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Neil Young

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Rust Never Sleeps

Neil Young Album Reviews

Neil Young was born in Canada in 1945, where his father was a famous sports broadcaster. Before fame, he played in the Mynah Birds, with a young Rick James, before relocating to Los Angeles where he joined Stephen Stills in Buffalo Springfield. Initially, Young took a back-seat role, allowing Richie Furay to front some of his compositions on the band’s first album, although his ringing guitar was an important component of the band’s breakthrough hit ‘For What It’s Worth’. Young’s confidence grew on Buffalo Springfield Again, where he contributed the orchestral and ethereal ‘Expecting To Fly’ as well as the ambitious, multi-part ‘Broken Arrow’, although tensions between the band members and bassist Bruce Palmer’s run-ins with the law meant that the group never reached their potential.

Although his songs with Buffalo Springfield had established Young as a writer with an individual voice, his 1968 solo debut was tentative. On his second album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, he recruited Crazy Horse as his backing band, and their primitive stomp was the perfect backing for songs like ‘Cinnamon Girl’ and ‘Down By The River’. Young then infiltrated the mainstream as he joined Crosby, Stills, and Nash for Déjà Vu, and released two popular solo albums, including Harvest, which reached the top of the US charts on the back of number one single ‘Heart of Gold’.

The loss of Crazy Horse’s Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry in drug-related deaths were among the factors that caused Young to pull away from the mainstream; as he famously wrote ‘Heart of Gold’ put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. The ensuing “Ditch Trilogy” was rawer and less accessible, although 1974’s mournful On The Beach is one of Young’s best realised albums. Other highlights of Young’s 1970s included reforming Crazy Horse for 1975’s Zuma, and 1979’s Rust Never Sleeps, with its acoustic and electric halves showcasing some of Young’s finest work.

Young signed with Geffen Records in 1982, where he recorded a series of erratic, genre-hopping albums, ranging from the electronic Trans to the country of Old Ways. He refocused with 1989’s Freedom and 1990’s Ragged Glory, and enhanced his reputation by his engagement with 1990’s alternative; Kurt Cobain quoted Young in his suicide note, while Young collaborated with Pearl Jam on 1995’s Mirror Ball. Even in his late career, Young has continued to release new albums frequently.

Neil Young is recognised as one of the rock music’s premium solo artists. His voice, high and creakily off-key, can be an acquired taste, and his work is often primitive, especially when accompanied by Crazy Horse. His lyrics impulsively veer from supporting Reagan in the 1980s to suggesting the impeachment of George W Bush. A lot of Young’s work falls into three main templates; abrasive guitar rock like ‘Cortez The Killer’, gentle folk, or country.

Most of what Young recorded in the 1960s and 1970s is worth hearing, but he’s so prolific that his discography is intimidatingly large. I’ve covered all of his studio albums through to 1982’s Trans, but I’ve only reviewed select albums after that point. I’ve listed Neil Young’s albums of new material up to 2016 below and marked the ones I’ve covered in bold. If I was to go further into his discography, Silver and Gold, Le Noise, and Psychedelic Pill are the records I’m most interested in, but I feel like covering 27 Neil Young albums is a respectable effort.

Neil Young (1968)
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
After the Gold Rush (1970)
Harvest (1972)
Time Fades Away (1973) [live album of all new material]
On the Beach (1974)
Tonight’s the Night (1975)
Zuma (1975)
Long May You Run – with Stephen Stills (1976)
American Stars ‘n Bars (1977)
Comes a Time (1978)
Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
Hawks & Doves (1980)
Re-ac-tor (1981)
Trans (1982)
Everybody’s Rockin’ (1983)
Old Ways (1985)
Landing on Water (1986)
Life (1987)
This Note’s for You (1988)
Freedom (1989)
Ragged Glory (1990)
Harvest Moon (1992)
Sleeps with Angels (1994)
Mirror Ball (1995)
Broken Arrow (1996)
Silver & Gold (2000)
Are You Passionate? (2002)
Greendale (2003)
Prairie Wind (2005)
Living with War (2006)
Chrome Dreams II (2007)
Fork in the Road (2009)
Le Noise (2010)
Americana (2012)
Psychedelic Pill (2012)
A Letter Home (2014)
Storytone (2014)
The Monsanto Years (2015)
Peace Trail (2016)

Ten Favourite Neil Young Songs

Down By The River
See The Sky About To Rain
Cortez The Killer
Thrasher
After The Goldrush
Revolution Blues
A Man Needs A Maid
Cinnamon Girl
Like A Hurricane
Old Man

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Neil Young 1969 Debut

Neil Young – Neil Young

Neil Young (1969), 6.5/10 Neil Young’s first solo effort is one of those debut albums where a newly liberated solo … Continue Reading Neil Young – Neil Young

Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Neil Young

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969), 8.5/10 For his second solo album, Neil Young recruited garage band The Rockets. Renaming … Continue Reading Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Neil Young

Neil Young After The Goldrush

After The Gold Rush – Neil Young

After The Gold Rush (1970), 9.5/10 Young gained popular recognition with his involvement in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Deja Vu, … Continue Reading After The Gold Rush – Neil Young

Neil Young Harvest

Harvest – Neil Young

Harvest (1972), 8/10 Harvest topped the U.S. charts and spawned a number one single in ‘Heart Of Gold’ – difficult … Continue Reading Harvest – Neil Young

