.

“Love Hotel” is a Neil Young original played only during the September 24th Birmingham show.  It sounds more like an impromptu jam rather than a polished outtake.  The final bonus is Nils Lofgren singing Danny Whitten’s “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” from the September 30th Brussels show.  It was sung five times in addition to “Beggars Day,” but this recording and performance are simply magical and an excellent way to end this set.  

Like An Inca is packaged in a tri-fold cardboard sleeve.  For the rarities alone it is highly recommend for Young collectors.  There are many very rare songs in this collection in very good sound quality.  It’s recommend also because it is such an obscure and misunderstood era in Young’s career with very little documentation on silver disc.  This is one of Godfather’s greatest Neil Young releases. 

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