Walk On is a great choice.
for the record, "harvest moon" has always been one my favorite neil songs. i think it's just a gorgeous song, along with "philadelphia," but neil has his share of songs that just break your heart every time you listen to them. also, i've always really enjoyed "pocahontas."
I'd love to someday see a Neil show that opened with Walk on and ended with Tired Eyes.
Whenever I heard the name Stereolab in the past I always thought their name sounded like some generic electronic act, so I never looked into them until now. I plan on listening to Emperor Tomato Ketchup tomorrow.
So I haven't finished Neil Young, but I'm going to post my incomplete reviews as a way to try and jumpstart myself. I just put on Time Fades Away and I'm really dying for more Neil.
Neil Young Discography (with various ventures to records of him with other bands that I own)
1. Neil Young – Neil Young
2. Buffalo Springfield – Again
I was a major late-comer on Buffalo Springfield. I knew For What It’s Worth, because everyone knows that song, but I don’t think I’d ever heard any of the other tracks. I found this record and picked it up in a Neil-driven fury. Holy hell, Buffalo Springfield were incredible. Every single song on this motha is a intricately arranged yet rippingly energetic or somber yet uplifting gem of craftsmanship and performance. I don’t know anything about Poco and don’t care to, but Richie Furay is in great form here, and the appearance of Neil’s Broken Arrow is enough to make this essential. Seriously though, every song. Get it. Grade: A+
3. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
I vividly remember first hearing this album. There was a hippie dude who had an antiques store in Bishop, and he had a really big selection of CDs of all shapes and sizes. He got to learn my taste pretty quickly, and one day when I came in he handed me this and said, “I think you’ll like Neil Young.” On my drive home I popped it in and heard Cinnamon Girl for the first time. I thought it was pretty cool, and when I realized that it was from 1969, I was pretty shocked. This is such a raw, distorted and ragged album, it sounds like a document of a much later age. There are guitar solos and catchy riffs, but they aren’t flashy or difficult sounding; they play hard rock with the wild abandon of 50s Rock and Roll, which sounds like as much a formula for punk as anything else. There’s also country twang and epic jams, and they’re some of the best that Neil’s ever recorded. The album has a manic energy that was rarely so pronounced on 60s records, especially from people associated with folk rock. Essential. Grade: A+
4. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Déjà vu
The line is that CSNY was Neil Young’s Beatles; for one album at least, that’s true enough. Whereas on his own he lets all his ragged edges fly and chases every muse he can find, here he’s more restrained to one style of slightly psychedelic pastoral folk rock. There are some incredibly awesome harmony parts and some great (if you don’t mind hippie sentimentality, which I think most of us are young enough to not be bothered by) songs with catchy lyrics. Neil’s best contribution is Helpless, one of his all time great songs. It’s a yearning acoustic song with a great vocal performance by Neil, and not a whole lot of help from CSN. Country Girl is more of a rocker, and it shares the high quality of Helpless and the rest of the album. Since the band featured four songwriters who were all at the height of their popularity, each had their tracks and not every performer was necessarily on every song. However, Woodstock features every member of the band covering Joni Mitchell’s song about the festival, and it’s surely one of the best things any of the members ever put their name on, with soaring four piece vocals and great melody. Grade: A
5.Neil Young – After the Gold Rush
Released close after Déjà vu, this album proves what a hot streak Neil was on at this stage. Déjà vu was a collection of great songs from a group of great songwriters, and Everybody Knows was a tour de force of album-length atmosphere and sound. After the Gold Rush is an outpouring of creative talent by one man, and it’s really spectacular. Tell Me Why starts the album off gracefully, a subtly melodic acoustic track that leads in to the titular song, one of the most powerful songs in Young’s canon. The lyrics are obscure and backed by just a piano, and Neil’s vocal performance is out of this world. Every single song on the record is a stone cold classic, with Only Love Can Break Your Heart, When You Dance I Can Really Love and Southern Man becoming hits. This is definitely one of his strongest albums and one of the strongest works of the 70s. The place to start with Neil Young. Grade: A+
6. Neil Young – Harvest
After the increased profile he’d gained from the past three releases, Neil was set to enter the mainstream, and he did so in a big way with Harvest. It’s a subdued, acoustic pop album that just happens to have some of his best, most enduring songs, like A Man Needs A Maid, Heart of Gold, Old Man and The Needle and the Damage Done. If you don’t know these songs, run don’t walk to the nearest youtube and get crackin’ because they’re classics. The Needle and the Damage Done, in particular, is a fierce beast of a live recording, a short acoustic lament about people who succumb to the depths of heroin abuse, a topic that would come to increasingly haunt Neil and crew in the years to come. The album cuts on here aren’t as strong as on Gold Rush (I’ve never found the first two songs particularly memorable and There’s a World is pretty overwrought), but it’s still a bang up album, one of his best and definitely essential. Grade: A-
