Saturday, September 19, 2009

Neil Young - Preps Live LP Due in October

by Brent Warnken

Neil Young quietly released his highly-anticipated Archives Volume One earlier this summer, and now the veteran rock'n'roller is unveiling his next archival release: Dreamin' Man. Ambiguously labeled Neil Young Archive Performance Series #12, the album features a complete live performance of his acclaimed album Harvest Moon gathered from a handful of solo acoustic shows in 1992 and is set to arrive in stores on November 2.

He performed at a benefit concert for the Sarah McLachlan foundation with the singer and Sheryl Crow in Vancouver on September 12 and is slated to perform at the annual Farm Aid and Bridge School Benefit concerts in October, but fans are hoping for a live reunion with Crazy Horse, as Young hasn't performed with the band since 2004. Check online for Neil Young tickets to see if it will happen or just to see him solo.

Neil left California-based folk-rock group Buffalo Springfield in 1968, just in time to launch a solo career that would see him become one of the most influential, not to mention idiosyncratic, singer-songwriters of the 1970s.

The Toronto native was raised by his mother in Winnipeg and became a staple in the folk and coffeehouse circuit after dabbling in garage rock in his teens, where he met Joni Mitchell and Stephen Stills. He eventually drifted down to Los Angeles, where he formed Buffalo Springfield and enjoyed success in the burgeoning folk-rock scene on the West Coast before tensions caused the band to splinter.

Once on his own, Neil signed with Reprise Records and released his eponymous debut album in 1969, by which point he began playing with his now-famous band Crazy Horse (originally named the Rockets). Crazy Horse appeared on the sophomore solo effort, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, which went gold thanks to hits like "Down by the River" and "Cinnamon Girl."

After churning out two solo albums, Young joined Crosby, Stills & Nash, thus augmenting the group's name to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He continued to record as a solo artist, releasing After the Gold Rush in 1970, and one song off the album, "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," solidified his status as a solo star, thus when the volatile nature of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young began to take its toll he was able to stand on his own two feet. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young officially split by the spring of 1971, and subsequently released his first number one album, Harvest, which contained his first (and only) number one single, "Heart of Gold."

Young rejected his success rather than embracing it, following the album with the loud and negatively received film Journey Through the Past. The film, soundtrack and live album Time Fades Away garnered minimal praise and mirrored a dark period of Neil's personal life. Following the overdose deaths of two friends, he recorded but declined to release the gloomy effort Tonight's the Night in 1972, although that year's On the Beach was just as bleak.

By the time Tonight's the Night arrived in 1975, he had sufficiently recovered and emerged with the hard-rock album Zuma, which he recorded with Crazy Horse. After a few unfocused years in which he abandoned a tour midway through and also dipped into country, Young released what was hailed as his comeback album, 1979's Rust Never Sleeps. The double album Live Rust and the live film Rust Never Sleeps were followed by a batch of poorly received releases, and then Young switched labels to the newly minted Geffen Records, which promised to grant him more artistic freedom.

Neil tested Geffen's limits with the electronic effort Trans. Released in 1982, it featured his voice being recorded into a computerized vocoder and was perhaps ahead of its time, as audiences and critics alike were confused by the album. A string of genre-bending albums later, Neil was back with Reprise Records for 1988's This Note's for You.

Young experienced a revival in the early '90s thanks to increased interest among indie rock fans and his hiring of avant-rock group Sonic Youth to support him on tour. 1992's Harvest Moon, a sequel to his 1972 breakthrough album, became the musician's biggest hit in years, and Young continued to up his cool quotient by appearing on MTV Unplugged and jamming with Seattle grunge band Pearl Jam, the result of which was 1995's Mirror Ball.

Neil forged on into the new millennium, reuniting with Crosby ,Stills & Nash while also releasing solo albums. In 2005 he was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening brain aneurysm but nonetheless released the concert film Heart of Gold the following year, followed by a collection of protest songs against the war in Iraq titled Living with War. 2007's Chrome Dreams II was followed by Fork in the Road and Archives Volume One in 2009.

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