Sunday, 18 March 2018

"Neil Young" by NEIL YOUNG (August 2009 Reprise/Neil Young Archives/Original Release Series (NYA - ORS) HDCD Reissue - John Nowland and Tim Mulligan Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...The Loner..."

Over the last two decades in particular - Neil Young fans have had their reissue patience sorely tested by their moody overlord. Canada’s finest 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'. But you have to say right from the audio start of these August 2009 CD reissues/remasters - the wait for these first quartet of solo albums - "Neil Young", "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", "After The Gold Rush" and "Harvest" - has absolutely been worth the endless delays and press hissy fits.

What a magnificent job his transfer teams have done here. JOHN NOWLAND carried out the Audio Tape Restoration and Analog-To-HDCD Digital Transfer of the Original Master Tapes (24-Bit 176 KHZ) with TIM MULLIGAN taking care of the Editing and Mastering. These remasters are not bombastically loud - trebled up to the nines for the sake of it - they're 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 feel like they're revisited long cherished old friends - while newcomers will now understand what all the 5-star fuss is about.

Released August 2009 – "Neil Young" by NEIL YOUNG on Reprise 9362-49790-3 (Barcode 093624979050) is a straightforward transfer of his 10-track debut solo LP (36:25 minutes):

1. The Emperor Of Wyoming [Side 1]
2. The Loner
3. If I Could Have Her Tonight
4. I've Been Waiting For You
5. The Old Laughing Lady
6. String Quartet From Whiskey Boot Hill [Side 2]
7. Here We Are In The Years
8. What Did You Do To My Life?
9. I've Loved Her So Long
10. The Last Trip To Tulsa
Tracks 1 to 10 are his debut LP “Neil Young” – released January 1969 in the USA and UK on Reprise RSLP 6317 (reissued in 1971 in the UK on K 44059).

A nice touch on the outer jewel case is the sticker that came with original issues of the American LP that bore the logo “The Buffalo Springfield’s Neil Young” as well as the “A Classic Neil Young Album Remastered From The Original Analogue Master Tapes – Because Sound Matters” gold sticker that is generic with all four of these first reissues. The 12-page booklet reproduces the hand-written lyrics that came with original LPs and not much else unfortunately. This is Disc 1 of 4 and carries the HDCD code on the label and rear inlay (High Density Compact Disc). NYA ORS is the Neil Young Archives - Original Release Series. As these are the first four albums in a long reissue campaign - to identify them from older non-remastered 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.

His self-titled debut LP (written at the tender age of 23) has of course been eclipsed over the years by the more illustrious albums "After The Gold Rush" and "Harvest" from 1970 and 1971 - but real fans will want to start here. While I can live without the countrified "The Emperor Of Wyoming" - I still find "The Loner" astonishing in the way that the first Zeppelin album is - powerful, punchy and still rocking today. It's kind of shocking that even though Reprise coupled it with "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" as it's B-side - it failed as a UK 7" single on Reprise RS 23045 in September 1969.

I love the Jack Nitzsche arrangements on the magical "The Old Laughing Lady" with Ry Cooder on Guitar and the wonderful singer Merry Clayton on Backing Vocals. The channel separation is harsh (the way it was recorded) but the clarity is fabulous. "What Did You Do To My Life" sounds like a top Buffalo Springfield outtake from their patchy 3rd album while the acoustic guitars on the epic "The Last Trip To Tulsa" are so clear - as is his warbling treated vocals - frail and aching.

What I love about this remaster is that it’s somehow brought the album alive - and now begs rediscovery. And things only got better with the next three – “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”, “After The Gold Rush” and the mighty “Harvest” (which I’ve also reviewed along with the 2012 4-disc bundle “Official Release Series Discs 1-4”)...

PS: have also reviewed the 3LP set "Decade" from October 1977 on Reprise Records. It covered 1966 to 1976 and included five Previously Unreleased tracks as well as single-side rarities from CSNY and a Buffalo Springfield cut featuring Dr. John. See other review... 

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