7. Neil Young – Journey Through the Past
Lots of good songs on here, but they’ve been on lots of other releases and here they fade in and out, and there’s snippets of movie samples. Skip. Grade: D
8. Neil Young – Time Fades Away
After the success of Harvest, Neil planned on doing a tour with The Stray Gators, a band of professional musicians, and debuting a bunch of new songs. It was going to be a huge tour, 65 shows in total, and right before they kicked off the tour, Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse, who was going to play at the shows, fell hard into his drug problem. Neil sent him packing and the next day he died. The subsequent tour was apparently a mess, and this album was recorded live during it. None of these songs appear in studio sessions elsewhere (a trend he would continue throughout his career) and they show a ragged band blasting away at the audience. The first seven songs are of uniformly high quality. Time Fades Away sounds like it could explode at any second, Journey Through the Past revisits the feel of After the Goldrush (the song) and LA tears the city a new one. The Last Dance is one of those epics that he does every so often, and it’s near the top of the heap. At the start of the song he announces, “This is the last dance!” and the band slowly whips up a maelstrom of fuzzy, muddy sounding guitar mess. It flows and ebbs and really benefits from the sonic morass. Incredible that this still is out of print. Grade: A
9. Neil Young – On The Beach
This was recorded after Tonight’s the Night, but that album was scrapped and they recorded this. It definitely sounds like a lessening of the weariness present on Time Fades Away and the subsequent Tonight’s the Night, but it’s still a morose and world weary album. Walk On is a fantastic opening track, filled with shuffling and ringing guitars and a really great tone. Revolution Blues is the real kick off for the album though. It’s a chugging, distorted dark bluesy rock track with an insistent vocal and an incredibly ominous tone. It’s the first of the Blues tracks on the album and it sets the mood for the rest of the record, as the band stretches out and bogs down. The second half of the album is a near-peerless stretch of mood and playing. On the Beach, Motion Pictures and Ambulance Blues flow into each other in a really spectacular way, and make this one of Neil’s real classics. Grade: A
10. Neil Young – Tonight’s The Night
On the Beach was a forceful record built around grooves and darkly moving songs, but Tonight’s The Night is another thing altogether. After the deaths of Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse and Bruce Berry, one of Neil’s roadies and a close friend, from heroin overdoses, Young fell in to a dark place. Nils Lofgren replaces Danny Whitten at guitar and piano, and the band spilled forth some of the most bleak yet redemptive work of Young’s career. Starting with the titular track, a yearning tale of Bruce Berry’s death, they leave nothing back, with direct lyrics proclaiming how hard these men had pushed themselves and how their deterioration and deaths had affected Neil. There’s a weariness and sadness to the songs, and there isn’t nearly as much overt catchiness as many of the prior albums. The performances are raw in a distinctly different way from Everybody Knows; these sound as if they were beaten out of the band rather than the sound of a band beating out songs. The violently noisy version of the title track that closes the album encapsulates the mood of this one; it’s dark, heavy, brilliant and absolutely worth listening to. Grade: A+
11. Neil Young – Zuma
It’s a great thing when the most well known track on an album (and an undeniable classic) winds up being one of the lesser songs. So it goes with Cortez the Killer, one of Neil Young’s greatest guitar tracks. Here, it’s a great lengthy excursion, but it doesn’t explode the way later live versions do. I heard those first, so this one seems a little tame. Most the rest of the album is Crazy Horse and Neil ripping through some really enjoyable tracks. Looking For a Love is a really laid back and loping Neil-style country song with some Crazy Horse fuzz and decent backing vocals. Pardon My Heart is a leftover from a CSNY recording session, and I unabashedly love it. It’s really understated compared to some of their other work, and the mood is just really calm and endearing. That’s the best description for the album as a whole. After the rough, disturbed blasts of wrought emotion on the three previous albums, Neil and Company sound like they enjoy what they’re doing again. Not a major album, but definitely an enjoyable listen. Grade: B+
12. The Stills-Young Band – Long May You Run
