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118
4.6 out of 5 stars
Greatest Hits
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127 of 131 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2005
So what have we here? Well, as a 5 star selection of Neil Young tracks there's little to fault this album - every one is top notch and together they cover a very fair cross-section of his often complex wanderings between folk, country and hard-rock.

Job well done then? Well not really. First off the selection itself is too limited, with only four tracks covering the last 25 years and with none after 1992. The man's had his ups & downs but his career is much broader than represented here and his post 1977 work includes a much larger number of truly excellent tracks than this compilation, with its heavy weighting to pre-1977, suggests. Odd... not least because, with only a small number of genuine single/album "hits" to his name, it's not as though there's any particular reason to limit it in this way through a "Greatest Hits" title.

Secondly, its sequencing, while strictly chronological, is bizarre. Do people who want to be introduced to an artist (as those at who it's directed at will be) really want to start off with "Down by the River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand" - two excellent but distinctly similar and lengthy hard rock work-outs. Sitting here as its first two tracks, they provide a less than helpful 20 minute opening for someone who probably only knows "Heart of Gold" and maybe a couple of other of Neil Young's more MOR outings.

Finally, 11 of the 16 tracks are already available on the only other sensible retrospective currently available, the excellent two CD "Decade" from 1977, which provides a much more comprehensive & interesting overview of the first 10 years of his 30 year plus career. Result? If "Decade" is the only Neil Young album you own then you're paying a lot for just five more tracks and if you buy this album first and then buy "Decade", as new recruits may well do... well, you're starting to understand the problem.

Someone needs to get on top of it because it's increasingly clear that Neil Young, who undoubtedly exerts rigid control over his releases, seems to have "missed the point" when it comes to overviews of his career. As a previous reviewer said, why didn't he give the whole lot to Rhino and let them get on with producing a more comprehensive and better sequenced effort. A 30 track double CD would have done it, leaving both his fans and his new recruits much, much happier. Brilliant though it is, "Greatest Hits" makes the chances of this even more remote, which is a great shame because his best work covers much more than what's on offer here and, as such, deserves much better treatment. A case of too little, too late?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2011
The problem with a "greatest hits" album from an artist as varied, inspired and (sooo) prolific as Neil Young is - what do you leave out? This album could have been a 4 CD box set and still people would gripe about gems not chosen. On this single CD release, the compiler (I'm guessing Neil himself) used "record sales, airplay and known downloads" as the criteria for inclusion, and I must say it works pretty well.
Personally I'd hate to have to boil down the career of Mr.Young into 16 tracks, although I don't think I would have devoted almost 20 precious minutes to two long and similar tracks from the first album with Crazy Horse ("Cowgirl in the sand" & "Down by the river") whilst ignoring material from the "Zuma" and "Ragged Glory" albums (to name but two) - but there you go.
This aside, this is a great overview of the career of one of rock's great innovators - it's all here from the plaintive, fragile introspection of the "Goldrush"/"Harvest" era to the hard rockin' Crazy Horse material with a little bit of CSNY thrown in for good measure.
What grabs me about Young (apart from his unique voice and demented guitar solos) is his ironic, almost subversive take on life, "Rockin' In The Free World" for example, a song released around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the old Soviet empire, ostensbly sounds like an anthem for Republican cold-war warriors, when in fact the verses reveal the darker side of life in the good ol' western world. With Neil Young what you see isn't always what you get.

To concude this is a wonderful album and a great place to start/update your Neil Young collection, and the price makes it unmissable.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 19 April 2007
Having just been reading the other informative reviews there is one point missing so far. This c.d. has been mixed from the master tapes and the sound is truly superb. A slight hissing can be heard at the start of certain tracks but the instruments and vocals really come out crystal clear.

Due to his prolific output some studio albums would no doubt be too much for alot of people but this c.d. does not have a duff track on it.

The guitar work is superb and varies between being very rocky and showcasing delicate acoustic songs still managing to rock. The vocals, although not to every ones idea of mainstream, stretch every emotion from the songs.

You always feel that every word is heartfelt.

As noted in another review it is a brave decision to put two almost ten minute tracks at the start, but if you like this style of music they do not drag on like some long tracks can seem to.

One of my favourite albums, you won't play it lots maybe but when you do you will wonder why you don't !!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2008
I had the pleasure of seeing Neil Young live in Kent last weekend. It was great to see he is still on tremendous form after all these years. With a catalogue of about thirty albums it is difficult for newcomers to his work to know where to start their collection, but this compilation covers a lot of his best known music. In fact according to the man himself it was compiled according to sales of the songs, airplay and known download history which gives the track selection credibility.

The collection begins with three of Neil Youngs' key songs- two epics which demonstrate the remarkable craftsmanship behind his output (Down by the River and Cowgirl in the Sand) and the shorter, harder edged 'Cinnamon Girl', an instantly catchy number. These songs are all taken from his 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' album. Unbelievably I read in an Uncut magazine feature from late 2004 that they were all written in one day whilst Neil was bedridden with fever! Further examples of his brilliance are his CSNY tracks- the melancholy Helpless and the powerful and angry protest song 'Ohio'. The latter, written and recorded in a single day was Neils' reaction to hearing of the needless deaths of student demonstrators in 1970.

One thing I enjoy about listening to this CD is that it demonstrates Youngs' versatility. 'Heart of Gold' is very tuneful and was a huge commercial hit; personal songs 'Old Man' and 'The Needle and the Damage Done' are further examples of Youngs' more acoustic-driven output, taken from the outstanding 1972 release 'Harvest' (his best known album perhaps). Elsewhere there is near-perfect, beautifully crafted country (the upbeat 'Comes a Time' and the melancholy 'Harvest Moon' which closes the collection). Only two tracks represent Neils' heavier output; they are 'Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)' and the rip-roaring 'Rockin' in the Free World', his comeback song after a decade of mixed fortunes, famously written a matter of months before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Hearing this song was in fact my personal introduction to the music of Neil Young.

