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Monday, August 31, 1970

Neil Young released After the Gold Rush: August 31, 1970

Originally posted August 31, 2012.

image from retrorebirth.com


Release date: 31 August 1970
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Tell Me Why / After the Gold Rush / Only Love Can Break Your Heart (10/24/70, #33 US) / Southern Man / Till the Morning Comes / Oh, Lonesome Me / Don’t Let It Bring You Down / Birds / When You Dance You Can Really Love (4/10/71, #93 US) / Believe in You / Cripple Creek Ferry

Sales (in millions): 2.5 US, 0.6 UK, 5.5 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 8 US, 7 UK

Rating:


Review: Given Young’s already diverse discography at this point in his career, it was anyone’s guess what he would deliver for his third solo album. He’d already been a part of the hugely influential group Buffalo Springfield, released a folk-and-country oriented solo album, and the “brain-shredding guitar powerhouse” TL Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. Earlier that year he gave the already successful Crosby, Stills & Nash another dose of clout when they teamed for the blockbuster album, Déjà Vu.

The two cuts he contributed to that album (“Helpless” and “Country Girl”) “returned him to the folk and country styles he had pursued before delving into the hard rock of Everybody Knows.” AMG They also set the course for After the Gold Rush, an album in which he “laid claim to the field of sensitive singer-songwriters” RV by crafting a collection of “country-folk love songs.” AMG

The album “matched the tenor of the times in 1970.” AMG Its “dark yet hopeful tone” AMG “represents the morning after the mayhem, both personal and cultural – the sound of Young waking up with a post-‘60s hangover, catching his breath, and trying to sort through the wreckage.” TL

Southern Man (live with Crosby, Stills & Nash)

Young “balances masterful hard rockers…with beautiful acoustic songs.” DBW In regards to the former, Southern Man was one of the album’s “few real rockers,” AMG showing a talent for tackling “political issues with angry, cranked-up guitars.” RV With “unsparing protest lyrics typical of Phil Ochs” AMG the song “attacked the racism inherent in Southern culture of the day.” RV

Meanwhile the “subdued title track laments the destruction of the earth” RV serving up “apocalyptic doom-saying juxtaposed with delicate piano.” EK It “evokes perfectly the circa-1970 shift between the naiveté of the hippie dream and the paranoia that would come to strike even deeper.” EK It is “a mystical ballad that featured some of Young’s most imaginative lyrics and became one of his most memorable songs.” AMG

After the Gold Rush

“Much like Bob Dylan, Neil Young has a not-conventionally-attractive voice, and both of them have an ability to write the kind of indelible melodies that make their songs pop even when the singer’s larynx falls short.” EK Throughout the album “the arrangements are simple, with none of Young’s earlier studio trickery or multi-part mini-symphonies. He ends each side with brief piano-led melodies you wish would go on longer (Cripple Creek Ferry, Till the Morning Comes).” DBW

“Young’s own perverse appreciation for roots music, which he’s returned to again and again throughout his career, is on display as he transforms Don Gibson’s jaunty 1958 country classic Oh Lonesome Me into the moper’s lament that it probably always was under the surface.” EK

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

“Only Neil Young could have written the chilling Don’t Let It Bring You Down or the homespun Only Love Can Break Your Heart – much less both on the same album.” TL The latter is “one of Young’s most beautiful tracks” RV marked by “his distinctively off-center whine warns of the perils of new love.” RV

In the end this is “one of the definitive singer/songwriter albums, and it has remained among Young’s major achievements.” AMGAfter the Gold Rush hits the sweet spot between his ‘popular’ work and his ‘difficult’ work.” EK “Much of what Young has done throughout his career…can be found crystallized right here.” EK “It’s brilliant all the way through” JA and “Neil is close to his peak here.” JA


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