An album kicked out quickly by Stephen Stills and Neil Young, apparently wanting to return to their guitar-driven Buffalo Springfield days. Long May You Run is a good rollicking tribute to Neil’s famous hearse, his first car, which had died around this time. Ocean Girl and Let It Shine are both decent but not great Neil songs, and the rest of the stuff on here is total filler. Grade: C-
13. Neil Young – American Stars and Bars
This one’s an odds-and-sods sort of album, made up from four different recording sessions stretched between 1974 and 1977. The ’77 tracks take up all of side one, and feature Neil, Crazy Horse, Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson doing fairly straightforward Bakersville Country tracks. If you like 70s country, you’ll definitely find things to like here (I like Saddle Up the Palomino, in particular). The second half is comprised of tracks from aborted sessions, including one with Emmylou Harris, two with Crazy Horse and a solo track. Will to Love, the solo acoustic song, is a magnificent acoustic epic, pointing towards some of the work he’d do in a few years on Rust Never Sleeps. One of the Crazy Horse songs, Like a Hurricane, is an absolute classic, another one of the huge guitar jams that they did so well. They tear through this recording, really pulling out the stops. Not a cohesive album, but when he’s writing songs this good it doesn’t have to stick together. Grade: B
14. Neil Young – Comes a Time
15. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps
Ten years after Everybody Knows, Young and Crazy Horse teamed up again for a whole album of sustained tracks. The songs here were recorded live and then treated with studio overdubs, and the record splits neatly into two halves, with one acoustic and one electric side. Starting with the classic My My Hey Hey, this is another of those Neil Young records that just doesn’t let up. Every single song is spectacular, from the acoustic pastoral remembrance of Thrasher to the catchy and Dylanesque surreal bop of Pocahontas. The electric side shows Crazy Horse in spectacularly energetic form, blasting out four tracks that are the best work they’d ever done. Powderfinger takes the tense-yet-loose jams that sat throughout the Ditch trilogy and perfects the sound. Like most of On the Beach, the guitars chug and flit around each other, but unlike those three albums, this one is backed by Crazy Horse at their height, and Powderfinger is the height of the album. Telling the story of a young man in battle, it weaves around without a chorus or clear melodic hook, instead taking joy in the various solos and phrases the band toys with throughout. It might be my favorite Neil Young song. Welfare Mothers is a rollicking, rocking ode to poor moms and their loving skills, with a great riff. Sedan Delivery emphasizes the groove and lets the band really breathe. They close it off with an electric that on the opener, retitled Hey Hey My My. The distortion is cranked to the max and the band plays with a punk-indebted fury deftly referenced in the lyrics. It’s incredible to hear an artist this far into his career sounding so reinvigorated and alive. Grade: A+
16. Neil Young – Hawks and Doves
Truly a first for Neil, this one doesn’t have any clear highlights or any really strong songs: it’s not a bad album by any means, but it is incredibly forgettable. This sits in the Harvest camp, focusing on quieter acoustic tracks with no guitar beating to be found. The Old Holmstead is a pleasant enough track that stretches for too long and Little Wing is nice enough, but they don’t really stick. Captain Kennedy has an entertaining Ren Faire lilt to it, but the lyrics are nothing to remember. The second half of the album is markedly more country. Some of it swings (Union Man in a ridiculous way). However, it’s not as memorable as the stuff on Harvest or Comes a Time by a long shot, even though it’s not bad. That’s the line on this album: it’s not memorable, not bad, but not really worth the time. Grade: C
17. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Re-ac-tor
Seven of these songs are decent, if nothing more than that, Neil/Crazy Horse songs. Southern Pacific in particular is a surprisingly adept ripper, a truly electric country tune that the band pulls off with glee, and Get Back On It, which just swirls up the rock. The first two songs are silly but have enough good riffs to save them, and the last few tracks have a fair amount of energy, especially Shots, which is a minor Neil epic that leaves a really decent impression and shows Crazy Horse using synths to good effect. Which leaves T-Bone. Fuck T-Bone. The lyrics to T-Bone are “The mashed potatoes ain’t got no t-bone.” That’s it. Over an incredibly generic blues rock riff. With minimal solos. For over 9 minutes. It’s dismal, you’ll hope it’ll end for most of the runtime and once you’ve heard it once you’ll probably endeavor not to ever hear it again. For how amenable and generally enjoyable the rest of the album is, T-Bone is such a huge failure that it’s hard to fully recommend this little collection of Crazy Horse jams. Grade: C-
18. Neil Young – Trans
