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Monday, December 07, 2009

Review: Neil Young's Dreamin' Man


Much has been written over the years about how Neil Young's 1992 "Harvest Moon" was the followup to his most commercially successful album "Harvest" - some 20 years later.

"Harvest Moon" was recorded with many of the same original musicians who appeared on "Harvest", such as Ben Keith, on pedal steel guitar, and Linda Rondstadt and James Taylor on backing vocals. The intentional sequel nature of "Harvest Moon" created high expectations which for the most part were fulfilled.

In an interview, Young denied that 'Harvest Moon' was a sequel to 'Harvest'. Regardless of whatever Young said at the time of Harvest Moon's release, critics and fans were nearly unanimously ecstatic with Young's "return to form" as the gentle, folkie singer-songwriter strumming delightful little gems.

From in 1993:

Harvest Moon, is a chronicle of survival, focusing on loss and compromise and the ultimate triumphs of being a married father approaching fifty. It's full of bittersweet tributes to lost friends, dead hounds and love grown old. 'What this album is about is this feeling, this ability to survive and continue and grow and get higher than you were before,' says Young. 'Not just maintain, not just feel well. Not just 'I'm still alive at forty-five.' You can be more alive.'

Fast forward 17 years to Dreamin' Man where Young performs solo without embellishment, the entire Harvest Moon album, yet in a different sequence compiled from various cities.

But some are less than pleased with the results. The interminably hip and ever persnickety Pitchfork review by Joshua Klein manages to compliment what he disdains simultaneously:
Alas, compared to the treasure trove of releases Young's compiled in the past few years, Dreamin' Man is a real letdown. With its patchwork (and, as of press time, unknown) 1992 sources, the set's neither particularly representative of Young live nor particularly different from the pleasant Harvest Moon album itself (cheering and lack of backing vocals, strings and session hands aside). Young's voice is in fine fragile form on "Such a Woman" and "From Hank to Hendrix", and not that the original versions of the album's tracks were ever larded up with embellishments, but it's always nice to hear Young this stripped down.

And here's the takedown of Pitchfork's review by Joshua Klein from Blurt Online by FRED MILLS:
Journalists over the years have continued putting forth inaccurate, at times inane, notions about Harvest Moon (one held that the record was a stylistic and aesthetic successor to 1972's Harvest, but a cursory listen to both will quickly dispel that idea, too, titular similarities notwithstanding). With the release of Dreamin' Man Live '92 the revisionism-on-repeat has already begun - check, for example, a recent Pitchfork review for DML92 that essentially parrots the above-cited common wisdom about Harvest Moon without bothering, apparently, to compare the actual music on the two albums.

From The Independent by Andy Gill:
17 years on it's like a double-flashback, looking fondly back at songs which look fondly back: in "Unknown Legend", ageing hippies yearn for the freedom of their youth; in "From Hank To Hendrix", a man facing divorce reflects upon a fading relationship; and in "You And Me", a reference to an "old man" short-circuits the mind back to that song on Harvest, as Young ponders "how lifetime flies". There's even a song in which Neil apologises to old musician chums summarily abandoned as he flitted from style to style: "I never tried to burn any bridges, but I know I let some good things go," he acknowledges.

From Uncut Magazine (January 2010, p.120 - Thanks Thos!) by Bud Scoppa:

Here, though, he’s an old pro still capable of opening himself up to push his psychological limits, unconcerned that he’s performing this therapeutic ritual in public, before a crowd who presumably came to hear him play the hits.

What’s absolutely consistent is Young’s almost alchemical ability to mesmerise with the sparest of tools – his reedy quaver and sturdy but unflashy accompaniment providing the only embellishments to his elliptical lyrics and aching melodies. Not only is he one of a mere handful of musicians who have ever been able to stroll on stage with an acoustic guitar and blow people’s minds, but Young does it in a manner that actively seems do court indifference. Yet the total absence of any semblance of theatricality results in the sort of penetrating, ecstatic intimacy found in the most powerful passages of novels and the most haunting scenes from films.

By stripping down the Harvest Moon song cycle, Young guides us to its essence, as he probes the psyche of a guy wrestling with a long-term relationship shifting between the heated sentiment of “Such A Woman” and the unblinking objectivity – ambivalence, even – of “Natural Beauty”.

