Thoroughly outstanding from start to finish, this is vintage Neil Young. Harder-edged than the follow-up (and more famous) "Harvest", "After The Gold Rush" contains some classic tracks, including the bitter 'Southern Man', Young's vicious swipe at racist attitudes in America's Deep South, which spawned an equally famous retort by Southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd ('Sweet Home Alabama'). Obviously Neil Young didn't get the hint, since 'Alabama' (on Harvest) was equally scathing, albeit not as powerful as the brilliant 'Souhtern Man'. Young's legendarily off-beat, jagged solo guitar style was pretty much born on this track, and ensures that it will hold a special place in any Neil Young collection.
"Only Love Can Break Your Heart" is a Young country standard, practically unparalleled in the rest of his career. With a real country 3/4 beat, and beautiful harmony vocals (presumably by, amongst others, Danny Whitten), it's almost a mournful lament of a song. (Later covered by St. Etienne to great effect on 'Fox Base Alpha')
Other highlights include the brilliant opener, "Tell Me Why", which really sets the scene for what you can expect from the rest of the album. "Don't Let It Bring You Down" is another top track, although lyrically a bit confused. Also, "When You Dance You Can Really Love" is musically a great song, but what the hell he's on about is a matter of debate! But it only goes to show that even if one part of a song is lacking, it is compensated by the sheer quality of another part. The result is that there isn't a weak song on the album. Even Young's cover version of country standard "Oh Lonesome Me" is thoroughly appropriate and fits right in with the rest of the album. Like the title track on the follow-up "Harvest", "After The Gold Rush" is a simple piano ballad showcasing Young at his most reflective and laid-back, and contains a great lyric which includes "Look at Mother Nature on the run, in the 1970's"
This was my first Neil Young album (I bought it because I had 'Fox Base Alpha' by St. Etienne!), and what a place to start. I loved it then and more than a decade later, it remains one of my top ten favourite albums of all-time. More so than "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" or prior albums, "After The Gold Rush" marks the true beginning of Neil Young the "legend", and no CD collection can be complete without it.
on 10 February 2011
There probably aren't too many casual looks at this treasure unfortunately. It's an album that many of the current crop of "singer/songwriters" could do with listening to. Well worth a punt for anybody.
To those who know the record, I bought this cd on its'first release. Personally, I have never heard it sound so good. I could wax on about all sorts, but the bottom line is if you like or love this collection of songs you have to buy this edition to hear them in a depth and swathe of detail I'm sure many of us won't have heard before, even on the vinyl which was good. I'm drawing a breath, but have come to the conclusion that this sounds better than my first (British) press original vinyl - not a memory, I continue to play and enjoy vinyl. I'm sure Neil Young was waiting for the digital technology to catch up and he has been proved right to wait. Superlative.
Lights out, volume up and you have Neil Young and band in your room. And you are in the room as they recorded the music; you can picture where each of them stood to do their parts. Top class.
The above comments also apply equally well to "Harvest".
on 21 May 2011
Having heard Harvest prior to After the Gold Rush, I thought I'd heard what Neil Young had to offer. Boy was I wrong.
After the Gold Rush features some of Young's greatest folk music, as well as some really great rockers that are far superior to the rock songs on Harvest. There, already I've stated what is the real purpose of this review: After the Gold Rush is better than Harvest, by a mile... or two.
"Tell Me Why" opens up the album nicely. It's catchy, but absolutely not one of the best on the album. This immediately changes on the following song, also the title song, which is an extremely beautiful acoustic folk song. And this is where Neil Young really shines. The title song is not the only acoustic deserve-to-be-classic song on the album. "Don't let it bring you Down" and "Birds" are some of the asolute best songs, I've heard from Neil Young, and it is not difficult to see why the singer/songwriter-genre has turned out to be so popular since.
Neil Young seems to be the first singer/songwriter to really give this much of himself. It's deeply personal and the lyrics are simply masterpieces.
But Young doesn't stop here. Whereas most musicians and bands have trouble mastering only one genre, Neil Young shows that he is also a master of country-rock. "Southern Man" manages to keep the personality of his folk songs, but in a rock package with awesome country/blues-solos.
