Neil Young – After The Gold Rush (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgAfter the Gold Rush is the third studio album by Canadian musician Neil Young, released in September 1970 on Reprise Records. It is one of four high-profile albums released by each member of folk rock collective Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the wake of their chart-topping 1970 album Déjà Vu. Gold Rush consists mainly of country folk music, along with the rocking “Southern Man”,[6] inspired by the Dean Stockwell-Herb Bermann screenplay After the Gold Rush.

After the Gold Rush peaked at number eight on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart; the two singles taken from the album, “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” and “When You Dance I Can Really Love”, made it to number 33 and number 93 respectively on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite a mixed initial reaction, it has since appeared on a number of “greatest albums” lists.

Initial sessions were conducted with backing band Crazy Horse at Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles amid a short winter 1970 tour that included a well-received engagement with Steve Miller and Miles Davis at the Fillmore East. Despite the deteriorating health of rhythm guitarist Danny Whitten, the sessions yielded two released tracks, “I Believe In You” and “Oh, Lonesome Me.”

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Most of the album was recorded at a makeshift basement studio in Young’s Topanga Canyon home during the spring with Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young bassist Greg Reeves, Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina and burgeoning eighteen-year-old musical prodigy Nils Lofgren of the Washington, D.C.-based band Grin on piano. The incorporation of Lofgren was a characteristically idiosyncratic decision by Young: Lofgren had not played keyboards on a regular basis prior to the sessions. (Along with Jack Nitzsche, Lofgren would join an augmented Crazy Horse sans Young before enjoying success with his own group, solo cult success and a 25-year membership in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band). The Young biography Shakey[8] claims Young was intentionally trying to combine Crazy Horse and CSNY on this release, with members of the former band appearing alongside Stephen Stills (who contributed backing vocals to “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”) and Reeves. The cover art is a solarized image of Young, walking past the New York University School of Law campus, passing an old woman. The picture was taken by photographer Joel Bernstein and was reportedly out of focus. It was because of this he decided to mask the blurred face by solarizing the image. The photo is cropped; the original image included Young’s friend and CSNY bandmate Graham Nash.

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Songs on the album were inspired by the Dean Stockwell-Herb Bermann screenplay for the unmade film After the Gold Rush. Young had read the screenplay and asked Stockwell if he could produce the soundtrack. Tracks that Young recalls as being written specifically for the film are “After the Gold Rush” and “Cripple Creek Ferry.”[11] The script has since been lost, though has been described as “sort of an end-of-the-world movie.” Stockwell said of it, “I was gonna write a movie that was personal, a Jungian self-discovery of the gnosis… it involved the Kabala (sic), it involved a lot of arcane stuff.” Graham Nash claims that “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” was written for him about the pains he was going through with his break up from Joni Mitchell.

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According to the Neil Young Archives, After the Gold Rush was released on September 19, 1970. One month later, on October 24, the lead single “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

It was voted number 62 in Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums 3rd Edition (2000). (by wikipedia)

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In the 15 months between the release of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and After the Gold Rush, Neil Young issued a series of recordings in different styles that could have prepared his listeners for the differences between the two LPs. His two compositions on the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album Déjà Vu, “Helpless” and “Country Girl,” returned him to the folk and country styles he had pursued before delving into the hard rock of Everybody Knows; two other singles, “Sugar Mountain” and “Oh, Lonesome Me,” also emphasized those roots. But “Ohio,” a CSNY single, rocked as hard as anything on the second album. After the Gold Rush was recorded with the aid of Nils Lofgren, a 17-year-old unknown whose piano was a major instrument, turning one of the few real rockers, “Southern Man” (which had unsparing protest lyrics typical of Phil Ochs), into a more stately effort than anything on the previous album and giving a classic tone to the title track, a mystical ballad that featured some of Young’s most imaginative lyrics and became one of his most memorable songs. But much of After the Gold Rush consisted of country-folk love songs, which consolidated the audience Young had earned through his tours and recordings with CSNY; its dark yet hopeful tone matched the tenor of the times in 1970, making it one of the definitive singer/songwriter albums, and it has remained among Young’s major achievements. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Jack Nitzsche (piano)
Nils Lofgren (guitar, piano, vocals)
Ralph Molina (drums, vocals)
Greg Reeves (bass)
Billy Talbot (bass)
Danny Whitten (guitar, vocals)
Neil Young (vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica, vibraphone)
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Bill Peterson (flugelhorn)
Stephen Stills (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Tell Me Why (Young) 2.58
02. After The Gold Rush (Young) 3.45
03. Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Young) 3.07
04. Southern Man (Young) 5.30
05. Till The Morning Comes (Young) 1.15
06. Oh, Lonesome Me (Gibson) 3.50
07. Don’t Let It Bring You Down (Young) 2.57
08. Birds (Young) 2.33
09. When You Dance I Can Really Love (Young) 4.03
10. I Believe In You (Young) 3.25
11. Cripple Creek Ferry (Young) 1.31

