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March 01, 1972 - Image 2

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1972-03-01

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Wednesday,, March 1; 1972

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Wednesday, March 1, 1972

'Harvest': Neil

Young 's newest release

Country fkavor
By KENNY ALTSHULER
By virtue of three great al-
bums, Neil ,Young has estab-
lished himself as one of the
great songwriter - composer-
performers of the music world.
His newest release, Harvest, a
two-year effort combining crea-
tivity, artistry, and natural tal-
ent is basically an excellent con-
tinuance of its predecessors.
Young has always had coun-
try'flavor, but it is more pre-
dominant in this alubum than
any of his others. The disc
opens with two strong country
tunes and a new back-up group,
the Stray Gators. "Out on the
Weekend" brings back memories
of "Down bythe River" on the
beginning notes, but a har-
mniica sound awakes the lis-
tener to a new Young character-
istic.On this slow-paced cut as
well-as the following, easy-go-
ing title song ''Harvest," the ba-
sic bluegrass melody is support-
ed by .excellent slide guitar
work by Jack Nitzsche, the only
Mmember of Young's former
back-up group, 9razy Horse, to
record on this album. These
songs complement each other in
that "Weekend" creates a feel-
ing of a day on a country farm,
and "Harvest" implants the
thought of a country night of
self - introspection. Nitzsche's
guitar work on both songs, as
well as John Harris' piano play-
ing on "Harvest" creates a solid
introduction to the album.
Two songs have the help of
fellow performers James Taylor
and Linda Ronstadt. "Heart of
Gold" and "Old Man" were re-
corded in Nashville's Quadra-
fonic Sound Studios when Ron-
stadt, Taylor, and Young taped
a "Johnny Cash Show" last
year. I would recognize Taylor's
guitar style as well as his folk-
country presentation anywhere,
and regardless of what the cre-
dits don't -say, Taylor is play-
ing acoustics on "Old Man." But
not to quarrel with credits, let
me say that this is the best
rounded song of the album. It
rai the usual Young style -
solid words, vocals and instru-
metatio; it. creates a 'mood
of .reaching - friendship and
--coming-
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Rock music and poetry

understanding. And asuon
"Heart of Gold," the quick-
paced and driving steel and
slide guitars supplied by Ben
Keith and Nitzsche, as well as
the bass line presented by Tim
Drummond creates a feeling of
o p t i m i s m, characteristic of
Young's country technique.
In light of six good country
tunes, it wouldn't destroy the
album to have one bad one,
and Young must have had that
in mind when he put "Are You
Ready for the Country" on it.
The highlights of the down-
trodden song are a great piano
and a fair bass line. The steel=
guitar is okay, but all that
doesn't salvage- this song. A
feeling of confusion is not- sim-
ply implanted by a bad song;
the whole organization seems to
have no direction. The back-up
vocals by Crosby and Nash are
terrible, and leaves the first side
with something less than desir-
able.
In addition to the country
songs dominating the album,
Neil has attempted two songs
with orchestrative accompani-
ment. The London Symphony
Orchestra did nothing to im-
prove the songs, and made them
the sore spot of the album. "A
Man Needs a Maid" is a beauti-
ful song and it's a shame that
Young had to spoil it by using.
a supporting orchestra. A faint
back-up would have nicely en-
lightened this sorrowful ballad,
but the percussion drowns out
Neil's essential wailing voice
and searching lyrics, and makes
what could have been the best
song of the album mediocre.
"There's a World is the worst of
the two. While "A Man Needs a
Maid" is a fantastic song which
needs nothing and can stand a
little intervention, "There's a
World needs this majestic
and dynamic orchestrative qual-
ity just to have it stand up with
the rest. And this need is not
met with a ridiculous flowing
harp and percussion which is
Program Information 2-6264
Corner State & Liberty
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OPEN 1 P.M. SHOWS
AT 1:15, 3:10, 5P.M.
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determined to its presentation.
But what must be emphasized
at this point is that what makes
Youngas good as he is, is sim-
ply a good song, a good voice,
and solo accompaniment. And
this is proven by the best song
on the album, "The Needle and
the Damage Done." This ballad,
recorded live at Royce Hall,
UCLA, is the highlight of the
album. In a sentence, it com-
bines excellent guitar work and
voice quality with presentation
and message. With slow pace
and good pulse, Neil sings: "I
sing the song because I love the
man/ I know some of you don't
understand/ milk-blood to keep
from running out./ I've seen the
needle and the damage done/ a
little part of it in everyone/ but
every junkie's like a setting
sun." Truly a unique song that
makes the album worth its
price-
DIAL 5-6290
TODAY IS LADIES DAY
"Dustin Hoffman's finest
performance since 'Mid-
night Cowboy'

