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4.7 out of 5 stars
Decade
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2002
Ordinarily, I'm not much of a believer in greatest hits packages. Yeah, they're good for the car or for slapping on the stereo at parties. But I tend to feel they're bad mojo, particularly when you're talking about an artist as talented and multi-faceted as Neil Young. In a world where, say, The Rolling Stones have created perfect, self-contained units like "Beggar's Banquet," "Let it Bleed," "Sticky Fingers," "Between the Buttons" and others, why would anyone want to mainline their music with something like "Hot Rocks." It's like watching ONLY the shoot 'em up scenes in "The Wild Bunch" without the color and exposition of the less-well-known but equally satisfying scenes.
Neil Young's "Decade," however, is one place where I make a serious exception to my music-geek inflexibility. And I think it's because Young has covered so much ground and gone in so many directions that this collection kind of gives the new listener a good road map.
Since all of the various aspects of Young's career are fairly complicated and completely engrossing in their own right, "Decade" allows you to focus on just the touchstones. With "Decade" you get a sampling of Buffalo Springfield, solo work, CSN&Y tunes, his forays into symphonic walls of sound as well those made from guitar workouts with Crazy Horse.
And, also, I just simply can't begrudge a collection of music with 34 great frickin' songs on it (yes, I know this has 35 songs -- I've never, ever been able to stomach "A Man Needs A Maid" but that's my problem and I can handle it).
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2001
I first bought Neil Young-Decade Circa 1978 or should I say I begged my mom to buy it for me. First I had the 8-track and when that got snagged and ruined I got the LP. A few year's later in college I bought the double Cassette. This past spring 2001, almost a quarter century later, I bought the CD and Wow!!!what a treasure chest of music history. I always knew Neil Young is a great songwriter and performer, but at age 38 I realize his musical genius.
Decade covers a wide range of musical styles, from heavy duty distortion ballads ( Cowgirl In The Sand and Like A Hurricane), to clean country rock (Cinnamon Girl, Heart of Gold, I Am a Child)....Political statements are obvious on "Ohio" and "Campaigner". A good example of Young's haunting vocals are best demonstrated on the love song "I Believe In You". "Winterlong" reminds me of love in a honky tonk saloon somewhere far away from the stress of urban life.
My favorite part of the collection are the first 5 songs (Down to the Wire, Burned, Mr. Soul, Broken Arrow, and Waiting to Fly) it is soaked in psychedelia and the essence of another time. It reminds me of my youth when Jimmy Carter was President and we were all happy.
Decade is fun to get stoned to on your day off or when you want to play hooky from work.
P.S. the only other recording I've owned in record, 8-track, Cassette and CD is Led Zep's Physical Graffitti
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80 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 1999
...that is, Neil Young's career can't be represented just by two CDs. Hopefully, the upcoming boxed set will do him justice because, even if he has clear ups (Buffalo Springfield, Deja Vu-era CSNY, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Zuma, Tonight's the Night, After the Gold Rush, Freedom...) and downs (Trans, Re-actor, '80s CSNY) in his career, an overview is absolutely essential for him at this point.
But the music itself on Decade? What can you say to these songs? "Down to the Wire", "Mr. Soul", "Expecting to Fly", "Southern Man", "Down by the River", "I Am a Child", "Ohio", "Helpless", "Old Man", "Heart of Gold", "Like a Hurricane", "The Needle and the Damage Done", "After the Gold Rush", "Tonight's the Night", "Cortez the Killer", "Winterlong", "Soldier", "Long May You Run", "Cinnamon Girl"...
This set belongs on any collection. Even if you own the whole Young catalogue already, it's still amusing to read his liner notes. Besides, greatest-hits sets provide for great utility listens, when you don't feel like going through all 50 or so releases that Young was instrumental in creating (including Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, solo, with Crazy Horse). Dig in.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Decade was first released in 1977 and it represented the first ten years of Neil Young's career. The album spans from Buffalo Springfield to his work with Stephen Stills on 1976's Long May You Run. The two-disk set (originally released as a triple album) shows the amazing quality and diversity of his music. From the quiet acoustic songs like the brilliant "Sugar Mountain" to the buzzsaw guitars on "Cinnamon Girl" to the steel guitars of "Heart Of Gold", Neil Young is never defined by one sound. His topics are far ranging from the redneck views of the South in "Southern Man" to the tragic deaths of four Kent State students in the powerful and conscious raising "Ohio" to the drug related deaths of friends in "Tonight's The Night" to Richard Nixon in "The Campaigner" to his old car in "Long May You Run". Neil Young has released so many great songs and albums that just a two disk set doesn't do him justice, but the song selections on Decade were made personally by Mr. Young and they are a great overview of the man's early career.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2000
As far as the musical content goes, let me just reiterate what everyone else has said: this is one of the most intelligent compilation albums ever done, and a perfect introduction to (and summation of) Young's earliest and best work. And so, for musical content, I'd give Decade five stars.
