27 Apr


Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ was one of the first dozen LPs I ever bought, on the Reprise label, way back in 1972. This was pretty much on the strength of the single ‘Heart of Gold‘ which was a top 10 hit in the UK and also the reputation of Crosby,  Stills, Nash and Young’s ‘Deja Vu‘ album which someone lent me.   And probably  also the fact that James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt were backing vocalists. I re-purchased it on CD last year as part of a good value boxed set of Mr Young’s first four solo albums (9362-494975 Reprise).

Between those times its drifted in and out of the soundtrack of my life.  Although it sold strongly it’s not an album I warm to – and I find it less satisfying than its predecessor, ‘After the Gold Rush’ . While the ten songs are OK or better it doesn’t really hang together as a collection. There’s one poignant live track (‘The Needle and the Damage Done’) which is just Mr Young and and an acoustic guitar; then there are two with the entire London Symphony Orchestra (‘A Man Needs A Maid’ and ‘There’s a World’) which don’t work for me. The studio tracks are the strongest though: as well as the hit single and the title track my favourites are ‘Are Your Ready For The Country?’ and ‘Alabama’  (which of course, along with ‘Southern Man’, prompted Lynrd Skynrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’).

Since ‘Harvest’ I’ve dipped into and out of Neil Young’s music in a  fairly random fashion (the next thing I bought by him was a Buffalo Springfield collection from the start of his career). Sometimes he’s awesome (especially the guitar work on tracks such as ‘Like a Hurricane’ and ‘Cortez the Killer’) and the best of this album is in the same league.


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