Well-Known Secret (Screamer-05028-031)
Neil Young’s abrupt departure from his tour with Steven Stills in the summer of 1976 was followed by a month long, nineteen date tour of the US. The setlist looked very similar to that employed earlier in the year when he visited Japan, Europe and England in the springtime. The first half was devoted to Young solo on acoustic instruments, followed by an electric set with Crazy Horse.
Well-Known Secret documents the two shows in Boston on November 22nd, the penultimate show of the tour. Both of the tapes are excellent stereo sound quality picking up the details and nuance of the performances perfectly.
Several songs, “Campaigner,” “Harvest,” “Journey Through The Past,” and “Roll Another Number” can be found on The Bernstein Tapes (Lost Dog Records LDR001). A soundboard recording of the late show has been released on Hurricane Over Boston (Real Live RL CD 40). But this is the first time these two audience tapes have been released together.
Music Hall, Boston, MA – November 22, 1976 (early)
Disc 1, early show (38:14): The Old Laughing Lady, Human Highway, Journey Through The Past, Pocahontas, The Needle And The Damage Done, Give Me Strength, A Man Needs A Maid, Sugar Mountain
Disc 2 (59:39): Country Home, Don’t Cry No Tears, Down By The River, Lotta Love, Like A Hurricane, After The Goldrush, Cortez The Killer, Cinnamon Girl, Are You Ready For The Country?
The early show is very laid back with a quiet, attentive audience enjoying the show. “The Old Laughing Lady” starts off the show with a reference to “Guilty Train” by the end. Young throws in John Ehrlichman and Ann Margaret in “Pocahontas” along with Marlon Brando and himself.
An emotional highpoint is reached with the melodramatic “A Man Needs A Maid” and before the final song “Sugar Mountain” Young has to tell the crowd that he really is much happier than he appears.
The set with Crazy Horse begins with “Country Home”, the usual custom on this tour. A short delay follows. “He says it’s too loud? No? I think there’s some mice in the speakers” Young says before they launch into “Don’t Cry No Tears.”
Another delay follows “Down By The River” as Young is trying to tune his guitar. “I can’t use this thing. It sounds awful. … I supposed after leaving you alone for so long while I got my guitar I should come back with a big hit. But I’m not gonna…. Here we go with another new song I love to play. Sell that other guitar please. It’s a little off, but so is everything else.” He follows with a shaky version of “Lotta Love.”
“After The Gold Rush” was normally played in the first half with other acoustic numbers, but for several shows he moved it to the second half as a break in the long and heavy electric numbers. The audience cheers loudly when he sings “and I felt like getting high.”
“Cortez The Killer” is very powerful here and the band begins the final song of the set “Cinnamon Girl” out of tune. The encore, “Are You Ready For The Country?” is played at a slower tempo.
Music Hall, Boston, MA – November 22, 1976 (late)
Disc 3 (34:44): Tell Me Why, Roll Another Number, Journey Through The Past, The Needle And The Damage Done, Harvest, Campaigner, Pocahontas, A Man Needs A Maid, Sugar Mountain
Disc 4 (70:18): Country Home, Don’t Cry No Tears, Drive Back, Cowgirl In The Sand, Bite The Bullet, Lotta Love, Like A Hurricane, After The Goldrush, Are You Ready For The Country?, Cortez The Killer, Cinnamon Girl, Homegrown, Southern Man
The recording for the late show is identical to the early show with a clear and dynamic quality. It is the longest from this tour with twenty-two songs played and pushes almost two hours. Young starts off the first half of the show with the contemlative “Tell Me Why,” followed by “Roll Another Number.”
It is as quiet and laidback as the early show. Young barely interacts with the audience, but instead focuses upon playing the material and throws in treats like “The Needle And Teh Damage Done” and “Harvest.” For “Campaigner” Young tells the audiede that “Boston is a town of political ups and down” before “Campaigner”. At the end Young invites everyone to sing along in “Sugar Mountain”.
The second set with Crazy Horse becomes more intense with an emotional version of “Cowgirl In The Sand”. “Like A Hurricane” is similarly effective as is “After The Goldrush” with Young sitting at the piano. “Homegrown,” which was played only twice, receives a rare outing. And for an encore Young plays “Southern Man” for the only time on this tour.
This is one of the nicest sounding documents from the tour and an excellent production by Screamer.