From a CD reissue standpoint, however, this set--like the rest of Young's catalog--merits one star at best. The sound quality is abominable (ironic, given the audiophile inclinations of the artist himself). The artwork is a mockery of the original LP set. And, though the track-by-track notes from Young himself are most enjoyable, nobody today would even think of doing a "definitive" retrospective without a decent historical/critical essay of some kind.
What is long overdue is for Reprise (perhaps in conjunction with the Rhino label) to give this set, like the rest of Young's catalog, a thorough overhaul. Remaster the tracks using the best available technology. Upgrade the artwork and packaging elements. Flesh out the discs with bonus tracks if it's deemed appropriate. And yes, by all means, do a follow-up compilation (Decade 2?) of Neil's '80s and '90s output.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2003
Neil Young is perhaps the most versatile and prolific singer-songwriter in existence. Country (Neil Young and the Stray Gators), psychedelia (Buffalo Springfield), proto-grunge (Neil Young and Crazy Horse), and folk rock (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) are just some of the styles he's dabbled with. And inexplicably, a lot of his best stuff almost never sees radio airplay.
Which is what makes Decade remarkable. Unlike most compilations, Decade's tracks were selected by the artist himself, not by corporations who want only the radio hits on there. So along with heavily played classics (Cinnamon Girl, Southern Man, Ohio, Old Man, Long May You Run, Heart Of Gold), you get plenty of rarities and underrated cuts (Down To The Wire, Mr. Soul, Sugar Mountain, The Loner, Winterlong, Tonight's The Night, For The Turnstiles and so on) all on one album. Pretty impressive. Especially so when one realizes that this was all recorded from 1966-76.
While all the material is well-chosen and great, I have to say that my favorite Neil is the proto-grunge guitarist with Crazy Horse as his backing band. Down By The River, Cowgirl In The Sand, Like A Hurricane, and Cortez The Killer are in my eyes the best cuts, full of edgy and sharp guitar jams. Neil's lyrics are always introspective, emotional, intelligent, and occasionally controversial (Southern Man with its condemnation of the Deep South comes to mind). While his voice is a little thin and somewhat of an acquired taste, it is unique and imitated today by many vocalists.
If you're looking for a great intro to Neil Young, you can't go wrong with Decade. Once you find your favorite Neil style, go into the individual albums of your choosing--On The Beach, Harvest, Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere, etc. If you want a GREAT live release, go buy Rust Never Sleeps as well.
Note: The only problem with this album that keeps me from giving it a five-star rating is an apparent quality control problem on part of Reprise. Two brand-new copies of Decade I purchased had flaws that keep me from playing certain tracks using either Musicmatch or Media Player. Now, while it is not uncommon to run into one badly printed copy, finding TWO of them (at different stores no less) suggests that there is something amiss. It's extremely frustrating to have to drop a lot of money on a 2-disc set only to find flaws.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2008
The music would be a fine introduction to early Neil Young, but the fidelity sounds like an old car radio playing through your friend Larry's coat. Every track that is available elsewhere sounds better elsewhere. (Compare "Like a Hurricane" on this album to the one on "American Stars n Bars," which is HDCD in standard release.) If you simply must have some of the oddball cuts it doesn't look like you have much choice. Actually, the smart thing to do would be to wait until Young's back catalogue gets the audiophile treatment.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2004
Decade was originally a 3 LP retrospective album, compiled by Neil Young himself. It covers his first 10 recording years, offering tracks from 1966 Buffalo Springfield till previously unreleased recordings from 1976.
The long playing time leaves good space for long recordings like "Cowgirl in the Sand", "Down By the River" and "Like a Hurricane" and so a good insight in Young`s very personal guitar-playing style.
Still, first of all, Young is a songwriter and of course a great singer. This extensive compilation offers a lot of the best songs from his early records, as well as many previously unreleased songs, some of which are really great. "Deep Fobidden Lake", "Helpless" and "Long May You Run" are all-time favourites of mine. A special treat is the great unreleased Buffalo Springfield recording "Down to the Wire"; it was recorded for their "great lost" 2nd album "Stampede"
Well known classics like "Cinnamon Girl", "After The Gold Rush", "Harvest", "Heart of Gold" and "Walk On" are there as well. I wonder why Young left out "See The Sky About to Rain" from "On the Beach"! Go the for the original album for that one!
