Acclaimed Albums – Harvest by Neil Young

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 121/250Title: Harvest
Artist: Neil Young
Year: 1972
Position: #93

It’s been about 6 months since I started whittling down the 5 Neil Young albums. Harvest is, according to the combined polls at Acclaimed Albums, the second best Neil Young album after After The Gold Rush. Well, I already disagreed with that order last time and I plan to do so again.

When looking at views of Harvest I keep seeing the same pattern of comments. How this is basically After The Gold Rush but with a different guitar and lesser songs. Personally, I enjoyed Harvest more than the other two albums of his that I have heard so far.

Something that I found is that with this album I started to hear shades of other artists that were to follow. Some of these inspirtations are more well known and stated by artists, like how ‘Alabama’ actually went on to inspire Lynyrd Skynyrd’s immortal track ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. However, there were many times where I kept thinking of people like Devendra Banhart who play with a mix of folk and psychedelia.

In the opening track ‘Out On The Weekend’ I could not stop thinking of the Beck song ‘Cold Brains’. They are actually quite different songs now that I have decided to listen to them back to back,  but there is something implicit that I am feeling that I cannot quite get sonically.

Other highlights on this album include:

  • ‘A Man Needs A Maid’ – a haunting swell of a song that feels like it belongs on another album.
  • ‘Heart of Gold’, in contrast to the track above, feels incredibly mainstream – like if someone sought to commercialise Bob Dylan.
  • ‘There’s A World’ sounds incredibly dramatic. Like REALLY dramatic

There is a variety and depth to Harvest that I couldn’t see in After The Gold Rush. This album is what lead to mainstream success, which he didn’t like, and I wonder if that is why I warmed to this more. This is definitely the best sounding of the Neil Young albums that I have heard so far – and I’m a sucker for production – so that could explain why I enjoyed Harvest. 

When you consider that three out of his first four solo albums (at time of writing this) are considered in the Top 250 albums of all time, well it boggles the mind really. Not many other artists can claim the same (Bjork can… so I feel somewhat vindicated).

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