05 diciembre, 2010

Cortez the Killer live compilation, vol.1

Creo que esto puede ser de gran interés para muchos de nosotros, una recopilación de las mejores "Cortez" en directo, a juicio del compilador. En dimeadozen ahora mismo:

Neil Young
Cortez the Killer - Live Compilation, Vol. 1

1. Los Angeles, 1978-10-24
2. Oakland, 1999-03-20
3. Chapel Hill, 1991-02-28
4. Princeton by-the-Sea, 1996-04-14
5. Hamburg, 2003-04-29
6. Nagoya, 1976-03-03
7. Austin, 2010-06-05

"Neil’s played that black Les Paul since before I started working with him. He calls it Old Black, but it’s a ‘53 gold-top that used to have a trapeze bridge...For the highest volume, we have both the tone and the main volume on 12, and that second volume knob is at about 9.9. When it’s really compressed and breathing and screaming, that’s what’s going on. You can hear it on Cortez. If we push it past 9.9, the sound goes away. The next button down moves his volume to 10, which just cleans it up." -Larry Cragg (from www.neilyoung.dk)

Cortez the Killer is arguably the quintessential Neil Young song: a simple, yet definitive melody anchored by a rhythm that simultaneously picks you up, and gently lays you down. The song has been performed acoustic and electric, with and without a band-and works every time. I put this live compilation together after comments I read on DIME several months ago asking if on existed. Mainly for my own listening pleasure, I thought it might be kinda’ fun to listen to the song’s development over the years. The challenge was finding versions of CTK (performed well over 400 times according to Numbers on the Site) that were unique in their own way. There’s only so much one can do to a 3 chord, 8 minute song, but, Neil manages to find something new every time he plays it.

First up, the 10/24/78 performance at the LA Forum. A rare uptempo version, Crazy Horse settles into a fantastic, loping groove that chugs along beautifully. You could dance across the water to this one. Neil’s lead is perfect, right up to the descending three notes introducing the reggae coda. IMHO, the best Cortez ever. Second (and my other best Cortez ever), is the acoustic solo performance from 3/20/99 at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre. Listen to the audience reaction as it slowly realizes what’s in store. The highlight of this performance is how Neil, with just a guitar and harmonica infuses the song with so much sadness and melancholy, and gets that high lonesome sound that’s both thrilling and heartbreaking. Next up, the 2/28/91 Chapel Hill performance that for many is the best Cortez ever. Taken from the 1991 ArcWeld tour, the Ragged Glory treatment may well be the best context for the ultimate power and message of the song: loss and conquest. And then loss again. Princeton-By-The-Sea, 4/14/96. 22 minutes and 48 seconds. Gawd, get me another beer and, sure, I’ll have a hit of that. Turn your listening device up to 11, if you haven’t already. The Hamburg 4/29/03 performance is notable for the extra, ad-libbed (?) lyrics, "the ship is breaking up on the rocks, with the sandy beach so close, so close" Another spot-on acoustic performance with a clear beginning, middle and end. Played on 12-string, that Em-D-Am progression just keeps ringing through the night. And closing out the festivities is the third public performance of Cortez on 3/3/76 in Nagoya, Japan. Betcha’ didn’t think you could clap along to Cortez, in double time! Neil and Crazy Horse kill it of course. Oh, to be in the audience that night and to hear a classic in its infancy performed live. And finally, we come to Austin on June 5, 2010. Zuma11 says it all, "turn off the lights, turn up the volume, stop multi-tasking and give Cortez a listen." Exactly.

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