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Well I dreamed I saw the knights in armor comin’
Sayin’ something about a queen
There were peasants singin’ and drummers drummin’
And the archer split the tree
There was a fanfare blowin’ to the sun
That was floating on the breeze
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the 1970s
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the 1970s

I was lyin’ in a burned out basement
With the full moon in my eyes
I was hopin’ for replacement
When the sun burst though the sky
There was a band playin’ in my head
And I felt like getting high
I was thinkin’ about what a friend had said
I was hopin’ it was a lie
Thinkin’ about what a friend had said
I was hopin’ it was a lie

Well, I dreamed I saw the silver space ships flyin’
In the yellow haze of the sun
There were children cryin’ and colors flyin’
All around the chosen ones
All in a dream, all in a dream
The loadin’ had begun
Flying Mother Nature’s silver seed
To a new home in the sun

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleep (1979)

FrontCover1Rust Never Sleeps is an album by Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young and American band Crazy Horse. It was released on July 2, 1979, by Reprise Records. Most of the album was recorded live, then overdubbed in the studio. Young used the phrase “rust never sleeps” as a concept for his tour with Crazy Horse to avoid artistic complacency and try more progressive, theatrical approaches to performing live.
The bulk of the album was recorded live at San Francisco’s Boarding House and during the Neil Young/Crazy Horse tour in late 1978, with overdubs added later. Audience noise is removed as much as possible, although it is clearly audible at certain points, most noticeably on the opening and closing songs. The album is half acoustic and half electric, opening and closing with different versions of the same song: “Hey Hey, My My”.

“My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”, “Thrasher” and “Ride My Llama” were recorded live at the Boarding House in early 1978 and all of side two was recorded during the late 1978 tour. Two songs from the album were not recorded live: “Sail Away” was recorded without Crazy Horse during or after the Comes a Time recording sessions, and “Pocahontas” had been recorded solo around 1975.

Young also released a film version of the album under the same title. Later on in 1979, Young and Crazy Horse released the album Live Rust, a compilation of older classics interweaving within the Rust Never Sleeps track list. The title is borrowed from the slogan for Rust-Oleum paint, and was suggested by Mark Mothersbaugh of the new wave band Devo. It is also an aphorism describing Young’s musical self-renewal to avert the threat of irrelevance.

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In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau called Rust Never Sleeps Young’s best album yet and said although his melodies are unsurprisingly simple and original, his lyrics are surprisingly and offhandedly complex. “He’s wiser but not wearier”, Christgau wrote, “victor so far over the slow burnout his title warns of”.

Paul Nelson, writing in Rolling Stone magazine, found its first side virtuosic because of how Young transcends the songs’ acoustic settings with his commanding performance and was impressed by its themes of personal escape and exhaustion, the role of rock music, and American violence: “Rust Never Sleeps tells me more about my life, my country and rock & roll than any music I’ve heard in years.”

Rust Never Sleeps was voted the second best album of 1979 in The Village Voice’s annual Pazz & Jop critics poll. Christgau, the poll’s creator, ranked it second on his own list for the poll, as did fellow critic Greil Marcus. The album also won Rolling Stone magazine’s 1979 critics poll for Album of the Year. In a decade-end list for The Village Voice, Christgau named it the ninth best album of the 1970s.

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In 2003, Rust Never Sleeps was ranked number 350 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In a retrospective review, Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said that the acoustic and electric sides were both astounding.

AllMusic’s William Ruhlmann viewed that Young reinvigorated himself artistically by being imaginative and bold, and in the process created an exemplary album that “encapsulated his many styles on a single disc with great songs—in particular the remarkable ‘Powderfinger’—unlike any he had written before.”[8] Rob Sheffield, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), felt that “Powderfinger”, “Pocahontas”, “Thrasher”, and “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” were among Young’s greatest songs.

