Sunday, 16 August 2009

“Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” by NEIL YOUNG. A Review of his 2nd solo album from 1969 on Reprise now Remastered and Reissued on a HDCD in 2009.

NEIL YOUNG is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


“…It’s So Hard To Say No To Yourself…”

As we all know, Neil Young has famously resisted the remastered reissue of his huge catalogue on CD because of what he feels is the format's less than stellar representation of analogue tapes' 'original sound' as laid down by the artist - and almost a full 20 years after 1989's first issue of his 2nd album on a dullard CD - it looks like the guy is having the last laugh - because this meticulously prepared tape transfer is GLORIOUS. It really is. I've bought all 4 and to my ears this is fact the best sounding of them all.

First to the details - "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" was released in May 1969 on Reprise Records RS 6349 in the USA and RSLP 6349 in the UK (July 1969). This 2009 NYA OSR remaster (Neil Young Archives - Original Release Series) is Disc 2 of 4 and carries the HDCD code on the label and rear inlay (High Density Compact Disc).

Until now, 2004's "Greatest Hits" set (which offered us three "Everybody..." tracks remastered into HDCD sound quality) was the only real indication of just how good the album 'could' sound (this is the first time the 'entire' album has been given a sonic upgrade). The Audio Tape Restoration and Analog-To-HDCD Digital Transfer of the Original Master Tapes was carried out by JOHN NOWLAND (24-Bit 176 KHZ) with the Editing and Mastering done by TIM MULLIGAN - and they've done a stunning job.

The inlay reproduces photos of Danny Whitten (Guitar), Billy Talbot (Bass) with Ralph Molina (on Drums) and David Briggs (Engineer and Producer), but there's no lyrics. Also - as these are the first four albums in a long reissue campaign - to identify them from the old CDs, the upper part of the outer spine has his new NYA OSR logo at the top and an 'issue' number beneath - D1, D2, D3, D4...on upwards of course.

However, the big and obvious disappointment is the complete lack of musical extras or any new info in the booklet - and in the case of this album in particular the omissions are going to be a sore point for fans who've waited decades for these releases. While some rarities have turned up on the 2009 mega box set "The Archives Vol.1 1963-1972" - some tracks are still missing. "Down By The River" was edited for single release in the UK in August 1970 on RS 23462 with an alternate take of "Cinnamon Girl" on the B-side. To my knowledge, neither is available in remastered sound anywhere. Also - "Oh Lonesome Me" was extended for the US 7" and it's B-side, an alternate mix of "I've Been Waiting For You" is again a no-show. All of them would have made for ideal extras material and it's infuriating that they're not on here.

Still - at mid price - this remaster of "Everybody..." is still great value for money and with this hugely upgraded sound - it makes you focus on the music as is and not anything else.

Speaking of which - the sound is HUGE especially on the big rocking tracks "Down By The River" and the near 10-minute "Cowgirl In The Sand" - while the clarity is just BEAUTIFUL on Richie Furay's "Round And Round (It Won't Be Long)" - Robin Lane's duet vocals being particularly lovely. Bobby Notkoff's violin on "Running Dry" is very clear - and as the band loosely ramshackles its way into the song - it sounds like they're in your living room - miked up and live - fabulous stuff.

The remaster is not bombastically loud either, trebled up to the nines, but subtle - the music is just THERE in your speakers to a point where everything seems new and up for grabs again. Fans will love it and will feel like they're revisited long cherished old friends while newcomers will now understand what all the 5-star fuss is about.

The gold sticker on the jewel case of each of these issues says "Because Sound Matters" - and I think Rock's great curmudgeon was right to wait to get it right...

Docked a star though for lack of those complimentary extras that would have sent this into 'reissue of the year' territory...

But still highly recommended.

PS: I've reviewed "Harvest" and "After The Gold Rush" also - just as good soundwise...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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