Neil Young has always bemoaned the poor audio quality of his first album, pretty much disowning it over the years. Well, some forty-odd years down the line, his solo debut finally sounds like it should've done, courtesy of this remastered version. Probably because of Young's dismissal of the album, it rarely features in many fan's favourites, but this remaster should go some way to show that it is a fine work, not in the same lofty echelons as its successor, 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere', or 'After The Goldrush', or 'Harvest', but it does include some gems worth investigating. The introductory instrumental, 'The Emperor of Wyoming' (there was once a clothes store in the King's Road named after it) is a sweet joy, whilst 'The Loner' is a great little song. 'Here We Are In The Years' is one of my favourites, and the lengthy (just Young and an acoustic guitar) 'The Last Trip To Tulsa' possibly overstays its welcome at nine and a half minutes, but overall, 'Neil Young' does point the way to a more promising future.
on 4 June 2009
For some strange reason Neil's solo debut has always had its detractors. Young himself called it "overdub city", and was apparently so dissapointed with the finished product he didn't bother giving it a title. But does it really matter what Neil or anyone else thinks? I am as familiar with his work as any fan can be, and as far as I am concerned this album deserves more love. He may have made better records, but considering he's put out about a trillion of the damn things, I can only think of three, 'On The Beach', 'Zuma', and 'Harvest'. This is level fourth with 'After The Goldrush' and it is absurdly underated. Neil seemed to believe his solo career only got going with the follow up, 'Everybody Knows This is Nowhere'. But compared to this, 'Nowhere' is nowhere. (You can see why I don't get paid for this)
In the aftermath of Sergeant Pepper, everyone, with the exception of the English folk fringe, was multi-tracking, multi-layering, multi-mixing, and God knows what; in some cases it was a good thing, in the case of this album it didn't make any difference, it was the quality of the songs that made this one so good, not the production. From the White Album on, the Beatles returned to an unadorned style of recording, and many artists, Neil Young for instance, began developing their own 'one take only' philosophies, so this was the first and last of his supposed overuse of multi-layering techniques. By the time he made 'After The Goldrush' it was entirely about the songs. But then 'Harvest' would later bring a slight change in direction once again.
In the latter stages of his time with Buffallo Springfield Neil squirrelled away his best stuff to make this, a stunt he would pull with CSNY a couple of years later to make 'Goldrush'. Considering Stephen Stills was also in both bands, I'm surprised they still speak. Most of these songs are fantastic, but for me there are four stand out tracks, 'The Loner', 'The Old Laughing Lady', 'Here We Are In The Years', and the wonderfully long rambling folky, 'The Last Trip To Tulsa'. 'Tulsa' is another nine minute epic similar to the great 'Ambulance Blues' from 'On The Beach'. What makes Ambulance Blues so exceptional musically, apart from its dark hynotic quality, is the beautiful blend of harmonica and strings, and though 'Tulsa' isn't quite as good, and lacks the 'Dylan-Kit', Young bleats about all kinds of stuff in good old fashioned folk style, and thrashes his accoustic guitar like a man possessed, so there's even more jangle in the ramble. Musical heaven!
Sod the detractors, if you like Neil Young and haven't got this album, buy it.
on 3 April 2008
This has always been one of my favourite albums. But, the sound quality is simply appalling. The whole thing needs remastering to show the sheer brillance of the material and the performance. Young, by his own admittance once said that he was trying to get this re-done an dre-released but nothing ever came of it. Shame.
on 8 September 2009
I've owned this album for a long time but not played it much because of the poor mixing and sound. This remaster really shows a major transition point for Neil, between the complex, pastiche style of Buffalo Springfield to the more rock orientation he became famous for later on. The songs are special, the words sometimes naive but with hidden depth. Definitely worth hearing if you want to hear where Neil took off as a solo artist (and for lovers of Buffalo Springfield, who were major innovators in the 60s).
Over the last two decades in particular - Neil Young fans have had their reissue patience sorely tested by their moody overlord. Canada’s finest has famously resisted the remastered reissue of his huge catalogue on CD because of what he feels is the format's less than stellar representation of analogue tapes' 'original sound'. But you have to say right from the audio start of these August 2009 CD reissues/remasters - the wait for these first quartet of solo albums - "Neil Young", "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", "After The Gold Rush" and "Harvest" - has absolutely been worth the endless delays and press hissy fits.
