Okay, so CDs have been with us getting on for thirty years now. We were told back then that they represented the pinnacle of recorded sound. So, when me and a few million other mugs bought CDs of albums we'd loved to death on vinyl, why was the listening experience so underwhelming? The record labels then realised that they had to be properly remastered using original tapes with a cutting engineer who knew their stuff. Neil Young has constantly frustrated his long standing fanbase by simulataneously whipping the horses and stamping on the brakes - threatening to release stuff then stepping back when some other format (5.1, Blu-Ray) came into view. Anyway, having finally got his finger out, the first batch of Neil Young reissues eventually came out, and, casting cynicism aside, I can honestly state that they are fantastic. I always felt ambivalent about 'Harvest'; on the one hand, it was a massive commercial success internationally, but its success seemed to cause moments of self-doubt, and Young then set about, if not actually sabotaging his career, embarked upon a series of recordings culminating in 'Tonight's the Night' and 'On The Beach' (and when is 'Time Fades Away' gonna make it (Legitimately) to the digital format?), two of the darkest records in the rock genre.
Anyway, I digress. 'Harvest' sounds wonderful in this new, remastered incarnation. The guitars on 'Alabama' are brittle and sharp around the edges, and you can actually hear the room in the recording - and the bits where the instruments leak over into one another. The hit single, 'Heart of Gold' sounds so full and dynamic - you can hear the individual beats on the hi-hat, and the rhythm section - especially the loping bass line - have real depth. Also, the orchestrations - especially on 'A Man Needs A Maid', are amazingly rich and vivid. 'The Needle and The Damage Done' is totally in your face - you have to check that Young's not in the room with you! It's like hearing the record all over again, and in my mind (it's such a fine line), 'Harvest now resides as a total classic - one of Neil Young's (and anyone else's) finest.