Album #246 – Harvest

Album #246

Happy Canada Day to all of my Canadian readers!!!! What better way to celebrate Canada than today’s post. This album got me into Neil Young. My dad bought it on CD about ten years ago, next month. He brought it to Cape Breton when he joined us for the second half of my family’s annual two week pilgrimage to Cheticamp, N.S. I knew about Harvest even before my father purchased it. Heart of Gold was and still is one of my favourite songs. But, I had not heard any of the other songs on this album. I was just beginning to discover music and I decided to give Harvest a listen. There was not much else to do at the time and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to listen to this album. At first, I was a bit lost and confused as to why this album was so musically diverse: Country rock, an acoustic track and two orchestral ballads arranged by Jack Nietzche. But, it grows on you after a while. I realized just how diverse Neil Young can be. Another unique thing about this album: Young’s backing band on this album was not Crazy Horse, but The Stray Gators. They were a group of mostly Nashville session musicians with Jack Nietzche on piano. This album also marks the first time Young would collaborate with the legendary pedal steel guitar player, the Late Ben Keith. Keith was the only member of The Stray Gators who played with Young throughout both of their respective careers. Keith, in my opinion, was one of the best pedal steel guitar players who ever lived. I became instantly hooked to the sound of that instrument and Keith showed just how amazing it can sound. Keith’s standard still holds up even though he died last year. Old Man is a perfect example of Keith’s phenomenal pedal steel playing. I could not stop listening to Old Man. It has this hypnotic power and the song is even better than Heart of Gold. It is one of my favourite songs on this album. The country rock of Harvest helped shape my love of the Alt-Country and Americana movements. I still love those genres of music today and Harvest definitely has something to do with that. While Harvest is very different than After The Gold Rush, it is still an amazing album. It shows the depth that Neil Young could take in his career and it also provided his signature country-rock sound which Young would return to several times over the next four decades. But, this is only one side of Neil Young. Other highlights include: Words (Between The Lines of Age) [This track features the album’s only electric guitar solo], The Needle and The Damage Done, Alabama, Are You Ready For The Country? and Man Needs a Maid. Overall, I give this album 4.5 out of 5.

Next: Super Fly by Curtis Mayfield

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