Album Artwork / Album Reviews / Americana / Country / Folk

ALBUM REVIEW: Neil Young – Songs For Judy

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Neil Young
Songs For Judy
Shakey Pictures Records/Warner Music

In 1976 Neil Young embarked on a North American tour with Crazy Horse. His opening act was himself, raw and acoustic in large auditoriums across the country. Joel Bernstein and Cameron Crowe were along for the ride and when Bernstein was roped in as a guitar tech he wisely setup his portable cassette deck to record the live feed he was getting from the front desk. Post-tour, the pair convened and put together a personal album of the best performances from the tour which went on to become one of the most widely traded Young bootlegs. Now Songs For Judy finally gets an official release on the back of the other superb archival release of 2018, Roxy: Tonight’s The Night Live.

It’s a superb snapshot of Neil Young in his prime. Playful with the audience, in perfect sync with his instruments and voice and a song selection that is unrivalled for a live album. The iconic songs are all there – ‘Heart Of Gold’, ‘Mr. Soul’, ‘After The Goldrush’, ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’ to name a few. There are also rare gems such as the piano-led ‘No One Seems To Know’ which has never seen an official release and ‘White Line’ which wouldn’t appear until 1990’s Ragged Glory LP. ‘A Man Needs A Maid’ is augmented wonderfully by an ominous organ sound, ‘Sugar Mountain’ takes on a more plaintive and melancholic feel with some added guitar flurries and deviations over six minutes. ‘Mellow My Mind’, dedicated to the critics, is another that stands out in its sprightly banjo form. 

Songs For Judy is about as perfect an acoustic live album one could hope for from Neil Young, It’s a fascinating contrast to the Roxy set and yet another reminder of the exquisite talent of the singer, musician and songwriter.

Chris Familton

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