Saturday, July 23, 2011

Michael Fremer Album Review

A Treasure
(archival new release)

Neil Young and the International Harvesters

Reprise 527650 2 180g LPs (three sides)

Produced by: Neil Young and Ben Keith

Engineered by: Tim Mulligan

Mixed by: Tim Mulligan

Mastered by: Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering



Young Archive Performance Series Delivers Gem
by Michael Fremer
July 01, 2011

Neil Young's 1980's country music phase wasn't appreciated by his record label at the time but the fans accepted it, certainly more than they did what came previously: dips into computer music (Trans) and Rockabilly (Everybody's Rockin'), which was digitally recorded. Somehow digital recording and Rockabilly don't go together but it took Neil a while to figure that out. And that Rockabilly record had Neil in an odd mood. Read his biography "Shakey" and it was clearly a difficult time in his life.

Back to country was a return to musical comfort food, yet Young was doing more than looking for a personal comfort zone during the mid '80s: he was on a mission to help save small farmers, fighting with his record label and touring with the International Harvester Band without a new album to push.

So it was all about the music and not at all about product. Young had assembled a superb band made up of some who he'd worked with often and some never before, including steel and slide guitarist Ben Keith, fiddler Rufus Thibodeaux, pianists Spooner Oldham and Hargus "Pig" Robbins, bassists Tim Drummond and Joe Allen and drummer Karl Himmel and others.

Those looking for Young's dark side won't find it here. This is about having fun, cheerleading for Detroit (it would 35 years for something to cheer about), singing about love and adventure, some country shtick ("Let Your Fingers Do the Walking") and a great cover of Buffalo Springfield's "Flying on the Ground Is Wrong."

Young is in great voice, sincere and open throated, and holding notes cleanly and producing phrases that soared and lingered before fading into the strong musical backing.

Strong playing, great singing and a vibe that's long gone in today's very dark America, listening to this three-sided set can't help but restore your sense that perhaps we can have better days ahead here. At least you sure can listening to this! Even the set's throwaway tune, the shaky blues "Soul of a Woman" has music making compelling enough to overcome the flatness of the concept.

The tracks were recorded 1984/'85 in Nashville, Austin and Pasadena Texas, Berkeley, Universal City, St. Paul and New York City. Three of the tunes ("Bound for Glory", "Motor City", "Southern Pacific" and "Nothing is Perfect") haven't been previous released other than on bootlegs.

Side three ("Southern Pacific" "Nothing is Perfect" and "Grey Riders") carries the most weight. Young sings with sincere passion about railroads, one of his favorite subjects. "Southern Pacific" is long and gives everyone a chance to stretch out., but no one takes it to excess. "Nothing is Perfect" is about accepting ones lot in life, the good and bad.

As Neil was singing this song, he was dealing with his disabled son and the heroic efforts both he and his wife Pegi undertook to improve their son's lot. If you've read "Shakey" you know what this is about. Knowing the back story ads depth to the song. "Grey Rider" concludes the album with a powerful electric guitar-driven scenario. Side four is a lacquer etching.

The album's sonics vary as you would expect with so many venues involved. but all are very good, with a mid outdoor space perspective. You can smell the 80s air on the best tracks.

This is not an absolutely essential Neil Young album but as the one that bridges the gap between the searching for his roots Neil and the one who actually found them A Treasure serves a worthwhile function for new and old fans alike, though perhaps the standard weight vinyl will suffice for all but the diehards.

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material. Stop by for more reviews and features.

©2011 & Michael Fremer - - All rights reserved

Reprinted by Permission

Vinyl Record News & Music Notes

Amy Winehouse Dead At 27

The troubled singer was found dead Saturday by ambulance crews that were called to her home in London's Camden area, a youth-culture mecca known for its music scene, its pubs and the availability of illegal drugs.

The London Ambulance Service said Winehouse had succumbed before ambulance crews arrived at the house in Camden Square. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Winehouse made headlines because of drug and alcohol abuse, destructive relationships and unfinished performances. The singer had been working on her long-awaited new album for the past three years. Her small but powerful body of recorded music will be her legacy.


BlessTheFall Unveil New Cover Art

blessthefall has recently unveiled the tracklisting and cover art for their new album 'Awakening.'

'Awakening' is the Phoenix, AZ quintet's third album and is scheduled for release in North America on October 4 and in Europe on October 3.


1. Awakening
2. Promised Ones
3. Bottomfeeder
4. I'm Bad News, In The Best Way
5. The Reign
6. 40 Days...
7. Bones Crew
8. Don't Say Goodbye
9. Undefeated
10.'Till the Death of Me
11. Flatline
12. Meet Me at the Gates


great vinyl article from the other side of the world!

Not A Broken Record

Purists of sound now have cause for hope. LPs are getting a new lease on life

Arpita Basu

Think gleaming black vinyl spinning softly on the polished turntable, the stylus delicately coaxing music out of the spiral groove. Now, think Salman Khan. Because, from that seductively spinning disc, wafts not some soulful strain of yore, but the Dhinka Chika beats of Salman’s latest blockbuster Ready.

