Neil Young: A Treasure

Neil Young and The International Harvesters created quite a stir in ’84 and ’85 as they crisscrossed America playing country music… and nothing but. Young’s label at the time, Geffen, was preparing to sue the ever-changing artist claiming his country conversion was “artistically uncharacteristic.” Didn’t Geffen know with true artists, change is the only constant?

Twelve live tracks. One more beautiful and satisfying than the next. Young had garnered the cream of the Nashville crop, legends all. Ben Keith (1937-2010) played with Patsy Cline. Rufus Thibodeaux (1934-2005) was the original ragin’ Cajun fiddler. With Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Famer Spooner Oldham on piano, and five other certifiable instrumental heavyweights on bass, mandolin, guitars and drums, Young was driven to the kind of artistic heights that transcend genre limitations.
Upon hearing the tapes 25 years later, co-producer Keith said, “This is a treasure,” thus the name.

Taken from shows in Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, California, Minnesota and New York, Young’s in great voice. The material is all his (the sole exception being “It Might Have Been” by Ronnie Green and Harriet Kane). Young’s a country natural. His inner twang is accentuated here by the soft caressing instrumentalism of total professionals. And when they go up-tempo, total joyousness ensues. This is a rare time capsule of an artist immersing himself in his flavor of the moment. And it’s to Neil Young’s everlasting credit that his ‘80s onstage fun here is better than most of what’s coming out of Nashville today.

In A Word: Hillbilly