George Starostin's Reviews



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Simon Hearn <> (08.09.99)

I like young a lot and do believe he deserves a three on the rating system. A two is a little disrespectful. His body of work is amazing (30 albums?) and he really has not made one REALLY bad album. OK, so he hasn't made a blinding album - just very good ones - but I have to say, Neil deserves a little more praise.

[Special author note: I may have given him a 3, but that's where subjectivity comes over - I seem to really be allergic to most of Young's output. Feel free to up that rating one point (and do likewise with a couple of other bands on this site, like Yes or Traffic) if you're okay with it.]

Aleksandr L. Berenzon <> (29.11.99)

Neil Young is SSSUUUPPPEEERRRR!!!!!!!!!!!

that's all...

[Special author note: Ah, at long last a compatriot! Too bad he wasn't so talkative...]

<> (19.02.2000)

I have long and violent arguments with myself as to whether this artist is my favorite or not. There are times when being a fan of his ain't easy!

He can be careless with professional commitments (such as scuttling the Buffalo Springfield reunion in 1987 or thereabouts). He is one of those tinnitus-afflicted rockers who are still quacking about vinyl's alleged superiority to CD. (O they who have ears but do not hear....)

But this guy has written a good part of the soundtrack to my life. He pushes the envelope. I would rather it be pushed in the wrong direction here and there than not be pushed at all.

An essential musician-and with cross-generational appeal, yet. Rock's Energizer Bunny.

Oh yes, Re: the aforementioned Buffalo Springfield. He/she who has not heard his work in that band knows not the complete Mr.Young.

Fredrik Tydal <> (25.02.2000)

I think you are a bit hard on Neil, George. It isn't really his own fault that most critics have raised him to such immeasurable heights. The only artists who really can manage and actually live up to those heights appointed to them are The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Just try to put the critical opinion on Neil aside and take him for what he is; a traditional singer/songwriter with few pretentions. In that respect I think he should deserve a three on your artist ranking, but I know that's subjective. I'm not a big Young fan myself - I actually discovered him through Crosby, Stills & Nash, which is a rather unusual path. I don't like music critics who hold Neil as a God, because those critics often disparage Crosby, Stills & Nash. I have actually read things like "why does Young continue struggling with the musical dead-weight of CSN?" and "CSN should be very, very grateful that Neil is kind enough to work with them". That kind of thing really irritates me. I like Neil myself, but what I don't like is when he is used to minimize the importance and dismissing the "hippie crap" of CSN. I bet those hardcore Neil lovers/CSN haters haven't even heard CSN's 1969 debut album.

Mr Soul <> (30.08.2000)

In my opinion Neil Young is one of the best (if not the best) living performers and songwriters. Perhaps the reason you don't like him is because he will not conform to what you, and much of the listening public deem mainstream (okay, now I'm branded for being a conformist. I'll add it to my collection of insults, the one which has also garnered accusations of being way too intolerant towards roots-rock - G.S.). Neil is often compared to Dylan, I often look at Dylan and Neil in the same way that I look and Socrates and Plato. Socrates was the founder the original influencer for a way of thinking (Dylan), but Plato was able to refine on what his mentor taught him and make it better and more "real". In my opinion this is what Neil has done.

Michael Heck <> (29.10.2000)

hmmm... where do I start... How bout with the trashbin remark? (see Harvest review - G.S.) telling someone that their tastes are in the trashbin is about as ignorant as saying blue is better than red. Taste is subjective, deal with it. For the guy who said the only Neil Young he could tolerate was the stuff with csny, I leave you with this David Crosby quote: "Neil by himself is more powerful than the three of us (CSN) put together." If you're looking for people's opinions about Neil, I suggest checking into what other musicians think about him, not critics. (As you seem to already know, critics usually don't have a clue in the world what they're talking about- why even bother reading what they have to say, or worse yet, bitching about it on a web page?)

[Special author note: Mike, if taste is subjective, then musicians' tastes, not to mention old Crosby's, are subjective as well. As for critics - keep that in your lead head: everybody who has an opinion is a critic. You are my critic here, and not a very polite one. As for the trashbin remark - do you diehards ever have a sense of humour, or was it simply squeezed out of place by posters and stickers?]

Didier Dumonteil <> (23.02.2001)

I couldn't believe my eyes when i saw NY 's rating!For a start,i thought it was a joke particularly when i saw the CSN one.Neil Young's work is huge ,encompassing Buffalo Springfield,CSN (a pox on it) ,Crazy Horse,and a solo carreer few can equal.Only Dylan has to be rated higher,and Young is on  a par  with Van Morrison,Richard Thompson -where are they?- and (gulp) Bruce Springsteen and Costello.

IMHO,i subscribe to the general vox populi that says that NY has got more talent than CS and N put together!Fortunately on the virgin top 1000 CDs(200,000 rock fans and journalists are involved) Neil is given the place he deserves in the top 30 of all-time artists!( by the way,do you know who comes first?the beatles,quelle surprise!)I approve your beatles rating (5+,less would have been an insult) as much as i disagree with your view of NY.

Travis Miscia <> (05.03.2001)

I'm not entirely sure, but isn't Neil Young Canadian?  You have all this very interesting information on how people say he embodies the spirit of America...yet, he is not really from the US.  (Although he is technically an American, but that's another issue entirely.)  I'm not Canadian myself, but I doubt that they want to be thrown in as just a bunch more Americans who live up north.

He is

[Special author note: of course he is. But he's hardly spent his entire life in Canada - his musical stylistics is fully American. Actually, I would be hard pressed to name any specific details of "Canadian style". Weren't The Band Canadians, too? What makes their music and musical philosophy so essentially Canadian? A tough question.]

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

Your remarks on Young are rather merciless, although still no comparison to the way you butchered Traffic (ever listened to Winwood's post-High Life solo albums? Now THAT's crap...). Part of the problem is, sorry to say, that you're missing most of his best and most important records. Of the albums you discuss, I'd rate only Zuma and Rust among his best. It's really difficult to get an overall picture of the man without Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, On The Beach (which is admittedly well-nigh impossible to get), Tonight's The Night, Trans, Freedom, Ragged Glory, and Sleeps With Angels. These are, along with Rust, the albums that place Young in the pantheon of rock music where he, IMHO, belongs. So forget about minor stuff like Comes A Time and get the real thing. And putting an artist down just because the critics rave about him is not really a sign of objectivity, is it? O.k., his significance as a cultural phenomenon sometimes overshadows the quality of his music, but then one should be able and willing to judge the music on its own terms. And talking about cultural icons: this is still more extreme in the case of Springsteen, but for some reason you do seem to be able to talk about Springsteen rather objectively. Just because the critics haven't inflated him as much as Young? Come on... And the thing about his lack of diversity: I agree that his 80's experiments are, for the most part, failures, but any artist that puts out a synth rock album, a rockabilly album, a country album, and a blues album within hardly a year of each other can't be accused of lacking diversity, right? And if you listen to successful albums like Freedom and Sleeps With Angels, you'll see that there's diversity galore within one and the same record, too. Judging Young from derivative, self-repetitory albums like Broken Arrow and Harvest just distorts the picture. My polite advice is: get some more of the good albums - Young's biggest problem is, I admit and agree, that he's so damn inconsistent; actually, he has put out at least as many crap albums as he put out masterpieces - and rewrite the introductory paragraph, o.k.? I agree that his lyrics are sometimes embarrassing (though sometimes they approach high poetry), but they're by no means worse than McCartney's or Harrison's, and with them it doesn't seem to be a problem for you.

Chris Papadopoulos <> (23.11.2001)

Harsh, George. All I'll say is that in 1987 I was in a museum in Munich (or Berlin maybe) and as I got on the escalator to go downstairs to have a look at the classic car collection, I noticed the guy in front of me, with a video camera slung over his shoulder, looked familiar. Long straggly hair, T-shirt, faded jeans. I nearly died. I was going to say something but chickened out. I guess that sums up my feelings about Neil. Legend.

<> (01.07.2002)

It's very clear that most people either love Neil Young or hate him, but one thing can't be denied is the man's influence on countless musicians. Everyone from Dan Fogelberg to Pearl Jam considers him an inspiration and the fact that he is continually changing styles and not resting on his laurels (when he deservedly could) does earn the man respect. It is obvious which side of the fence George is on and that's fine. I must say I did get quite a chuckle out of the Harvest review. I don't know if that's what was intended...but it was funny. Harvest was an album that struck a nerve with the American public at a time when the "singer songwriter" phase was in full bloom. You had the aforementioned Fogelberg, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Browne, and Jimmy Buffett all ready to unleash their sensitive balladeering to the people. Neil Young was one of the first. It's like George doesn't understand why Deja Vu was so popular. It was the times. Hippie flower power, peace and love and here was an album with 'Woodstock' and 'Teach Your Children' and the like. It unquestionably echoed the times. That's the part George doesn't get. Not his fault though. I've always thought from listening to the Buffalo Springfield that Neil was saving his best stuff for his solo career. The man is an influential musician and an extremely talented songwriter. Even on albums like Zuma and Landing on Water you will find something enjoyable. I think Neil deserves a higher rating than what he got. If for nothing else than jump starting CSN's dormant career. Take another listen to After The Gold Rush and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and rate again.

Simon Trusler <> (15.08.2002)

Oh George, do you really believe the stuff you write or do you just like the abuse you get? Neil Young is the musicians' musician. This is why I won't be too harsh on you because you just don't understand, and never will, unless you become a musician. It's one thing to have an opinion, but when you start preaching about things that you will never have any idea about, your reputation suffers. You fail to mention that hundreds of bands have covered his songs such as U2 and Pearl Jam, and that he has played with every major musical talent from the 60's through til now. Not to mention the hours of tapes that he has playing with Jimi Hendrix. I feel sorry for you that you think so little of such a musical genius, that you can't appreciate the subtleties in his music and the many genres he can cover. The people that matter do!

[Special author note: well, Simon, if you need the "Hendrix blessing" as an objective sign of quality, then he said some good things about Mr Humperdinck, too, although he probably never jammed with him. I wish I could appreciate the "subtleties" of something like 'Round & Round', but somehow nobody ever seems able to point them out to me when necessary. But no, I don't think as little of Neil as you think of me. Read the reviews if you want to understand.]

Richard Nightingale <> (26.03.2003)

I have many mixed emotions about this guy:

I've got every album this man has ever recorded including all the crap ones from the 80's.So in that respect he's up there with Bob Dylan,The Byrds(+solo),The Grateful Dead(+solo),The Band(+solo) and many others where I have everything you can get.However unlike the artists I have just mentioned Neil Young never made an album that can be considered a classic.The closest he got was On The Beach but even that would only get an overall rating of 12.And this really is the root of the problem for most of his career he has made good albums not great ones.In fact some of his albums are very overrated: Tonight's The Night is a very run of the mill album, okay he was depressed,it's dark and some of the songs are the product of tortured soul.That does not make it a classic same goes for Sleeps With Angels (although that is a far better album).But wait, this man recorded loads and loads of brilliant songs with great melodies and sometimes great lyrics but you won't find them all on one album or even three or four.You will have to buy nearly every album Neil made to really appreciate his skills in full.Here are my overall ratings for Neil Young's albums:








ZUMA - 9









LIFE - 8










My low ratings may upset some people but i'm just being honest.Something rock critics find very hard to do.

P.S. Ignore all the ratings on AMG just about every artist I can think of gets at least one album with four stars even the really crap artists like Bob Seger.!!

Robert S. Jurczyk <> (28.10.2003)

George, I can't believe all the abuse you are taking over that whiny, overrated Neil Young. Other than 'Southern Man', and perhaps 'Ohio', (the line "Tin soldiers and Nixon coming." is a classic.) this man is the most overrated performer extant. He sounds like a whiny child. Other than America, and Michael Murphy ("Wildfire") I cannot think of any more whiny and inane singer. If he were my child I'd tell him to keep quiet as nobody wants to listen to pointless whining, (at least not until I read the comments of those heaping abuse upon your head.).