Assessing the ’92 tour, Young told his dogged biographer Jimmy McDonough that his hits-craving audiences “didn’t get what they wanted – but I got what I wanted”. Perhaps – but his refusal to cater to his fans only makes them love him more.

From a blog comment by D.I. Kertis:
I was surprised to find myself almost tearing up during Such a Woman. Powerful stuff, indeed. The Harvest Moon numbers seem to benefit from this minimal treatment in the same way that the songs from Harvest gained a new dimension with the excellent Live at Massey Hall release a couple of years back.

From Blogcritics Music by Donald Gibson:

Truth be told, these renditions don't sound all that different than their comparably low-key Harvest Moon counterparts, but Young redeems them with unflinching, soul-baring conviction and the sort of in-the-moment immediacy that only a live, solo treatment can inspire. So on something like 'Harvest Moon' or 'Such A Woman,' for instance, he's not aimlessly work-shopping their arrangements or reflecting them in radically divergent lights — just more intimate ones.

Craftsmanship matters, of course, and indeed it's present here. Over the arc of this live album, though, sincerity matters — and resonates — most of all. And so as Young cuts to the quick of 'War of Man' or the eleven-minute wonder of 'Natural Beauty,' in particular, he evokes their intrinsic spirits in ways both impassioned and strikingly prescient.

From The A.V. Club review by Noel Murray:
The absence of a band—and the addition of an audience—casts the Harvest Moon material in a different light, revealing the compositional strength of the best material and the slightness of the worst. Harvest Moon drew a lot of notice (and sales) back in ’92 because it represented a conscious return to the homey sound of Young’s most popular album, Harvest, and in a way, that sound pulled attention from the songs. Dreamin’ Man is something of a correction, albeit one that will likely matter only to Young fans and Neil Young himself.

From PopMatters By Zach Schonfeld:
Ultimately, I can’t help but view this release as a missed opportunity, its appeal consigned primarily to diehards and completists. No judgment there—I’m guilty, too. But if it’s an incentive for the casual fans to explore (or revisit) the wonderful studio album itself—well, I suppose it’s served a purpose.

From Snob's Music:
The result is an incredibly intimate disc. The focus is sharply on Young's songwriting, which hit a new zenith on Harvest Moon. The title track comes across as though Young is sharing a secret with you and only you. 'Harvest Moon' is absolutely irresistible, while 'Unknown Legend' solidifies its spot as a new wedding classic.

Usually I get wary when a live album has been culled from multiple performances. However, Dreamin' Man flows very well. The inclusion of audience noise and deft song sequencing give the illusion of this recording being one seamless concert.

From Glide Magazine By Doug Collette:
Young plays solo on acoustic guitar, harmonica and grand piano (banjo on 'Old King'), rendering the melodies of tunes such as 'War of Man' absolutely luminous. His distinctive high voice has perhaps never sounded so full of confidence, even as he sings 'One of These Days': 'I've never tried to burn any bridges/though I know I've let some good things go...' a veiled reference to his on and off working relationships with musicians including, but not limited to, Crosby Stills & Nash as well as Crazy Horse.

From No Depression by Douglas Heselgrave:
Presented in a solo acoustic format, without the yearning lap steel, sweet back up vocals and gentle percussions that decorated ‘Harvest Moon’, the songs assume more power on stage than they did in the studio. Beautifully played and sung with a rare passion, all of the versions of the ‘Harvest Moon’ songs are wonderful and sound as good as any Neil Young fan could hope for. Hell, even ‘Old King’, Young’s ditty about a departed family dog sounds elegiac and heartfelt on ‘Dreamin’ Man’. Though many of these songs were featured on 1993’s ‘Unplugged’ set, they don’t dig nearly as deeply or come anywhere close to the versions on offer here.

Released with little publicity and fanfare, ‘Dreamin’ Man’ is a perfect introduction to Neil Young’s music for those new to the artist. Or, if you’re a veteran, but your membership at the church of Neil has lapsed, there’s no better time than now to renew your faith and enjoy hearing the old man breathe new life into these classic tunes. ‘Dreamin’ Man’ is a gem and an unexpected treasure from one of popular music’s most enduring artists.

