Neil Young may not have been the best guitar player in super group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (that would be Stephen Stills) or the best singer (that would be David Crosby), but he was one of their best songwriters and has the solo success to prove it.
After noodling around the music scene in his native Ontario, Young set his compass south for California. In the mid-60s he formed Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay. The band was one of the first to combine their Folk and Country influences with Rock yielding the Folk-Rock or Country-Rock sub-genres that were so popular in the 70s.
In the late 60s Young joined Graham Nash, David Crosby and Stephen Stills in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The band was wracked with tension from the start. Young recorded Déjà Vu and Four Way Street, did a couple of tours to support the albums and moved on to a solo career.
Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, Young has never been afraid to experiment with his sound. Punk, Rock-a-billy, electronic music; all have been fair game in Neil’s sonic explorations. Many consider him to be the original Grunge Rocker and Young has passionately supported the causes in which he believes.
My selections from the library’s Neil Young holdings:
After the Gold Rush (1970) Reprise Records
Neil’s 3rd solo album. It was recorded with his backing band Crazy Horse, this may be Neil’s best album. Every single track is solid. With the exception of Southern Man and When You Dance, all songs are acoustic-based in the Folk-Rock and Country-Rock sub-genres.
Harvest (1972) Reprise Records
Neil’s 4th solo album. It was recorded with his backing band The Stray Gators and featured the London Symphony Orchestra on a couple of tracks and backing vocals by David Crosby, Graham Nash, Linda Ronstadt, Stephen Stills, and James Taylor. Harvest is heavy on the Country-Rock sound.
Comes a Time (1978) Reprise Records
Neil’s 9th solo album. After a series of recordings that pushed his sound beyond the Folk-Rock or Country-Rock sub-genres, Neil returned to his roots. It features a couple tunes with Crazy Horse and background vocals by Nicolette Larson.
Rumor has it that Young was unhappy with the sound, owing to a damaged master tape, so he purchased 200,000 copies of the album. He claimed, in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, that he used the 200,000 LPs as shingles for a barn roof.
Harvest Moon (1992) Reprise Records
Neil’s 12th solo album. Many consider Harvest Moon to be a "sequel" to Harvest. The songs have a similar sound and feel and the album includes several of the musicians who worked on the 1972 release. Back ground vocalists include Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Nicolette Larson. It’s a return to his classic sound. My favorite tracks Harvest Moon and Unknown Legend.
The library has copies of all of these great releases so head on down to your local branch, pick up one or two!