Brian Blommer <> (08.02.2004)

It's interesting that I agree with most of everything you wrote about Neil and still I firmly believe that he deserves at the very least a 3.5 star rating. (I don't, however, agree with this notion that he's the darling of critics and the Rolling Stones are not. Christ, practically everyone I read still considers them the Kings of rock, though their output from the mid 80's on certainly falls well below Neil's many many times. Not to mention their predictable, bombastic stage shows, and Mick's "singing" of the old classics, which is just slightly more interesting than if he read them, since they're often performed with essentially a speaking or shouting voice. I haven't heard him sing a decent version of 'Satisfaction' since the '70s. Give me Neil's "whiny", though extremely expressive voice, any day.) Neil is a genuine creative master, which requires much more than technical expertise of an instrument, a voice, or a melody. Neil's not-so-obvious strengths, which are interwoven seamlessly with his image, are no less significant for being so:

His expressive voice: The same people who say Neil can't sing are usually those who say Dylan can't sing. I won't try to explain the genius of his ability to become many different "characters" through his voice. I'll just leave you with a few songs to listen to as proof (those of you who think Neil's simply got a whiny voice, take special note): "Down By the River", "Tired Eyes, "After the Goldrush", "Powderfinger", "Trans AM", "Vampire Blues", "Bandit", "Mr. Soul", "For the Turnstiles", "Will to Love".

His emotional range: I'm always amazed at how music critics seem to totally downplay the significance of this element in music. For every melodically diverse McCartney album, there is an emotionally diverse album by Neil. Is there more genius in the former? I'd say no. Though McCartney certainly has sung about many different emotions, his emotional expressiveness is quite flat and predictable in comparison to Neil (his ability in this capacity being as "limited" as Neil's technical ability on guitar). To give some dimension to Neil's emotional range, I'll again just leave you with some songs to listen to: "Old Laughing Lady" (sorrow and compassion), "Piece of Crap" (humorous outrage), "Crime in the City", live version from Weld, (true outrage), "Borrowed Tune" (beaten down, world weariness), "This Note's for You" (disgust and cynicism), "Safeway Cart" (foreboding and mysterious), "Roll Another Number", (drunkenness, grieving), "Revolution Blues" (dark humor), "Pocahontas" (character perspective), "We Never Danced", (romanticism, ballad).

His expressive guitar: Again, I'm amazed at how many music critics downplay the significance of expressiveness on an instrument. For every one musician with the expressiveness of Neil Young, there are a dozen "Olympian" gold metal guitarists. To simplify Neil's guitar sound by saying its either acoustic or drenched in distortion is like saying the talent of Keith Richard lies in his ability to come up with clever musical hooks: both state a fragment of what makes them noteworthy, but are insults if mentioned exclusively. Once more, I'll let his music speak for itself: his solos on "Like a Hurricane", which are melodic, unique, passionate, and never overly repetitive (I'll agree with those who say some of his early solos were quite simplistic and repetitive, though they are still more expressive than say, nearly any heavy metal solo I've heard); the simple acoustic elegance on Harvest Moon; the acoustic and then electric versions of "Hey, Hey, My My", which paint two similar but unique portraits (the latter version brought to new heights of raging glory on Weld; the melodic and understated picking of "The Needle and the Damage Done".

His ability to create "Anthems" that don't become dated. Perhaps this more than anything else is a reliable indication of some level of genius. An anthem that doesn't become dated must in some way resonate with a large group of people, and still hold that power to a considerable degree for successive generations. To create such a song once could be considered luck, genius, or both. To do so several times makes the argument for it being exclusively acts of genius very strong. Again, more examples: "Ohio" (despite having been written immediately after the incident and being about a very specific event of the '60s, it still has an ability to touch a deep, almost primal, part of the human psyche); "After the Goldrush" (Again, despite having the very "dated" line "Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970's", and also the "bizarre" notion of "flying Mother Nature's silver seed to a new home in the sun", it holds up as a deeply moving anthem for environmental concerns better than hundreds of environmental protest songs; "Needle and the Damage Done", which is still one of the most convincing statements on the ravages of drug addiction ever penned, "Rockin'in the Free World", an obvious example, maybe, but it's hard to deny the power of this song and how its double-edged sword cuts into all our American hypocrisies.

His "Staying Power": Certainly he's had his creative low points. But he has never lost his creative voice for an unreasonably long time. (How many other artists or bands have been able to do this? Sure, Keith Richards is still rocking as hard as ever, but is the creative voice of the Rolling Stones truly alive, or merely hooked up to a life-support system? No Beatle held onto his creative voice for the long haul, and even Dylan, whose creative voice at one time towered over most others, has misplaced his for years at a time.) Even on Neil's weaker albums, there are almost always jewels to be found that show his creative voice is far from lost: "Hippie Dream" from Landing on Water, "Long Walk Home" from Life, "Transformer Man" from Trans (the lyrical strength and creative voice emerge clearly on the Unplugged version, and also upon discovering the song was written while he was struggling to help his handicapped son to be able to communicate), "Shots" from Reactor, "Video Arcade" from Broken Arrow. In addition, there are many jewels scattered along the dirt road of his latest excursion: Greendale.

There are other elements to Neil's genius that are less tangible, but they strike a chord in many people. I'll leave those unsaid, since the elements I've already discussed are considered too intangible by most music critics. Instead, I'll recount an incident from my own life of first recognizing some of this intangibleness: Back when I was 15 in 1980, I saw Live Rust on HBO. I didn't know a thing about Neil, and had not even fully left my "Kiss are so cool" phase. But something struck deep within me like nothing else had before (a couple years later I had the same/different thing happen to me when I heard 'Jokerman' by Dylan). Long before my sense of myself or music had been fully developed, there was some kind of radar within me that was able to detect genuine creative mastery.

Neil Young is a genuine creative master.


John N. Diller <> (02.02.2000)

Lots of overproduced and self-pitying stuff left over from his days with Buffalo Springfield. I consider his real startout to be Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere with Crazy Horse. A desert island disc.

Didier Dumonteil <> (22.02.2001)

Only one comment and a negative one.This is mine:NY 's first album is worthwhile,with a lot of good tracks.Still under the spell of Buffalo Springfield ,Young chose lush arrangements.THe 2 sides open with 2 instrumentals:'the emperor of wyoming' is really cool,but the other one's only quality is to be very short.'The loner',written with Stills in mind ,is solid rock.The ballads are longing,yearning,wistful with such tracks as if 'i could have her tonight' 'i've been waiting for you' and 'i 've loved her so long'.The looong tracks as 'the last trip to Tulsa' wear out very quickly!That will be the problem of NY's next album everybody knows this is nowhere.

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

A somewhat haphazard debut. The string-enahnced Jack Nitzsche production is an acquired taste, the songwriting is still insecure, and the lyrics are too heavy on watered-down mystic hippie schlock. The whole album sounds unfinished, and some of the songs come across as just fragmentary ideas. The first of the instrumentals, "The Emperor of Wyoming", is actually quite pretty as a mood-setting opener, and "String Quartet from Whisky Boot Hill" is something Young didn't have anything to do with at all. A leftover from the aborted "Whiskey Boot Hill" musical, it's a Jack Nitzsche composition, performance and production; anyway it's just a link between the two sides of the original record, so don't get bothered too much. Of the two highlights in this sea of mediocrity, "Here We Are In The Years" is an unembarrassing eco-hymn with a memorable, flowing melody and some impressive riffing in the middle section. "The Old Laughing Lady" is an atmospheric number in the vein of the Springfield's "Expecting To Fly", and it succeeds perfectly in creating a mystic, slightly disturbing atmosphere. The lyrics are enigmatic without being pretentious and the frantic backing vocals towards the end really suck me in. Good melody, too, which became even more apparent in the later Unplugged version. The rest is mostly inoffensive, unexciting balladeering, with "I've Been Waiting For You" standing out for its fresh-sounding riff; but, alas, "The Loner", often considered Young's first solo classic, is a good story with a dull melody and a wretched arrangement. Not a highlight at all. Oh, and "The Last Trip To Tulsa" is only bearable at four o'clock in the morning after at least four bottles of Romanian red wine... At this point, he couldn't do a Dylan for sure. That would improve, too. All in all, flawed, but not bad for a beginning. (Record Rating: 5, Overall Rating: 9).

<> (02.07.2002)

Very nice solo debut. It is very clear that Neil is extremely tentative on his first album on his own and as such, many of the arrangements bear the resemblance of the Buffalo Springfield. That is never a bad thing though as that band was great. Neil had yet to fully tap into his songwriting zone, but there are a few gems on here. I've always loved 'The Old Laughing Lady'. Apparently so has he as it has turned up on the magnificent compilation Decade as well as Unplugged many years later. In fact, the demo version can be found on the Buffalo Springfield four disc compilation. 'The Loner' is a classic which Stills loved so much he even covered it himself. 'The Emperor Of Wyoming' is a decent instrumental and an interesting way to begin the record. Neil's voice throughout doesn't ring of confidence as he never sang that many lead vocals with the Springfield. Their first hit, 'Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing' was a Neil Young penned composition sung extremely well by Richie Furay. See what I mean? So the thought of doing a whole album's full of lead vocal chores had to terrify him. Basically you have this...a few classics, a couple of nice instrumentals (filler perhaps), and some inoffensive love songs that hint at the composer's potential. Give it a listen. It's not bad.


<> (03.07.2002)

Ok, there is some obvious filler on this record...make that REAL obvious filler, but the best tunes on here are some of the best of the best. 'Cinnamon Girl' rocks very hard and 'Down By The River' is very simply one of the best tunes Neil Young has ever done. Kind of funny that a tune like that with such bleak subject matter would become such a classic. The other classic is 'Cowgirl In The Sand' and must be heard in all it's ten minute glory to be appreciated. Check out also the live acoustic version on 4 Way Street as it is done just as beautifully acoustic with a very catchy finger picking pattern as the electric version kicks major ass here. As for the rest well, let's just say compared to the three classics, they are very stale. This is about as different a direction as Neil could take from the last album. Seems Mr. Young walked into a bar and was so impressed with the band, he hired them on the spot. The ultimate garage band was born. This is a very good listen. Neil would be pondering his next album when he got this phone call from a Mr. Stills...

J. Haug <> (27.10.2003)

The peak of Young's early career, without any doubt. I agree that the album is fairly inconsistent song-wise, but I don't see what's so bad about the "mellow" numbers. In fact, they are a huge improvement over the tentative doodlings of the first album. Thankfully, there is no "Last Trip To Tulsa" here; and two of the shorter numbers, namely the title track and "The Losing End," benefit immensely from the tight, crisp (some might call it simplistic) playing of Crazy Horse. Unspectacular country rock, o.k., but very attractive melody-wise, and with Young-typical resonance. "Round and Round" is perfunctory except for the beautiful backing vocals, and "Running Dry" not only has a subtitle which displays Young's abysmal sense of humour but also a violin arrangement which makes you shudder. "Cinnamon Girl" was, I guess, revolutionary at the time, but for me it's just a pleasant little proto-punk/novelty number which becomes somewhat annoying after the tenth listen. But, hey: that coda. Somehow scary, and in any event totally surprising. That leaves the two epics, and it is those which elevate the album into the olymp. You've said pretty much all that there is to say; I would only add that "Down By The River" still gives me the chills whenever I listen to it - those vaguely menacing beginning chords, that sizzling bridge, that glorious chorus with the immortal lines "down by the river / I shot my baby" - pure magic. As for "Cowgirl In The Sand", nothing can compare to that intense sense of expectation and fulfillment when the introduction finally leads to Young counting in the first verse... Two songs for which I would gladly sell my grandmother or sacrifice the whole of After The Goldrush and Harvest combined. Well, almost. (8/12)

Bob Josef <> (28.02.2006)

It's interesting that the long guitar jams are exciting, while some of the shorter tunes ("The Losing End", "Running Dry" and, I agree, especially "Round and Round") are incredibly boring. However, the other songs certainly compensate. I never get bored listening to "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Down by the River", no matter how long they go on. "Cinnamon Girl" is a classic single that I've liked since I was a kid -- the neat little Indian sounding coda is very cool. Finally, I find the title track to be a pretty cool comment on alienation. I actually heard it a few times on the radio, which pushed me over the line to a purchase. Still, the three dull songs, for me, put this one just short of classic status.


