Jun 28, 2011 Web Exclusive
In 1984 and ’85, Neil Young was in the middle of the “experimental” stage in his career. In ’82, he released Trans, his vocoder-filled electro-rock album, and a year later saw the fruition of his rockabilly project, Everybody’s Rockin’. Then in 1985, Young released Old Ways, an album featuring a traditional country sound and collaborations with such musicians as Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. A Treasure documents Young’s live performances of ’84 and ’85 with The International Harvesters, a group of Nashville veterans, and showcases the country sound that Young was playing at the time.
While Old Ways was something of an oddity in Young’s catalog, A Treasure is more than enough to change your view of Young’s country period. With Ben Keith on pedal steel and slide guitar, Rufus Thibodeaux on fiddle, and Spooner Oldham and Hargus “Pig” Robbins, alternately, on piano, Young’s band is stellar, injecting life into such songs as “Bound for Glory” and “Get Back to the Country,” making the versions on Old Ways pale in comparison. “Flying On the Ground Is Wrong” is rendered classic country, almost unrecognizable to the Buffalo Springfield-recorded original. Elsewhere, tracks like the loping, fiddle- and slide-guitar inflected “Amber Jean,” and “Motor City,” originally from ’81’s Re-ac-tor, stand up strongly against Young’s best work in any genre. And as if in a nod to Young’s more traditional rock and roll fan base, the album concludes with “Grey Riders,” a blistering, electric barnburner that is one of five previously unreleased tracks to this compilation. Once again, Neil is rocking in the free world, but this time with a fiddle behind him. (www.neilyoung.com)
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