Tag Archives: Crosby Stills Nash & Young

Neil Young’s Albums 1981 – 1988

1981 -1988 were tough years for Neil Young.  At the start of this period he had just signed a million dollar per album contract with Geffen records (and had differences with them throughout the whole period) and his second child had been diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy.  At times during this period you could tell he was burnt out on making music.  To be honest, the releases from this period are challenging and you will be hard pressed to find any songs that come close to the brilliance of those he recorded in the sixties and seventies.  Young’s methods, recording technology, attitude, and band members all changed many times during this period.  I have outlined the releases from this era below.

neil_young_reactor-150x150 1981 – Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Re-ac-tor: The next step on from the heavier tracks off of Rust Never Sleeps.  Unfortunately the mix is off and the material is uninspired. 
neil_young_trans-150x150 1983 – Neil Young – Trans: Young take a hard left turn here and releases an album that features 5 vocoder heavy/electronic music tracks and 3 conventional rock tracks, which completely mystified his critics and fans. 
neil_young_everybodys_rockin-150x150 1983 – Neil Young & The Shocking Pinks – Everybody’s Rockin’: Another genre switch here, this time to Rockabilly.  At the very least features some entertaining songs, some even are a little funny… but the album is representative of this era as they feature style over substance.  
neil_young_old_ways-150x150 1985 – Neil Young – Old Ways: Most of the material was originally recorded in 1982 but not release until 3 years later because of problems with his label.  This time around its a country album for Neil and a cast of guest country stars including Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. 
neil_young_landing_on_water-150x150 1986 – Neil Young – Landing On Water: If I had to label this release with a genre it would be “over-produced corporate 80s synth pop.  A few goods songs but overall probably one of his worst albums.
neil_young_life-150x150 1987 – Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Life: Back to Crazy Horse again after releasing 4 albums without them.  You get a few decent track among an album that includes some 80s synthy stuff and some conventional NY w/ CH tracks.  Note the cover art featuring someone behind bars with a NY poster on the back wallwhich eludes to his feelings about his record label at the time.  This would be his last record with Geffen (except for the shotty best of from this period entitled Lucky 13.
neil_young_this_notes_for_you-150x150 1988 – Neil Young & The Bluenotes – This Note’s For You: Neil’s first album back on his original label Reprise Records.  This time Neil is backed by The Bluenotes (including a 6 pc horn section) for a album of Blues and R&B numbers.  Includes the song “This Note’s For You” which Neil actually won a the Video of the Year award at the MTV video music awards in 1988 which MTV had previously refused to play because they were parodied the video.  
csny_american_dream-150x150 1988 – Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young – American Dream: Young reunites yet again with these burnouts.  What you get is a bunch of tracks from the wash-ups and a few halfway decent numbers from Neil. 

Even though it is a difficult era, I thought I would still put together a playlist below of my favorites songs from it.  If you can not see the playlist below, please follow this link.

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Neil Young’s Albums 1966 – 1972

The first and most fertile period of Young’s musical legacy.  I have outlined the releases from this era below.  Please note what I deem to be the ESSENTIAL releases.

