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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome blast from the past!
"A Treasure" is a 12 track live album recorded during Neil Young's 1984-1985 U.S. tour. Featuring 5 previously unreleased songs, it sounds amazing. Young has some incredible guests join him onstage which contributes greatly to the performance: The late Ben Keith on steel and slide guitar, Rufus Thibodeaux on fiddle, Spooner Oldham and Hargus "Pig" Robbins on piano, and...
Published on June 14, 2011 by Polar Bear

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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars About that Blu-ray...
I know NY loves him some Blu-ray, but there is next to nothing on the Blu-ray disc that justifies using Blu-ray technology in this package.

In the "Tech Notes" feature on the disc, Neil says that the audio throughout is not high quality because they didn't record it that way, and most of the video footage is from analog tape, often shot in a bootleg style from...
Published on June 24, 2011 by kingseyeland


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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome blast from the past!, June 14, 2011
This review is from: A Treasure (CD) (Audio CD)
"A Treasure" is a 12 track live album recorded during Neil Young's 1984-1985 U.S. tour. Featuring 5 previously unreleased songs, it sounds amazing. Young has some incredible guests join him onstage which contributes greatly to the performance: The late Ben Keith on steel and slide guitar, Rufus Thibodeaux on fiddle, Spooner Oldham and Hargus "Pig" Robbins on piano, and Tim Drummond and Joe Allen on bass to name a few. Recorded during a turbulent time in his career, when he was facing criticism from his record company for producing songs with a country sound, A Treasure captures Young's live sound from the mid 1980's perfectly. "Grey Riders" has some incredible guitar work by Young, and it's shocking (and awesome) to hear it explode and become the loudest thing in the room. "Nothing Perfect" is a beautiful tribute to the American Heartland. "It Might Have Been" is a cover of an obscure single from the 1950's by Joe London that is a nice change of pace. "Flying On the Ground Is Wrong" has some killer piano played by Spooner Oldham. If you're a fan of Young's you'll love how this album brings you back in time to a special period in his history. Highly recommended!!
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neil Young & The International Harvesters - A buried country treasure from the "difficult 80s", June 14, 2011
This review is from: A Treasure (CD) (Audio CD)
Appreciating all the many facets of Neil Young over the years has been a challenging musical adventure. Its common currency that he hit a "difficult patch' in the 1980s with his label effectively disowning him and more than the odd misstep along the way. His defense at the time has nonetheless stood him in good stead for despite all the tangents taken he has admitted, " I've been consistent about it, consistently erratic." On the surface why Young's dalliance with country music through the album "Old Ways" caused the Geffen label such a problem appears odds. Young had released a similar album in 1980 with "Hawks and Doves" and Elvis Costello had successfully released "Almost Blue" his traditional country excursion in 1981. Yet Young's recording came on the back of a number of commercial failures not least the horrible vocoder experiment "Trans" and a frayed relationship with the label which saw Geffen's patience just about worn out. Young being Young and one of the world great professional contrarian's alternatively raised a large middle finger to them and carried on regardless going out on the road with the The International Harvesters in 1984 and 1985, playing venues like the Minnesota State Fair. This band was the cream of Nashville musicians and by any standards a much more accomplished set of players than Crazy Horse "the best bar band in the world". The outfit included slide guitarist Ben Keith, bassists Tim Drummond and Joe Allen, fiddle player Rufus Thibodeaux, drummer Karl Himmel, and piano players Spooner Oldham and Hargus "Pig" Robbins. These guys give greater depth to the rather underpowered country of "Old Ways" which is transformed in this recording into something with more vitality and verve.

"A Treasure" is an archive recording that contains 12 songs five of which are new, two of which bookend the album. "Amber Jean' is first up which is a lovely ode to his daughter that could have happily fitted on "Comes a Time". Alternatively the explosive closer "Grey Ryders" is like a country version of "White lines" and really rocks with the superb fiddle of Thibodeaux driving it on. As Young's angry guitar burst through this could have fit on "Ragged Glory'. In between we get a range of great songs, including a pile driving cover of "Are you ready for the country", the loose swinging country blues of "Soul of a woman" and the fabulous rocking "Southern Pacific" where you can almost feel the movement of the train. There are straight country songs here which for this reviewer is a joy since Young is a master of genre and "Let your fingers do the walking" which would a brilliant opener to a Texas honky tonk dance. He also transforms the old Buffalo Springfield number "Flying on the ground is wrong" into a lovely country lament and it is one of the albums big standouts. Young of course flirted with support for Ronald Reagan at the time and "Motor City" captures his mood of homeland values with an anti Japanese car import song which states that there are "already too many Toyota's in this town" to considerable audience applause.

