I side with his fans. I LOVE THIS RECORD! I love it for many reasons. First of all, I bought this record in 1973 when it first came out, and I couldn’t quit listening to it. The music is fantastic! I had become a fan of Neil Young from the moment I first heard him on “Four Way Street,” the Live album from 1971 by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I went on to purchase “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” the first album Neil made with Crazy Horse. And then I bought “Harvest” the week it came out. I am still a huge fan of Neil Young and I own almost everything the guy has ever recorded. I am also a proud owner of his Blu Ray collection “Neil Young Archives Vol. 1.”
I loved the album cover. I’d love to know who the guy is in the front row throwing up the “Peace Sign.” He must have been the envy of all his friends!
I love the parts on the album where Neil would talk to the audience. It reminded me of all of those moments on “Four Way Street” where they would talk to the audience. “TFA” seemed to echo “FWS” in many other ways. Just like CSN&Y did on their 1971 tour, Neil opened his 1973 shows with an Acoustic set (“Wooden Music”) and then an electric set. I always thought that was cool format for a live show. It seemed to me to be one of the foreshadowing ideas that led to “MTV Unplugged.”
I love the mood of the album. This record has a melancholy that is unmistakable. It truly captures a moment in time. This is reason enough for Neil to reissue this somber masterpiece. It is also the reason he won’t reissue the album…
His friend and fellow member of Crazy Horse, Danny Whitten; was supposed to tour with Neil. Unfortunately, Danny had developed a terrible heroin addiction. Whitten started to get clean so he would be able to tour, but replaced his heroin addiction with pain pills and alcohol. Whitten could not function well enough to get through rehearsals Neil had to fire his friend. Neil met with Danny privately and told him things were not going to work out for the tour, he gave him $50 bucks and a plane ticket back to L.A. Neil never saw him alive again. Danny died the next day of a heroin overdose. Neil blamed himself for Danny’s death. Now he had to go out on tour and play 65 shows in 90 days.
His back up band was “The Stray Gators.” This was the same band he had recorded Harvest with. The fans came out in force to hear all the new hit songs from Harvest, but instead they were greeted by a large number of new songs. These songs were not in the vain of the country-folk sound of many of the songs on Harvest. These songs had a hard edge to them that was closer to the music Neil produced when he was performing with Crazy Horse. The Stray Gators were also uncomfortable with these heavy edgy tunes.
The Stray Gators were basically an “All-star” Nashville band with egos to match. There was a lot of in-fighting among the band members as well as excessive drinking, etc… There are several stories floating around about band members showing up so messed up they didn’t even know what instrument they were playing during the sound-check The first Drummer Kenneth Buttrey quit two-thirds of the way through the tour. He was replaced by Johnny Barbata. Johnny played with CSN&Y on the Four Way Street Tour. He was also their drummer at Woodstock.
Another problem with reissuing the LP as a CD is the manner in which it was recorded. Neil Young wanted to use the very first “digital mixing” soundboard. It was called a “CompuMix.” Later it became known as the “CompuShit” because it was unreliable. The live recordings went straight from the soundboard to the CompuMix. As a result, there are no two track masters of these recordings. This complicates any reissue. Also, the CompuMix made the recording murkier. I think this adds to not subtracts from the awesomeness of this LP.
Very few of these songs have been released in any other format. What you are about to hear is quite rare. These were all new songs being played live. The only exception is “Love in Mind”. It was recorded on the 1971 tour. The same tour that resulted in the live recording on Harvest of “The Needle and the Damage Done.” (Neil’s song about Danny Whitten.)
According to Wikipedia Neil Young has made two main comments about this album. I quote: “It was recorded on my biggest tour ever, 65 shows in 90 days. Money hassles among everyone concerned ruined this tour and record for me but I released it anyway so you folks could see what could happen if you lose it for a while. I was becoming more interested in an audio verite approach than satisfying the public demands for a repetition of Harvest. ”
Also: “Time Fades Away was the worst record I ever made – but as a documentary of what was happening to me, it was a great record. I was onstage and I was playing all these songs that nobody had heard before, recording them, and I didn’t have the right band. It was just an uncomfortable tour. I felt like a product, and I had this band of all-star musicians that couldn’t even look at each other.”
His comment about not having the right band may be a reference to Crazy Horse.
So give it a listen and tell me what you think:
Time Fades Away
Journey Through The Past
Yonder Stands The Sinner
Love In Mind
Don’t Be Denied
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Neil has two children with these types of disabilities. Neil is still building his “bridge”. “It may take a lot of time…”
“You wake up in the morning and the sun’s coming up. It’s been up for hours, and hours and hours, and hours, and hours and hours. And you light up the stove and the coffee cup is hot and the orange juice is cold, cold, cold…Monday morning. Wake up, Wake up, Wake up. It’s time to go, time to go to work!! You can live your own life. Making it happen. Workin’ on your time. Laid back and laughing. Oh,no…Oh, no…”
Then at the end he repeats over and over “No, no, no..” and then… “Negative, Negative!!”
Then it’s over… Graham Nash yells “Last Dance!!!” and it was…
So where do we go from hear? Neil says in the next volume of the Archives he will not include any songs from this LP. He said he will include cuts from the earlier part of the tour that included drummer Kenneth Buttrey. Maybe the karma is just too bad for him to bear? Who knows, but Neil has got to stop saying “NO, NO, NO…” This is a powerful rock n roll statement that deserves to shine again.