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Neil Young & the International Harvesters, ‘A Treasure’ – Album Review

Neil Young, A Treasure
Reprise Records

Neil Young delves into his archives once again for the appropriately-named ‘A Treasure’ — a live country album from his 1984-85 tour with backing band the International Harvesters.

The record bristles with energy, shows off Young’s mastery of a wide variety of song styles, and unleashes at least one new stone-cold masterpiece with the snarling, barely-country ‘Grey Riders.’

Much has been made of the arguments between Young and Geffen, his record label at the time, over the wild stylistic changes featured on Neil’s albums of the decade, as he shifted from synth-rock (1982’s ‘Trans’) to rockabilly (1983’s ‘Everybody’s Rockin”) to straight-up country (1985’s ‘Old Ways’).

It’s pretty easy to see this highly impressive reissue as Young’s revisionist declaration that he knew what he was doing all along; Which, of course, he generally does. However, the fact remains: the energy, performances and song selection on ‘A Treasure’ pretty much knock ‘Old Ways’ — which is by no means bad — on its butt.

‘A Treasure’ is so good that it makes you wonder if the label even had the chance to reject any of the five excellent previously unreleased songs on this album, such as ‘Amber Jean,’ a loving father-to-daughter tribute, the forgivably corny ‘Let Your Fingers Do the Walking,’ or the aforementioned ‘Grey Riders,’ whose jagged guitars wander close to classic Crazy Horse territory. It’s hard to imagine anyone passing on this material.

As for any concerns that Neil’s audience wouldn’t be able to relate to a country album, well, given that one of his biggest albums ever was 1972’s Nashville-influenced ‘Harvest,’ perhaps that’s a little silly. Even though a much harder-hitting and more traditional country sound is featured on ‘A Treasure,’ any fan of Young’s music, especially one who appreciates the wide range of musical territory he continues to explore with such high levels of skill and dedication, will love this album as well.

Neil Young & the International Harvesters Perform ‘Get Back to the Country’

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