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 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 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.
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 "Gold Rush" 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...
UK and Europe released 10 August 2009 - "After The Gold Rush" by NEIL YOUNG on Reprise 9362-49790-1 (Barcode 093624979012) is a 'Neil Young Archives - Original Release Series' Remaster (NYA ORS) and carries the HDCD code on the label and rear inlay (High Definition Compatible Digital). It's also Part 3 of 4 of the "Official Release Series Discs 1-4" 2012 Reissue that bundles his first four solo albums together into one card slipcase.
Until now, 2004's "Greatest Hits" set (which offered us three Gold Rush tracks remastered into HDCD sound quality) was the only real indication of just how good the album 'could' sound (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.
"After The Gold Rush" (35:03 minutes):
1. Tell Me Why
2. After The Gold Rush
3. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
4. Southern Man
5. Till The Morning Comes
6. Oh Lonesome Me
7. Don't Let It Bring You Down
9. When You Dance, I Can Really Love
10. I Believe In You
11. Cripple Creek
"After The Gold Rush" was released in September 1970 on Reprise Records MS 6383 in the USA and Reprise RSLP 6383 in the UK (it went to Number 8 in the USA and Number 7 in the UK). It was reissued on the Reprise 'K' label variant in the early Seventies when the company went over to 'Kinney' Music.
The inlay faithfully reproduces the foldout lyric sheet with his black and white grainy handwritten lyrics and the print isn't cramped either - it's very readable. (The Harvest inlay has the textured feel of the original LP sleeve and lyric insert too - a nice touch).
Also - 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...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 "Gold Rush" 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 remaster - 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.
So many highlights - the meaty guitars of "Southern Man" and the slyly lovely cover of Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me" is great too. But then there's a triple whammy of "Don't Let It Bring You Down", the beautiful "Birds" (lyrics above) and the rocking "When You Dance, I Can Really Love". Each is so beautifully done but in different ways. They're not bombastic, nor trebled up to the nines, but subtle - the music is just THERE in your speakers to a point where everything seems new and up for grabs again. Fans will love it and feel like they're revisited long cherished old friends while newcomers will now understand what all the 5-star fuss is about.
The gold sticker on the jewel case of each of these issues says "Because Sound Matters" - and I think Rock's great curmudgeon has actually proved that point...
PS: I've reviewed "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", "Neil Young" and "Harvest" also - just as good soundwise - and the August 2012 Reprise/NYA 4 x HDCD Reissue Box Set "Official Release Series Discs 1-4" in a card slipcase...
on 31 December 2000
First of all, i was disappointed by the fact that the album is not very long (about 35 mins). However, when i actually listened to the album, i was not disappointed at all. The songs are so timeless, it is posible to listen to them lots of times after one another and they do not get boring. It is such a strong album. It is a great mix of country and rock, a mix of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (brilliant too) and Harvest (excellent). Tell Me Why is a melancholy opener followed up by one of the greatest tracks Neil has done. Actually, now i think about it, all of the tracks are excellent. There are rockers showing off Neil's skill on the guitar and there are quiet, reflective tracks. 'Oh Lonesome Me' has one of the best harmonies i have heard and 'Southern Man' is acidic and a great rock track.
This album is, along with Harvest, the best way to introduce yourself to the work of Neil Young. As i said, get this, and you will soon be getting all of his albums!!
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..."
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 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!
on 7 August 2013
One of the great benefits today is you can pick up some great remastered albums at no great expense and certainly to my ears they are a lot better than much of the manufactured music around at the moment; the thing with Neil Young is its still in a way current as he still tours and performs his music to bigger audiences than ever. I never got round to buying this album till now - a great pity. No really poor songs here, it includes a lot of styles and some absolute classic songs like the rocky and direct Southern Man, the exquisite Don't let it bring you down to the beautiful Only Love can break your Heart. Neil Young's music more than most has stood the test of time. The remaster seems to provide a great sound and at a great price certainly recommended and up there with Harvest and Live Rust as a great album.