For those who didn't like the "metal folk" of last years excellent "Le Noize" this will be far more familiar Neil Young territory but with enough variation and top notch country sounds to satisfy old and new devotees. It's clearly been a hidden treasure and shines a new and more favourable lens on a phase of the great mans career that has been rather cavalierly written off until now. Overall its is an excellent addition to the Young canon.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Document of a Strong Touring Band, June 15, 2011
By 
Old T.B. (Cheyenne, Wy USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Treasure (CD) (Audio CD)
Neil Young's 1985 release, Old Ways, was a stab at country music that tended to be mediocre. It may be forgotten that the band he assembled at that time, the International Harvesters, was truly phenomenal, featuring stellar players like Ben Keith, Rufus Thibodeaux, and, on some dates, Hargus 'Pig" Robbins. This band toured with Young in 1984 and 1985. And, as A Treasure amply demonstrates, Young and the Harvesters were anything but mediocre on the stage.

A Treasure collects twelve tracks from this tour from various venues. the playing is strong, and Young is in fine form throughout. A song like "Bound for Glory," somewhat nondescript on Old Ways, comes to life on this set. The inclusion of five unreleased songs -- "Amber Jean," "Let Your Fingers Do the Walking," "Soul of a Woman," "Nothing is Perfect," and "Grey Riders," -- may make this cd even more appealing to Young's fan base. "Nothing is Perfect" is a solid home-and-hearth-in-the-face-of-adversity tune in the same vein as "Depression Blues" and "This Old House" from the same time period. "Southern Pacific," from 1981s Re-ac-tor, benefits from the countrified treatment.

A Treasure is an entertaining and cohesive document of Neil Young experimenting with country stylings, working with incredible musicians, and producing live music that sounds strong and fresh twenty-five years later. Recommended.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars About that Blu-ray..., June 24, 2011
This review is from: A Treasure (CD/Blu-ray) (Audio CD)
I know NY loves him some Blu-ray, but there is next to nothing on the Blu-ray disc that justifies using Blu-ray technology in this package.

In the "Tech Notes" feature on the disc, Neil says that the audio throughout is not high quality because they didn't record it that way, and most of the video footage is from analog tape, often shot in a bootleg style from the audience.

Although the opening track, "Amber Jean," is taken from a performance on "Nashville Now" and looks great (though not in HD), much of the footage of the band playing is from various concert performances. They've often synched shaky videotape footage to the song you're hearing -- often not even the exact same performance you're hearing -- and in a few cases I noticed, they've played with the frame rate to get the movements of the musicians synched to the music. So you get this kind of herky-jerky movement, and the fastest moving fiddler I've ever seen.

In more than a couple instances, the footage is that of deteriorated VHS (not HD), and often cuts out. In these cases (and there are many), Neil explains that they put the album cover up on the screen as a kind of place-holder until they have more video to show (sometimes only for a few seconds before going back to the album cover again).

From an archival perspective, this is interesting for collectors, and most of all, for Neil, who by all accounts got a real kick out of seeing himself and his old bandmates from years ago. Kudos to Neil and his people for putting this extra disc together so the rest of us could see.

But if you're expecting glorious high-definition picture and sound from this era of Neil's career, according to Neil, nothing like that exists from this era. (Nobody took any photos of this era?) So why bother putting a Blu-ray out? Why not just do a standard DVD and keep this accessible to fans who haven't upped to Blu-ray and might not ever?

I'm not saying the material is bad or in any way uninteresting. But I sprung for the Archives box on Blu-ray because I wanted all the features and the premium sound, and I don't regret it. My Blu-ray player continues to get a workout from checking out the Archives discs and all the goodies. But the Blu-ray for "A Treasure," however, doesn't operate like that. This Blu-ray just operates like a standard DVD. You can't navigate while you listen to the music, and as far as I can tell there are no Easter eggs hidden, no articles, nothing like that, and both the sound and video aren't up to Blu-ray standards. The Blu-ray's audio is in 2.0 LPCM audio at 48kHz/24 bit/2.3 Mbps. The problem is, the source material was not recorded very well to begin with, so you're basically getting lossless sound, but not of the best source possible.

