(2.5 stars) All good and fine, but what's the point?
finulanu | Here, there, and everywhere | 11/02/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Neil Young confuses me sometimes. All his '70s albums had been bigger artistic successes than commercial ones; and his '80s albums at least proved he had little interest in stardom. But after Clapton's unplugged album jolted him out of his sales slump, our boy Neil was right behind him. But unlike Clapton's, Neil's is arguably the most redundant live album ever released - "Pocahontas", "The Needle and the Damage Done", "Harvest Moon", "Unknown Legend", and "From Hank to Hendrix" had originally been recorded acoustic in the first place, and are virtually unchanged from their studio versions. I suppose they're decent, perfectly acceptable remakes, but I'd much rather hear the originals. And when he significantly reworks the songs, they're hit-or-miss: while "The Old Laughing Lady" benefits from this more personal, less intricate setting (and actually has a melody, unlike on the original), and is a massive improvement over the decent but rambling and formless studio recording, "Mr. Soul" with harmonica blasts replacing guitar blasts and "Like a Hurricane" with church organ replacing electric guitar were two tremendously bad ideas and are, as such, the only two truly bad songs here. But Neil does show off some remarkable acoustic technique on "Look Out for My Love", and while I don't know where "Transformer Man" came from (turns out it's from Trans, the only Neil Young studio album I haven't heard), that is one great melody. Not too bad, I guess, but redundant and boring. Collectors take note: this is the only place where you can find the decent but unexceptional "Stringman", part of the aborted Chrome Dreams sessions."