Neil Young Time Fades Away

Time Fades Away – Neil Young

Time Fades Away (1973), 7/10 A live album featuring all new songs, Time Fades Away was constructed under the shadow of … Continue Reading Time Fades Away – Neil Young

Neil Young On The Beach

On The Beach – Neil Young

On The Beach (1974), 9/10 The second installment in Young’s “Ditch Trilogy”, On The Beach is restrained compared to the ragged … Continue Reading On The Beach – Neil Young

Neil Young Tonight's The Night

Tonight’s The Night – Neil Young

Tonight’s The Night (1975), 8/10 The second of Young’s “Ditch Trilogy” to be recorded but the third to be released, … Continue Reading Tonight’s The Night – Neil Young

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Zuma

Zuma – Neil Young

Zuma (1975), 7.5/10 After aborting a reunion album with Crosby, Stills and Nash and ending his difficult relationship with actress … Continue Reading Zuma – Neil Young

Neil Young American Stars N Bars

American Stars ‘n Bars – Neil Young

American Stars ‘n Bars (1977), 6.5/10 American Stars ‘n Bars was compiled from several aborted album projects, including Chrome Dreams … Continue Reading American Stars ‘n Bars – Neil Young

Neil Young Decade

Decade – Neil Young

Decade (1977), 10/10 Decade is an early example of a box set, cramming 35 great Young songs onto 2CDs. Neil … Continue Reading Decade – Neil Young

Neil Young Comes A Time

Comes A Time – Neil Young

Comes A Time (1978), 8/10 Comes A Time is gentle folk rock, a Neil Young album that’s more commercially appealing … Continue Reading Comes A Time – Neil Young

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Rust Never Sleeps

Rust Never Sleeps – Neil Young

Rust Never Sleeps (1979), 9/10 Neil Young’s albums in the late 1970s feel unusually focused, culminating in Rust Never Sleeps. … Continue Reading Rust Never Sleeps – Neil Young

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Live Rust

Live Rust – Neil Young

Live Rust (1979), 6.5/10 I’m apathetic towards Live Rust; it’s a strong live album, but it’s nothing revelatory. Young’s studio … Continue Reading Live Rust – Neil Young

Neil Young Hawks and Doves

Hawks & Doves – Neil Young

Hawks & Doves (1980), 6/10 Neil Young, ever the contrarian, followed up the excellent, acclaimed Rust Never Sleeps with the slight … Continue Reading Hawks & Doves – Neil Young

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Reactor

Re-ac-tor – Neil Young

Re-ac-tor (1981), not yet rated Young’s last album with Reprise before his stint with Geffen – it’s one of his … Continue Reading Re-ac-tor – Neil Young

Neil Young Trans

Trans – Neil Young

Trans (1982), 6.5/10 Even in Neil Young’s erratic catalogue, Trans is his most atypical album. Trans was inspired by Young’s … Continue Reading Trans – Neil Young

Neil Young Lucky Thirteen

Lucky Thirteen – Neil Young

Lucky Thirteen (1993), 5.5/10 Largely collated from Young’s five 1980’s albums on the Geffen label, who famously sued Young for … Continue Reading Lucky Thirteen – Neil Young

Neil Young Eldorado

Eldorado (EP) – Neil Young

Eldorado (1989), 7.5/10 The EP Eldorado was filleted from an aborted rock album Times Square, and there are only 5000 … Continue Reading Eldorado (EP) – Neil Young

Neil Young Freedom

Freedom – Neil Young

Freedom (1989), 7/10 After a largely indifferent 1980s, Freedom signals a creative rebirth for Neil Young, back dabbling in his preferred … Continue Reading Freedom – Neil Young

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Ragged Glory

Ragged Glory – Neil Young

Ragged Glory (1990), 7.5/10 Freedom might have been inconsistent, but its best moments unequivocally showed the re-emergence of Young as … Continue Reading Ragged Glory – Neil Young

Neil Young Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon – Neil Young

Harvest Moon (1992), 5/10 An equally appropriate title for Harvest Moon would be Neil Young Calms Down and Makes Bland … Continue Reading Harvest Moon – Neil Young

Neil Young Unplugged

Unplugged – Neil Young

Unplugged (1993), 6.5/10 Recorded at a time when everybody from Mariah Carey to Nirvana was appearing on MTV and unleashing … Continue Reading Unplugged – Neil Young

Neil Young Sleeps With Angels

Sleeps With Angels – Neil Young

Sleeps With Angels (1994), 6.5/10 In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain quoted Neil Young’s line “It’s better to burn out … Continue Reading Sleeps With Angels – Neil Young

Neil Young Mirrorball

Mirror Ball – Neil Young (with Pearl Jam)

Mirror Ball (1995), 4/10 After collaborating with Pearl Jam on stage, Neil Young spent four days recording with them and … Continue Reading Mirror Ball – Neil Young (with Pearl Jam)

Neil Young Greendale

Greendale – Neil Young

Greendale (2003), 4/10 Neil Young confounded his live audiences in 2003 by beginning his shows with performances of the eighty … Continue Reading Greendale – Neil Young

Neil Young Prairie Wind

Prairie Wind – Neil Young

Prairie Wind (2005), 7.5/10 Neil Young was confronted by his own mortality in 2005, losing his father to a long … Continue Reading Prairie Wind – Neil Young

Neil Young Living With War

Living With War – Neil Young

Living With War (2006), 5.5/10 After watching a news item about US soldiers in Iraq, Young responded by writing nine songs … Continue Reading Living With War – Neil Young

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