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Personnel:
Ralph Molina (drums, background vocals)
Frank “Poncho” Sampedro (guitar, background vocals)
Billy Talbot (bass, background vocals)
Neil Young (vocals, guitar, harmonica, organ, percussion)
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Karl T. Himmel (drums on 05.)
Nicolette Larson (vocals on 05.)
Joe Osborn (bass on 05.)

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Tracklist:
01. My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) (Young/Blackburn) 3.45
02. Thrasher (Young) 5.38
03. Ride My Llama (Young) 2.29
04. Pocahontas (Young) 3.22
05. Sail Away (Young) 3.46
06. Powderfinger (Young) 5.30
07. Welfare Mothers (Young) 3.48
08. Sedan Delivery (Young) 4.40
09. Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) (Young/Blackburn) 5.18
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Neil Young – Harvest (1972)

FrontCover1Neil Young’s most popular album, Harvest benefited from the delay in its release (it took 18 months to complete due to Young’s back injury), which whetted his audience’s appetite, the disintegration of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Young’s three erstwhile partners sang on the album, along with Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor), and most of all, a hit single. “Heart of Gold,” released a month before Harvest, was already in the Top 40 when the LP hit the stores, and it soon topped the charts. It’s fair to say, too, that Young simply was all-pervasive by this time: “Heart of Gold” was succeeded at number one by “A Horse with No Name” by America, which was a Young soundalike record. But successful as Harvest was (and it was the best-selling album of 1972), it has suffered critically from reviewers who see it as an uneven album on which Young repeats himself. Certainly, Harvest employs a number of jarringly different styles. Much of it is country-tinged, with Young backed by a new group dubbed the Stray Gators who prominently feature steel guitarist Ben Keith, though there is also an acoustic track, a couple of electric guitar-drenched rock performances, and two songs on which Young is accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra. But the album does have an overall mood and an overall lyric content, and they conflict with each other: The mood is melancholic, but the songs mostly describe the longing for and fulfillment of new love. Young is perhaps most explicit about this on the controversial “A Man Needs a Maid,” which is often condemned as sexist by people judging it on the basis of its title. In fact, the song contrasts the fears of committing to a relationship with simply living alone and hiring help, and it contains some of Young’s most autobiographical writing. Unfortunately, like “There’s a World,” the song is engulfed in a portentous orchestration.

Inlet01AOver and over, Young sings of the need for love in such songs as “Out on the Weekend,” “Heart of Gold,” and “Old Man” (a Top 40 hit), and the songs are unusually melodic and accessible. The rock numbers, “Are You Ready for the Country” and “Alabama,” are in Young’s familiar style and unremarkable, and “There’s a World” and “Words (Between the Lines of Age)” are the most ponderous and overdone Young songs since “The Last Trip to Tulsa.” But the love songs and the harrowing portrait of a friend’s descent into heroin addiction, “The Needle and the Damage Done,” remain among Young’s most affecting and memorable songs. (by William Ruhlmann)

In other words: a classic album !

BackCover1Personnel:
Kenny Buttrey (drums)
Tim Drummond (bass)
Ben Keith (pedal steel guitar)
Neil Young (guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals)
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David Crosby (background vocals on 05. + 08.)
John Harris (piano on 02.)
Teddy Irwin (guitar on 04.)
James McMahon (piano on 06.)
Graham Nash (background vocals on 05. + 10.)
Jack Nitzsche (piano, slide guitar on 03. + 08.)
Linda Ronstadt (backiground vocals on 04. + 06.)
Stephen Stills (backiground vocals on 08. + 10.)
James Taylor (banjo, guitar, background vocals on 04. + 06.)
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London Symphony Orchestra  (on 03. + 07.)

Booklet1Tracklist:
01. Out On The Weekend 4.35
02. Harvest 3.03
03. A Man Needs A Maid 4.00
04. Heart Of Gold 3.05
05. Are You Ready For The Country? 3.21
06. Old Man 3.22
07. There’s A World 3.00
08. Alabama 4.02
09. The Needle And The Damage Done 2.00
10. Words (Between the Lines Of Age) 6.42

All songs written by Neil Young

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