If you have a Blu-ray player and you're a hardcore Neil fan, then you'll likely enjoy "A Treasure" on Blu-ray. "A Treasure" doesn't sound like garbage by any means, and fans will no doubt be interested in seeing and hearing more from this phase in Neil's career, but a DVD would faithfully reproduce all of this, be cheaper, and more accessible to more fans including the laggards who haven't upped to Blu-ray and might not ever do so. That's something Neil and co. should've considered a bit more seriously.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of redemption for "The Geffen Years", June 21, 2011
By 
Mike (San Jose, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Treasure (MP3 Music)
From 1982 to 1987, Neil Young released 5 albums on the Geffen label (Trans, Everybody's Rockin', Old Ways, Landing On Water, and Life). Even the most casual Neil Young fan knows what happened next...the label took him to court for releasing a string of albums that "didn't sound like Neil Young albums." Each had its moments...and in some cases, you had to dig really deep to find them...but the one album that seems to have the greatest staying power and fit most comfortably on the shelf with his classic works is "Old Ways."

Now, as part of his ongoing "Archives" project, we have a live compilation from his tenure with the International Harvesters. The "Old Ways" album featured a L-O-N-G list of players and a core band consisting of Rufus Thibodeaux (fiddle), Ben Keith (pedal steel, guitar, dobro), Tim Drummond (bass), Karl Himmel (drums), and Joe Allen (bass).

The music was straight-ahead "traditional" Country and boasted appearances by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Marty Stuart and others.

As "A Treasure" demonstrates, this band of "Country" performers sometimes ignored the rules of the genre, especially on tracks like the previously unreleased "Grey Riders," which sounds like a haunted outtake from the "On The Beach" album injected with equal portions of Crazy Horse and the "Cowboy Neil" sensibilities of the "Old Ways" album.

The version of Buffalo Springfield's classic "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong" stands as one of Neil's all-time greatest "re-imaginings" of his earlier efforts. The original clipped along in an amiable, coffee house folkie manner, while the Harvesters version has a more laid-back, "Harvest Moon" type of sweetness that almost turns it into a new song, without losing the charm of the original.

"Get Back To The Country" remains the kind of "Country" song that either turned on or turned off original listeners of the "Old Ways" album, with Neil asserting that he needs to "get back to the country, get back to the barn again." The riffs...on banjo and fiddle...come fast and furious, but as a song (rather than a simplistic placeholder for the players to take turns soloing), it's still not one of his strongest efforts.

"Amber Jean"...Neil's daughter...is a song that is closer to what he does best, which is to slip into a moment of relaxed honesty and simplicity and just ride that highway, wherever it goes. Tracks like this...plus "Grey Riders" and the Springfield remake...fulfill the promise of the whole "Archives" concept.

Even "Southern Pacific," originally from an album many critics considered to be a half-baked kiss-off ("Re*Ac*Tor," which one critic described in a review as "Re*Pul*Sive") shows that the gems do reside in Neil's lesser efforts, as well as his greatest. It's taken at a slower pace here, and runs about three minutes longer than the original. Rather than the electric "chugging train" motif that Crazy Horse supplied on the original, it lays back in the Harvesters pocket, maybe running a bit longer than it needs to, and basically winding down in less-than-climactic fashion, but it does fit in well with the rest of the album's tracks.

Neil's built a career on taking sharp left and right turns, usually right around the time that his fans fully get their arms around his latest vibe. In recent interviews following the release of "A Treasure," he claims that this was a one-time phenomenon that he couldn't repeat (largely because some of the key players have passed on), and wouldn't repeat, simply because he viewed it as a moment in time that needs to remain just that.

