For at least a dozen years, Neil Young fans heard rumors of this album's release. Originally intended to be an addendum to a never-released, 10-disc boxed set, Live at the Fillmore East 1970 is the first chance many diehards have to hear Crazy Horse live with original guitarist Danny Whitten, who died of a heroin overdose in 1972. Though Whitten was often eulogized by Young through the years, notably on "Needle and the Damage Done" and Tonight's the Night, this release feels like the truest homage yet.
An electrifying rhythm guitarist, Whitten provided the perfect foundation for Young the axeman to fly off, exploring single-note tangents, explosive solos, and foot-stomping riffs -- ingredients he's flavored his music with ever since. The performances here are absolutely transcendent, with Whitten's country-soul harmonies giving Young's high-pitched whinny the bottom end it needed at the time. Some might balk at another live album from Young featuring "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Down by the River," but a spiritedness propels this music; it's that burst of anxiousness an artist feels when he knows he's fulfilling his goals. And in the case of Neil Young & Crazy Horse in 1970, they accomplished what so few do: They explored uncharted territory.