buffalo_springfield_buffalo_springfield-150x150 1966 – Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield: Young finally hits the big time…  Unfortunately the band wasn’t so keen on letting Young sing his own songs.  What you have is 5 songs written by Young but only 2 sang by him. 
buffalo_springfield_buffalo_springfield_again-150x150 1967 – Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield Again: This time the band let Young sing a few more songs.  Young became frustrated with the in fighting and left the band after the recording of this release.   
buffalo_springfield_last_time_around-150x150 1968 – Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around:  Young decided to reunite with the band for a short time before they completely fell apart.  He contributed only 2 songs to this record.
neil_young_neil-young-150x150 1969 – Neil Young – Neil Young: The continuation of the work that Neil was doing with Jack Nitzsche, whom he had collaborated with on some of the more complicated arrangements on the second Buffalo Springfield record.  A very strong debut, with glimpses of what was to come. 
neil_young_everybody_knows-150x150 1969 – Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere: The debut of Neil’s backing band Crazy Horse (formerly The Rockets).  If his debut was a polished jewel, this was a rough gem of beautiful country tinged rock n roll. ESSENTIAL
csny_deja_vu-150x150 1970 – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Deja Vu: Young reunites with Stills in his new group including former members of The Hollies and The Byrds.  Other than lending the group some much needed rock n roll credibility, Neil sings only two songs on this record, one of them the wonderful “Helpless”.  
neil_young_after_the_gold_rush-150x150 1970 – Neil Young – After The Gold Rush: Originally supposed to be a soundtrack to a film that actor Dean Stockwell (best known for his role in TV show Quantum Leap) had written, when the film never happened Young released this landmark recording.  ESSENTIAL
neil_young_harvest-150x150 1972 – Neil Young – Harvest: Neil had fallen in love with actress Carrie Snodgress and was stricken with serious back problems during this period.  He  was in Nashville for a performance on Johnny Cash’s variety show and decided to enlist some Nashville session players and a couple of stars that were also in town for the show (James Taylor & Linda Ronstadt) to help him record what was to become his most popular record.  Definitely more polished than his work with Crazy Horse but absolutely brilliant in its own right.  ESSENTIAL
Neil Young Archives releases from this era:
neil_young_sugar_mountain-150x150 1968 – Neil Young – Sugar Mountain: Finally released in 2008 this acoustic solo performance  captures Young doing some of his great early songs.  Some of which were usually sung by other members of Buffalo Springfield.  ESSENTIAL
neil_young_live_at_fillmore_east-150x150 1970 – Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Live At The Fillmore East: A rousing rock set from Neil and Crazy Horse while guitarist Danny Whitten was still alive, including the prerequisite 12 plus minute rendition of “Down By The River”. 
neil_young_live_at_massey_hall_1971-150x150 1971 – Neil Young – Live At Massey Hall: Another great solo acoustic show, this time in Toronto featuring some songs from his then recent albums and some peaks at wonderful tunes yet to be released. 

Check out the upcoming release of Neil’s long awaited Archives project.  Volume One 1963 – 1972 has finally gotten a solid release date of June 2nd.  See details here.

Here is a playlist I have put together featuring my favorites from this era.  I tried to stay away from the most well known tunes but also included those that appeared on the recordings of Buffalo Springfield and CSNY.  If you can not see the playlist below, please follow this link.

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Shakey – Neil Young’s Biography by Jimmy McDonough

shakey_neil_youngs_biography_jimmy_mcdonough-195x300

For the last couple of months I have had the great pleasure of reading this book and re-examining the catalog of Neil Young.  I have been a fan of Neil’s music ever since a friend turned me on to Decade (1977 career retrospective) in high school.  This book allowed me to literally dissect Neil Young’s immense body of work piece by piece, learning the background of what I was hearing.

The material is extremely interesting, or as Young would say “innaresting”.  The format in which the information and story is delivered is genius.  The book surpasses what your garden variety biography would deliver with a mish mash of chronological story telling, excerpts from interviews with Young himself, short biographies and quotes from the large cast of characters that have occupied Young’s life, all mixed in with commentary from the Author.

The book covers Neil’s life up to around 1998 including a quick but detailed history of his Grandparents and Parents lives.  Once you get to his High School days you will learn all about his influences and his early musical ventures.  Moving further on though his musical career the bulk of the book is about the music he created as a solo artist, with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Crazy Horse, and the many other incarnations of his backing groups.  Among the characters that are covered include his manager Elliot Roberts, the producer for many of his albums David Briggs, early collaborator Jack Nitzsche, and most of the members of the bands he was involved with.

My only qualm with the book is that I think Jimmy McDonough is a little heavy handed with his opinions about some of Young’s work and decisions.  Most of the time he is right and he tells Young to his face, but I do think he has some pretty high expectations.

I have always found Young to be a fascinating character, and I was surprised by some new facts.  For example before he moved to America, Young was in a group called the The Mynah Birds with Rick James (Beotch!) of all people.  They even recorded an album for Motown which sadly has never seen release.  Another strange connection was his involvement with Devo which I covered in a recent post which you can see here.   The last little tidbit I’ll offer is his involvement in the toy train industry.  In the early 1990’s Young purchased part of the Lionel toy company and eventually bought them out.  Also check out the ever eccentric Young’s newest projects on this recent post.

Usually I include a playlist with each of my music book reviews and I fully intend to do so for this one as well.  Actually it will be more like 3-4 playlists, each covering a different era of his recording career.

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