What a magnificent job his transfer teams have done here. JOHN NOWLAND carried out the Audio Tape Restoration and Analog-To-HDCD Digital Transfer of the Original Master Tapes (24-Bit 176 KHZ) with TIM MULLIGAN taking care of the Editing and Mastering. These remasters are not bombastically loud - trebled up to the nines for the sake of it - they're subtle - the music is just there in your speakers to a point where everything seems new and up for grabs again. Fans will love it and feel like they're revisited long cherished old friends - while newcomers will now understand what all the 5-star fuss is about.
Release August 2009 – "Neil Young" on Reprise 9362-49790-3 (Barcode 093624979050) is a straightforward transfer of his debut solo LP (36:25 minutes):
1. The Emperor Of Wyoming
2. The Loner
3. If I Could Have Her Tonight
4. I've Been Waiting For You
5. The Old Laughing Lady
6. String Quartet From Whiskey Boot Hill
7. Here We Are In The Years
8. What Did You Do To My Life?
9. I've Loved Her So Long
10. The Last Trip To Tulsa
Tracks 1 to 10 are his debut LP "Neil Young" – released January 1969 in the USA and UK on Reprise RSLP 6317 (reissued in 1971 in the UK on K 44059).
A nice touch on the outer jewel case is the sticker that came with original issues of the American LP that bore the logo "The Buffalo Springfield's Neil Young" as well as the "A Classic Neil Young Album Remastered From The Original Analogue Master Tapes – Because Sound Matters" gold sticker that is generic with all four of these first set of reissues. The 12-page booklet reproduces the hand-written lyrics that came with original LPs and not much else unfortunately. This is Disc 1 of 4 and carries the HDCD code on the label and rear inlay (High Density Compact Disc). NYA ORS is the Neil Young Archives - Original Release Series. As these are the first four albums in a long reissue campaign - to identify them from older non-remastered CDs - the upper part of the outer spine has his new NYA OSR logo at the top and an 'issue' number beneath - D1, D2, D3, D4...on upwards of course.
His self-titled debut LP (written at the tender age of 23) has of course been eclipsed over the years by the more illustrious albums "After The Gold Rush" and "Harvest" from 1970 and 1971 - but real fans will want to start here. While I can live without the countrified "The Emperor Of Wyoming" - I still find "The Loner" astonishing in the way that the first Zeppelin album is - powerful, punchy and still rocking today. It's kind of shocking that even though Reprise coupled it with "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" as it's B-side - it failed as a UK 7" single on Reprise RS 23045 in September 1969. I love the Jack Nitzsche arrangements on the magical "The Old Laughing Lady" with Ry Cooder on Guitar and the wonderful singer Merry Clayton on Backing Vocals. The channel separation is harsh (the way it was recorded) but the clarity is fabulous. "What Did You Do To My Life" sounds like a top Buffalo Springfield outtake from their patchy 3rd album while the acoustic guitars on the epic "The Last Trip To Tulsa" are so clear - as is his warbling treated vocals - frail and aching.
What I love about this remaster is that it’s somehow brought the album alive - and now begs rediscovery. And things only got better with the next three – "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", "After The Gold Rush" and the mighty "Harvest" - which I’ve also reviewed along with the 2012 4-disc bundle "Official Release Series Discs 1-4". Enjoy the lot...
on 17 October 2001
Tracks 6,8 = Outstanding
Tracks 1,2,4,9 = Excellent
Tracks 5,7 = Very Good
Tracks 3,10 = Good
Neil Young's debut solo album is a remarkable record, which must have been cruelly over looked when it was released in 1969. This album sounds most like 'Harvest' and 'Comes A Time', but these are only close comparison's - this album sounds like no other Young album. Similarly to 'Harvest' and 'Harvest Moon', it is a fusion of Jack Nitzsche's string arrangements with Young's acoustic and electric guitar playing also present but it still doesn't sound like any other Young album. The female backing singers also add an extra element to this record. I discovered Neil Young's music when one of my friends bought me 'Rust Never Sleeps' for my birthday. I liked it so much I wanted to buy other Neil Young albums and got the impression his best ones were 'Harvest', 'After the gold rush', 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' etc. The point is this was never mentioned, yet it is easily a 5 - star album and is easily as good as 'Harvest' and Neil Young's other most famed albums.