On the last notes, I'll encourage you all to start out by listening to Harvest (if you're new to Young), as that is Young at his most catchy and straightforward. But it's with Harvest's predecessor, After the Gold Rush, that Neil Young's talent and potential truly shines. A masterpiece, and after only a few listens, one of my all-time favourite albums.
on 10 May 2007
I think that Neil Young as an artist is slightly overrated, and some of his most praised albums like Zuma and especially Tonight's the Night I don't really care for...
But this record is a different matter. I still remember the day when I bought it; on the first listen it was sort of OK, but then on the same night I put it on again and listened to it (via headphones); only then it really started to make an impact on me, and I just couln't stop listening - I didn't get much sleep that night, let me tell you!
This is one of those rare albums where "every song is better than the next". Even the songs that could be called throwaways, like just-over-a-minute-long Till the Morning Comes and Cripple Creek Ferry, have great warmth and beauty in them (I especially love the backing choir of the former - pure magic!).
If you are into Young's rock side, this might not be the right record for you, but for the fans of simple, beautiful and heartfelt music it is a must-have.
on 21 October 2008
This album was on constant play throughout an American road-trip of mine in a camper van from festival to festival, state to state, gradually heading westward to California. I was 18 at the time and the year was 1989. The start of the journey began at the Woodstock festival, twenty years on, (opened with a speech from Jimi Hendrix's father and a set by Richie Havens). As a consequence it is drenched in memories.
This album has it all. Steeped in the golden glow of the times, it covers many areas of being, heartache, visions, psychedelic thoughts, glimpses of pastoral idylls, all set within a hybrid of folk/country/rock that is distinctively Neil's own. His thin nasally voice is perfect throughout, the harmonies sublime, the quality of recording simultaneously sparse and lush in a way that you never find on digital media these days.
A classic, a slice of time frozen. If you only ever get one Neil Young album in your life, get this one. It's his best, and goes in my top ten favourite albums of all time.
on 24 June 2007
Yes this is possibly his best studio album, but as well as this any Neil Young fan should also have "Live at Massey Hall" as well. which is basically some of these songs and songs from Harvest stripped bare, no backing muscians no nothing, just Neil and his guitar/piano. Get both! you owe it to yourself, see it as a little treat!
If there`s a more immaculate album out there, I want to hear it.
This was the 1970 follow-up to Neil`s incredible second record, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, and he did it again - then again with Harvest, On The Beach, Tonight`s The Night, Zuma...what a stunning run of inspired brilliance.
Tell Me Why is a catchy opener, and you know from the off you`re in good hands.
The title track is so famous now that I`m not going to go into its beauties, but boy do you have a treat if you`ve yet to hear it. Even Dolly Parton`s covered this one.
Ony Love Can Break Your Heart is one of those NY songs that you tend to forget about till you hear it again, and go "Aaah, yes!". Lovely.
The mighty Southern Man is a cutting condemnation of racism and segregation in the South, with a terrific atmosphere to it, abrasive and urgent. It got an equally memorable - and outraged - response in Lynyrd Skynyrd`s great anthem Sweet Home Alabama. Apparently, Neil was happy to be mentioned in one of their songs. (I don`t know if Neil and the late Ronnie Van Zant ever met, but I like to think of wry smiles, a clap on the back, and a shared Jim Beam or two.)
Till The Morning Comes is a pleasing brief interlude ending "Side One" (ah, those were the days).
"Side Two" opens with a tender slowed-down version of Don Gibson`s country classic Oh Lonesome Me. It fits Neil like a glove.
Next comes what is for me, along with Southern Man and the title track, the album`s masterpiece, the edgy, mid-tempo Don`t Let It Bring You Down, with its guardedly optimistic refrain:
"Don`t let it bring you down, it`s only castles burning
Find someone who`s turning, and you will come around"
The verses set up sorrow, the chorus turns to joy. It`s all too short at a whisker under three minutes but a great song nevertheless. (Most of these songs are shorter than I remember them, but the upside is they leave you wanting more.)
