Live at the Catalyst, August 22, 1977
By the latter half of the 70s, Neil Young had put his ditch days behind him, had Zuma'd up and down the California coast with Crazy Horse, and seemed pretty damn content with recording a string of laid back, though pretty inoffensive country rock LPs. Young's short run with The Ducks in the late summer of 1977 was all at once strange anomaly, a high water mark and a signpost marking a change of course. Comprised of Young, Moby Grape vocalist Bob Mosely, "Hey Hey, My My" co-author Jeff Blackburn and sometime session man Johnny Craviotto, The Ducks were quite possibly the most popular townie bar band of all time, as Young's contractual obligations with Crazy Horse specified he could only tour with them, forcing The Ducks to play all of their 22 gigs within the Santa Cruz city limits. Loaded with songwriters, the band's setlists were comprised of original material, a few tunes from each member's back catalog and a handful of covers. The shows were tight, Young seemed to enjoy his supporting role, and, in the beginning, the crowds were enthusiastic if a little awed at their strange fortune. After a few weeks the hordes of out of towners hoping to hear some classic Neil Young tunes grew exponentially, and with its secret out, Young left the group less than two months after its first gig. And though a mobile recording rig was often spotted outside the club for most of the shows, this unofficial, surprisingly clear fan recording is the only aural evidence in circulation.