Neil Young

Seems like every year lately I get in the mood to investigate the back catalog of a musician who I’m already somewhat familiar with (last year it was Van Morrison), and lately it’s been Neil Young.  I found a biography of Neil published in 1994, and it had good writeups of each album up to that point.  I had first listened to Neil when “Rust Never Sleeps” came out in 1979, and over the years I had picked up other things, like “After the Goldrush” (1970) and “Ragged Glory” in 1990.  But I had never filled in all the gaps.

My conclusion is that Young may have been the strongest album artist of the 1970’s…  Virtually every record he made from 1968 until 1979 is quite strong (and back then big stars made records every year, not every three or four years!).  He famously had somewhat of a ‘lost decade’ in the 1980s, only to come back powerfully starting at the end of the decade with “Freedom”, “Ragged Glory”, “Harvest Moon” and “Unplugged”.  I haven’t listened to all the CDs of the past 15 or so years, but I suspect each record contains at least a few keepers.  What I like is that he runs the gamut from lovely quiet melodies to loud foot-stompers.

I like every record mentioned above, along with “Tonight’s the Night” (1973, but released 1975), “Live Rust” (1979), “Zuma” (1975), “Time Fades Away” (1974, not on CD thusfar), “Everybody Knows this is Nowhere” (1969), and “On the Beach” (1974, above).  Also lately there have been some very good live recordings released, including solo shows from 1968 and 1971, and a band recording at the Fillmore East from 1970, all worth a listen for fans.

Lately Neil’s been working on his car (apparently his next album, Fork in the Road, is a sort of concept album about his eco-car!), thinking about living with war, and singing some bailout blues (he’s in foot-stomping mode at the moment)…  you can check it all out at Neil’s Garage.

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