Simon Hearn <> (08.09.99)

I love this album! My fave track is 'southern man' - a restrained forcefulness exudes from this song. The long few songs do drag a little, but overall the best young album I think. 'Only love can break your heart' is a fantastic mellow song - young can do both ends of the song writing emotional spectrum with ease. Classic record for the more mature music listener, I think. Otherwise this may bore the pants off of you!

Fredrik Tydal <> (25.02.2000)

I disliked this after the first listen. I really did. I thought it had to be the most overrated album of Neil Young's overrated catalogue. Of course I was wrong. Like you say, it's takes a while to get into. Some of Young's best melodies are here; "Tell Me Why", "Southern Man", "Only Love Can Break Your Heart". I can see why you haven't yet seen the beauty in the latter. I only grew to appreciate it after hearing the horrible euro-disco cover by British group "Saint Etienne". After that, I once again learnt how effectful a sparse arrangement really can be. Man, I absolutely hate those covers that totally removes all meaning, soul and emotions from the originals (Roxy Music's "Eight Miles High" and *gasp* Madonna's "American Pie"). Anyway, "Only Love" is a great song with a great melody and you should give it another listen (or take a listen to that awful cover - might do the trick).

<> (01.07.2000)

George, I would like to hear your honest opinion on the existing musicianship in this album. Some of the songs contain good (not great) melodies and forgetable lyrics (the story of Neil young's career). But when Neil pulls out the old axe to play a lick or two, he makes a fool of himself. Relisten to the solo on " Southern Man" . This godawful excuse for playing sold quite a few records. Mostly what bugs me about not just this album but Neil's whole career is the distasteful feeling of most of his songs. Not good, not bad, not happy, or sad!

Didier Dumonteil <> (23.02.2001)

Even if it's not my favorite -i prefer tonight's the nightand rust never sleep-it was the very first NY I bought,so the lovely tell me why was the very first NY song i've ever heard.It was love at first sight with this strange,almost female voice.The ballads are the strongest tunes on this album:outside the first track ,we have the title track,which lyrics are a bit passé nowadays with this paraphernalia of spaceships heading for a brand new world in the sun (sic!)Birds,i believe in you (better than the painful dylan prayer),don't let it bring you down,till the morning comes are graceful melodies.The electric tracks like souther man pale next to what was to come:NY did so much better after:cortez,like a hurricane,my my hey hey ,shots ( a almost totally overlooked gem on reactor,1981).

Rich Bunnell <> (26.02.2001)


Actually, I just said that to get Ben Marlin's blood boiling. I love this album. Look past "Cripple Creek Ferry"(only a minute long, so it's no biggie) and the tedious "Oh, Lonesome Me" cover and you've got some of the most beautiful music of the '70s. Aside from "Southern Man," which is just as gripping as most people say it is, the songs are very stylistically similar, but they're nearly all wonderful, so it's not exactly a flaw. Not perfect, but definitely a notch above the "pretty good" title you've bestowed upon it, and an easy 9/10.

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

A few minor quibbles here: This wasn't the album that started the critics' love affair with Young; its predecessor, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere was. And I also don't think Young tried to imitate Dylan here. His approach to songwriting is way different from Dylan's - starting out with the music and not the lyrics, placing more emphasis on things like melody, unusual chord progressions etc. -, and, seriously, could you imagine a song like "Southern Man" on a Dylan record? It's perhaps more fruitful to place Gold Rush in the context of Young's dabbling with murky hippie philosophy - CSNY's underwhelming Déjà Vu came out a few months earlier, and the mutual influence is conspicuous. Gold Rush is not the best early Young Album, either (Everybody Knows... you know); by now it sounds even more dated than Harvest, although it's slightly better music-wise. About the title track: the lyrics should probably be taken as a historical document (anything but timeless), but the melody and that horn solo are great and remain so. A lot of filler on this album, such as "Only Love Can Break Your Heart", the two shorties and the country yawnfest "Oh Lonesome Me" (now Johnny Cash really did pull it off spendlidly - Young probably still pales in shame...). The ballads are quite moving, even when Young goes for atmosphere rather than melody as in "Birds." When he doesn't, it's even better - "I Believe In You" is one of his all-time greats; and "Don't Let It Bring You Down" has a nicely detached, shoulder-shrugging flair to it. I never cared much for "Southern Man", though; as heavyish country rock goes, "Ohio" or "Alabama" are far superior, and the solo is indeed atrocious. But "When You Dance" is a nice though typically snail-paced dance rock number. All in all, another mixed effort and a slight letdown after...o.k. But unlike on the first album, there a few really great songs that bear the signs of genius. (Rating: 6/10)

Bob Josef <> (06.08.2002)

Not too many disagreements here. A couple of quibbles: How can you call "Birds" hookless? That "fly away without you" on the chorus grabs me every time. You don't mention "I Believe in You," but that has some really heartfelt lyrics. I like the simplicity of the arrangements through out, also. "Southern Man" disrupts the gentle, CSNY-type mood of the album, but it is a powerful statement. You have to understand the political situation in the South at the time (race riots, segregation, the civil rights movement) to appreciate the lyrics. I also really like the Smiley Smile-esque song fragments "Cripple Creek Ferry" and "Till the Morning Comes," enough to wish that they were turned into completed songs. The only duds for me are "Oh, Lonesome Me" (going with the majority -- Young could have come up with another song) and "When You Dance I Can Really Love" (very awkward lyrics given very awkward music to match). But still, I also have to agree that it's the best of the Young albums I've heard.

The songs, according to liner notes, were inspired by the film After the Gold Rush. Actually, it was a screenplay written by actor Dean Stockwell that Neil had seen. It never was actually filmed.

Richard Nightingale <> (11.02.2003)

Your'e so right George!. I got this album about four years ago having read in various books about its "classic" status.It's a good album nothing more.In fact I would put every single Bob Dylan album from the sixties(including Times They Are A Changin) ahead of this or any other Neil Young album.I'm not saying this is bad, far from it there are some great tunes here. However I get the feeling this guy was incapable of writing songs of any great depth.And when he does he tries too hard:The lyrics to the title song sound very forced as if he's trying to prove himself as a lyricist (Something Bob Dylan never felt the need to do). His cover version of 'Oh Lonesome Me' is bloody awful(why is this track in mono??) and 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' is like something I would expect to hear from The Osmonds. Anyway there is some great stuff on here: 'Southern Man' is a menacing rocker and 'I Believe In You' is one of the most beautiful songs he ever wrote. This album is a very good example of Neil Young's flawed genius. He never did get it quite right did he?


Richard C. Dickison <> (09.08.99)

Don't blame me, I hated this album. I am soooo over hearing this guy wailing (not singing with that VOICE???) at the top of his lungs about how bad and terrible life has treated him.

Neil's big calling was selling himself as some type of honest artist, of course he forgot that artist usually means that you start by having talent. Thank you for the mistaken for Carpenters comment, he has about that much draw for me. He whines instead of sings, he whines instead of writing interesting songs, he presents himself as a rebel then prides himself in his country roots while laughing at all those new bands.

He experiments with new styles and when they don't work out he whines that the record companies made him do it. He binges his guts out on drugs and booze and then whines that no one will take him seriously. He creates a catchy song every once in a while that people like and then he goes off acting like he is so much better than the rest of the kids he wants so badly to immitate.

Oh by the way this album is slow and dreary, 'Heart of gold' was a fluke (as in parasitical worm). The only Neil Young I can tolerate comes packaged with Crosby,Stills,and Nash. Enough said.

Simon Hearn <> (08.09.99)

I know people who think this is his best album! It is so so so boring. I have to say the most over rated Young album ever (and he has made a few!). What puzzles me is why did he go and produce Harvest Moon in the early 90's when he could have re-visited After the Goldrush? Hmmmmm

Kristian B. Handberg <> (04.11.99)

Like many other of this Neil-guy's works this one has a mystical quality to me. He really "says" me something. it's a unique brand of mellow country rock and lots of great songs. I like it.

<> (19.02.2000)

First, I will say this album is simply not his best work and not an easy listen. Not the best place to start an N.Y. collection.

I've been searchin' for a place to put my opinion on something briefly touched on in your above review. You seem to be dissing country-rock and the Eagles. Here in the States, country- and folk-rock looms rather large in that genre we all are calling Classic Rock. I'm speaking Byrds-Buffalo Springfield-CSN(Y)-Poco-Eagles-Heart here. (Yes, Heart! Mislabeled as hard-rock, I say definitely folk-rock with an edge, and I also say that they get in just under the wire of your mid-sixties-to-mid-seventies timeframe.)

Suggestion, George: When you make the inevitable trip to the Rock Hall of Fame, don't limit yourself to the delights of Cleveland. Take time enough to head for the American southwest. Rent a decent car with a decent sound system and head out on US 50 thru Nevada or US 89 from Canada to Mexico. While roaring down these 2-lanes and gawking at the scenery, play the first 3 Eagles albums on the CD player. "I am an outlaw, I was born an outlaw's son, The highway is my legacy, on the highway I will run...."

Then ask yourself what music fits here, this or Traffic? (or Genesis? 8>) )

I admit, they deserve dissing for their later overblown output. But in their Early Period... Every note: solo or harmony or from the instruments was exactly were it should have been to get the required message across.

Before I forget: It helps to have someone female & squeezable in a T-shirt & bellbottoms along for the' ride....

Fredrik Tydal <> (25.02.2000)

Like you say, the common misconception is that this album is overrated. It's not. It just sold well back in '72. Still has some good songs, though. "Heart Of Gold", as much as it's been played on the radio, is still a really good song. I love the melody and those harmonica solos. The other high-light is "Alabama", a virtual CSNY song. I could do without a lot of songs on this album, though. Hopefully, new-comers to Neil don't begin with this album.

Rose Mary <> (11.03.2000)

Besides 'Old Man', 'Alabama' and 'Heart of Gold' the rest is so obscure and unattractive....Dont listen to this one if you're really depressed!

Didier Dumonteil <> (20.02.2001)

Harvest was an album that put (I quote Young himself)  this artist "in the middle of the road".Technically and melodically ,it's almost perfect,but these tracks don't vibrate actually.Outside "the needle...." that seemed to belong to the following trilogy,it's close to the singer/songwriter school that was thriving at the time(Carole King,James Taylor,Joni Mitchell et al).But what was important was happened AFTER.Instead of releasing harvest n°2,3, .....n+x,to gather golden records,Young began his depressing trilogy,2/3 of which is unavailable on CD: time fades away,the first live album made with new tracks,(if I'm wrong,tell me who...),on the beach" (side 2 is almost unlistenable) and the towering achievement tonight's the night.

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

It's not at all difficult to understand why this album sold bucketloads. It's as pleasant and mellow as Young gets (except the recent Harvest Moon and Silver and Gold); moreover it came out right after the CSNY split and ensuing hype, and it had a truly great No.1 single to pull it off (no kidding: "Heart of Gold" is gorgeous!). That said, there are loads more interesting country albums, and loads more interesting Neil Young albums. If you only like fast country, dear George, then you'll surely never get happy with Harvest, and neither will you like that many other country records (CCR is not country, by the way. It's rock. Country rock, maybe). On Harvest, Young mostly goes for slow country, again with mixed results. I agree that the lyrics are utterly heartfelt and often beautiful, "The Needle and the Damage Done", written about Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, being the most brilliant example. Just Young and his acoustic, but what a beautiful, beautiful melody. It's totally unusual and actually defies the common criteria of catchiness, yet you can't get it out of your ears after a few listens. Amazing. This and "Heart of Gold" are the ones why this album is worth buying, other than that there are a few nice ones like "Out On The Weekend", whose subject matter is a tad embarrassing, but whose melody and harmonica line is all the more beautiful, "Old Man" which benefits immensely from the Taylor/Ronstadt backing (seriously!), and the rocker "Alabama", which is a great improvement over "Southern Man". Unfortunately, we also have the orchestral horrors of "A Man Needs A Maid" and "There's A World", the former boasting lyrics that are unforgiveably dumb and sexist - unless Young's being ironic; in that case, the irony fails miserably. And the title track is almost as boring as "Oh Lonesome Me". The closer "Words" consists of endless unspired riffing, and "Are You Ready..." is a pointless Little Richard rip-off, as you correctly stated. A half-great, half-dismal album, and Young did well in heading for the ditch again. (Rating: 6/10)

<> (01.04.2002)

this album is like an adventure, you start out strong, having a good time, then you have a traffic jam with 'a man needs a maid', which i once hated before i got in tune with what he is saying, but right after 'MNAM' it goes right to more bad ass tunes, Neil Young has to be taken album by album, I love Neil Young, but i'll skip a song, I love the Beatles, and i skip some of there stuff, but everyonce in a while you got to listen to the whole album and then you find a glimpse into the mind of the artist. Kind of like Picasso or something. As for you George, what does it matter if the man is old, that doesnt change the fact that he is still out there trying to make a difference.

