Neil Young - vocals, guitar; Danny Whitten - vocals, guitar; Ralph Molina - drums; Billy Talbot - bass; Jack Nitzsche - piano
Two words for Crosby, Stills and Nash - Crazy Horse! This is rock 'n' roll as it was meant to be played: barely in tune and teetering on the brink of oblivion. No wonder Neil Young preferred rockin' in the free world with these guys over CSN's cuddle-folk round-up. You can hear the blood and sweat in every stuttering guitar jab, Danny Whitten's raspy tenor the perfect counterpoint to Neil's wavering holler.
Recently plucked from obscurity as a Laurel Canyon garage band, the Horse is in fine form during this appearance at the Fillmore East in March of 1970. Maybe it was the opening set by Miles Davis that night that inspired them, or maybe it was just their way, but Neil and Co. hit the stage with both barrels blazing on "Come On, Baby, Let's Go Downtown." That's Whitten on lead vocal. The set list leans heavily on songs from Neil's first release featuring Crazy Horse, 1969's Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, but also includes a stunningly ragged version of live favorite "Winterlong," and an early rendition of a song called "Wonderin'" that you may have only heard before if you were one of the 20 or so faithful that actually purchased Everybody's Rockin'.
With an equal measure of barroom swagger and West Coast psychedelia, there's a youthful exuberance to this show that's missing from later, bleary-eyed live documents. Though the recording is a bit rough around the edges, low fidelity suits these boys just fine, as long as everyone starts and ends the song at the same time, and adds a little passion and fury in between.
Hear Neil Young and Crazy Horse when they were still young and hungry - right out of the starting gates with something to prove.