He's the exception that proves the rule, for me. There's no denying if I really critically listen to Mr Young, I can feel myself cringe at the whiny tone he often affects. I guess that's why I tend to prefer his angry tunes, like Ohio. But listening through this album just made me remember all the times we just threw Harvest on the record player as a background to our long and rowdy evenings at home, that first year out of school.
He can be whiny, he can play loud fuzz guitar, but he's also the man who wrote "You are like a hurricane/ There's calm in your eye" which is possibly one of the most evocative love songs ever. He's also been brave enough to wear his feelings on his sleeve, whether that's been about drugs or wars or racism or politics. He's angry and loud, calm and reflective, sweet and even sentimental. He's brilliant.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
While I've never doubted his relevance, Neil Young has never been a big influence on me. I remember a friend (g'day Pete) impressing me by playing Needle And The Damage Done, I was never sufficiently interested to deliberately listen to anything of his. That was until I joined the R.A.A.F.
My first posting was to a suburban supply depot in Footscray, part of the greater city of Melbourne, Victoria (the small state at the bottom of Eastern Australia). While there, I became friends with a great group of people who had such an influence on my musical tastes, I'm still feeling them. I used to hang out in a local record shop and got to know the owner quite well. We'd spend weekend afternoons playing records and dissecting the music industry.
One friend from those times used to play Rust Never Sleeps over and over, so much so, it became something of a soundtrack to those times. This is when I really started to like and appreciate Neil Young, both as a songwriter and as an influence. His output over the last 40 odd years is truly astounding (35 solo albums since 1968, plus numerous with Buffalo Springfield and as part of CSNY) highlighting admirable creativity and a very strong work ethic. Oh sure, some of those have been duds - he has even disowned a couple - but I can't think of another solo artist who has done as much.
This compilation remasters his hits between 1969 to 1992 and is was formatted by Young himself. But it's merely a tip of the iceberg. I'm not so sure this would be a box set I'd want in my collection, but listening to some of the tracks does make me long for CD version of Rust Never Sleeps and Harvest. I guess we're going to have to add a few more to that list, Mine.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
For more information:http://www.neilyoung.com/