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A Treasure

4.1 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 14, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

The 12-track live album, A Treasure includes songs - 5 of which are previously unreleased - recorded during Young's 1984 and 1985 U.S. tours without the support of an album, or Young's then record label due to unique and unusual circumstances. Among those, "Grey Riders" will be the first track serviced to radio. A Treasure features Young's onstage work with some of the greatest artists in the history of Country music, including the late, great Ben Keith on steel and slide guitar and Rufus Thibodeaux on fiddle, along with living legends Spooner Oldham and Hargus "Pig" Robbins on piano, Tim Drummond and Joe Allen on bass, Anthony Crawford on mandolin & guitars and Karl Himmel on drums, among many others. A Treasure is Young's first release since last year's Grammy and Juno Award-winning album, Le Noise. The live album captures this iconic artist during a fascinating time in his career, when he was facing criticism and lawsuits from his then current record company for exploring a more traditionally country sound. "You can call me erratic," Young said when asked at the time about his tendency toward musical shape-shifting, "but I've been consistent about it, consistently erratic." Always celebrated for his musical versatility, A Treasure, is akin to a sonic time capsule, instantly transporting the listener to the time and place when it was made. "I love this record," Young says. "I hadn't heard these takes in 25 years, but when we unearthed them co-producer Ben Keith said, 'This is a treasure.'"

Part of what makes A Treasure so compelling is the musical contributions of The International Harvesters, with whom Young was playing at the time. Many of them were already paragons within the country music world and their notoriety has only grown in the years since. "I just love to hear those guys," Young says. "They're all country music legends." Those behind the scenes also made significant contributions to A Treasure's sonic potency. Tim Mulligan mixed and mastered the tracks. At the time these songs were recorded, Bob Sterne was the tour manager, Tim Foster ran the stage, and Larry Cragg was in charge of the band's instruments.

A Treasure will be released in several formats, including standard CD, vinyl (180gm and 140gm), digital download with and without videos, and as a deluxe CD/Blu-ray package. The Blu-ray version will feature a curated selection of video that lends context and imagistic power to the tracks. "I like to look at these old live videos and listen to what I think are the best versions of these songs," Young says. "It's fun to see what we looked like when we were playing it then."

* Denotes Previously Unreleased Track

1. *Amber Jean (9/20/84) Nashville Now TV - Nashville, TN
2. Are You Ready For The Country? (9/21/84) Riverbend Music Center - Cincinnati, OH
3. It Might Have Been (9/25/84) Austin City Limits TV - Austin, Texas
4. Bound For Glory (9/29/84) Gilleys Rodeo Arena - Pasadena, TX
5. *Let Your Fingers Do The Walking (10/22/84) Universal Amphitheater Universal City, CA
6. Flying On The Ground Is Wrong (10/26/84) Greek Theater - Berkeley, CA 7. Motor City (10/26/84) Greek Theater - Berkeley, CA
8. *Soul Of A Woman (10/26/84) Greek Theater - Berkeley, CA
9. Get Back To The Country (10/26/84) Greek Theater - Berkeley, CA
10. Southern Pacific (9/1/85) Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
11. *Nothing Is Perfect (9/1/85) Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
12. *Grey Riders (9/10/85) Pier 84 - New York City, NY

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 14, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Reprise
  • ASIN: B004VQGGL6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,479 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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.Read more ›
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Format: 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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Format: 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?
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