At worst this album is good and at its best it is outstanding. There are no poor or even average tracks on this album; each song has its own moments. 'The Last Trip To Tulsa', for example, is an experiment I don't fully appreciate; yet there are parts of this epic that are excellent. The album opens with an instrumental, which is a weird curtain raiser for a singer-songwriter's debut album. This song is a top class track, very similar to the sound of 'Harvest'. 'The Loner' and 'I've Loved Her For So Long' are quality fusion's of rock with classical music and 'I've Been Waiting For You' is an excellent sixties rocker which is one of the most commercial sings on the album. The aforementioned tracks are all excellent, but 'String Quartet From Whiskey Boot Hill' (a Jack Nitzsche composition) and 'What Did You To My Life' are two of the best songs on any Neil Young album, and are a class above the others. The former is a string instrumental, which sounds as if it's from the soundtrack of any of the 'Godfather' movies. The latter is one of the best Neil Young songs there is with a fantastic melody sung over a wheezing sound that leads to the chorus that has some phenomenal backing vocals. These backing vocals make this song something really special and are some of the best I've heard along with the backing vocals on Lindsey Buckingham's 'Trouble' and Peter Gabreil's 'Don't Give Up'.
This is a must have album for any Neil Young fan (if you didn't have it already) and a must have for anyone who loves decent music.
on 11 November 2001
This, Young's début solo release, is nothing like anything which came after it. Very "produced" (Young described the album as "Overdub City"), the multi-layered tracks on this record are of uniformly high quality. Superb tracks such as "Here We Are in the Years" are cruelly neglected gems, although Young is not averse to trotting out numbers such as "The Old Laughing Lady" and "I've Been Waiting for You," in revised form, in his current concerts. Generally seen as "the one with "The Loner" on it," this album, featuring stellar compositions like "The Last Trip to Tulsa" and "If I Could Have Her Tonight," is another triumph for Young. This is a remarkably coherent piece of work, at odds with the ramshackle approach Young later took to his music, and a fascinating glimpse of what could have been, had Young chosen to explore this aspect of his art further.
Young kicked off his solo career with a very low key affair. The whole pace of the album is dictated to by the opening jaunty instrumental The Emperor of Wyoming which has a definite country feel to it. The key to the success of a first album is a positive answer to the question "will this artist improve?" With Young it was definitely a yes as you could hear the beginnings of the golden career that was to follow.
So this is a decent stab at things, but there was much better to follow. It includes some pseudo classical twiddly bits and, like on so many Young albums, the sum of the whole is slightly fractured, varying from the prettiness of "Here We Are in the Years," which for me is the outstanding track, to the rambling "The Last Trip to Tulsa" which at nine minutes is hugely too long. Over indulgence was something Young would be accused of many times in his career, but that shouldn't detract from the fact that he was and still is a major major talent.
on 18 April 2001
Young's first solo album is in some ways a forgoten classic. Shy of the microphone, Niel sings like a timid angel; but the emotional impact is all the more powerful for it. One feels as though this man is singing from his heart. Here we can here influences that have not been heard in Niel's music since; there are glimpses of New York soul along side more familiar folk styles. Groovy! Recorded before the, 'one take will do it' phase of Niel's later material, this crafted overdub-fest of an album has to be heard to be believed. Trouble is, it's not long enough! Bootleg out-takes from this period show just how much creativity was going on at this time. 5 out of 5 without doubt.
October 19th 2009: Enough people didn't find this helpful to make me want to add some more...
I think it is true that this is Neil's most soulful album, in places. There is also material that you can hear is heading toward 'Harvest'. Neil's electric guitar almost sounds like it was Direct inputted into the recording desk without any amps - it is clean, and there is allot of tremelo. Where it isn't clean, it's more fuzz that dirty. I love it, but Crazy Horse grunge it is not, and it's not 'Everybody knows this is nowhere' either.
Hope this helps?
April 6th 2012: This album has now been remastered by Young himself. I bought the remastered version to replace my old copy and was very happy i did so - it now sounds so much better than before. VERY much more better than before. Superb.
on 9 October 2010
After The Goldrush (1970) and Harvest (1972) are rightly seen as landmark Neil Young albums, in my opinon among the greatest rock albums ever recorded.
From his early solo career that leaves this self titled debut (1968) and Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere (1969).
The latter is not to my taste, with too many long guitar driven songs which don't appear to say much.
However this one's a very different matter, mostly gentle songs with excellent musical backing and production standards.
Neil has his own style of singing, which if you like, you can't really go wrong adding this to your collection.