Monday, February 13, 2006


I just had to take a break from my Neil Young album review project to tell you about this excellent video discovery. I happened upon this one on Saturday, and just HAD to purchase it (shhhhhh...don't tell my wife). If you're like me, and have been really out of touch with musical developments for the last 5 years or more, then you might not be aware that our friends at Rhino have released a DVD version of NEIL YOUNG IN BERLIN (aka BERLIN). The street date on the DVD was March 27, 2001, just to tell you how long it's been since I paid attention (at least, until last month, when I started paying attention again).

The songs were recorded live in concert at Deutschlandhalle in West Berlin on the last show of a European tour. The date was October 19, 1982, and Neil was backed by The Trans Band (Neil Young - vocals, guitar, keyboards, vocoder; Ben Keith - pedal steel guitar, slide guitar, keyboards, vocals; Nils Lofgren - guitar, accordion, keyboards, vocals, vocoder; Joe Lala - percussion; Bruce Palmer - bass; Larry Cragg - banjo; Ralph Molina - drums, vocals; Joel Bernstein - vocoder,synclavier).

According to the set list on the Sugar Mountian website, only about 1/2 of the songs played at the show are on the DVD. Here they are, as listed (times are my approximations of when crowd noise would be faded out on a live album):
  1. Cinnamon Girl (3:30)
  2. Computer Age (4:55)
  3. Little Thing Called Love (3:42)
  4. Old Man (3:28)
  5. Needle and the Damage Done (2:21)
  6. After the Gold Rush (4:00)
  7. Transformer Man (3:45)
  8. Sample and Hold (6:08)
  9. Hurricane (8:20)
  10. Hey Hey My My (5:05)
  11. Berlin (6:20) [haahnster note: aka "After Berlin"]

The classics are performed extremely well. Neil's voice sounds great, and the energy level is very high on "Cinnamon Girl" and "Old Man". "The Needle and the Damage Done" is excellent as always. While Neil is setting up at the piano for "After the Gold Rush", he asks the crowd (in English, of course), "Are you having a good time tonight?" And after getting some response, he adds, "That makes two of us." Then, he proceeds to hammer out a brilliant version of this song, of course updating the lyrics to say "Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1980s/We've got Mother Nature on the run in the 1980s". Neil's guitar solos on "Like a Hurricane" will kick you squarely in the balls, and the perfect follow-up version of "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" is excellent.

Neil introduces each of the new songs (4 of which would be released two months later on TRANS). You might recall my initial post was on this album. I said the following about "Little Thing Called Love": "a Neil original not to be confused with the Queen song 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love'. This is a fairly straight-ahead rock song with cool slide guitar work." Let me tell you, when you watch Ben Keith play live, the slide work will knock you on your ass.

The other three songs from TRANS employ the use of vocoders. If anyone ever doubted Neil's sincerity in this musical experiment, they should watch this DVD. The guy was out there doing it for all the world to see. "Computer Age" is represented very well here. "Transformer Man" is looped on tape, with Neil and Nils both providing live vocals (through vocoders) and dancing some sort of bizarre pantomime. It's a sight to behold. And, as I said in my TRANS review, "Sample and Hold" is probably the quintessential song, as far as representing the TRANS sound.

The encore, as shown on the DVD, is "Berlin" which is otherwise unreleased. Neil introduces it as follows: "OK, we're going to do a song for you. Thanks a lot for bringing us back. We appreciate it. We're going to do one. We've never done this one yet. We've never made it all the way through this one yet. This is brand new. So...What are we doing? Remember that one we were doing? That's the one. With the change to 'A'." Then, they proceed to absolutely rock out. Neil plays an incredible lead guitar part that is somewhat reminiscent of "Like a Hurricane". Click here for the lyrics, as posted on Hyper Rust.

Bottom line: This one is available at an affordable price, and would be an excellent addition to anyone's DVD collection. It has enough Neil classics to serve as an introduction. It also captures the TRANS era better than I ever would have expected. I couldn't be happier with this purchase.


Blogger Beppe said...

very nice album

8:26 AM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

I watched that concert on MTV in 1983 - back when MTV was actually very cool.

This show rocks.

9:15 AM, February 13, 2006  

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