Walk into any music store that’s up to speed—we’re talking 331/3 rpm here—and you’ll find dedicated shelves of long-playing (LP) records with titles ranging from Pakeezah to Patiala House and Mughal-e-Azam to Mohabbatein. With music majors EMI India, Sony India, T-series and Saregama going into retro mode, LP records are getting their groove back in India, and audiophiles are all ears. All eyes too, as they go on the look-out for new turntables to buy or old, dusty ones to spruce up.

It’s a revival that managing director of Nova Audio, Sushil Anand, is following very closely. The proprietor of Mumbai’s first vinyl-only store, which opened its doors last week, Anand says, “Internationally, vinyl never died. It was in a state of hibernation or limbo, but the last two years have seen a spurt (in popularity) abroad.”

As big-name artists and underground bands released their albums in LP format along with the usual CDs and MP3s, India too caught on. In recent months, says Anand, the market has expanded exponentially in India. It’s this audience that Anand wants to indulge at his store, where customers can listen to not just turntables but also to records of their choosing.

Read more of this interesting article at


fantastic interview with one of my favorite bands!

Alkaline Trio's Dan Andriano Discusses 15 Years as a Band, Song Meanings, and Violent Femmes

By Melissa Fossum

To celebrate 15 years as a band, Alkaline Trio released a semi-acoustic greatest hits album called Damnesia earlier this month, which features a couple new songs from the band and a Violent Femmes cover.

Alkaline Trio is scheduled to play at The Nile Theater on Sunday, July 24 with fellow Chicagoans, The Smoking Popes.

We caught up with Dan Andriano to discuss the history of Alkaline Trio, the band's feelings about the band's classic album Goddamnit and some of his favorite musicians.

Read the interview at


and in music history for today, July 23rd:

"Maybellene," Chuck Berry's debut single was released in 1955.

In 1966, Frank Sinatra had the top selling album in the US with 'Strangers In The Night.' The LP would be the most successful of his career, being certified Platinum for 1 million copies sold in the US. The title track would earn him two Grammy awards for Record Of The Year and Best Male Vocal Performance.

In 1966, country star Roger Miller reached Billboard's Hot 100 with a novelty tune called "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd". It will climb to #40.

Also in 1966, "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb enters the Billboard charts, where it will reach #2 during an 11 week run. The song was written for Bobby's brother, who had been killed by a mugger in 1963, and started out as an album filler until it was picked for a single release. The record rose to #12 in the UK.

"They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Ha!" by Napoleon XIV was released in 1966.

Foreigner's "Cold As Ice" was released in 1977.

In 1977, Judas Priest began its first U.S. tour in Oakland, CA, as the opening act for Led Zeppelin.

In 1977, Who drummer Keith Moon joined Led Zeppelin on stage during a gig at The Forum, Inglewood, Los Angles playing a duet with Zeppelin drummer John Bonham before taking to the microphone and attempting to sing.

In 1979, the Ayatollah Khomenini banned all forms of rock and roll in Iran, claiming it had a corrupting influence. (apparently so did he....)

In 1980, Keith Godchaux (Grateful Dead) died of injuries that he sustained in a car accident in Marin County, CA.

In 1983, The Police went to #1 on the U.S. album chart with Synchronicity. The album spent a total of seventeen weeks at No.1. Also today The Police kicked off the North American leg of their Synchronicity 107-date world tour at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois.

In 1986, "Walk Like an Egyptian " was released by the Bangles.

In 1987, the remaining Beatles sue EMI for $40 million in back royalties and the rights to their catalog. (they didn't have enough money?)

In 1988, after forty-nine weeks on the U.S. album chart, 'Hysteria' by Def Leppard went to the #1 position.

In 1989, Ringo Starr launched his first tour since the break-up of the Beatles with a show in Dallas. Starr began the concert with his 1971 hit "It Don't Come Easy". His backup band included guitarist Joe Walsh, organist Billy Preston and Bruce Springsteen's sax man Clarence Clemons.

In 1994, the International Astronomical Union named an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter after Frank Zappa, who had died the previous December.

The Woodstock 99 festival opened in Rome, NY in 1999.

In 2010, surgical instruments allegedly used to conduct Elvis Presley's autopsy were removed from an upcoming auction amid doubts about their authenticity. Forceps, needle injectors, rubber gloves and a toe tag were among the items that were expected to fetch about $14,000 at Chicago, Illinois' Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. The so-called "memorabilia" was supposedly kept by a senior embalmer at the Memphis funeral home where the singer's body was stored prior to his funeral, but the claims were questioned after another employee revealed that the equipment was sterilized and used again in other autopsies.

lots of birthdays today including Cleveland Duncan (Penguins) (76), Tony Joe White (68), Andy MacKay (Roxy Music) (65), David Essex (64), Ian Thomas (61), Martin Gore (Depeche Mode) (50), Nick Menza (Megadeth) (47), Slash (born Saul Hudson) (46), Alison Krauss (40)