Neil Young – A Treasure (Reprise/Warner) CD REVIEW

The early to mid-1980s was a weird time for poor Neil Young, who changed labels just in time to break away from the styles he had made his own. The electronic-oriented album Trans just about sunk his career, and the new record company ended up getting its knickers in a twist, contending that Young had sabotaged them by providing such unlikely material.
Not to worry, by ’84 he was touring with a bunch of old Nashville session musicians, and calling them the International Harvesters. The songs and material were as safe as houses.
This album features a live performance from that tour, and the playing – by the likes of Spooner Oldham and Ben Keith – is mighty fine. But it also feels like Young is taking a between-labels hiatus; cruising between record deals and playing a bunch of low-key country tunes, perhaps as a way of retreating from the threatened litigation.
Who knows, but the result is dull. Died-in-the-wool country fans may find merit in it, and there are a few songs that never made it to vinyl or compact disc, but it’s really one for completists only.
The recording, while adequate, fails to resolve the individual instruments on these performances to a satisfactory audio conclusion, so that while it makes for pleasant background, it doesn’t benefit from turning up loud and dissecting it with an analytical hi-fi system. GARY STEEL
Music = 3
Sound = 2.5

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