Mark Koenigsberg <MKoenigsberg@DCMDE.DCMA.MIL> (07.05.2002)

OK so its not his greatest album, but any song that has the line, "To give a love, You gotta live a love . To live a love, You gotta be part of." is OK by me. Must mean something!

<> (02.07.2002)

Never enjoyed a review so much as this one. George outdid himself in making me giggle outloud. Now...that having been said, I think George is truly missing several points here. First off, as I stated in the opening readers section, this album was released in the midst of the "singer songwriters" boom. A genre that considering his opinion on the Eagles, he truly wouldn't enjoy very much. CSNY had just broken up and Neil had really their last megahit with Ohio. That was still fresh in everyone's minds. Harvest was an album that really struck a nerve with the American public. Why? I don't freakin' know!! Just kidding. Having James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt on backup certainly didn't hurt. I don't think their contributions are annoying either. Taylor's banjo playing on 'Old Man' certainly adds the appropriate color to the song. I've always felt that tune was an answer to Stills' 4+20. "Old Man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you were." Danny Whitten, the guitarist for Crazy Horse had died of a drug overdose and losing his friend certainly inspired Neil to write 'The Needle And The Damage Done'. Very strong message. Can't ignore it. This also is like the third Neil Young review in which I've heard Bob Dylan's name brought up. That's the part I truly don't get. I've never heard Neil Young ever in an interview express his opinion to be the next Bob Dylan and I seriously doubt he's trying to rip him off. I think Neil does just fine on his own without Mr. Dylan's help. This one's trying to rip this one off and so on...way too much of that. Hell, on the Beatles 'Run For Your Life', two lines are used word for word from Elvis Presley's 'Baby Let's Play House' so everybody just calm down. Would I recomend this album to a first time Neil Young listener? No. That honor would go to After The Gold Rush, but is the review for this album a little unfair. Yeah kindof. It ranks among Neil Young's best work. So much so that I don't know of any other album he's tried to emulate twice. As for the last question, Mott The Hoople?! A struggling band who had their only hit written by David Bowie and did what else? Yeah ok.

[Special author note: no remarks on the 'singer songwriters' half of the message - as has been noticed, I don't hold the movement in high esteem anyway, and, with a few notorious exceptions (like Joni Mitchell or, well, Neil Young in his non-Harvest phaze), would take Mott The Hoople's two best albums over about 90% of that stuff - but the constant notice that I must not by any means compare Young with Dylan is just getting old by this time. I don't care if Neil has ever 'expressed an opinion to be the next Bob Dylan' - some things aren't spoken out loud - the fact is that Neil Young's position in the early Seventies was to fill out the gap that Bob had left with his seclusion, and this is a far closer analogy than the Beatles-Presley one. So yeah, of course they're different artists. So are, say, the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith. So are Sweet and Motley Crue. So?]

Bob Josef <> (06.08.2002)

I have to give it an "overrated," too. It had a #1 hit and a Top 40 follow-up ("Old Man"), so it got a lot more attention, but the previous two were so much better.

I really can't stomach "There's a Place," either, but I would add "A Man Needs A Maid" to the list. The incredibly overdone orchestration sounds totally out of place and just wrecks both of those songs for me. Where's Paul Buckmaster when you need him? Plus the lyrics to "A Man Needs a Maid" don't exactly give feminists much to chew on.

I like the rest of the songs on an individual basis, even '"Old Man" -- kind of a touching track, actually. The problem is putting them all together like this makes the album really tedious. Despite the fact that Everybody Knows has those ten minute guitar discourses, Harvest seems to drag more. The album could use something more dynamic like "Southern Man" or jaunty like "Tell Me Why" or "Crippled Creek Ferry" for a little variety. However, Neil was suffering from a back injury during the sessions, recording the songs while in a brace, so maybe he was writing stuff more suited to his limited mobility. Still, it might be better listening to these songs on a mix tape or in CD changer with other albums than straight through.

And if you think "Words" is "non-vivacious" here, at just under 7 minutes, then just try the unedited version from the Journey Through the Past soundtrack. It takes up an entire album side, over 20 minutes long. The best thing I can say is that it's not as bad as the nine minute version of "Almost Cut My Hair."

<> (16.10.2003)

I could not disagree more with you on this cd. True, it may not be a "easy" listen, but great discs never are. Thats what Celene Dion is for. While Neil has never been a great singer technically speaking, he sings and plays with heart and emotion, which makes up for every thing.

Glenn Wiener <> (15.11.2003)

I am not a big fan of Neil Young's tone deaf whinings. However, Neil touches on a variety of styles. Yes, a great deal of the music is country flavored. However, there are some touching ballads and a couple of good rockers. The songs themselves are pretty focused and even Neil's singing is tolerable and even good in a few spots. Overall this record turned out to be an unexpected special surprise.

Matthew Byrd <> (16.07.2004)

Oh my gosh-dern-holy-god!  I put this on one of my 'greatest album' lists that I sent to this site..... I'm sorry George.  Well, the truth is I find this to be an entertaining album but it is NOT great.  I still like it but the times have changed.... the worm has turned.... I guess, no, I still like it but gets a 3 1/2 out of five from me.


<> (23.07.2003)

The title track has got to be worth the price of admission. Back in '73 I slept in the car waiting for the chance to buy Who tickets and the guy in the car next to mine was playing TFA on his 8-track all night long. I paitiently waitied for the title track and having heard it 10 times in an altered state of mind I can tell you it is one helluva song. Sing along now!

"...Down on pain street, disappointment lurks. Son don't be home too late! Try to be home by 8! Son don't wait till the break of day, 'cause you know how time fades away..."

Pedro Andino <> (25.10.2003)

watch the movie. neil is nuts and he made the movie because it may be his best but no! it was a bloated mess too lazy too get up! if you play the record backwards you may hear jazz music from santana! frank sinatra! billie holiday! african music! radio dj's speaking spanish! then when all that is done you get a 40 minute side wiht all the fucked FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDBACK!

J. Haug <> (27.10.2003)

An overlooked little gem, and I wonder whether this will change now that the album is finally released on CD. I have this on vinyl - actually a good record to listen to on vinyl, since it leads you to believe that the shitty sound is due to a low-quality turntable & needle. Talkin' bout the needle and the damage done... Anyway, Neil's voice sounds excruciating on some of the songs, but he's really being honest, humble, and true to his artistic credo. Raw, unrefined emotion if ever there was such. A more extreme contrast to Harvest, released a year earlier, one cannot imagine. We have Young croaking ("Yonder Stands the Sinner") and singing out of tune ("The Bridge", "Time Fades Away"), we have lame rock'n roll ("Time Fades Away") and fiery rock'n roll ("Last Dance"), we have some beautiful steel guitar by Ben Keith and some rather horrible mistakes whenever Young tries to play the piano, as on "Journey Through The Past". You don't want to imagine in what state Young's psyche was at the time. Definitely not the record of a happy man. That said, the primitivism of "Sinner" is quite charming, "The Bridge" and "Journey Through The Past" could be great ballads when played properly, and the gorgeous childhood reverie "Don't Be Denied" is an all-time Young classic. However, what makes this album moving is that it's so utterly heartfelt, rough, direct, and, in a way, unkind to itself. No prisoners taken. And if you want to hear Neil when he's even more depressed, take his next two albums. (7/11)

Philip Bourke <> (16.12.2003)

A great album for sure! Though at the time when I first purchased it I could not listen to it, but as a few more life experiences came and went I grew to love this album. Though it is at times dark and lonely, there is a warmness about it too, almost juxtaposed against it. The Intro tune "Time Fades Away" really sets the tone and mood here so fuckin' well, then it cruises along down dark alleys and realistic vivid tales of debauchery! L.A has to be one of the most underated songs in the Neil Young canon, that riff is so infectious and the refrain of "don't ya wish you could be there too" is at once inviting AND sarcastic! Brilliant stuff. Why Harvest was bought by the bucket load and this basically frowned upon is a bizarre, This is Neil Young, stripped bare and filled with booze and dealing with all his personal shit where many would just hide away, or perhaps Fade away!!!


Jeff Blehar <> (17.04.2002)

Neil Young's finest album by a fair margin. It's ungimmicky and aggressively uncommercial: let's see, we've got 3 or 4 twelve-bar blues songs, one banjo-pickin' slice of the Ozarks, a two straight folk songs, and one ponderous ballad. And whereas Young is usually maddeningly inconsistent on most of his albums, here he serves up a cohesive set of 8 songs, all of which are excellent. I DO think that your ability to appreciate this album is enhanced knowledge of the circumstances under which it was created - what you've written in your review indicates you're unaware of them, but that's not your fault.

First of all, most of the songs on the album are directly related to what had happened to him in the past two years, so in that sense the album is definitely 'conceptual' in the same loose sense that Tonight's The Night is. He'd written and recorded Tonight's The Night in the wake of Danny Whitten's death in 1973, and then he hit the road with those songs in England. The tour was terribly received (stuff like "Tired Eyes" and the title track ain't crowd-pleasers, to say the least) and the record-label therefore decided NOT to release the record. Young was subjected to savagely dismissive reviews of both his concert performances and of the album Time Fades Away, whose cracked-voice desperation sounds powerful and vital today, but horrified critics who were waiting for Harvest, Part 2.

All of this - the critical bashing, the premature obituaries being written in the press, the death of two close friends, the disastrous tour and aborted release of Tonight's The Night - led to a catharsis of sorts. That catharsis is what you hear in On The Beach. This is the album where Young finally learned to just not give a damn what anyone else thought he should be doing with his music. "Walk On" isn't about Lynyrd Skynyrd at all (must just have your facts mixed up there, George); it's a stoic but upbeat kiss-off to the people who'd claimed he was artistically 'dead,' and it's intentionally mirrored in the last song on the album, "Ambulance Blues." The point of "Motion Pictures" has little to do with movies and everything to do with the lines "All those people think they've got it made/But I wouldn't buy, sell, borrow, or trade/Anything I have to be like one of them/I'd rather start all over again." Similarly, the cryptic lyrics of "For The Turnstiles" (which has one of the most taut, finely-calibrated arrangements of any Young song, period) are clarified by the final verse, where the narrator passively observes the fickle crowd abandoning its team, leaving them to "die on the diamond" while they scatter for the turnstiles.

As for "Ambulance Blues" - my favorite track on the LP, by the way - you criticize its perceived petulance, writing "I don't think even the harshest Neil Young critics ever started their reviews by saying 'I'm better than Neil Young'." But ironically enough, his critics WERE saying things like that at the time. Whether or not you think his tone is childish (I think it is, and I think that's part of its appeal), it helps to know that at the time it was written critics were near-universally pronouncing Young's career over. It may be 'poor taste' to you, but I feel it's absolutely essential to the concept of this album, whose overriding themes speak of strength through irony and wry detachment, and of throwing off the crippling yoke of others' expectations.

So I wonder if the symbolism of the title & cover isn't often lost on people. While all these songs may sound extremely dark and depressing, Neil is ON THE BEACH: he's come through the fire and made it to the water's edge. Or to put it another way: Time Fades Away was Neil Young heading into darkness. Tonight's The Night was the sound of him in thrashing around in the belly of the beast. On The Beach, however, is where you hear Young surfacing, climbing out of the muck, winning free of his demons - and that's why I'll always consider these three albums, and On The Beach in particular, as the absolute peak of the confessional singer-songwriter genre. Assuming you accept the rules of the singer-songwriter's style - which is to say that you don't find such self-examination and psychodrama to be unbearably pretentious and indulgent - I'd say that this is the best of the form. Lean, low-key, penetrating, and often overwhelming...but ultimately uplifting. This gets my 10/10.

