Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Journey Through The Past...The Neil Young Story and Archives Special...Show # 253

On June 2nd, 2009 Neil Young released Archives Volume 1. The set which comes in three formats (CD, DVD and Blu-Ray) chronicles Young's career from 1963-1972. This is a collection featuring previously unreleased material, alternate mixes and material previously found on Young's albums that has been in the works since 1989. The CD version of the box set contains 8 CD's, while the DVD and Blu-Ray sets have 10 discs. Also the DVD & Blu-Ray sets have previously unreleased live footage and bonus material not found on the CD version. Since the set only covers 1963-1972, that is what my profile on Neil Young will cover.

Born in Toronto, Ontario in 1945, Neil Young was the son of writer Scott Young and Edna Ragland. He spent his early childhood in Toronto, but grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Where the family relocated. One Neil Young's first groups were The Squires. Young formed the group while in high school. The instrumental, surf inspired group recorded a series of demos at the time. "The Sultan" was a local favourite. Another song Young recorded with The Squires was "I Wonder". The song is an early version of what was later to become "Don't Cry No Tears" on Zuma in 1975. During this time Neil would also play acoustically at local folk clubs. Eventually he would meet Stephen stills and Joni Mitchell. Neil Young would leave The Squires and in 1965 go on a tour as solo act. While playing in Toronto 1966, he met Mynah Birds. Fronted by Rick James, Young joined the group and they recorded an album for the Motown Record label. When Rick James was arrested, the group broke up and Neil Young relocated to Los Angeles to find sucess with bassist Barry Palmer. Once they got to Los Angeles, Young met musician and friend Stephen Stills and they formed the group Buffalo Springfield.

Buffalo Springfield's first self titled album was released in 1967. The album produced a hit for the band called "For What It's Worth". The band played a mix of Country, Psychedelic, Folk and Rock. Neil Young and Stephen Stills both played lead guitar. Despite their success, the band had constant arguments. Barry Palmer would be arrested and deported, which did not help matters. Buffalo Springfield Again was released in November 1967. The album contained the Neil Young composition "Mr. Soul". The heavy rock song had a riff similar to The Rolling Stones "Satisfaction" and was a minor hit. Neil Young also contributed two other songs to the album ("Expecting To Fly" and "Broken Arrow"), but they were recorded without Buffalo Springfield as a backing band. They were recorded and intended for a Neil Young solo album. While recording this album tensions rose again amongst the group and after recording one more album (due to contract obligations), Buffalo Springfield split up. Last Time Around featured recordings previously made that year (1968). The album featured two more Young compositions "I Am A Child" and "On The Way Home". After this album, Neil Young acquired band manager Elliot Roberts (who still currently manages Young) and signed a solo record deal to Reprise Records.

Neil Young's first solo album (which was self titled) was released on November 12, 1968. The date also coincided with his 23rd Birthday. The album did not do very well, it received mixed reviews. It does despite the bad reviews, contain a few good songs most importantly "The Loner". Neil Young put together a different backing band for his second album. Collecting musicians Danny Whitten (guitar), Billy Talbot (bass) and Ralph Molina (drums), Neil Young put together a band that at the time were known as The Rockets. Changing their name to Crazy Horse, the band recorded with Neil Young for two weeks to complete the album known as Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. This album features some of Neil's best known songs. "Cinnamon Girl", "Down By The River", and "Cowgirl In The Sand". These songs showed off his style and were apparently were written when Neil Young had a 103 °F fever. The album featured long jams, heavy rock songs and folk/rock based recordings. This album went to # 34 on the Billboard Pop Album charts.

