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4.7 out of 5 stars136
4.7 out of 5 stars
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I'm sure many people waited eagerly for this release and I was certainly one of them. The fear was that it would be a huge disappointment after Goldrush - well it wasn't. Harvest has taken on almost a mythical feel over the years.

Many consider it his best work and certainly it met with critical acclaim and is still talked of today. When Young releases a low key, tuneful album it is always described as "The New Harvest" and the composer also references the album many times in his subsequent offerings.

It was more progressive than Goldrush. To me the songs aren't quite so effective but there is no denying the power and beauty of an album that once again contained some outstanding music with the likes of "Harvest", "A Man Needs a Maid" "Heart of Gold" (I can hear you singing it now and two songs with much stronger messages "Old Man" and a foray into drug culture "The Needle and the Damage Done."

The only question on the lips of Young fans were "where does he go from here and can he produce a trio of essential albums?"
22 comments6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
As we all know, Neil Young 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' - and almost a full 20 years after 1989's first issue of Harvest on a dullard CD - it looks like the guy is having the last laugh - because this meticulously prepared tape transfer is GLORIOUS. It really is.

First to the details - Harvest was released in February 1972 on Reprise Records MS 2032 in the USA and K 54005 in the UK (it went to Number 1 in both countries and many others around the world). This 2009 NYA OSR remaster (Neil Young Archives - Original Release Series) is Disc 4 of 4 and carries the HDCD code on the label and rear inlay (High Density Compact Disc). Until now, 2004's "Greatest Hits" set (which offered us three Harvest tracks remastered into HDCD sound quality) was the only real indication of just how good the album 'could' sound. And outside of the DVD Audio release (which few people have), this is the first time the 'entire' album has been given a sonic upgrade. The Audio Tape Restoration and Analog-To-HDCD Digital Transfer of the Original Master Tapes was carried out by JOHN NOWLAND (24-Bit 176 KHZ) with the Editing and Mastering done by TIM MULLIGAN - and they've done a stunning job.

The inlay faithfully reproduces the foldout lyric sheet in the same earthy textured paper that the matching album cover had (a sort of first for recycling way back then) and the print isn't cramped either - it's very readable. In fact the booklet in "Harvest" is probably the most aesthetically pleasing of all 4 releases.

And as these are the first four albums in a long reissue campaign - to identify them from the old 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...and on upwards of course.

However, the big and obvious disappointment is the complete lack of musical extras or any new info in the booklet; they're in "The Archives Vol.1 1963-1972" box set that's still sitting in shop windows at varying extortionate prices. Still - at mid price - this remaster of "Harvest" is great value for money and with this hugely upgraded sound - it makes you focus on the music as is and not anything else.

Some have complained that the sound is a little underwhelming after all the hype that has preceded these releases - I don't think that at all. The danger in remastering would be the cranking of everything, ultra-treble the lot - but I'm hearing ALL the instruments on this carefully prepared transfer - especially the bass and drums which now have a clarity that is so sweet rather than flashy. The sound is very subtle - there's no brashness, very little hiss and when the muscle of the remaster does kick in - like the strings of the London Symphony Orchestra on "A Man Needs A Maid" and "There's A World" - it's really BEAUTIFUL. The music is just 'there' in your speakers all of a sudden.

I suspect for many fans, rehearing this album and the other 3 will be like revisiting old friends and finding something new - thrilling to them once again. I'm onto "After The Gold Rush" as I write - it's impressive stuff - it really is - beautiful reproduction too.

The gold sticker on the jewel case of each of these issues states - "Because Sound Matters" - and although it took him a few decades, on the strength of this reissue, I think Rock's great curmudgeon was right to wait to get it right...which in many respects is the ultimate nod to his fans.

Highly recommended.

PS: I've reviewed "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" and "After The Gold Rush" also - just as good soundwise
66 comments33 of 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 October 2006
"Think I'll jack it in and buy a pickup; Take it down to LA."

So begins one of the half-dozen-or-so greatest albums in the history of rock music - with a prosaic reference to teenage escapism sung over a laid-back country groove. But forty minutes later it's grungy distorted guitars that accompany the more metaphysical verdict:

"It's only words, words, Between the lines of age."

Thus Neil Young sets out his credentials as philosopher and prophet to the hippy generation. He foresees, and in less than three quarters of an hour he foretells, the future history of the children of freedom: Financial independence - lack of responsibility - search for belonging - divorce from reality - alienation - drug dependency - and finally a kind of uneasy reconciliation as experience supplants idealism.

