Neil Young’s 1970 masterpiece After the Gold Rush turns 50 in September and, according to a new post on the Neil Young Archives, Reprise Records is planning a deluxe rerelease to celebrate. It’ll be the first album in Young’s catalog to receive such a treatment.
The album might be paired with a concert filmed at the Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, Connecticut, on January 22nd, 1971, just three days after his famous performance at Massey Hall in Toronto. “While Massey Hall was a homecoming for me and meant so much a the time, luckily recorded on a 7.5 ips tape recorder by David Briggs — it was not filmed,” Young writes. “At the time, Massey Hall was for me my best early acoustic performance to date. A triumph! A celebration! That’s how I felt at the time.”
He released the Massey Hall show on CD in 2007, although it had circulated as a bootleg for decades. Fans considered it his definitive solo acoustic concert from the After the Gold Rush era, a view that Young shared until very recently: “In fact, today as we listen and compare, [producer] John Hanlon and I both feel ‘Shakespeare’ is superior to our beloved ‘Massey Hall.’ A more calm performance, without the celebratory atmosphere of Massey Hall, captured live on 16mm film. ‘Young Shakespeare’ is a very special event. To my fans, I say this is the best ever. Young Shakespeare is the performance of that era. Personal and emotional, for me, it defines that time.”
Bits and pieces of the film that he’s calling Young Shakespeare have been seen over the years, but Hanlon and has team recently reassembled the entire thing drawing from old 16 mm work prints and lost tapes they rediscovered, including some from a German TV show. Young is calling it the “earliest known film of any of my performances,” but he seems to be discounting a June 5th, 1970 show at the Café Feenjon in New York City along with CSNY’s stand at the Fillmore East that same year.
There is no exact timeline for the release of the After the Gold Rush 50 package, which will likely contain the Shakespeare concert, although the album turns 50 on September 19th. Other archival releases in the pipeline include Young’s lost 1975 LP Homegrown, a CD/film from his 2003/04 Greendale tour and a 1990 Crazy Horse club show.
Young recently announced plans for a Crazy Horse arena tour but the spread of the coronavirus is giving him second thoughts. “The Crazy Horse Barn Tour may have to wait,” he wrote, “while we figure out the impact coronavirus will have on our crowds of music lovers.”
Young Shakespeare live album/film Tracklist
- “Tell Me Why”
- “Old Man”
- “The Needle and the Damage Done”
- “Cowgirl in the Sand”
- “A Man Needs a Maid”
- “Heart of Gold”
- “Dance Dance Dance”
- “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”
- “Down by the River”
- “Sugar Mountain”