Oh, and by the way, you no longer have to wail about On The Beach being unavaiable on CD! Go to:, and you'll find all the songs on mp3.

Kevin Coleman <> (17.05.2002)

By far the best Neil Young album ( I can't call it a CD because it doesn't exist). OK, George, if you have any pull, PLEASE get them to put this on CD. Great great album that is beyond words.

Margreeth Bruijnesteijn <> (21.05.2002)

'Sweet Alabama' by Lynyrd Skynyrd was actually a reference to Neil Young's 'Southern man' from a few years before, which accused people from the southern US of A of being racist WASPs.

I never knew if Lynyrd Skynyrd responded again, but apparently there were no real hard feelings...

David Bulluss <> (25.11.2002)

I absolutely agree with On the Beach being the ultimate Neil Young recording. I will not say it is better than all Crazy Horse, Lost Dog's or other group based albums but certainly of his solo efforts. Best tracks? Well, Jeff Blehar has got it all correct. I agree with him. I will not repeat it. And as for the mp3s available on the web.....I hadn't even heard the complete album until I downloaded them and burnt a cd of it a 2 or 3 years ago. Classic album. I play it at least once a week and only ever love it more each time.

Richard Nightingale <> (09.07.2003)

Fantastic, this album actually works!!!

Most Neil Young albums have at least three or four tracks that are completely forgettable not so with On The Beach. I'm not saying this is an all time classic, however everything fits into place on this album very nicely.The tracks on the album that are filler don't actually ruin the mood of the album, in a strange way they enhance it.There's no soppy pap on this album either making it far better than After The Goldrush and ..........well any Neil Young album actually.Let's not get carried away though, as I stated before this is not an all time classic but it is very good. An overall rating of 12 would be fully deserved.

J. Haug <> (27.10.2003)

Another of the Missing Six, the NY albums unreleased on CD until very recently, and rightly the most coveted one - I saw this on E-Bay for 85 $ recently, and there even used to be a petition somewhere on the net to release it. Anyhow I'll stick to the vinyl copy I bought for 5 Deutschmarks at a second-hand store sometime in the early Nineties, and revel in the cracks and hisses that are, once again, oh so in tune with the music.. This record and the following Tonight's The Night definitely represented a career high for Young. On The Beach is a marked advance in gloominess over the already rather gloomy Time Fades Away, and it's not one of Young's most accessible albums. The opener, "Walk On", a nice little riff-rocker, and "See The Sky About To Rain" with its otherworldly Wurlitzer piano and beautiful melody could qualify as easy listening (for Young), but after that things get weird. The mighty "Revolution Blues", telling a bizarre story about a gang of revolutionaries (?) in a trailer park who are crying for help and may or may not symbolise CSNY is a classic. Same cannot be said about both the all-too-whiny "For The Turnstiles" - although there are not that many albums with songs about turnstiles - and the stab at comedy, "Vampire Blues" (finally, a real blues - why are there so many "Blues" numbers on this album anyway?). Side 2 has the big ones, the druggy title track, which takes Neil to new heights of depression but is absolutely marvellous, and the epic "Ambulance Blues". And this is where I disagree with you, George, since I think that "Ambulance Blues" is possibly Neil's greatest song. Beautiful picking (even if it is ripped off from Bert Jansch's "Needle of Death"), beautiful melody, beautiful epic lyrics, gorgeous harp and fiddle breaks. Heavenly, especially since Neil's low drone is something entirely new for him and must be heard to be believed. Anyway, 20 points for the cover (a stranded Cadillac and a newspaper with the story of Nixon's disgrace, plus bizarre liner notes by the semi-illiterate fiddle player Rusty Kershaw). (9/13)


Jesse Sturdevant <> (06.01.2001)

Although I like this record a little more than you, I do agree it is just a good, not great, album. 'Through My Sails' was one of the tracks recorded for CSNY's unfinished Human Highway album from the year before

Didier Dumonteil <> (22.02.2001)

Zuma came after the gloomy trilogy time fades away/on the beach/tonight'sthe night and is a return to a more "conventional "style.After the night,daylight again on the shore where lays Montezuma .But isn'it a dark light? (facile oxymoron,borrowed from Corneille's le Cid) .Fortunately,he escaped from the CSNY connection that never did this artist any good ,the three others being too much unimaginative for him.

Zuma is a powerful album:'don't cry no tears' and 'barstool blues' are fiery rockers.'looking for love' is a fine and moving ballad featuring such touching lines as "when she starts to see the darker side of me".

The two pièces de résistance are two bluesy numbers 'danger bird' and 'cortez the killer'

the first one features a heartrending vocal of Neil who yells;"although his wings have turned to stone/I can flyyyyyy Sometimes it reminds me of Lennon's vocal on mother.

Zuma is erratic,with colorful lyrics,and it's brilliant.It predates Pocahontas in such lines as "women were beautiful/Hate was just a legend and war was never known" toujours ce paradis perdu!And ,mind you,"they offered life in sacrifice "but,to be precise,"the others could go on".It's no small feat to write such lyrics and to get away with absolute mastery. Dig this lines "they carried them (stones) to the flat land/and they died along the way...".On "live rust,Y. was to perform this warhorse with a reggae flavor.

There are weak tracks too "stupid girl" borrows the title from the Stones for a dull lament.'Drive back' which lacks a tune leads you nowhere .But it's nothing compared to the greatness of the highlights.Zuma is an album which has stood the test of time quite well.

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

So this is where we meet again. Unfortunately, one very good and two almost perfect records (Time Fades Away, On The Beach, Tonight's The Night) have zipped by without anyone noticing. But don't worry, Zuma is still pretty good. It's the first full-scale hard-rocking Crazy Horse collaboration since Everybody Knows..., and the first one featuring CH guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro, who stepped in after Danny Whitten's death (see Tonight) and is currently, along with Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina, still in the Crazy Horse lineup. Accordingly, this album's sound is slow, heavyish and archaic. Some people would call it clumsy and primitive, and I guess they have some point. But I dig that primeval, monolithic Crazy Horse sound, it's way more resonant than the noodling of some more technically proficient outfits - that's the secret about primitive music: if it's done well and emotionally sincere, it hits universal feelings. At least with me. Zuma boasts one of the best songs Young ever did, the majestic "Cortez The Killer" with its elephantine instrumental beginning, and lyrics that successfully aspire to a mythical dimension. And Young shouldn't be taken at face value here: he actually uses a persona constructing an idealised image of Aztec history - hence phrases like "Hate was just a legend / War was never known". This is poetry, no more and no less. One of the most moving pieces of music ever. By the way, it was banned in Spain, just after the collapse of the Franco régime. - No wonder that the rest of the record isn't on a par with this: "Pardon My Heart" is one of Young's most perfunctory acoustic numbers, and the CSNY outtake "Through My Sails" is pleasant though unexciting. Elsewhere, we have short, straight-to-the-point rockers like "Don't Cry No Tears", "Barstool Blues", "Looking For A Love" (pure country, that one) and "Drive Back", which all have simplistically beautiful melodies and good riffing. "Stupid Girl" is, admittedly, a bit dumb, but the record's other epic, "Danger Bird" is awesome. A sound painting if ever there was one. The super-slow crashing guitar chords create a beautiful picture of that tired beast whose "wings have turned to stone." Not easy listening by any means, but boy, what a beautiful drag... Nice picture on the sleeve, too. (Rating: 8/12)


Didier Dumonteil <> (06.09.2002)

This album lacks unity:it seems like some compilation of leftovers of unreleased albums:one thing to bear in mind is that there are a lot of these things:best example is "homeground" which featured the pretty mediocre song we find here. Side one has got a good country flavor as "the old country waltz" and the aerial "hey babe" testify."Bite the bullet" which may be or may not be a tribute to the eponymous movie rocks very hard."Hold back the tears " has a Mexican feel perhaps influenced by Dylan's Desire which was released the year before.

Side two is a jumble ,mixing one good song,one of Young's warhorse and two throwaways."The star of Bethleem" ,probably about his break-up with actress Carrie Snodgress has a nice tune even if the lyrics are hard to fathom (the last lines:"maybe the star of B. was not a star at all"???)."Like a hurricane" ,probably inspired by Dylan (Rolling thunder review and boxer Hurricane Carter) is a riveting tour de force which NY will often play on stage :on live rust, in an epic thirteen minutes version on weld,and backed with a pump organ (sic) on unplugged. This is one of Young's triumph. "Will to love " is very weak musically and the metaphor on the lust of the salmon ludicrous."Homegrown" ends the album as an anticlimax.

When will they release that on CD? If someone could tell me...

J. Haug <> (27.10.2003)

The fourth of the Missing Six (and believe me, there's no need to waste money on the new CD versions of Hawks and Doves and Re-ac-tor), and a rather half-baked affair it is. You're of course right, George, that "Hurricane" is a stroke of genius. That's all there is to be said. The rest is so-so. Some of the country numbers are nice, such as the schmaltzy "Old Country Waltz", and "Star of Bethlehem" (which dates from an earlier session but is a country number nevertheless). However, I absolutely detest the noisy, rowdy "Bite The Bullet" in which Neil tells Linda Ronstadt (or is that Emmylou?) that she's "a Carolina Queen", a "walking love machine" and that he "want[s] to make her scream". Disgusting, even though he does succeed in making her scream - which by no means improves the song. On a similarly low level is the melodyless, interminable "Will To Love", which apparently deals with the procreative strategies of river salmon. I've read that somewhere, it is not really obvious when one listens to the song. The last song, "Homegrown" is a dumb pub singalong best suited for pre-pubescent AC/DC fans discovering light drugs. And that's it. One classic and two or three good songs. Not enough if you ask me. (4/8)


Didier Dumonteil <> (16.02.2001)

Comes a time is a minor album for Young.It's telling that the best track,'4 strong winds' wasn't written by himself,but Ian Tyson.It's pleasant,harmless,as Neil says "comes a time when you settle down".I t didn't herald at all the soon-to -come masterpiece rust never sleeps.

Best tracks outside 'winds':'comes a time','human highway'.

Brett Gross <> (31.05.2001)

I probably shouldn't have read on because I am a Neil fanatic but the bottom line is this is a great album. I put this album on everytime I travel and it puts me in such a relaxed happy mood. "Four Strong Winds" is a classic, Neil is a classic, and I think that your "critical" look at his catalog is amusing to me because you delight in "proving the critics wrong." Well, you are the anti-critic who has an entire web page devoted to your comments on music. Is that irony I smell? The thing I disagree with most in your Neil reviews is your comments that Keith Richards rocks harder than Neil. Have you been to a Stones concert in the last 25 years? Watch Neil play "Rockin' in the Free World" live sometime and then maybe you can comment. I also don't think you truly enjoy Neil's various genres of music. To me your reviews of artists like Neil and Blind Faith could be comparable to a Gospel singer reviewing a Slayer album. You just don't get it.

