on February 26, 1999
Neil Young's Harvest is sometimes dismissed as his most commercial album, due in part to the success of Heart of Gold as a single. He's been criticized for employing lush strings on a couple of tunes here (A Man Needs a Maid; There's a World) but I don't care what anybody says; they work, and the songs are gorgeous. In fact, the whole record is full of great songs. Out on the Weekend, Heart of Gold, Old Man, Needle and the Damage Done, -- how many albums can boast a lineup like that? Bottom line is, this rates with his best work. Don't miss it.
on September 4, 2000
Few artists can match Neil Young in musical artistry, creative versatility, and artistic/personal intergrity - Dylan, Lennon, Hendrix, Stipe, Young - the list does not go much beyond that. Young's *Harvest* is further reminder that we are dealing with a legendary composer and performer, one who defies categorization while still remaining relevant to so many categorized styles. Not many artists can lay claim to that(see the short list above and maybe add three or four more).
Harvest ranges from the understated, pensive mood of songs like "Out on the Country," "Harvest," and "Old Man" to the sheer desperation of "A Man Needs a Maid," and "Words" to the acoustic heartbreak of "Needle and the Damage Done," to the Moody Blues-style optimism of "There's A World," to the dark country rock of "Are You Ready for the Country," all the way down to the proto-grunge social criticism in "Alabama" (Made famous on the top 40 thanks to Lynard Skynard). With the possible exception of "There's a World," (which, a la Moody Blues, rather lays the London Symphony on a bit too thick - it works on "A Man Needs a Maid owing to the sheer drama of the song, but goes over the top on "There's a World), each track is a masterful cut, demonstrating Young's ability to conquer and mix numerous genres. Lyrically Neil is at his best, capturing mood and evoking emotion in ways that few composers can even touch. Young's singing, in spite of criticisms of the alleged "thin quality" in his voice, is superb - skillfully phrasing his lyrics so that they play well off of the Stray Gators heavier sound. You have to go pretty far to find a better Neil Young album - *Everybody Knows This is Nowhere* and *After the Gold Rush* are superior, but not by much, and after that there isn't much from the Young catalogue that beats it. Indeed, there aren't many albums from anyone that surpass *Harvest*. I've been playing it since 1972 - and I still find it fresh and meaningful. Highly recommended.
on July 19, 2009
I suppose the release of the Archives box set (which I still plan to buy on Blu-ray) could have easily been the harbinger of a remastered Neil Young catalogue, but even if not, this is still most welcome. Up to now, the closest thing I had was the 30th Anniversary DVD-Audio, with Harvest remixed in 5.1 Surround, but we've definitely needed the straight CD to be improved.
And Neil has not let us down - this, and its 3 predecessors (his self-titled solo debut from 1969, the first album with Crazy Horse [Everybody Knows This is Nowhere], and the equally-classic After the Gold Rush), are now remastered and greatly improved upon from the muddy CD mixes Warners first gave us in the late '80s. I should imagine that SHM-CD or Blu-spec versions aren't far behind, although I'd like to see Neil go back and redo the Buffalo Springfield albums next, preferably the expanded 1997 version of the first album and an expanded version of Again with the long-unavailable 9-minute version of "Bluebird" added as a bonus track, perhaps even as a Collector's Edition. (Note to Neil if he's reading this: Please do it!)
on April 5, 2000
Neil Young fans had to wait two years for the successor to AFTER THE GOLDRUSH.In between albums, moved out to the country,got divorced and found love again with actress Carrie Snodgrass,and injured his back severly while moving furniture. All these factors contributed in a mellow release entitled HARVEST;with pickup group The Stray Gators(plus guest artists like James Taylor and Linda Rondstat).HARVEST is a country tinged album,with a lot less to worry about than later releases.Neil broods on love(HARVEST,OUT ON THE WEEKEND,A MAN NEEDS A MAID,THERE'S A WORLD),racism (ALABAMA),and drug abuse(THE NEEDLE AND THE DAMAGE DONE).Two hits resulted from this album,HEART OF GOLD(which Young claims put him in the middle of the road,so he headed for a ditch)and OLD MAN. WORDS(BETWEEN THE LINES OF AGE)is a long jam session.ARE YOU READY FOR THE COUNTRY became a hit for Waylon Jennings.A few Young fans regard the album as two countrified and commercial;I think this is his best in his country period which includes COMES A TIME,HARVEST MOON and OLD WAYS. This was my first Neil Young album,and I'll probably have a copy of it on me somewhere when I go.
on September 21, 2000
This album is the mortar and bricks that have built up the music industry. The lush sounds, sad themes and haunting melodies are beyond category, beyond time, and beyond what I had expected. The people influenced by this album are numerous. The song "Sweet home alabama" has references to Young's own Alabama. There is a Nirvan bootlegg named after "Needle and the Damage done," and, there was numerous uproars about the song "man needs a maid" This album is definately worth checking out!