Next up Neil Young joined the group Crosby, Stills & Nash. The band who had already released an album asked Neil to join the group as a sideman. Instead Neil became a full member and the group became known as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They recorded one album together titled Deja Vu. Released in 1970, Neil Young fell into the same argumentative disagreements as when he was in Buffalo Springfield. Neil Young is not featured on all of the tracks, but the album does have some songs written by Neil. The album itself went to #1 on the Billboard 200 Album charts. Shortly after the album was released, Neil Young wrote the song "Ohio", which was written about the Kent State Massacre in May 1970. It was recorded fast and released as a single soon afterwards. The song went to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

After The Gold Rush was also released in 1970. The album featured musicians such as Stephen Stills and Greg Reeves (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young bassist). When Neil began working on the album, the sessions did feature Crazy Horse. Due to a variety of factors, one being guitarist Danny Whitten's health problems, the band changed around a bit. The album did include some songs with Crazy Horse ("When You Dance I Can Really Love", "I Believe In You", and "Oh Lonesome Me"). The album is a mix of hard rock with folk and country, it also went to %8 on the Billboard Top Pop Album charts. After The Gold Rush has some great songs on it such as "Southern Man" (A song about racism in the south), "Don't Let It Bring You Down", and "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" (#33 on the Hot 100 charts).

By 1971, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had broken up and Crazy Horse signed a record deal. Neil also embarked on a solo tour the same year, assembling a band of Country musicians to back him that would be known as The Stray Gators. Harvest would be the album he recorded with The Gators and it would be a huge success for Neil Young. The album, which was a Country/Rock album went to number one on the Billboard 200 charts. The single "Heart of Gold" would immediately become a number one hit. Other songs on Harvest are the song "Old Man" and "The Needle and The Damage Done". The song was written about the turmoils of Heroin addiction and how it destroys so many people. The song was inspired by Crazy Horse guitar player Danny Whitten, who was addicted to it at the time (he would later pass away due to an overdose). Also the song featured on Harvest, was actually taken from a live recording in 1971 at Massey Hall.

At this point Neil began working on the follow up to Harvest with Crazy Horse, but it would be halted by the passing of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten. A soundtrack to the Neil Young directed film would come next titled Journey Through The Past. Neil would continue recording and making music. His next three albums are referred to as his "Ditch Trilogy". They are referred to this name because of Neil's reaction after the success of "Heart of Gold". This quote from Neil Young about the song describes the titles origin:

"This song put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there."

The three albums in the trilogy are Time Fades Away (1973), On The Beach (1974) and Tonight's The Night (1975). Neil Young's story does not end there, he still continues to record and release music. Most recently he released an album titled Fork in the Road. The Archives box set ends in 1972 and that is where this post will end. There is the promise of future volumes of the Archives series.

Neil Young Play List:

1. Mr. Soul (Buffalo Springfield)
2. Sell Out (Buffalo Springfield)(Previously Unreleased)
3. Down To The Wire (Neil Young)
4. Sugar Mountain (Neil Young)(Previously Unreleased Demo Version)
5. The Rent is Always Due (Neil Young)(Previously Unreleased)
6. I Am A Child (Buffalo Springfield)
7. Kahuna Sunset (Buffalo Springfield)
8. Aurora (The Squires)
9. I Wonder (The Squires)(Previously Unreleased)
10. Mustang (The Squires)(Previously Unreleased)
11. The Loner (Neil Young)
12. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (With Crazy Horse)
13. Cowgirl In The Sand (With Crazy Horse)
14. See The Sky About To Rain (Live Massey Hall 1971)
15. Down By The River (Live Massey Hall 1971)
16. Everybody's Alone (With Crazy Horse)(Previously Unreleased)
17. Dance, Dance, Dance (With Crazy Horse)(Previously Unreleased)
18. When You Dance, I Can Really Love (With Crazy Horse)
19. Don't Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young)
20. Tell Me Why (Neil Young)
21. Cripple Creek Fairy (Neil Young)
22. Harvest (Neil Young & The Stray Gators)
23. Wonderin' (Live Filmore East 1970 - With Crazy Horse)
24. Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown (Live Filmore East 1970 - With Crazy Horse)

To download this week's show visit the CJAM archives and select the files 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM on June, 16th 2009.

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