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

Now this is really boring, sorry. O.k., it's unpretentious, inoffensive country music, but unlike on Harvest there's no edge, and the album just flows by without stirring any response. And the country stuff on the first side of American Stars 'n'Bars from the year before was at least catchy and somewhat edgy, plus it was balanced by the thoroughly inconsistent but utterly fascinating second side that included "Like A Hurricane". (Have you actually heard that one, George? It's also on Decade and on gazillions of live albums - come to think of it, you should give Decade a listen anyway - I know you don't like compilations, but there's some prime songs on that one that have been released nowhere else, like "Campaigner", "Winterlong", and "Deep Forbidden Lake"... but I'm digressing.) For this one, Young recruited a huge armada of acoustic guitar players from Nashville, Nicolette Larson, and, for two numbers, Crazy Horse, and it's hard to see why he didn't just stick to his own acoustic and a rhythm section. A severe case of too many cooks etc. Not that the record's overproduced. Wonder where he hid that ominous "Gone with the Wind Orchestra" - you wouldn't notice that there's ever anybody else playing but Young himself. And Nicolette Larson singing, of course. Her vulgar, grunting screams on "Motorcycle Mama" must be one of the worst moments in Young's entire career, and they comletely ruin a song that wasn't that exciting in the first place. "Lotta Love" is, I agree, utterly pointless and out of tune, but "Lookout For My Love", the other CH track, is a good one and the best song on here. Love the bridge and the way Young gives voice to his desperation and sighs "Lookout for my love / It's in your neighborhood..." Everything else is pleasant country, sometimes boring ("Peace of Mind" and "Already One" - mind the arch-conservative and complacent blah-blah about married bliss on the latter; more of that on the recent Silver and Gold, oh dear...), sometimes beautiful (title track, "Going Back" and the cover "Four Strong Winds"), and sometimes amazingly repetitive (the intros of the title track and "Field of Opportunity" are IDENTICAL. And he would come up with complete identical MELODIES on the otherwise perfect Sleeps With Angels... oh my.) And lyrics like "On the field of opportunity it's plowing time again" - come on... Conclusion: Young was never at his best when he was in a happy, mellow mood - the results were albums that just feature him sitting on the lawn in fromt of his ranch, softly strumming his guitar and singing about how good life is and how much he loves his wife (witness Silver And Gold: now THAT's boring...). Angry Young is way better. Or depressed Young. Fortunately, tough times for the man were soon to follow. (Rating: 5/9)


Richard C. Dickison <> (29.08.99)

Hey, Hey, My, My, This is his only album, Worth to buy. ;) I recall this album when it came out was the final proof he was the greatest. Boy, did those critics breathe a sigh of relief when their golden boy finally got his act together. I personally love the second side of this album and this is infact the only Neil Young album I will sit through and not be trying to be polite to some misguided fan usually for some other motive (hee,hee). Yes, that's right, Dick will listen to Rush but only if there is booze, or well you know involved. Hey, I can even be bought. But my price is quite high if there are Kiss albums involved. Anyway, Yeah the guy actually did make this album and Yeah I can listen to it, but... keep going on this catalog and see what a waste case can do to fu-- up his career, oops sorry, why does this man bring out the worst in me, I should be better than that. That bastard.

Didier Dumonteil <> (09.02.2001)

How a site that asserted the Beatles genius deservedly can miss the point so much when it comes to Young? Rust never sleeps is probably the greatest but there is greatness elsewhere: Rush,Time fades away,tonight's the night,Zuma,Ragged glory,weld...

Let's come back to rust:the fact that some Young's lyrics are hard to fathom is not a drawback.Dylan's ones are too.Dylan has always despised those who act like students as far as his work was concerned(see Weberman,the "dylanologist"?"Thrasher anyway can be felt even is some metaphors escape your mind.It's a song about getting old gracefully and it sure ain't easy when you're a creator.

'Pocahontas' tackles the hackneyed topic "le paradis perdu" while paying a tribute to Brando and pulls it off with gusto.

'Powderfinger' is an underrated gem:told by a dead man (as with once the great Procol's 'Dead man's dream'),we know from the start that,like in the greek tragedy,the die is cast,the hero can't escape his fate.

The two versions of "hey hey" are awesome,but the dubious "philosophy" has not worn that much well.I remember that ,just before his dead,John Lennon said how much he admired the survivors and added something like:"if Young wants to burn out,let him do!"And it might be this song that gave ideas to some (see Cobain)But after all it was Young's state of mind at the time,and anyway who will accuse "piggies" "blackbird" "helter skelter" and " Revolution 9" of Sharon Tate's death?

Neil Young ,sans CSN ,is part of la crème de la crème de la musique américaine.

Rich Bunnell <> (26.02.2001)

I must confess that on first listen I found this album to be incredibly boring. I thought that all of the acoustic songs sounded the same, the rockers had no melodies and "Powderfinger" was bland and unmemorable. Don't worry, I've come around! This isn't the perfect collection of Youngness, but the entire album without question strikes the listener with a feeling of pure tension. The hooks in most of the songs can't even really be called "hooks" - they're more like subtle undertones of memorability. Nearly every song is great; I even like the much-maligned "Welfare Mothers"(great vocal hook) and "Sedan Delivery"(tuneless but relentless). And to remedy my earlier moron opinion, "Powderfinger" is just wonderful. It perfectly bridges the two halves of the album, with a soft, rolling acoustic melody built upon by electric texturing. If I had a point-lowering gripe, it would be that besides "Powder" and "Poca," none of the album is unquestionably awesome - just "really good." But "really good" is still, well, really good! I give the album a high 8/10.

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

This is Neil Young's best album. And don't worry, George, you've missed many great ones, but none of them equals Rust (though his early 90's output comes close). No entirely new ideas on this one - the "better to burn out than to fade away" philosophy and the whole punk response thing shouldn't be taken too seriously. This ain't no concept album. Even more so if one considers that Young has been pursuing the "fade away" direction himself for some time now. No, what makes this album great is the incredible quality of the songwriting and the remorselessness of the arrangements. One side of acoustics, one side of monolithic Crazy Horse rock at its most berserk - now that's consistent. Not that I'm an admirer of ear-drum shattering feedback noise for its own sake: I intensely dislike heavy metal, don't understand what 'grunge' is all about and appreciate Motörhead for Lemmy's sense of humour and not for their deafening speed-thrash sound. But here the noise has a point. "Sedan Delivery" and "Hey Hey My My" are raw energy fused with melody, feeling and meaning. I mean it. "Hey Hey, My My" is one of the most desperately moving songs ever written and performed. Same goes for the magnificent "Powderfinger": what an archetypally brilliant story, what riffing, what a gorgeous melody, what Steinbeckian primitivism ("Big John's been drinking, since the river took Emmy-Lou"... wow.). One of the Top 3 of Young's catalog. And the acoustic side's no duffer either: "Pocahontas" is an American saga worthy of "Powderfinger", "Cortez" and the later "Trans Am", and have you heard the electric version performed on the last few tours? Electrifying indeed... And watch out for rock music's only occurence of the words "aurora borealis" (probably). "Ride My Llama" is loveably quirky, "Thrasher" is another of Young's essays on cleaning up his past and has a beautiful melody, and the acoustic version of "Hey Hey..." is no less impressive than the feedback one, additionally boasting Young's best harmonica solo ever. The only letdown is the country "Sail Away" with its tasteless Nicolette Larson vocals; sounds like an outtake from Comes A Time (which, you know, wasn't too good in the first place). Other than that: pure genius. (Rating: 10/14)


<> (03.07.2002)

Of all Neil Young's live albums, this one is by far my favorite. I personally don't believe there to be a weak track on this. Weld was decent, Year Of The Horse was good, but this one comes across doubling as a greatest hits and really showcasing the man's talent. Unlike George, who can take acoustic music or leave it, I love the opening acoustic set. As I stated a while back in a Stills review somewhere, when you have nothing but an acoustic guitar with only you and no distortion, keyboards, or big productions to hide behind, buddy you'd better be good. Very few can pull it off, and Neil Young is one who can. But in today's youth, that's boring, like almost everything else. No matter, behind the wall of sound you can sing as flat as you want and still go unnoticed. For the acoustic numbers, Neil uses a 12 string which gives the music a very rich and full sound. The live version of 'After The Gold Rush' beats the studio version hands down, and the harmonica coming in where the french horn should be is a nice change of pace. The roaring crowd accompanying the line "...and I felt like getting high" will no doubt bring a smile to your face. Great version of 'Like A Hurricane' in the electric set as well as 'Tonight's The Night'. Crazy Horse does an admirable job of backing Neil and their harmonies are even impressive on tunes like 'Lotta Love'. This is the best live album in Neil Young's catalog, and one of the best period. The song selection is great and fans of Young's acoustic and electric periods will not be disapointed. Highly, highly recomended.

Bob Josef <> (23.01.2006)

I don't know why this one isn't mentioned with Live at Leeds as one of the best live albums of all time. (By the way, some of the songs on the last album were actually studio tracks, so this is indeed Neil's first totally live record). Like the Who, Neil knows how to combine noise with melody perfectly here. I don't know if Neil intentionally sequenced the songs this way, but the order of the songs indicate a cycle of a young naif ("Sugar Mountain" "I Am a Child", "After the Gold Rush") whose innocence gets lost when the realities of the world, either historical ("Cortez the Killer", "Powderfinger") or current ("The Needle and the Damage Done", "Tonight's the Night") intrude. Interesting. I do think that preceding a song about a drug overdose ("The Needle.") with dialogue form Woodstock is supposed to make a point about the demise of the Woodstock dream/delusion, so that fits in, too. I do think that two of the songs improve over the originals. That string section in the studio version of "The Loner" never really sounded right, and "When You Dance.." flows better musically (if not lyrically) here. One could quibble with the song selection a bit, as with any live album, but you can't argue with the performances. Another one I'm glad I rediscovered after all these years.


Didier Dumonteil <> (16.02.2001)

One of Young's poorest offerings,it can boast only one decent song: 'violent side'. THe rest is a mess,a muddle ,at a time when the artist seems waning inexorably. But he was to prove ,in the years to come ,that he would regain his powers :see freedom,ragged glory,the highly superior weld,harvest moon,mirror ball...vous allez voir ce que vous allez voir!

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

Oh dear oh dear. The 80's were, as is universally known, no good times for Neil Young, who was lost in stylistic confusion, put out a heap of medoicre, bizarre albums with the occasional highlight (most notably Trans) and otherwise seemed to lie in waiting for his magnificent revival beginning with 1989's Freedom. Landing On Water is as good or bad an example as any for his inconsistent and sometimes extremely painful eighties output. Come to think of it, however, it's rather more painful than most of the rest. Old Ways and Everybody's Rockin' were at least only grotesque and nothing worse. For the record, there is no bass on this album - at least that's what my liner notes say. It's all synth bass, played by either Danny Kortchmar or Young himself. So there you go with those phenomenal bass lines. The overall sound is a clumsy, robot-like synth rock (rather than pop), which you can hear Young didn't feel comfortable with himself. Nerve-wrecking from at least song #5 onwards. Not that the songs themselves are too good. A few are o.k., such as the latest attempt at biography clean-up, "Hippie Dream", or the nicely tortured "I Got A Problem" (bearing the only traces of emotional resonance on the album), or the bouncy "Pressure", or even the bombastic "Touch The Night". On the other hand, Young gives us non-songs like "Weight Of The World" or "Drifter", or lame, childish ditties like "Violent Side" or "Hard Luck Stories", or an abysmal experiment combining street funk with a ghetto vibe and the most blatantly dumb lyrics imagineable. Yeah, I'm talking of "People On The Street". Anyway, the lyrics: ranging between the trite and the plain embarrassing, they're among the worst of Young's career. Gone are the majestic American sagas and the simplistically beautiful love songs. Arrived has the primary-school psychologising and the primitive social critique. All in all, this album is close to unlistenable. I'd add up one point in the rating for Young's deftness and give-a-shit attitude. And it's not as horrible as Under Wraps or Empire Burlesque or Invisible Touch. Not to mention Side 2 of Hawks And Doves, which remains Young at his all-time low. Still leaves it pretty much down in the gutter. (Rating: 3/7)


Didier Dumonteil <> (16.02.2001)

bad comes to worst.Young's voice is gone,and the brass arrangements mar the (very thin) sketches of melody.Only the title track,with its slaps at Jackson and commercials,redeem this one.

After that disaster,Neil Young came back to making good music.Freedom was to happen the next year and ragged glory clinched it


David K. Monroe <> (28.12.2001)

Every few years I listen to this album, and I keep expecting it to be Rust Never Sleeps. It NEVER is! Yeah, "Rockin' in the Free World" sounded pretty hip at the time. Later, it became a kind of "signature song" for Mike Peters of the Alarm. Kinda makes sense, doesn't it? My favorite song on the album is "Hanging on a Limb" - it's just a pretty, shimmering tune of the type that Young should be able to write in his sleep. Take a nap, Neil!