Behind the lyrical journey there is a stylistic journey: from country to grunge via lush orchestration and rock'n'roll, that charts the future history of popular music. No wonder late `90's rockers saw Young as a creative godfather: they saw with hindsight how music had followed the agenda he had first set out a quarter century earlier.

But the most wonderful thing about "Harvest" is that even at it's most harrowingly prophetic, it is still sweet on the ears. Prophesy isn't usually this much fun: listen to Stravinsky or early Dylan or punk or early rap for evidence that in music (as in all areas of life) good medicine often leaves a bad taste. "Harvest" must be one of the most important landmarks in rock to have tasted good at the time and still to taste good nearly three decades on. Most impressively of all (and unlike some of Young's later work), the message still rings true.

I think this record is probably an indispensable part of any modern record collection, but it's not just an important museum piece . . . it's fine music that can be listened to over and over again without ever losing its appeal.
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on 22 July 2009
I have just received the four cds from Canada where they were released on 14th July. Each is labelled Neil Young Archives Official Release Series, Discs 1 through 4 being Neil Young, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After The Gold Rush and Harvest respectively. They are HDCD 24bit 176Khz digital transfers and they sound just great! No extras just the best sound quality so far. If sound quality is important to you, buy them and you won't be disappointed. If you are new to Neil Young buy these and then On The Beach and then..
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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.
0Comment16 of 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
What a knowledgeable expert on Neil Young the previous reviewer is! And there's me thinking that Neil Young alongside Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell is one of the greatest living songwriters alive. Well, thank you Mr Johnson, I can now safely cast aside everything Young recorded after Harvest and trash 30 years of one of the most startling careers in music.

Thankfully not all of us found ourselves disconnected from the mains power supply in the early 70s and have followed the great man with increasing fascination since. Harvest is a wonderful example of Young's music particularly the gentler country acoustic side. I love the title track and there are superb versions of many of these songs on the newly issued "Live at Massey Hall 1971". Perhaps our friend should also invest in the dark classics forming the "Ditch" trilogy namely "On the beach" or Tonight the Night" And please come on Reprise Records reissue "TIME FADES AWAY" on CD AND I will buy shares in the company, scouts honour. Finally, anyone who invests in "Zuma" "Rust Never Sleeps" "Ragged Glory" "Freedom" "Weld" and the excellent revisit of this territory in "Harvest Moon" will be mightily rewarded with Young's best work. More recently his recent broadside against Bush and Iraq with "Living with War" showed Young prepared again to stick his neck out and do the right thing. When I read the cavalier comment from the previous reviewer that Young "lost his way musically" after "Harvest" I nearly required a Heimlich manoeuvre! There are a number of poor albums especially from his dubious 80s period but Young has never been predictable and long may he run.
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on 19 December 2012
I originally bought "Harvest" on Vinyl at time of original release. It has, along with another Neil Young record, "After the Goldrush", always been among my favourite albums. This album in particular has that country feel to it with songs like "Out on a weekend" and the title track. I would say that "Old Man" is the heaviest track on the album. The best track for me was his drug song about Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse, "The Needle and the Damage Done"
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on 3 February 2013
Critics like to try and play down the whole Harvest episode as a commercial watered down Young..its not...its just a great record! With some of the most beautiful tracks ever all pieces go together perfectly including the 2 full orchestra episodes, critics always need to criticize...but here there really isnt much to be unhappy with...great classic..I love it.
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on 20 July 2015
There are more pages and I only caught up with Neil Young after The Band The Last Waltz so am a novice but Heart of Gold and Helpless are well known as Dylan and Crosby Stills Nash and Young nearly always referred as Crosby Stills and Nash to the 1960s 1970s listeners. However Neil Young has made a greater impact in recent years and his Canadian, Farm and progressive activities brought him to a Presence even the suit politicians could not avoid this time and his works tend to be descriptive along with Bachman Turner Overdrive, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nickelback, Celine and Cash. Hiding in a White House has little effect but one can say this compilation will have a result as long as people read, listen and think. Sweet Home Alabama, current at this date as politicians lash out at free people and independent nations. Freedom might be Neil's observed work, but quality music and composition and dedication to real life are his forte.
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on 8 August 2012
Neli Young's fourth and possibly most iconic and well-remembered albums. This was the country style that would influence Bruce Springsteen and a glut of other well known acts. It is a testament to the production of Harvest that it still stands up so well today amongst many other newer acts. The reason why is simple and always will be. Write a good song and that song can last forever. Young wrote 9 here (plus a live version of Needle and the Damage Done).

Gentle yet rough, simple yet intricate, immediately likeable but with much to gain from every listen; this is the benchmark and definition of what a classic actually is.
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