By HERB BOWIE
There have always been two
sides to Neil Young's work. On
the A side, mostly, there's been
a man simply making beautiful
rock music. Consigned to the B
side for the most part has been
Neil Young the poet. Every
once in a while, as on "I am a
Child," the music would take a
back seat, but usually it was the
other way around. As on "Cow-
girl in the Sand" and "Down by
the River," with their extended
improvisation, the lyrics gener-
ally just went along for the ride.
On Neil Young's new album
Harvest, the situation is re-
versed. The lyrics form the cen-
ter of each of the songs, the
music playing a. minimal but
brilliant supportive role. The re-
sult is the best album Young's
ever participated in.
Young's use of language and
images on the album is nothing
short of brilliant. In this respect
there is simply no one near him
in the field of rock. Listen to the
magic in these lines from the
title song: "Dream up, Dream
up / Let me(fill your cup / With
the promise of a man." It would
be enough for me had Young
simply c o i n e d the phrases
"Dream up," but he doesn't stop
there; he goes on to further use
the implicit image of drinking
up in the line "Let me fill your
cup." Even better are these
lyrics from "Old Man:" "Love
lost, such a cost / Give me
See you after the
break at the
tenth world famous
ANN ARBOR
FILM
FESTIVAL

things that don't get lost / Like
a coin that won't get tossed /
Rolling home to you." With
"Love lost" he introduces the
basic theme, then expands on
it with "such a cost." The next
line, "Give me things that don't
get lost," sounds like a merely
good one until "Like a, coin that
won't get tossed" ties the whole
thing together by picking up the
basic monetary meaning of 'cost'
and providing a more concrete
image of something getting lost.
In addition, the line adds to the
original theme-the idea that the
loss of love is dictated, not by
any reasonable standards, but
by the mere toss of a coin. The
final line, "Rolling home to you,"
suggests the image of a coin
precariously balanced on its rim,
not getting lost in a different
sense of the word, rolling to-
wards the old man.
-The overall construction of the
songs -shows equal talent. In
"There's a World" we hear the
two warring elements in Young's
mind, one telling him to resign
himself to his fate of being alone,
to give up the hope of finding a
lasting love, and the other'lead-
ing him on, implicitly promising
fulfillment if he keeps trying.
The desperate conclusion, that
he can trust neither of the voices
but must keep looking for love
because life without is death, is
stated in this way: "There's a
world you're living in / No one
else has your part / All God's
DIAL 8-6416
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SHOWS AT 1-3-5-7-9
LAST DAY....
RUTH
GORDON
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children in the wind / Take it in
and blow hard." I can think of.
no other songwriter that would
even attempt such a sophisti-
cated construction, let alone pull
it off.
What really makes this a land-
mark album, though, is its in-
tense thematic unity. This is the
first rock album I've ever heard
that can lay claim to any mean-
ingful thematic unity, and the
coherence here is overwhelming.
This isn't merely a collection of
songs that happen to touch on_
the same theme, as The Band
seems to be, for example. The
songs here amplify and extend
each other, making the whole
much more than the sum of its
parts. Thus, to simplify a little,
"Out on the Weekend" tells us
of Young's need for love, "Are
You Ready for the Country?" is
an ominous warning of the on-
rush of time, and "Heart of
Gold" combines the two themes.
"Old Man" expresses a pessimis-
tic resignation to loneliness,
while "A Man Needs a Maid"
and "There's a World" both re-
affirm the need to retain hope.
At first "Alabama," and "The
Needle and the Damage Done,"
the third and fourth songs on
side two, seem like digressions
that break the flow of the al-
bum, but the next and final song
uses an imaginative device to
incorporate them into; the record.
The applause following the live
cut "The Needle and he Damage
Done" is suddenly interrdpted by
a jarring minor chord that be-
gins "Words," Young's admis-
sion that his songs are only
"words between the lines of
age." Its theme, introduced in
"Are You Ready for the Coun-
try?," is that the audience's
applause is only a poor sub-
stitute for the love of a good
woman
The music on Harvest sup-
ports the lyrics superbly. The
songs themselves are as good as
ever, the arrangements just per-
fect. The musicians accomplish
the difficult feat of playing bril-
liantly, yet so simply that the
music almost never diverts the
listener's attention from the:
main thrust of the songs. Listen
to Ken Buttrey's drums working
perfectly with the rhythm guitar
on "Heart of Gold," giving the
line "And I'm getting old" just
the emphasis its change of tone
requires. Admire Jack Nitzsche's
piano on the second verse of
"A Man Needs a Maid," its
cautious, dainty quality giving
the song just the touch of fan-

tasy intended. Not to mention
Nitzsche's slashing bottleneck
guitar on "Are You Ready for
the Country?" Or Ben Keith's
excellent pedal s t e e 1 guitar
throughout the album. Even
Jerry Garcia could play rings
around this guy; the hitch is that
Garcia could never exercise so
much restraint: on the refrain
of "Out on the Weekend" Keith's
repetition of a single note ex-
presses the singer's helplessness
perfectly. Finally, there's Young
himself: his melancholy har-
monica adds to the album in sev-
eral places; his guitar solo on
"Words," although not particu-
larly pleasant to listen to, is the
most meaningful he's ever done.
Harvest is one of the best rock
TONIGHT ONLY
SEVEN BRIDES
FOR SEVEN
BROTHERS
Dir. Stanley Donen, 1954
EXCITING DANCING!
SPIRITED SINGING!
DELIGHTFUL PLOT!

"1

albums ever made. I've listened
to it a dozen times and each
time I hear it my understanding
and appreciation of it grows.
Praise higher than that I can't
give.
1

*

An exceptional
ing effort in
genre.

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