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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Neil Young

Closely rivalling Bob Dylan as the most idiosyncratic singer-songwriter of his generation, Neil Young has pinballed between acoustic folk and all-out electrified assaults on the senses via Crazy Horse and more over the past half-century. Steve Harnell delves into Young’s estimable back catalogue in all its ragged glory…

Such is the astonishing weight of material he’s produced over the last 50 years, Neil Young is virtually a genre in his own right.The stats make for astonishing reading; since starting out on the road to solo stardom, he’s released 40 studio album s, eight live LPs, four soundtracks and a further 11 records as part of his Archives series.

Although it’s a rather reductive statement, Young’s work can be split broadly into two distinct categories – the plaintive Laurel Canyon acoustic troubadour material and his visceral output with Crazy Horse and various backing out fits featuring Neil wrestling with his trusty ‘Old Black’ Gibson Les Paul, ring o shards of feedback am id epic electric workouts.

GODFATHER OF GRUNGE

One of the most wilful singersongwriters of any era, Young has rarely compromised his singular artistic vision since going solo in 1968. He’s made albums that have defined genres and also been sued by his own record company for recording unrepresentative material.

Life as a Neil Young fan is never dull. Like many classic artists of his generation, the 80s weren’t particularly kind to Neil Young. After losing his way for much of that decade, his Lazaruslike return in the 90s as the so-called ‘Godfather of Grunge’ was all the more welcome and unexpected.

He’s not quite at the same level as Prince, whose unreleased material almost outweighs that officially available on record store racks, but in recent years Young has served up a steady stream of unheard work stretching back the entirety of his career, alongside freshly minted albums. His Archives series releases, that are part of an extensive ongoing campaign to fully explore his complete recorded output, are amongst the most intriguing of anything he’s put his name to. Their outstanding quality only adds to the Young myth – an unpredictable genius who squirrels away classic albums for decades and refuses to play the conventional record company game.

As Young’s back catalogue as a solo artist runs so deep, we’ve kept the main Top 40 countdown clear of his work as part of Buffalo Springfield or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – you’ll see that the splendid Buffalo Springfield Again and Déjà Vu are recommended in one of our sidebars here. So let’s get lost in a life’s work that has rarely trodden the road more travelled.

AMERICANA (2012)

40

Young reunited with Crazy Horse after a nine-year break to duff up a carefully selected bunch of campfire singalongs and return them to their protest-song roots. Oh Susannah is revisited in a Tim Rose style and Clementine rumbles darkly. Other highlights include Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land and a delicate Wayfarin’ Stranger. Hats off, too, for the bizarre cover of God Save The Queen. Not the Pistols’ version. You’re welcome, your madge…

Rarest 2013 Reprise £25 (single-sided)Latest Out of Press

PSYCHEDELIC PILL (2012)

39

Essentially the soundtrack to his autobiography Waging Heavy Peace, few songwriters would have the balls to open an album with a 27-minute song. Driftin’ Back is indulgent; after all, such sybaritic tendencies worked for the Grateful Dead. The title track is suitably woozy, while the nigh-on 17-minute Ramada Inn became a controversial live mainstay at gigs throughout 2012 and 2013. If head-nodding mid-tempo Neil is your thing, then fill your boots.

Rarest 2012 Reprise £35 (3LP)Latest Out of Press

CHROME DREAMS II (2007)

38

A sequel to the unreleased Chrome Dreams LP, the junked car on the cover here is apposite. Young unearths songs from across his previous 30 years that were thought to have been put out to pasture. While opener Beautiful Bluebird melodically evokes Harvest’s Out On The Weekend, this record is dominated by two epics, the 18-minute sprawl of the chugging Ordinary People and wriggling No Hidden Path. There are flashes of brilliance here, but they’re fleeting.

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About Long Live Vinyl

Issue 25 of Long Live Vinyl comes with your free 40-page Official Record Store Day 2019 magazine, the complete guide to all 500+ releases to help you get ready for 13 April! It’s the only place you’ll find full details of every Record Store Day release, plus there’s the chance to win £50 of Record Tokens to give you a head start on the big day. Elsewhere in issue 25, we pay tribute to Neil Young, as his bandmates, producers and a host of musicians influenced by one of the world’s greatest songwriters tell us about 50 years with Shakey. We also speak to Sleeper, Beirut and Michael Chapman about their brilliant new albums, meet stellar producer Stephen Street, chart the rise of Discogs and welcome our new columnist, Pete Paphides. If all that’s not enough, you’ll find the most comprehensive range of new album, reissue and hardware reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers.