Yet another impressive release from Neil Young's seemingly bottomless vault of previously unissued recordings, Sugar Mountain is an intimate live acoustic set from a two-night stand in 1968. You have to wonder why he bothers releasing substandard new material when he's sitting on a gold mine from his creative peak.
The small, rapt crowd in attendance at Cantebury House seems to make Young comfortable enough to try some rarely performed compositions written in 1963 and 64, and we're treated to what could be the greatest-ever versions of Sugar Mountain, Birds, The Old Laughing Lady and The Loner, along with revealing anecdotes that put the songs in the context of Young's coming-of-age. Unfortunately, there are no visuals from the shows, so the DVD in the package has just the audio tracks with an animated image of a vintage tape deck with reels spinning. But the quality of the recording and performances makes for a brilliant soundtrack.
Available for $22.99 at Mike's Music (105 Danforth, 416-586-9668).
Young rocks the Air Canada Centre Thursday and Friday (December 4 and 5).