Monday, March 8, 2010

Neil Young

03-08-10 Neil Young

I heard the albums by Buffalo Springfield so long ago that all 3 of ‘em got in under my radar. “On The Way Home” has been known (to me) to make me cry. Nostalgia for the innocent young mind that I once had? My older sisters played me those records while I was being ‘watched’ (they were effectively my babysitters). The thought-provoking statement of “For What It’s Worth”, the hard rock of “Mr. Soul”, the lush arrangements on numerous recordings. It all sounded good to me.

I lived in America in 1969, 11 years old. You would’ve had to have been The Who’s “Tommy” – deaf, dumb & blind – to have missed Crosby, Stills & Nash…and, in rapid succession, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Seems a million years ago, but Warner / reprise records had to ‘promo’ Neil Young on their wonderful loss-leader sampler LP’s. I believe his first appearance there was the track “The Loner”, from his debut solo album.

“Cinnamon Girl” got played the FM radio…a lot. After “Déjà vu”, I guess I was really ready for the 3rd Neil Young solo album, “After The Goldrush”. It was a good deal, too – on sale at the hippie record store for probably some oddball figure like $2.57; I had heard Side 1 of the album being played in a record store, so I knew it sounded good to me – and it came with a poster of lyrics. I might’ve been ready for the onslaught of German progressive rock / electronic music, but my west coast hippie roots were showing. Interesting to note that this is the album that is loved in Japan!

Never really made it all the way to “Harvest” (solo album #4). N.Y. was no longer an underground artist, “Heart Of Gold” was on the radio so much it was…cloying. Besides, we can never ‘control’ our musical path – I needed Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, Faust, Amon Duul II, Can…not “Harvest” by Neil Young.

Fast forward through several decades. How successfully could I ignore Neil Young? A record (film?) with Devo. Videos on MTV / MuchMusic (“This Note’s For You”, most notably). I heard “Harvest Moon” being played in record stores in the 90’s. Those “Weld” albums, with all the feedback.

Last week, I found an inexpensive “used” copy of his “Archives Vol. 1” CD box (approx. $40 or so). The Squires material is amusing, to be sure. Pretty good sound on the Buffalo Springfield material. Interesting to see how the artist sees his solo work collide with his work within CSN&Y. OK. I could be tempted by the re-issue of his first four albums – I seem to recall re-buying Buffalo Springfield CD’s ostensibly to get “HDCD” versions. I know I have ’funky’ old CD’s of N.Y.’s first four albums – Heck, I even bought my CD of his debut solo album at Sam The Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto for C$5.99!

I don’t think I’ll be buying the DVD version of “Archives Vol. 1” – or the almost $400 Blu-Ray version. I might consider Blu-Ray if there was a massive Frank Zappa box, but…


Brian Ware said...

I was in high school from 1971-1973 so Neil Young and CSNY were a really big deal back then. I'm with you on the first four LPs, and in fact I saw him live on the "Harvest" tour back in the day. My high school band loved thrashing out "Cinnamon Girl", "Southern Man" and "Cowgirl In The Sand". Totally lost interest with "Time Fades Away" which seemed so intentionally sloppy and I've maintained only a marginal interest from that point on.

Always loved those big old mutton chop sideburns...

Anonymous said...

Neil Young. An interesting guy. I blew him off as a dusty folk-rocker until the late 70s when he started getting weird on his record company! When Geffen sued him for making uncommercial albums, well, that was when I really started to like the guy! It was a goal of mine for years to get the shirt he wore in the "Wonderin'" video.

And I did! Around 1993 a friend was selling the shirt at his garage sale and knowing that I wanted it, he gave it to me. Yes, I have a friend who once gave me the shirt off of his back! That shirt is still a prized piece of clothing.

My wife has Decade and a few other albums. I have several of his many home videos on Laser Disc. (courtesy of a Ron garage sale) And I've enjoyed his films and film appearances. He was funny in Alan Rudolph's "Love At Large," the OST of which is in my car for listening this week (Mark Isham + Leonard Cohen & Warren Zevon!) The recent Heart Of Gold Demme film makes you wish you were there.

But I have no Neil Young CDs in my collection. Part of this is down to he wouldn't release a lot of what I would have bought on CD over the years! Then his laughable criticism of CD sound always put me off. Like I'm going to listen to a deaf guywho spent most of his life in front of Marshall stacks criticize digital sound! I've actually read the Red Book and believe me, the specs of CD sound were rightly chosen for damned good, mathematical reasons having everything to do with the limitations of peak human hearing. If you are my age (46) you passed the peak of your hearing a while ago - John Cale nonwithstanding! Anything you think you're hearing only in analog can only be put down to "psychoacoustics." or more likely, analog only artifacts; i.e. not part of the original sound.