With thirty-three studio albums, fifty-nine singles, eight live albums, and several other works under his belt, fans of rock god Neil Young have a lot to work with.
Young continues to charm his widespread but selective audience with this yearâ€™s A Treasure-– the sixth album released in his Archive Performance Series, and the ninth volume in the Archives themselves.
Said Neil of the Series, â€œSome of it is good, some of it is crap that wasn’t released – there’s a reason. Take a look, see what it is. That’s what a fuckin’ archive is aboutâ€¦â€
A Treasure consists of twelve live performances with the International Harvesters on the US tour from 1984-1985. Distinctive to previous releases, this album was recorded from a tour that didnâ€™t have backing from Youngâ€™s record label at the time, nor support from a studio album. Besides featuring five unreleased tracks, including â€œAmber Jean,â€ â€œSoul of a Womanâ€ and â€œGrey Riders,â€ the album perfectly encapsulates one of Neilâ€™s many transitions– this time with the musician delving into country music.
Collaborating with artists like Joe Allen, Anthony Crawford, Tim Drummond, Karl Himmel, Ben Keith, Spooner Oldham, Hargus Robbins and Rufus Thibodeaux, among others, with tracks mixed by Tim Mulligan, this is a surprisingly good album that even non-country dwellers can appreciate.
When country music is recorded in the studio, you donâ€™t get the same whirl of energy that you receive when hearing it live, perhaps because instruments like the fiddle and mandolin take backstage in the studio, or quite the opposite– the plucked/bowed string instruments overpower the necessary rock undertones given by instruments like the slide guitar.
Stand-out tracks here include â€œAre You Ready For the Country?â€ and â€œFlying on the Ground Is Wrongâ€ (released under Buffalo Springfield).
Overall, A Treasure is a worthwhile addition to any Neil Young fanâ€™s collection. Itâ€™s both a testament to how versatile the artist is (and how rare versatility is in the music business today), and it explores a previously untouched moment in time in the musicianâ€™s career.