Birds is a delicately lovely song, sung to piano backing, with heavenly harmonies on the chorus. Surprised this hasn`t been covered more often.
When You Dance...is a wonderful NY rocker, I Believe In You another superb slow song, yearning and keening as only Neil can.
Cripple Creek Ferry is another snippet of a song to finish this 35-minute classic.
With its perfect front & back covers - they looked so much better on the LP foldout sleeve - and in remastered sound, this is as essential as rock ever gets.
"There was a band playing in my head
and I felt like getting high..."
on 5 June 2009
If 'Everybody Knows This Is Knowhere' was the first step in Young's one take only approach to recording, this album embraces the concept like no other, along with a punk style contempt for accomplished musicianship and fussy production. On this album Neil stripped away all the studio tricks, he even asked young Crazy Horse guitarist Nils Lofgren to play piano on the title track. When Lofgren said he didn't play piano, Young assured him it didn't matter. Incredibly the simplicity of the keyboards on the track suits the song perfectly.
But regardless of the production values, the quality of the songs show remarkable artistic growth and it is easy to see why it achieved classic status. You can also understand why Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Graham Nash were a bit miffed at the sheer quality of some of the music; Young was a quarter of CSNY at this time, yet nothing he contributed to that band would have made the final cut on 'Goldrush'.
If I could change anything about thits record it would be to add harmonica to the mix. Some of the songs are crying out for it like a thirsty man cries out for water, yet the only track it was used on was 'Oh Lonesome Me', (very appropriately) and this as far as I am aware was the instrument's debut on a Neil Young record. But 'Harvest' was just around the corner, and the 'Dylan-Kit' was about to have its moment in the sun. Goldrush may not have been his biggest selling record, or even his best, but this was Neil's contribution to the high table of rock classics.
And another album that I'd had from release date on vinyl and thoroughly worn out....that I'd finally got to the point where a CD replacement was essential.
Falling onto the front door mat early one saturday morning I put the CD into the player, donned a set of cans and transported myself back in time because this invoked all the sentiments of the period including America coming to grips with racism, the end of the hippie dream et al. Yes, indeed, this album is certainly synonymous with the times but notwithstanding, it has also stood the test of time in that this batch of songs is as fresh today as the first time I heard them and I am not really a Neil Young fan! Not a great lover of his whiny thin vocal or his stuttering guitar solos - BUT, taken as a whole this is one very powerful and emotive album that deserves repeated listenings even some 40 years on be it the pinnacle of Southern Man or the evocative Only Love Can Break Your Heart, this album gets under your skin and embeds it's tunes and lyrics into your cortex so that whenever you hear the opening lines of Cripple Creek Ferry, After The Goldrush and 'Til The Morning Comes, you can't but help joining in with the singing....certainly whiles away many a boring car journey.
Iconic and class - and if it's not in your collection along with the contemporary Deja Vu from Crosby Stills Nash & Young - shame on you!
on 5 March 2008
Neil Young after the Gold Rush
Neil Young has made so many albums now, some of them terrible, but some an inspiration for generations of today and the future alike. After the Gold Rush is one, if not the best album he has done. It was after the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young period that he created this almost masterpiece like third album. The album fits nicely into the genre of Country/ Rock with a mix of warm acoustic love songs to the anti-racial protest song of Southern Man.
The opening track, Tell Me Why, is just Neil, his Martin D-28 acoustic and a few backing singers. Still with this thin arrangement he manages to make the recording sound as thick as a full orchestra playing to their limit. It is a story of love and how a young girl can not make up her mind about her life.
The second track and one of the highlights of the album is the dreamlike and emotional, after the Gold Rush. A story of protest with a `post war' like trumpet solo that has to be one of the most tear jerking sounds ever recorded. Neil's thin country voice floats seamlessly on top of an aesthetically perfect Recording.
The fourth track on the album, Southern Man, is an eccentric Rock/ blues protest song about the state of racial abuse in the Redneck area of America. With lines such as `I see your black man coming round, swear by God I'm gonna cut him down. I heard Screaming and bull whips cracking.' A brutal attack on the Rednecks in South America.
Overall an incredibly versatile album. The best he has done.