NEIL YOUNG and the Santa Monica Flyers – ” Somewhere Under the Rainbow ” and the Ducks – ” High Flyin “

Posted: March 8, 2023 in MUSIC

Neil Young has announced two releases from his archival albums: Neil Young and the Santa Monica Flyers“Somewhere Under the Rainbow” and a set recorded with the Ducks, titled “High Flyin’. years after first hinting they were coming, Neil Young is finally releasing these two Seventies concert bootlegs.

“High Flyin”, is a series of recordings from his 1977 under-the-radar Santa Monica, California summer club tour with the Ducks, a supergroup of sorts featuring bassist Bob Mosley from Moby Grape, guitarist Jeff Blackburn, and drummer Johnny Craviotto. The Ducks never played outside Santa Cruz, and all four members took turns singing lead. Their sets only featured a handful of Young originals, including “Mr. Soul,” “Sail Away,” and “Long May You Run”. “I just play my part,” Young told a reporter at the time. “This band isn’t just me and some other guys who back me up…it kind of reminds me of the time I was in Buffalo Springfield.”

The set lists would change from show to show, giving each performance a distinct feel. “High Flyin” is assembled from a handful of those 1977 gigs, along with two sessions at the Magical Devices studio.

“Under The Rainbow” was recorded on November 5th, 1973, at the Rainbow Theater in London, England. This was on the Tonight’s the Night tour, The tour came just a year after the success of “Harvest” transformed Young into a superstar, but he’d recently lost Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry to heroin overdoses and was in a state of deep mourning.

Young would promise to play “something you’ve all heard before.” He’d then proceed to play “Tonight’s The Night,” the standard show opener, for a second time. There were even some evenings when he played it three times. “It was just insane,” recalls Lofgren. “He’d start pounding the piano and screaming about Bruce Berry selling his guitar and sticking it up his arm. I’d leap up on the piano, start kicking it, and play guitar with my teeth while Neil was going off on this extemporaneous rap poetry. It was a healing, commiserative experience since we were trying to deal with the fact that all our friends and heroes were starting to drop dead.”

The shows were famously drunken, sloppy affairs where most of the set came from “Tonight’s The Night”, which wouldn’t be released for well over a year. “People booed every night,” Lofgren told Rolling Stone. “They were incensed. They’d yell ‘Play ‘Old Man!’ Where are the hits? 

Recorded live in 1973 at the Rainbow Theatre in London, “Somewhere Under the Rainbow” finds Young alongside the Santa Monica Flyers, a band that included Nils Lofgren (guitar, piano, accordion), Ben Keith (pedal steel guitar), Billy Talbot (bass) and Ralph Molina (drums).

A press release notes that the “musicians were in a free-form state of mind and swung for the fences on every track” creating a performance that “is as unconventional as it is unforgettable.”

Both Somewhere Under the Rainbow and High Flyin’ are part of Young’s ongoing “Original Bootleg Series.” Hi-res digital audio versions of the albums will be available at Neil Young Archives on April 14th.

The albums will be released on April 14th on vinyl and CD .

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