Jesse STURDEVANT <> (28.12.2001)

I wouldn't call this a sellout, really. I think you'd have to look at Comes A Time for that. 'Rockin In the Free World' may or may not have been contrived, but Neil certainly realized he needed to something "big" if he wanted his career to flourish. He wasn't exactly winning fans over in the Eighties. The first six tracks are really strong but deflates in the middle and finishes off with a bang ('RITFW'). On the other hand, I don't care for the cold, "digital" ambience. It may be considered a "comeback" album, but most Neil fans place it in the middle of their "favorite" lists. (Am I overusing my quotes or what?) Ragged Glory and Harvest Moon were more impressive.

Tony Souza <> (06.01.2002)

You're on the right track with the "sellout" comment (although I don't use the word "sellout" here disparagingly). After being on the Geffen label for most of the '80's, (and being sued by Geffen for making non-commercial records), Young went back to his old label Reprise. Young was very happy to be able to return to his old label, so he decided to make a more Neil Young-type record for his first release as a way of thanking the label for taking him back. Ragged Glory, Harvest Moon, etc. are among his best albums albums, IMHO, and this may also be due to the fact that he gets no pressure from the higher-ups at Reprise. As far as Freedom is concerned, it is a slick record, but the sound on here is sparse, not cluttered (especially on the cover version of "On Broadway"). The ironic thing about the acoustic version of 'RITFW' is that the sarcasm is lost on the crowd. They're chanting the title phrase is a jingoistic fashion (or so it seems to me. I could be wrong). As for the rest of the record, there's a lot of diversity on these selections (acoustic, electric, horns on some songs, feedback, etc.). There's a lot to take in on the first listen. I didn't like this record at first, but I kept listening to it and eventually it grew on me and now I like it very much. It may not be the great comeback it was said to be at the time it came out, but it's still a pretty good album.

Bob Josef <> (17.08.2002)

Another overrated album from the Neilster. Despite the preponderance of synths on Life, I think that album was far more interesting than this one. The ballads are pretty tedious and rather depressing, and the rockers are quite sarcastic (and also depressing, by the way -- "On Broadway" becomes a gloomy portrait of NYC instead of a the celebration of the original Drifters' version). In particular, the brain-dead missed the point of "Rockin' in the Free World" -- it was a sarcastic swipe at the politics of George Bush the 1st, not an anthem. But is by far the catchiest number on the album. Why the critics drooled over this one and dumped all over Life, I can't figure out.

J. Haug <> (27.10.2003)

Neil's first comeback album. And full of largely beautiful music it is. This came after a decade which Young spent experimenting with heavy rock, synth pop, roackabilly, country and more synth pop, before he wound up with the hair-raising jazz/blues concoctions of This Note's For You. After all those well-meant, but mostly badly executed exercises in stylistic variation, Freedom sounds like a warm shower indeed. Some of the horns from the last album remain, but elsewhere this is a mixture of straightforward rock and straightforward country. I don't get why you dismiss "Rockin' In The Free World" - it may not have the most exciting lyrics in the history of music, but it has a great riff and Neil at his raw, energetic best; anyhow it's surely no more stupid than "Piece Of Crap", which you love. The country numbers like "Hangin' On A Limb", "Wrecking Ball" and "The WAys Of Love" are a bit lame, though inoffensive, but the rockers open up some new territory. I find the ear-shattering distortions in "Don't Cry" and "Eldorado" not gimmicky but powerful, and the latter is a magnificent mini-epic in the tradition of the mighty "Cortez". And Young's take on "On Broadway" is scary. The way he screams "GIMME THAT CRACK!!!! GIMME THAT CRACK!!! BROOAAAADWAAAYYY!!" over the repetitive chords in the coda really frightened me out of my wits the first time I listened to it. The much-cherished "Crime In The City" (which in its original version apparently went on for forty minutes...) seems to me a bit repetitive, but "Someday" and "Too Far Gone" show that he is still able to write beautiful, kitsch-free ballads. All in all, a stylistic potpourri, a sort of a "Best-of-Neil" in one album, and all the more admirable for it. (8/12)


Didier Dumonteil <> (06.09.2002)

This is NY's triumph,an orgy of sound,an extravaganza no one of his generation could have achieved.With this critically-acclaimed work,preceded by the already excellent "freedom" album which heralded the artist's come back ,Young reclaims his niche in the pantheon of true rock and roll,a place he did deserve anyaway,if we take a cursory look at what he did in the sixties and the seventies.

This is Y and Crazy Horse's best studio album,and this work sees them going to a peak of musical achievement:"country home" "over and over" "white line" or "love and only love" take guitar ravings to new limits,revealing sounds close to chaos.the songs are very long and achieve the supreme feat of never being boring (with the eventual exception of "farmer John" a song NY used to sing during his pre-Buffalo Springfiled days!)."Days that used to be " steals Dylan's melody for "my back pages" -the two singers will perform it together for the bobfest in 1991,Dylan's 50th birthday-and thoroughly pulls it off. And this was the beginning: weld the live which was its follow-up went even further.Only Young survived.

J. Haug <> (27.10.2003)

This, in my opinion, is the high point of Young's later career and shows you that Crazy Horse on a good day were a band not to be matched for emotional intensity and sheer raw power (if you want to know how CH sound on a bad day, just try Broken Arrow...). Combine this with the archaic song structures and the universal/eternal peace-and-love lyrics, and you have a rough-hewn masterpiece. And a fun one, too. Songs like "Country Home", "White Line" and "Over And Over" are among the most uplifting stuff in rock music, even more so because they come from a bunch of people who've really seen some rough times. Not to speak of the inimitable Brontosaurus-like soloing and the feedback orgies after each song. "Love To Burn", "Fuckin' Up" and "Mansion On The Hill" all have primitive garage-rock riffs that are just infectious as hell, and the latter dishes up a magnificent, soaring chorus on top of it. To say nothing of the yodelling (or whatever) at the beginning of "Fuckin' Up" (which was to be driven to a further level of excess on the live Weld). The "Farmer John" cover with its imbecile backing vocals is similarly hilarious. Hell, I find even the closing "Mother Earth" strangely moving. Crazy Horse as choirboys - who'd have thought it (btw, Weld includes a version of "Blowin' In The Wind" that sounds very similar). It seems that with this album, whose closest relation is surely the rougher stuff on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Young and CH have come full circle. Talk about ageing with dignity. (9/13)


Michael Mannheim <> (24.05.2000)

Of all the Neil Young albums I own (which isn't many), Harvest Moon has got to be my favorite. 'Unknown Legend', 'From Hank to Hendrix', 'One of These Days', 'Harvest Moon', etc . . . some of the most moving songs Neil ever wrote. What irks me though is how even when the possibility is there, Neil still comes up short on creating a true masterpiece, and ends up with the sloppy 'Natural Beauty' at the end. I despise that song. I start to understand your reasons for making Neil a 2-star artists, though I still don't agree. Neil's can do better, and he does here. It's a great album, except for that last song, and better than the output of a lot of your 3-star bands (such as CSN).

Didier Dumonteil <> (21.02.2001)

From 1989 onwards,Neil Young regained respect.Harvest moon MUST be looked upon in its context,that is to say,after ragged glory and the live weld.With the latter,Young had taken the electric sound to unexpected absolute limits.Cul-de sac!To go farther was the direct way to chaos.

Hence harvest moon :rediscover melody;hire the old campaigners like taylor or rondstadt;in a word ,return to palatable,"listenable" music.I don't mean it pejoratively!Harvest moon is an easy-to listen work,and that's why the commercial success was immediate:weld didn't even enter the billboard top 100. Now for the songs 'The name of Madonna' makes me cringe but "from hank (marvin) to hendrix "has got a nice tune,quite hummable.My favorite are on side two.Except for a throwaway tune about his late dog,all what remains is splendid indeed:'one of these days', a gentler remake of thrasher,such a woman which takes us back to the orchestral days of harvest but doesn't suffer for it?dreamin'man,charming and  lilting,natural beauty,the best track IMO: 'the end' is simple and grandiose all at once with a very nice harmonica.

And of course there wouldn't be harvest moon n° make way for the baffling sleeps with angels and mirror ball 

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

Oh, George, another of your hard-to-fathom idiosyncrasies of taste... (Just for the record: every single person I've ever met so far by far prefers Harvest Moon to Harvest - so I certainly wouldn't call this a particular idiosyncrasy of mine - G.S.). I don't get why you think this is so much better than the original Harvest. Mind you, I think it's not worse either, and it's anything but a by-numbers rehash of the past blockbuster; nah, it's essentially more of the same, more of the good stuff off Harvest as well as more of the bad stuff. You wouldn't guess it came out in 1992, right after the "Neil-Young-is-the-Godfather-of-Grunge-and-the-hippest-old-fart-on-Earth" hype. This is the perfect record for a sunny autumn evening, mellow, peaceful, and warm. That's it: there's much less depression and anger than on Harvest, and much more good-natured complacency. Not that that's a bad thing: "Unknown Legend", "From Hank To Hendrix" and the title track are all quite beautiful and unembarrassing, and the same goes for "One Of These Days"  (another exercise in nostalgia, Young's favourite pastime) and "Dreaming Man". These songs are all quite similar, which doesn't hurt, since they all sport distinctive melodies, and sometimes a little gimmick in the arrangement which makes them special - such as the broom in the title track (brushed by roadie Larry Cragg), the already mentioned accordion lines in "Hank" and the odd electric guitar fills in "Dreaming Man". This is the good half of Harvest Moon, and it is crowned by the closing "Natural Beauty", a paean to nature considerably more sincere and beautiful than Yes's "Don't Kill The Whale". It's not a cathartic minute too long, and the sampled bird noises at the end only add to the charm. Now about the bad half. Putting a cacophonous ode to his late dog on the album was not a good idea of Neil's. Neither was the inclusion of a tuneless, banal lovesong ("You and Me"), a lovesong turned into a symphonic-synthesised saccharine horror worse than "A Man Needs A Maid" ("Such A Woman"), and a descent into Graham-Nash-style hippie antics with the ugly and pompous "War of Man". So we again have a half-excellent half-awful record that crossed Young over into the mainstream. Only this time he'd already been there. (Rating: 6/10)

Richard Nightingale <> (09.07.2003)

My god what a bore!

It seems to get worse every time I listen to this banal easy listening record.Sorry George but you're talking crap, this isn't better than Harvest it's the bad sequel that never should have been made.Shame really because Ragged Glory was very good and Sleeps With Angels that followed this was even better.You see those two albums had guts this doesn't (neither does Comes A Time that one's crap aswell !!!) The only great Neil Young album is On The Beach (This is coming out on CD for the first time ever on July 14th folks!) Your Neil Young reviews are very good however .Keep up the good work.

P.S. I'd love to read a review of Tonight's The Night and see what you make of this overrated depressing pile of crap.


J. Haug <> (27.10.2003)

Something of a bastard between Tonight's The Night and Freedom, with the depression of Tonight and the diversity of Freedom. For some reason Neil decided that the mellow sounds of Harvest Moon were not how he wished to continue and went on to make an album about driveby shootings and the death of Kurt Cobain. To make the whole thing sound a bit different, he gives us two bizarre but likeable tack piano miniatures (inspired by the pump-organ take of "Hurricane" on Unplugged?), a recorder (sic!!) riff on "Prime of Life", and a totally left-of-centre ambient bass and percussion sound on the brilliant "Safeway Cart". Add to this the 14-minute "Change Your Mind", which would have fit perfectly on Ragged Glory, the Old West epic "Trans Am" - a masterpiece in the tradition of "Powderfinger" and "Cortez", and the demented, tortured blues workout "Blue Eden", and you get an idea of the album's diversity and freshness of sound. A few clunkers here, too (there is no such thing as a perfect Neil Young album): One traditional country ballad ("Western Hero") per album is alright, but there's no reason to repeat the exact same melody a few songs later in "Train of Love". Urgh. The Cobain-related title track is also a bit lame, and "Piece of Crap" is fun, okay George, but hardly a stroke of genius. Btw, indeed the only song off the album which Neil has been known to play live regularly. Which is a pity, since this is one of his richest and most interesting albums - though not exactly easy listening. (8/12)


Didier Dumonteil <> (06.09.2002)

Forget "Pearl Jam":in "I'm the ocean",he could be backed by the lousiest of all rock combos,he would be brilliant:"people of my age,they don't do the things I do,they go somewhere!"Among all his generation,only NY can move us ,excite us and produce a work as devastating as this epic:hear this unrelenting voice,coming from the mists of time,the sixties,and beating the most modern blokes at their own game.Young's ocean is so wide,so restless that he seems to blight us.And if the message is not clear enough,at the end of the record ,you'll find "fallen angel" which uses the same melody but ditches epic rock (I do not know another term for it) for a lugubrious dirge. "Act of love" takes a look at a a very distant past and quotes Lennon's name."Down town" is another put down of the hippies("who go all there because they want to be seen")

This was to be (so far!) Young's last great manifesto.Only 2 out of 5 on the site ,George,come on!