There are other highlights as well; 'Like a Hurricane' is an eight minute- plus guitar workout with a great melody and it never gets dull. The three other tracks are taken from his 1970 masterpiece 'After the Goldrush' (the title track, 'Southern Man'- which prompted a response from Lynard Skynnard via a couple of lines in their song 'Sweet Home Alabama'- and 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart'). Great songs but I prefer a few of the album tracks from this release which just goes to show how high on quality it is.

I have now built up a large collection of Neil Youngs' albums and inevitably one disc cannot do justice to one of the very best songwriters in the history of modern music. There is nothing from Neils' Buffalo Springfield output (the latter being his earliest work), nor from classic albums such as 'On the Beach' (1974), 'Tonights the Night' and 'Zuma' (both 1975), 'Ragged Glory' (1990) or 'Sleeps with Angels' (1994). Only one track appears from 'Freedom' (1989), one of my favourite Neil Young albums and a record which contains many overlooked classics. It is also worth noting that the 1977 compilation 'Decade', taken from the period 1966-1977 and available as a two CD set, is a much more comprehensive examination of Neils' legendary work although it does not contain any of the last four tracks on 'Greatest Hits', all of which rank as some his best songs.

Whilst it is a slightly uneven account of Neil Youngs' career spanning the period 1969-1992, 'Greatest Hits' is a fine introduction to a remarkable artist. I recommend that newcomers buy this album, listen to it plenty of times all the way through and if it converts them into being Neil Young fans, they should check out some of his best known albums- on which many equal if not superior classics are buried away.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I am a new comer to the work of Neil Young and therefore am not qualified to say whether he has produced better tracks than those offered here. However I find it difficult to imagine that there can be many other tunes that should have been included ahead of those found on this compilation.
This is a fantastic collection of recognizable classics. I only wish that I had discovered the brilliance of Neil Young earlier. Many of the tracks are truly brilliant and like returning lost memories. There are too many great tracks for me to pick out any one or two as outstanding.
I will now back track to collect the albums from which this collect was 'harvested'.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
...when you need an overview of this great man on one disc. This is it. Every track counts. It's fascinating to note, particularly as the tracks are arranged chronologically, how Young had a style distinct from the start. The purity of voice and the consistency of treatment, be it as a solo artist or collaborator.
His triple album Decade is a comprehensive slice of just one phase of his career - this album judiciously covers well over a quarter of a century. I can't fault the selection, so good to have the studio versions of 'Comes a time' 'Like a Hurricane' 'Hey hey' which possibly are more famous as live tracks. Shame they couldn't fit in 'Cortez the Killer'.
Most importantly the compilers have bravely skirted around Young's more eccentric experiments, the album 'Trans' for example. Neil is guilty of as many misses as hits but this album most definitely contains hits and only hits.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2004
What are "Greatest Hits" albums for? Partly a cynical music biz ploy to make people part with their well-earned cash in the run-up to Xmas? Undoubtedly - but they can also be used as a means of introducing new listeners to one of the most important rock musicians of the last 40 years
Who are "Greatest Hits" albums for? Not the die-hard and loyal fan that has bought every album, video, DVD or been to every gig on every tour in living memory! In this case, it is for the occasional Neil Young fans or, perhaps more importantly, the next generation of Neil Young fans.
I can remember when I first got into Neil Young when I heard him play Rockin' In The Free World at the Mandela tribute at Wembley. From then on I was blown away. By that time he already had a huge back catalogue of albums and as such I almost had a new Neil Young album to listen to every month. It was like discovering a goldmine!
Since then I have gone on to buy every Neil Young album on CD, the good and the bad and I still think the man is a genius! So how can I possibly begrudge the man a "Greatest Hits" album? Some artists repackage and re-release a Best Of every 3 or 4 years - Neil Young's last compilation was in 1976!
Neil Young fans will all have their own opinions about what should or shouldn't be on an album like this, but that shouldn't stop people from acknowledging that these particular 16 songs are undoubtedly some of the finest examples of Neil Young at his very best and as such this compilation is worthy of nothing less than the full 5 star rating.
Will I buy this album? I don't think I need to and its probably not intended for fans like me anyway, but I would certainly recommend it to a friend or buy it as a gift for a relative (such as a musically-uneducated brother-in-law) as a means of introducing them to the godlike genius of Neil Young.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2012
Superb overview of Neil Young's career though this is just a word of caution for folk's like me who listen to most music through their PC. This disc for whatever reason will not play on your computer, it doesn't even realise the disc is present. Plays fine on a conventional CD player though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2009
I was introduced to this album on a on the CD collection of a flight to Australia and it simply blew me away. I ended up on a remote pacific island for 6 weeks with this album going round in head, and no way to get hold of a copy. "Down by the River" is the perfect introduction to early Neil Young; deceptively simple but with strength in depth.

Recommended.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2005
I purchased this version of Neil Young's greatest hits after listening to the DVD version of Prairie WInd and realising just how good a 96/24 DVD could sound, I already own Decade (and most of Neil's other albums). Unfortunately, presumably as part of the copy protection, the DVD included with greatest hits, although containing a 96/24 sound mix, downsamples to 48/16 via the SP/DIF digital output. If, like me, you have a pretty ropey DVD-V player but a decent external DAC, this defeats the point of producing a high resolution audio disc (the DVD version of Prairie Wind is not restricted in this way). Only worth paying the extra for if you have an audiophile quality DVD-V player.
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