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5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars

TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 19 June 2004
Having bought this LP when it first came out in 1972 (hot on the heels of "After the Goldrush") like many I concluded it was just Neil Young making Neil Young sounds and did not have the firepower of releases before and since, despite being one of his greatest sellers and giving him his only hit record single in "Heart of Gold".
I was thus interested it was the Neil Young album chosen for this series of books on classic rock albums. Having read Sam Inglis's book, I found it is a little beaut of a book in that you go and relisten to the album afresh and equipped with new insights.
Compared with certain of the other books in this eclectic series of how different writers approach the albums chosen as subjects, this volume is more standard. Inglis does firstly a very good overview of Young's history from the start and his move to LA, via Buffalo Springfield and then to solo career and in CSNY up to the making of Harvest.
The greater part of the book covers the personal drivers for Young to suddenly decide to do a very pared down "live" acoustic and country album initially in Nashville harnessing a group of outstanding session men whose playing is a masterpiece of understatement, the emphahsis being on notes and mood rather than solos. Inglis does a very good overview of the recording and each of the individual songs.
Finally it covers the later aspects being Young's subsequent career including the Harvest Moon album from 1992 which many see as the belated follow up to Harvest, and finally a short essay on why Young has such a hatred of the CD in re-releasing his earlier albums.
The proof of this book is I am now listening to and appreciating the album much better, both within the context of what was happeneing in Young's life at the time and across the years before and since. To achieve that for an LP 30 years old is a testament of this book's strengths.
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on 17 May 2017
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 June 2008
Neil Young was one of many artists to whom I listened as a teenager. I knew him as a solo artist and as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, though I knew nothing of the internal dynamics of the band. I knew he was Canadian. I didn't actually buy Harvest until 30 years later, though I did buy a second-hand copy of Heart Of Gold, I remember that song providing me with accompaniment as it played loudly on a juke box in a café late one night as I walked home, and I somehow considered the record a part of my youth and was glad to be able to buy a book that gave me a bit more background.

That Harvest is indeed a "fine" album (as described by Young himself) and yet totally different from say Freedom or Rust Never Sleeps speaks volumes for Young's talents. It's what serves me as a "mellow" album, though Alabama for starters is anything but mellow, and it's worth noting that with that song, as with Southern man before it, Young put his neck on the line, receiving death threats both from those who understood what he was saying and from some who didn't - partly, admittedly, because as author Sam Inglis says it seems as if Young lumps all Alabamians into one nasty, racist lynch-mob. That Lynyrd Skynyrd's riposte, Sweet Home Alabama, was allegedly one of his favourite songs suggests he knew otherwise; as Patterson Hood says in his spoken peroration The Southern Thing on Drive-By Truckers' Southern Rock Opera, which makes reference to Young's songs, there's a lot of good people down there.

Inglis starts off with a good summary of Young's career prior to Harvest. Obviously there's a lot missing, making generalisations almost inevitable: his assertion that London, LA and New York were and are the key centres of popular music, for example, ignores the influence of Motor City, Muscle Shoals and Jamaica, albeit they don't have the economic weight of the other places.

Moving on to the account of the recording, Inglis mentions the Old Grey Whistle Test session Young did in the middle of the process through which I was originally introduced to the Harvest material. Look hard enough and you will be able to find a recording and hear the bit where Young forgets his words (because the song is so new); you will also notice that some of the words on a Man Needs A Maid were different. You can also at last get the Massey Hall recording referred to - well worth it - and Inglis explains why it was not released when originally intended.

Having never heard Harvest right through until I bought it in the early noughties I hadn't appreciated that Needle And The Damage Done and Words were not bonus tracks for the CD. Words in particular, as Inglis suggests, crashes very abruptly and rudely into the applause from Needle, and I'd thought it was part of the same live recording, not recorded in Young's barn, as the author now informs me.

Incidentally, Inglis points out that Young's band for Harvest, the Stray Gators, was essentially the group of session musicians who recorded as Area Code 615. What he misses, having already mentioned the Old Grey Whistle Test connection, is the opportunity to observe that they provided that programme with its theme tune. Nevertheless, toward the end of the book he provides background to the Gators and some of the other people associated with the recordings.

The book is, in short, full of interesting revelations, and nowhere more so than the track-by-track commentary, which is especially informative. It is, in short, a "fine" book about a "fine" record.
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on 30 October 2014
This book made my husband very happy.
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