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 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 - Harvest was released in February 1972 on Reprise Records MS 2032 in the USA and K 54005 in the UK (it went to Number 1 in both countries and many others around the world). This 2009 NYA OSR remaster (Neil Young Archives - Original Release Series) is Disc 4 of 4 and carries the HDCD code on the label and rear inlay (High Definition Compatible Disc). Until now, 2004's "Greatest Hits" set (which offered us three Harvest tracks remastered into HDCD sound quality) was the only real indication of just how good the album 'could' sound. 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.
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 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 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" and "After The Gold Rush" also - just as good soundwise...
on April 29, 2004
HARVEST is my favourite Neil Young album and I'm always recommending it to people for it's musical brilliance. I think many people that reviewed the disc have already touched on the music so I thought I'd just let you know what the DVD-Audio is like in comparrison....
IT BLEW ME AWAY!!!! Having just bought a new DVD-Audio/SACD player I couldn't wait until I recieved this disc in the mail. I put it in and the surround sound mix was just amazing!
Its got so much body to the music, and hearing it in 5.1 is a new experience in itself. Being surrounded by steely guitars and Neils voice (they duplicate his voice between Centre, Back Right and Back Left channels, but it's quite good that way!). The stereo mix is only a 96Khz (not 192 as some stereo DVD-Audios are) so I was worried I wasnt going to get the full product, but the music is so great at 96Khz you're not ganna hear me complain!
The disc also features two interviews recorded at the barn they recorded in. There is one with Neil Young and tho it's not really informative it's kinda interesting seeing Neil in his young state just chatting away.
So is it worth it? Hell yes! I can't wait for more DVD-Audios from Neil....look out for ON THE BEACH, RE-ACTOR and more already listed on Amazon.com
on July 29, 2000
Neil Young's "Harvest" is more than just a musical statement. It captures the slowdown period of music at the beginning of the seventies. Popular music has always been a reflection of popular culture, and this album is no exception. This is probably why it is his most commercial as well. The songs boasted on this album are also some of his best. Everyone knows the hit single "Heart of Gold," but "Old Man" "Harvest," and "Alabama" are all Neil Young at his laid-back peak. The album is laced with the same spacey guitars that highlight Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of The Moon," though I think there is more variability in the songs on this album. For a portrait of society in between the crazy, idealistic sixties, and the decadent disco days yet to come, get this album. It's Neil's best album overall, and an excellent introduction to the rest of his work.
on May 3, 2001
This is where Neil Young's lyrics began to lose some of their contrived weirdness and really hit home.
"I wanna live, I wanna give...it's these expressions I never give that keep me searching for a heart of gold. And I'm getting old."
That pretty much sums up a point a lot of us get to in our late 20s/early 30s, doesn't it?
So much of this album is about reaching that point where a decision must be made between good or bad, up or down, right or wrong. Much has been made of "Are You Ready For The Country?" and Young's turn away from Rock to Country music. To me, that is just one of the decisions Young struggles with on HARVEST, and a minor decision at that. He is fighting over his solo-mountain-man image and living a more social life in a band; trying to decide if traditional southern thinking makes any sense or if a full-blown step into 20th century civil rights philosophy is viable ("The devil fools with the best laid plans" in "Alabama"), and argues against the worst case results of 1960s drug culture.
This is an album about reaching breaking points, about deciding which way to go at lifes crossroads.
Or, as Young hinted at with the the albums title, it is about reaping what you've sown when it's time for the HARVEST.
on October 7, 2000
Neil young is truely an artist. Never afraid to experiment, his talent is often misunderstood, and even misused. That, however, is simply not true on this album. From beginning to end, every bit of this album smacks of genius. Some songs represent a good time (are you ready for the country, out on the weekend) and some just touch you (the needle and the damage done, there's a world). while the two songs with orchestra stick out(world, and a man needs a maid), one can appreciate neil's song-writing ability, even with this over-production. Not to be lost, however is the sparse needle, a classic, and alabama, with its not so subtle message, provoking a famous response from lynyrd skynyrd. Even if you buy this disc only for heart of gold, and needle, you will fall in love with the entire album.