J. Haug <> (27.10.2003)

And, to raise their voices in praise of the revered master and godfather of grunge, in finally come the jolly young lads from Pearl Jam. Not that you could deduce this from the album's eco-aware cardboard cover. Obviously some contract problems. Anyhow, the guys do Young good. I like the monolithic CH sound as well as anybody, but it's good to hear him play a bit faster once in a while, just for a change. The drums roll frantically, the three-guitar phalanx hammers out the riffs, there's energy, tension and dynamics, what have you. Songwise, it's more or less the same as on Ragged Glory, i.e. eternal messages of peace and love and the big green country, with two more pump organ miniatures closing off the respective halves of the album. The speeding up really saves the record, otherwise "Act Of Love", "Big Green Country", "I'm The Ocean" and "Throw Your Hatred Down" could not have become the scorching powerhouses they are but would have remained lumbering feedback monsters. And, hey, Neil gives us a sea shanty to open the proceedings! And it's really good, especially the Long-John-Silver backing vocals of the boys. Same goes for Eddie Vedder's duet with Neil on "Peace and Love", a song that unfolds its charms only on the third or fourth listen. BUT: what he had in mind with the lame, ridiculous "hippie" satire "Downtown" is beyond me. A real pain. Especially since this is the album where Neil delivers the most "hippie" lyrics since After The Goldrush. Nonetheless, this - so far - is the last Neil Young album one can listen to, let alone play to one's friends, without embarrassment. Although I admittedly haven't yet heard the new one. (7/11)


Tony Trainor <> (12.06.2001)

The definitive tune-up album for all Neil Young fans who fancy themselves as blues guitar players.

The spartan B minor chord sequence that pervades Jim Jarmusch's movie of the same name is as haunting as the film itself. Some say Young's guitar playing IS the film.

Jamusch is said to have been influenced by 'Cortez the Killer', Young's epic track from the album Zuma, when he asked him to lay down the soundtrack for Dead Man. Young obliged by playing along to repeated viewings of the film over a couple of long days.

The result is a sound more Western than the most memorable of soundtracks of that film genre - even the best spaghetti!

This soundtrack album is something of a disappointment. Punctuated by dialogue from the film, with additional readings by Johnny Depp of the poetry of William Blake, the album tries to hard to present itself as value for money, a wholesome product. Yet Young's minimal guitar licks would have carried the album alone, made it stand as a work of art in its own right. It is ironic that the most commercial of musical moments, the opening track that accompanies the credits, is absent from the album. The solution? - buy the film on video or DVD. And if you feel it's disrespectful to fast-forward to the delicious title track, the solution is to check out Jarmusch's compiled backstage documentary Year of the Horse, some versions of which came packaged with the Dead Man trailer.

Neil is touring again with Crazy Horse in 2001 and hints of the soundtrack of Dead Man are still in his repertoire. It seems William Blake's canoe has still not reached the horizon.

Launching into a blast from Dead Man during a break between songs at Sheffield Arena, England, Young gathered himself and quipped, "Stuck in a timewarp!"

Dead Man is one of the finest cinematic experiences of the 1990s. The respect that Neil Young has for this film is evident in the style of his guitar playing - he plays with relish, but pauses between each delicious note and chord as if he's frightened of missing any of the action on the big screen.


Philip Maddox <> (02.10.2000)

I caught Neil on his tour for this album, and he tore the house down, so I grabbed a copy of this album soon after. It's pretty good, but not really among Neil's best. I like the opening 'Big Time', which really does sound like an old Young epic (get it? "Old Young"? Ok, I'm done now). A bit long, but still catchy. Ditto for 'Slip Away', which has a hypnotizing repetitive riff in it that works quite well. 'Loose Change' has another repetitive riff, but it just pounds on pointlessly. The song starts out good, but I'm bored by the end. And then you crash right back into 'Slip Away', so you keep getting worn out. I didn't like 'Slip Away' until I heard it free of this album's context. Simply too much damage on my brain. The album closing jam is boring, boring, boring. Poorly produced, too. A total waste. The 4 short songs are all pretty good (especially the Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere like 'Scattered'), but not anything you really need to hear. 6/10 from me.

Didier Dumonteil <> (02.03.2001)

After two ambitious albums mirror ball and sleeps with angels,this album is the beginning of another era of barren inspiration as testify the live year of the horse(1997) and silver and gold(2000).the songs if you forget the appalling cover of "baby what do you want me to do" ,are OK but a mere repetition of already released songs."Big time" is a quicker version of Mountain's "theme for an imaginary western".N.Y. even copies himself:"changing highway" is a photocopy of "word on a string " from"tonight's the night"."loose change" sounds like "Cortez the Killer"."Music arcade" is a bit more original,so to speak,cause the artist uses a low-pitched voice.He was to do it again on silver and gold

J. Haug <> (05.08.2001)

As M. Dumonteil has already observed, this is Neil Young in the middle of another creative slump, the likes of which had befallen him before, so there is some hope that he'll recover once more. Broken Arrow showcases all the bad sides of Crazy Horse; moreover, it's a shameless exercise in self-copying (even the title doubles an old Springfield song, although it's also the name of Young's ranch). "Big Time", "Loose Change", and "Slip Away" make clear what Crazy Horse sound like when they have no solid songs to build on and are not in the mood for inspired soloing either. Dead-slow jams, nonexistent tunes, pointless "solos" (the four-minute riff repetition in "Loose Change" is enough to make everyone run for a Depeche Mode record, and that's saying something...), and all this loooong and sloooow... The four shorter songs are so-so; "Scattered" is only superior to the three "epics" (ha!), cause it's shorter, "Changing Highways" is charming and bouncy, although it sounds exactly like "White Line" on Ragged Glory and, indeed "World On A String". "This Town" is tuneless and pointless and fillerish to the extreme on an album that's full of filler anyway. "Music Arcade" is in fact the only really good thing on the album, featuring an original melody, Young's low-key singing, and the immortal lines "I was walking down main street / Not the sidewalk but main street". The less said about the closing Jimmy Reed cover, the better. Surely a joke that has misfired. So in the end we have a Neil Young album with one good song and two or three decent ones. Disheartening. Some critics inexplicably raved about it when it came out, so that's a point for you, George, and your critics hype hypothesis. - I actually saw Young on the tour for this album. Unfortunately he elected to go for self-copying in concert as well. A greatest hits set that was exactly the same as Weld, issued five years earlier, with an electric version of "Pocahontas" and a heartfelt take on "Music Arcade" as the only real innovations and highlights. And if I have to hear "Sugar Mountain" one more time... Oh how the mighty have fallen. (Rating: 3/7)

Wilhelm Stowasser <> (30.09.2005)

This is a good record. Not among the best that Neil Young has made, but it’s solid Rock’N Roll, the Crazy Horse-way. There are not nearly as many memorable melodies as on Harvest Moon or After The Goldrush. This is all about rockin’ out.

I bought this record because two of the songs appear in the Neil Young Concert Movie Year Of The Horse” which was directed by Jim Jarmusch (and filmed entirely in Super8!); a must-see for everyone who digs this kind of music, in my opinion.

I especially like the first three Songs. They have this typical guitarinterplay and deserve to be that long, because that increases their impact. “Big Time” has become one of my favorite Neil Yong Songs. I like the chorus, (“I’m still living the dream we had, for me it’s not over”) and how the whole song seems to be about going on and not giving up, though time keeps fading away and friends disappear. For me that’s what this whole record (and most of the stuff Neil did in the 90s) is about. The songs are that loud and rough because he wants to prove that he has not become a comfortable, boring old man. He’s trancendending his age through being constant in his work. That’s also what Young means when he talks about “it all being the same song”, I guess. Diversity is not the word that applies to this record and that’s why I do not rate it as one of his best. “Sleeps with Angels” is much stronger for that matter. But if you want to focus on his rockin’ side in the 90s, this is where you should start. (and not that way too loud and muddy record with Pearl Jam, who will never be the same as Crazy Horse)

The “Cover of Baby What You Want Me To Do” is really strange though. Why he had to include this here, when “Music Arcade” would have been a way better closer is a mystery to me. Probably it would have been to short for the CD Age or something.


Philip Maddox <> (06.05.2002)

I don't have a whole lot to say about the album (it's competant, but boring), but I can comment about the tour on which this album was recorded. I saw Neil that year, and the songs REALLY dragged. "Slip Away" lasted nearly a half hour, and at least 20 of those minutes were just Neil absentmindedly hammering on two chords. There were moments of excitement here and there, but this album is, unfortunately, on the whole, quite a good representation of the tour that spawned it (if the show I went to was any indication).

Didier Dumonteil <> (23.05.2002)

The main problem with year of the horse lies in the fact that there's a feeling of "déjà vu" .Actually it's weld part 2,or even live rust part 3 ;so the surprise is not as great,by a long shot.Besides,two songs have already been released live :"sedan delivery" and "when you dance".

That said,it 's an enjoyable album :"danger bird" a track from "Zuma" did deserve a live version;so did the nervy "prisoners of rockn'roll" and the fiery "barstool blues"."Pocahontas" is given an electric treatment,not a bad choice(but I wish NY would have made "thrasher" instead of it).On the other hand,the versions of "human highway,performed acoustically as on record,and "big time" don't amount to much.I hope NY will be restored to favor on this site,he deserves it,on past achievements alone.

Tony Souza <> (21.07.2002)

I love this CD. I love it basically because there's no "Cinnamon Girl" or "Like a Hurricane". There's very little duplication of songs from past live cd's on here. I agree that the songs are slowed down, but Crazy Horse were never known for their speed so it doesn't bother me that much. I enjoy the first side better than the second ("Danger Bird" goes on way too long) and I like the acoustic version of "Mr. Soul". When Young wrote "Mr. Soul" way back when, it was originally acoustic, not electric. The song was put to tape, but never released. The electric version was recorded for Buffalo Springfield. Anyway, this album may not be essential, and I would recommend his other live albums first if you're a newcomer, but this one I enjoy a lot.


J. Haug <> (27.10.2003)

Not much to be said about this one. Not quite as bad as Broken Arrow, but nonetheless a major disappointment. I'm still undecided whether this is a carbon copy of Comes A Time or of Harvest Moon. Neither is, of course, a particularly bright idea (okay, he might have given us a carbon copy of Landing On Water... that said, Broken Arrow sounds like a duplicate of Re-ac-tor.. oh deary..). This is surely the record of a mighty happy man, and consequently boring as hell. Our love will always remain, Neil sings, how good it is to grow old, what jolly times we've known, and how beautiful the sun doth look when it sets, and more such things. Occasionally there is a good melody (such as in the title track, "Distant Camera" or the closing "Without Rings"), but overall there's nothing on here that Neil hasn't done much better on Harvest Moon. Nothing really annoying, just complacent, mellow music for old people delivered by an old man and some old session hacks who back him. And please spare me a song title like "Buffalo Springfield Again". Come on! The other guys from the band (except Stills) are probably living on social welfare by now, and Neil raves about how he wants to reunite with them. Nostalgia is one of Neil's fortes, but at other times he came up with evocative, associative songs like "Don't Be Denied" or "Ambulance Blues" or at least "Unknown Legend." This time he just slams it in our face, in a pedestrian and thoroughly unartistic manner. -A disheartening note for Young to start the new millenium - but I hear that the next one is even worse, so I've so far refrained from buying it. Cheers. (4/8)

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