At the time it was knocked for being a schizophrenic left turn into electronic music, and for a long time it was ignored, but I think Trans has aged decently well. It shows Neil Young to be a clear Kraftwerk aficionado, as he borrows many of their sounds and grafts them on to his songwriting. The lyrics are silly and not overly worth talking about, but he makes a decently captivating album out of these sounds that are so far from what he was known for. It’s definitely a left turn, but it’s not horrible by any means, and time has actually made it into quite a decent listen. Grade: B-
19. Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks – Everybody’s Rocking
Story goes that Trans failed horribly, Neil recorded Old Ways, which was a country album, and Geffen, pissed about Trans, told him they wanted a Rock and Roll album. Of course he goes and records an album that’s a mix of covers of 50s rock tracks and originals firmly in that vein. They’re faithful covers for the most part, and the originals are of a piece, fun and light but with little substance. As such, it’s nothing spectacular, but it is pretty refreshing hearing Neil just have fun on a record, so it’s worth at least one or two spins. No standouts, but it’s a fun quick blast of 50s joy, and if you dig that kind of thing it’s not bad at all. (P.S., Call the cultural gate keepers, Neil Young was ahead of the curve again with a musical trend-Wonderin’ would be a great song for The Fresh & Onlys to cover.) Grade: B-
20. Neil Young – Old Ways
In many ways, this was a much more marketable album than some Neil Young rock deal. Neil’s calmer, country-influenced albums had always sold well, so he made a whole album of country songs, with Waylon Jennings playing and singing on six songs and Willie Nelson joining on for another. Like the last few genre experiments, this one doesn’t rise to the best of its genre, but unlike the past few Neil was much more intimately versed in country, and the result is a pretty decent 80s Bakersfield country album. Get Back to the Country is a damn good Neil Young song, Are There Anymore Real Cowboys? A lament in the style of Merle Haggard and Misfits a real oddball track that’s reminiscent of Pocahontas in the best possible way. Of all the 80s albums, this one’s probably the most ripe for rediscovery. Grade: B
21. Neil Young – Landing on Water
Another synth album, but with less of the over electronic feel of Trans. This one’s more in line with mid 80s production, and not really in a good way. There are some decent songs buried under the gatefold drums and cheesy production, but you’ve really got to love Neil Young in order to suss them out. Hard Luck Stories is decent enough, I guess. Grade: D
22. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Life
This one’s a weird one. There’s definitely some of Crazy Horse’s grit, but these songs are also full of synths and bad 80s production. Some of the tracks are decent (it’s funny that he references Ghadafi in Mideast Vacation, and the track sounds sadly fresh lyrically, if not thought out or well done) but the production and some really bad choices with synth placement keep this from being anything other than a vague curiosity. Hell, even the long song about an old figure from the Americas kind of drags. Grade: D+
23. Neil Young and the Blue Notes – This Note’s For You
The grand step in the right direction. After floating around in some seriously trenchant synth seas with the previous two albums, Neil switches up the accompaniment by finding a soul horn section. He also went ahead and penned a few decent songs to play with them. This Note’s For You was a hit and is a decently fun blues track. Life in the City has some groove to it. Still, like most of the 80s albums barring Old Time and Trans, there aren’t really any memorable songs that stick around after you’re done listening to the album. It did, however, sound quite a bit more like Neil Young doing a Neil Young sort of thing, just with horns. Grade: C+
24. Neil Young – Freedom
For a man who could do very little wrong in the 70s, it took him 10 years to regain his footing in the studio. The 80s were mostly a mess for Neil, and I doubt people expected much from him by this point. You can tell, however, that Neil had been taking in the new music that was starting to bubble into the mainstream by 1989, and he sounds reenergized here like I’ve rarely heard a musician. The album starts and ends with acoustic and electric versions of Rockin’ in the Free World, and yes you know the song, and yes it’s great. The fantastic surprise is, for the first time in 10 years, so are the songs in between. Don’t Cry has some of the filthiest guitar distortion he ever captured on tape, Eldorado is a fantastic expansive guitar track and even The Ways of Love, which starts out sounding like a cheesy 80s song, winds up developing a pretty great melody and some rocking guitar. When the guitars rock out here, they are exceptionally filthy and overdriven, a nod to the new round of punk rock that was coming up at the time. 10 years from Rust Never Sleeps, he made something close to a sequel. Grade: A
25. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Ragged Glory