A minor complaint : I find it very hard to read Youngs handwitten notes !!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Neil Young is not only a craftsman with his pen, guitar, harmonica, and voice, he is also an accomplished record producer. For all his railing against "record company clowns", Young is one of the most astute businessmen among recording artists. This compilation, put together by Young and cronies Tim Mulligan and David Briggs, is a case in point.
While many would view this collection as a greatest hits compilation, and while virtually all of Young's true hits are here, this 3-album, 2 CD amalgam, drawn from the artists first decade of recorded music, was designed to appeal first of all to the novice Neil fan, and secondly to the completist. For the novice, most of Young's best work is featured, dating from his early collaborations with Stephen Stills and Buffalo Springfield, and coincidentally ending with his 1976 collaboration with Stills and the Stills-Young Band. It is hard to argue with many of the selections here: surely 'Mr. Soul', 'The Loner', 'Cinnamon Girl', 'Helpless', 'Old Man', 'Heart of Gold', and 'Like a Hurricane' had to be easy choices for inclusion. Others are less obvious. 'Broken Arrow' could have easily been left out of the quiver rather than 'On the Way Home' (as long as Neil would tolerate Richie Furay scoring the lead vocal), 'Star of Bethlehem' could have bit the bullet instead of 'Bite the Bullet', and it would have been nice had Neil made room for 'Words', but such choices may as well have been made with a flip of the coin.
For the completist, Young offers at least five songs and over twenty minutes of mostly acoustic rarities, all of which are hard to pass up. The fine opening number, 'Down To the Wire' is a pre-Buffalo Springfield composition put together by Young and Stills in 1966 for the abandoned 'Stampede' LP. There are four other songs appearing only on the 'Decade' discs: 'Winterlong', recorded in 1969 (a live version from the 2000 Red Rocks concerts is now available also), and 'Deep Forbidden Lake' both of which feature wonderful slide guitar accompaniment; 'Love Is a Rose' is a jaunty acoustic work familiar due to Linda Ronstadt's rendition, and 'Campaigner' sets Neil apart as the only artist to work Richard Nixon into not just one, but two songs ("even Richard Nixon has got soul"). The other song featuring a Tricky Dick lyric is of course 'Ohio' ("tin soldiers and Nixon's coming"), which is included here, and is only available as a single, on other compilations ('So Far' or the CSN box set), or on the rare 'Journey Through the Past' soundtrack. Another rarity from the 'Journey...' soundtrack is the haunting 'Soldier'. Recorded in a Northern California sawmill with Neil on a piano, the song boasts a lot of natural echo and a sawdust burner crackling away in the background. That's gotta be unique. So there is a lot to be had here even for those with an extensive Neil Young collection.
The finishing touch is a booklet with handwritten notes by Young offering his immediate recollections on each song, and lots of thumbnail photos. As Neil would say... "inneresting". Inneresting enough for you?
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2002
OK, in the interests of full disclosure, let me state right up front I am a HUGE Neil Young fan and would give most anything by him 5 stars. So, it should come as no surprise that I love this album.
However, that being said, I think a vast number of people will get a lot out of this work whether they are Young's fans or not. Whether you follow Neil or not, there's something special in this compilation for you.
For those who aren't Young fans, they will end up being truly surprised at how much of this music they know. They might not have recognized it as Neil Young, but they know the music. It never fails when I have this on when friends and acquaintances are over how people will hear something and go something like "Wow, I remember that!-who is this?" What makes the phenomenon so interesting is that, for the most part, this is not just a "Greatest Hits" compilation. Young himself put this together to represent the body of his early work as he wanted it to be seen/heard. Neil has been around a long time and has a huge body of quality work and all of us have had major parts of our lives "soundtracked" by one of his songs.
For the fan, Neil has included some of the rare and obscure work he personally liked but which wasn't a major part of his album work-songs like Love is a Rose, Deep Forbidden Lake and Campaigner, works that obviously mean a lot to him personally.
In the end what you are left with is Young power as a songwriter and his versatility-this album includes work with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young , Crazy Horse, the Stray Gators as well as solo stuff.
So, buy it, sit back, and listen to the sounds of your life. It's a great trip.
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