It would aid any listener's enjoyment of this album if they "liked Country music," but I don't feel it is a strict prerequisite. Over the course of its 52 minutes, you will find Neil "coloring outside the lines" many times. Recommended, for casual as well as hardcore fans of Neil.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray is worthless, July 2, 2011
By 
Dee Zee (Washington, DC Metro) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Treasure (CD/Blu-ray) (Audio CD)
Save your money and do not buy the CD with the Blu-ray. There's one TV show clip and the rest is bootleg partial clips of NY concerts from the era. We are talking blurry shaky cam junk. What are they thinking when they include such sub-par material, I don't know. The CD is fine, more bootleg recordings from the era, but why hasn't the Austin City Limits TV show with NY and the International Harvesters been released on DVD or Blu-ray?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honky-tonkin' with Neil and the Harvesters, November 16, 2011
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This review is from: A Treasure (CD/Blu-ray) (Audio CD)
First, confession: I am a longtime and ardent fan of Neil Young. But that doesn't mean this review is biased, given this additional information: At times over the decades, the man has frustrated the living daylights out of me (which probably makes me pretty typical, come to think of it). Young has made musical and stylistic choices over the course of his career that range from brilliant to extremely unfortunate. What a fascinating musician and songwriter he's been -- from highs such as "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" to lows such as "Year of the Horse" -- the latter a live disc with Crazy Horse so horrendously mixed (reportedly by Young himself with Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot) that it obscures any value the album might have had.

For the purpose of this review, though, I'm going to stick to releases by Young that are commonly regarded as being country albums, or something close to that. Why? "A Treasure" is basically a country disc; it's really not fair to compare it with noisy stuff such as "Weld."

Basically, this release lives up to its title. "A Treasure" is just that, a superb collection of performances by Young with a band he put together and dubbed the "International Harvesters." Among the players: Pedal steel/lap steel genius Ben Keith, fiddler extraordinaire Rufus Thibodeaux, and pianist Spooner Oldham on all tracks except the final three, played by the equally adept Hargus "Pig" Robbins.

Young himself sounds fully committed here; his vocals are spot-on, for one thing, and while he's always been a great guitarist, his playing here is always in service of the songs, whether he's strumming acoustic or slashing his way through an electric rhythm part on a revamped "Southern Pacific." Even when his vocals here aren't technically brilliant (and whoever accused Young of always being technically brilliant on a regular basis? ;) ), they're heartfelt and moving, one great example being the aptly titled "Nothing Is Perfect."

Note: I bought the CD/blu-ray version of this release; the blu-ray disc fuses the audio with archival footage wherever possible. Some of it is professional, having been derived from CMT and the BBC, but even with those sources, buyers should keep in mind that all this stuff was recorded in the 1980s -- the best footage here is still 4:3. In other cases, including video for the excellently raucous "Grey Riders," Young has pulled in footage that appears to have been shot by fans. It's jerky and very rough -- and in some cases is only available for parts of a song. No problem! Young shows us what he can, and wherever the video coverage is missing, gives us images of the album cover. I realize not everyone is going to like this, but I thought it was fantastic to see the band in action wherever possible.

As I was writing this, I had "A Treasure" tagged with four stars, but as I kept thinking about it, I just couldn't find anything to object to at all. It's especially great to have this given the lackluster quality of many of Neil's country or countrified albums. "Harvest" was, of course, an instant classic, partly for finding a groove that pleased country and rock fans alike. And I've always thought "American Stars 'N Bars," especially side one of that disc as originally released on album, was one hell of a piece of good work -- those songs sound like they're being bashed out by a really great Saturday-night honky-tonk band. Unfortunately, over the years, much of Young's country output has ranged from REM-sleep inducing ("Comes a Time," "Old Ways") to absurd ("Everybody's Rockin', a rockabilly debacle).