If the 80s had been unkind to him, Neil Young entered the 90s with guns blazing. Ragged Glory is what its title suggests, a ragged Crazy Horse album full of distorted guitars and long jams. It’s really great and it sounds like a conscious nod back to late 70s Crazy Horse in all their distorted glory. Fuckin’ Up, in particular, is a great chugging track with an insanely memorable little lick that sounds like a reference to Welfare Mothers. Country Home is an old Neil/Crazy Horse song from the 70s that they revive to great effect here. Even if some of the songs don’t have immediately memorable hooks, on this one the band sounds like they’re loving playing, and it sounds like Neil’s got something to play again. The 80s weren’t the best time, but with albums like this all of those less-than-stellar releases can definitely be forgiven. Fantastic. Grade: A
26. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Arc/Weld
A two disc live collection culled from the Ragged Glory tour. Unlike past live albums, there are no acoustic tracks here, just Neil and Crazy Horse upping the distortion to 11 and attacking classics and tracks from the last album. Weld is a really good live document, showing how forceful and vibrant they were at this time. The interesting release, and the one that put off most people when they heard it, is Arc. Sonic Youth was the opener for the Ragged Glory tour. Neil showed Thurston Moore a collage he’d made of some Crazy Horse tune ups and distortion fests that he was going to use for a video. Thurston liked it and told him that they should work on making a full album length version of the idea on the tour. Neil recorded tons of Crazy Horse distortion and noise and joined it together to make a 35 minute soundscape of churning guitar noise, aimless drums and occasional vocal clips. It wasn’t exactly popular at the time, and even now it veers between captivating and aimless, but it’s great to see such a big artist make something so uncompromising and odd. Grade: B+
27. Neil Young – Harvest Moon
28. Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Sleep With Angels
29. Neil Young – Mirror Ball
30. Neil Young – Dead Man
31. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Broken Arrow
32. Neil Young – Silver and Gold
33. Neil Young – Are You Passionate
34. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Greendale
35. Neil Young – Prairie Wind
36. Neil Young – Living With War
37. Neil Young – Chrome Dreams 2
38. Neil Young – Fork in the Road
39. Neil Young – Le Noise
Sound Dust is my favorite release of theirs, and the last (sadly) with Mary Hansen.
Love the songs on Let It Bleed, but the mix on that album sucks...Mix on Beggars and Sticky is awesome, but the smaller moments on Exile are way better than the smaller moments on these two, thought really great on all three.
You're being way to kind to Some Girls and Tattoo You...those albums are good in the same way that U2s All That You Can't Leave Behind is good with respect to U2's catalog...solid collection of backwards looking tunes, but not songs that consistently match the awesomeness of those released in their heyday. Start Me Up, in particular, makes me want to gag...most overrated, overplayed Stones song ever.
Ragged Glory is an absolute monster, a perfect representation of Young's technically limited but emotionally overpowering jamming prowess...The tension in the guitar work in the ten minute Love And Only Love is phenomenal. I sometimes wonder if this is actually his very best album.
Last edited by IlliniQ; 08-17-2011 at 06:57 PM.
I have a pretty thorough knowledge of his stuff, at least up through the 90s. It would take me forever to write up though.
I'll do it, eventually.
for now: Try Moondance, St Dominic's Preview, and Into the Music. If you don't get into those, the rest would be a waste of time.
Last edited by TomAz; 08-25-2011 at 12:05 PM.
The Neil Young write-up is fucking ace, Bryan. Well done.
And yes, The Buffalo Springfield were a hell of a band; shame that people only know For What It's Worth. First time I heard Mr. Soul, I couldn't believe it was recorded by sloppy long-hairs in the late 60s. So good. It was my first real introduction to Neil Young during my leather jacket punk teen years.
Let's play the radiohead game:
1. Astral Weeks
3. St Dominic's Preview
4. Into The Music
5. Tupelo Honey
6. His Band and the Street Choir
8. Poetic Champions Compose
9. Beautiful Vision
10. Inarticulate Speech of the Heart
11. Hymns to the Silence
12. Avalon Sunset
Wow. I just looked through the list of who's done what and no one's done Glenn Branca? That needs to be corrected. Or at bare minimum a write-up on some of his material aside from Lesson No. 1 and The Ascension...
Mother Love Bone writeup: coming soon
I'm surprised that no one has written on Hendrix, Clapton, the Allman Brothers, Winwood, SRV, Van Halen, AC/DC, etc., etc. I'd be interesting to read a non Rolling Stone-ifed take on some of the classic guitar gods.
I can do the Police and U2 if anyone is interested.
Maybe I'll do Carl Craig one of these days. It'd be fun to immerse myself in his music for awhile.
Could someone do Low? I've had Things We Lost in The Fire forever... And just got their Christmas album. Wouldn't have to be very detailed.
Also, here is the post if anyone wanted to lookup what has been done already:
I was thinking of doing one of these over break... Maybe Bonobo? Thievery Corp?
8/30 - Erykah Badu / St. Vincent / Moses Sumney - Hollywood Bowl
9/13 - Kamasi Washington - Soda Bar - SD
9/16 - Kamasi Washington - Smith Center - LV