November 26th, 2007 at 8:38 pm (Neil Young)
8. Neil Young - After The Goldrush
So much has been written about After The Goldrush. It was Neil’s 3rd album to bear his name after his Self-Titled debut and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. It was followed by Harvest. The 1-2-3 punch of EKTIN -> After The Goldrush and Harvest pretty much solidified his career. No matter how good or bad he has been over the years, the trifecta of these albums will always rescue his credibility. Even without factoring in Tonight’s The Night, or Comes A Time, or Zuma, or Rust Never Sleeps, or Ragged Glory. or Sleeps With Angels. Each of these being better than most other bands’ best.
After The Goldrush started out as a movie script written by Herb Berman and Dean Stockwell (who has appeared in a million films from 1945 through the present including Blue Velvet, Paris, Texas, Dune, Air force One, as well as an equivalant number to TV shows up to Brother Cavil in the remake of Battlestar Galactica which I didn’t know until I started writing this). It was an apocalyptic movie which was never made but the songs for the album were inspired from it. Not a whole lot is known about it but it has something to do with Tidal Waves in California and Spaceships which would explain the references in the Title Track.
The album is one of the most popular of Neil’s career. Probably due to the fact that it straddles the all out sonic attack of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (on songs such as When You Dance and Southern Man) with the more gentle sounds of Harvest which followed (on songs such as Oh, Lonesome Me, Tell Me Why and I Believe In You). Every song here is a classic and the album as a whole is exactly as it should be which is something that can be a problem with many of his other albums. The real gem on this one is Birds which is a touching, beautiful piano ballad. It has a fragile quality which can be found on other songs scattered throughtout his catalogue such as Little Wing from Hawks And Doves, Alburquerque and Borrowed Tune from Tonight’s The Night, On The Beach from On The Beach, Razor Love from Silver And Gold and Bandit from Greendale.
Apart from playing like a greatest hits album, the players are like a Neil’s greatest collaborationists. Nils Lofgrin was brought in to play piano which he didn’t really know how to play, Ralph Molina, Danny Whitten, and Billy Talbot from Crazy Horse, Jack Nitzsche and Stephen Stills longtime partners and David Briggs producing. Actually David Briggs is probably the most important person here along with Nitzsche. Briggs was the producer on almost every classic Neil Young album from 1968 until his death in 1995, including his Debut, Everybody Knows, On The Beach, Tonight’s The Night, Zuma, American Stars ‘N Bars, Comes A Time, Rust Never Sleeps, Re-ac-tor, Trans, Old Ways, Life, Ragged Glory and Sleeps With Angels. Oh, he also produced Live Rust, Weld and Unplugged, the former two which are considered by many to be two of the best live albums around by anyone (apart from Double Live - See entry number 3 on my list of top 10). It seems like Neil hasn’t been able to quite reach those heights since Briggs died of lung cancer. He was 51.
Here is a video of After The Goldrush from the Rust Never Sleeps Movie
Here is Don’t Let It Bring You Down from 1971
Anyway tonight is the first night of 3 in which Neil is playing at Massey Hall on his Chrome Dreams II tour. I wasn’t able to get tickets. They were selling online for $3500.
After The Goldrush charted at number 3 in Bob Mersereau’s book The Top 100 Canadian Albums.