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?"
This is perhaps Neil Young’s best known album and followed on from ‘After the Goldrush’. Surprisingly, in 1972 it met with a luke-warm reception - when it was labelled as too retrospective rather than progression. However, since then it has received much praise and made it into a number of ‘best album’ lists.
It features the London Symphony Orchestra on 2 tracks and vocals from various guests including David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt! It dates from 1972 and was digitally re-mastered in 2002. 2 of the tracks were subsequently released as singles – “Old Man” and “Heart of Gold” which made #31 and #1 respectively in the Billboard Top 100 in the USA.
A number of the songs feature in my playlists. In particular I would mention “Alabama” which again tackles racism in the southern US and “The Needle and the Damage Done” which laments the death of musicians due to heroin addiction – the one ‘live’ track on the album. Personally, I think it a fine album that fully merits its place in my music library. The good news is that Amazon Prime members can stream and listen to the album for free!
The Tracks: • "Out on the Weekend" • "Harvest" • "A Man Needs a Maid" • "Heart of Gold" • "Are You Ready for the Country?" • "Old Man" • "There's a World" • "Alabama" • "The Needle and the Damage Done" (recorded in concert January 30, 1971) • "Words (Between the Lines of Age)"
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 formats 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 - this June 2009 Remaster is Disc 4 of 4 in his NYA – ORS Reissue Series (Neil Young Archives - Original Release Series). "Harvest" by NEIL YOUNG on Reprise 9362-49789-9 (Barcode 093624978992) is a straightforward CD Reissue of the original 1971 album on Reprise Records and carries the HDCD code on the label and rear inlay (High Density Compact Disc) – its total playing time is 37:47 minutes.
Until now 2004's "Greatest Hits" set was the only real indication of just how good the album 'could' sound (it offered us three Harvest tracks remastered into HDCD sound quality). 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.
1. Out On The Weekend 2. Harvest 3. A Man Needs A Maid 4. Heart Of Gold 5. Are You Ready For The Country 6. Old Man [Side 2] 7. There's A World 8. Alabama 9. The Needle And The Damage Done 10. Words (Between The Lines Of Age) Tracks 1 to 10 are his 4th solo album "Harvest" - released February 1972 on Reprise Records MS 2032 in the USA and Reprise Records K 54005 in the UK (it went to Number 1 in both countries and many others around the world).
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.
PS: I've reviewed "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", "Neil Young" and "After The Gold Rush" also and each is just as good soundwise...
With this and the previous years album After the Goldrush, Neil Young established himself as the Dylan of the70's. A massive seller on both sides of the Atlantic this record introduced Neils music to a whole new audience.although it could be argued that it was the success of Heart of Gold in the singles charts that pushed up sales of Harvest.Classic tracks include the aforementioned Heart of Gold, A man needs a maid.,The Needle and the Damage done(written about Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse) and my favourite Old Man.Throughout the 70's Neil released a slew of great albums of which this is probably the greatest.