Friday, August 27, 2010

Neil Young - After the Gold Rush

I guess I'm really making an effort to listen to old music at this point. I liked Neil Young as a kid when my parents listened to him, so I thought I'd pick up what seems to be his most acclaimed album. And it's really good!

It's a pretty good mix between his style of rock and roll, usually accompanied by Crazy Horse, and some more individual, folksy numbers. Although I've always identified Young by his frequent harmonica playing, it didn't really stick out here, only appearing in one song, with the focus more on occasional piano and much more frequently, his guitar. A few of the songs have messages, which I associate with him just as much as anything musical, although some seem to be simple songs with no purpose other than to sound good. I've grown accustomed to his high pitched voice by this point, but even if you have some trouble with it, I think it would be hard not to like at least something from this album.

To me, the highlight of the proceedings is "Southern Man", a pretty hard rocker that jams along for five and a half minutes, and has a pretty searing anti-racism message to it against the south. Along with a song from his next album, it inspired the recording of "Sweet Home Alabama", which is a connection I wouldn't have expected. "Oh, Lonesome Me" is the only song on the album not written by Young himself, and has a really nice melancholy to it. "When You Dance I Can Really Love" is another stand out rock track, while the first two songs are more subdued, and another two favorites. "Cripple Creek Ferry" is the kind of song that would never be a single because it's too brief and singular, but is always welcome as an interesting way to begin an album, or make a transition, or as in this case, close things out. It's a nice cap to a record that I couldn't find much I didn't like in.

1 comment:

Collin said...

You should hear Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. "Cowgirl in the Sand" is the 10-minute song "Southern Man" wanted to be. That one's my favorite... Harvest I know best and probably has the most good songs at the head-slapping expense of cohesion...

Then you start to realize that Mr. Young can do no wrong and you're blown away by On The Beach and try on some Ragged Glory for size and dabble in Buffalo Springfield and Rust Never Sleeps and finally polish it off with Living With War and Le Noise.

Neil Young says he creates his worst songs when he thinks about them.