This is an excellent archival release. More, Neil! More!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I want the rest of the concert!!, October 9, 2011
By 
E. E. Cox "EC was Here" (Hobart Tasmania Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Treasure (CD) (Audio CD)
I don't mind the album. It took me a few times through to start to enjoy it. It's good, it's ok, it's alright, BUT I want the rest of the concert. Why put out half the show? I saw this Concert in Portland Maine Sept 1984. For years my story of this Show was Fantastic with an 11 piece band behind him. That may not be the exact number of musicians, BUT my pictures do show him playing about 7 different guitars through the Night. Not to mention Waylon and Jessie Colter on stage as well. From Memory the show went for 2 hours or more and he played so many more songs than what is on this CD. I reckon this CD should include about 25 songs from these series of shows. I've been a Neil Yong fan since about 1972 when I first heard 4 Way Street, Harvest, After, Everybody, Buffalo, etc. I Love and Hate all sorts of his stuff and own most of it. When I first heard of this release I was SO looking for to hearing the Complete range of songs played on the Tour. Not just 12 that somebody thought I should hear. Where is PART 2??
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Gems from The Country Period, July 11, 2011
This review is from: A Treasure (CD) (Audio CD)
During the lawsuit with the Geffen (1984), Neil played a club Tour( June 1984)and a longer tour (August-October 1984)with some excellent Nashville session men, who had worked before with Bob Dylan or J.J.Cale. Nine songs of this record are culled from the 1984 tour.The last three are from the 1985 summer tour, after the 1985 Old Ways release. Joe Allen and Hargus "Pig" Robbins" replaced, respectively, Tim Drummond, on bass, and Spooner Oldham, on piano and keyboards.This record is dedicated to all these great players.
Expecially the 1984 tour was straighforward country, though epic versions of Down By The River and Powderfinger were regularly played.The country sound wasn't new for Neil. American Stars'n Bars and Hawks and Doves included entire sides of country style songs.
These two tours were famous among the diehard Neil fans for the presence of many unreleased songs, in this release 6 then unreleased songs are included.Amber Jean, dedicated to the new born daughter, is in the excellent sound quality from the Nashville Now Tv Show.Let Your Fingers Do The Walking is another unreleased , also recorded during the Old Ways sessions. The cover It Might Have Been was performed live with Crazy Horse in 1970, though it exists also a studio version from the Comes a Time sessions.Soul of Woman, here in the country version, was written in 1982, and was played also in The Trans Tour, 1983 Tour and finally, with The Bluenotes, in 1987-1988. Nothing Is Perfect, recorded also in a Nashville studio after the OW sessions, was debuted live at Live Aid.Grey Riders closed the 1985 concerts and it was one of greatest unrelased songs of Neil.There're two songs from Old Ways, Get Back and Bound for Glory, a definitive version of Flying On The Ground from The Buffalo times and two excellent versions of Motor City and Southern Pacific from the Reactor album.
The audio quality of these songs, recorded and mixed by the great Tim Mulligan, is very good, but not perfect. All these recordings were not intended then for a live release, but only for the Neil personal use. I don't advice the Blu Ray version, if not to the dedicated Neil fans.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Own Treasure for Neil Fans!, June 25, 2011
This review is from: A Treasure (CD) (Audio CD)
The songs on Neil Young's latest release- all live, all recorded on his '84/'85 tour with the International Harvesters- fall into two distinct categories: country songs in which Neil gleefully plays the role of country musician, and country songs in which Neil stubbornly plays the role of cranky old Neil.
The former type of song kicks off the album in an upbeat, undeniably feel-good mode. The previously unreleased "Amber Jean" oozes with country syrup, but with Neil sounding so sincere, it can't help but make the listener smile. Heavy doses of fiddle and steel pedal push "Are You Ready for the Country?" and "It Might Have Been" into heavy Nashville territory, but again, Neil sounds so sincere and invested in the sound that despite the motives behind it (angry at Geffen, trying to upset the record company execs), the music transcends any petty bickering. "Get Back to the Country" and the previously unreleased "Nothing is Perfect" also mine country gold.
The latter type of song, however- the cranky Neil doing country- is what makes this album so worthwhile. "Bound for Glory" sounds more like Topanga Canyon folk than country and the tale Neil tells has rougher edges than most country songs. "Flying on the Ground is Wrong" brings life and spirit to a Buffalo Springfield nugget. And the two undeniable highlights of the album, "Southern Pacific" and the previously unreleased "Grey Riders" are ragged, noisy, guitar drenched, and have the International Harvesters sounding like Crazy Horse.
Do not fool yourself- at times, this sounds like a pure country album. That, however, is what makes it work. Neil's sincere dedication to being country contrasted with his occasional detours into more rough and ragged songs results in an album that only Neil Young could have released. Possibly the best- at least the most illuminating- release in the Neil Young archive release series.
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A Treasure (CD)
A Treasure (CD) by Neil Young (Audio CD - 2011)
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