From LAist by Bobzilla:

Harvest Moon would turn out to be one of Young’s most deliberately crafted studio creations, a left turn for a guy known to bash out records in less time than other bands spend setting up the drum set. But perseverance paid off with his biggest commercial hit of the 1990s. It’s the overt next step in a series of records that includes Comes A Time, Old Ways and the inescapable Harvest itself, a certain type of record that Neil makes with his Nashville cohorts. It’s an escape from the chaos of Crazy Horse, a chance to get a good sound on the drums and have the whole band in time and in tune for once. The vocal harmonies are always splendid, and at their best, they really serve a certain part of Young’s creativity. But they miss the edginess, the teetering between glory and destruction, present in so much of his other work. Here, facing an audience that doesn’t really want to hear them, the Harvest Moon songs take on a different quality than their studio counterparts. “These songs lend themselves to solo performances,” Young told McDonough, and he’s not wrong.

Unable to coast on the comfort of familiarity, Young pours everything he's got into the music. The performances are heartfelt and immediate, the songs still close enough to their moment of conception to retain some surprises. The tender, dreamlike "Such A Woman", played as a lullaby on the grand piano, seems to stop time with its tempo just one or two notches above complete a standstill, Young's voice cradling the sentiment with care. Gentle strummers like "One Of These Days", "Unknown Legend" and the title track gain a warmth from the campfire setting that's missed in the more meticulously rendered studio versions.

The performances heard on the disc don’t necessarily capture the impatient vibe that he describes, but I certainly experienced it the night the tour hit LA’s Greek Theater in September, 1992. It was the rowdiest audience for a quiet acoustic concert I’ve ever seen, ready to scream their guts out when the lyric “I felt like getting high” came around, or sing along to “Roll Another Number”, noticeably less inclined to sit back and listen to much of anything.

From Spork: Neil Young - Dreamin’ Man Live ‘92 by Paul Epstein: "
I went into this release with a somewhat bad attitude. When I got a copy I put it on and was almost immediately transported. It is one of those things that Neil and only a few other performers I have seen can do; completely engross the audience as a solo act. Very hard to do. From the first note of this CD it is clear Neil is playing these songs (the entire Harvest Moon album before it was out) with an uncommon urgency. He is in beautiful voice and his solid, accompaniment is wondrous in its simplicity and natural perfection. He is what every dorm-room wannabe wants to be.

Like the earlier Massey Hall release the effect is transcendent. The concert ends (Dreamin’ Man is actually taken from a series of concerts) and you realize you have shared an intimate experience, not just listened to a record. The material stands up pretty well too. Harvest Moon is sort of the sequel to the classic Harvest and it showcases the loving, homebody Neil as opposed to the tortured rock warrior. His love songs resonate in the heart as profoundly as his electric guitar playing stings in the ears. This is another bullseye for the archive series.

From Blogcritics Music by Glen Boyd:
The backing vocals are likewise missed on songs like "Unknown Legend," and especially on "War Of Man." However, in the case of the latter, the lack of choir vocals only serves to better bring out the lonesome cry of Young's guitar and voice. What once sounded so lush on Harvest Moon seems far better suited to a more desolate sounding album like On The Beach here. As much I loved the Harvest Moon version, I think I may actually like this one better.

In fact, once you get past the differences, many of Harvest Moon's best songs become new revelations in these stripped-down arrangements. Played alone on the piano, "Such A Woman" takes on an almost hymn-like quality. "Natural Beauty" is likewise another track which sounds more powerful in a solo voice and guitar arrangement. I have to admit I still miss that steel guitar on "Hank To Hendrix," though.

From Seattle Music - Reverb by Brian J Barr:
Now, 17 years later, Young gives us Dreamin' Man Live '92, a rephrasing and re-sequencing of that album culled from the various solo performances he did prior to Harvest Moon's release.


This question seems to be dogging other critics as they express their frustration with this release. True, the passive listener will likely not hear much difference between these versions and their more polished twins on Harvest Moon. But I don't believe this album is for the passive listener. It is, as with all of his recent Archives Performance Series releases, for nerds like me--the Neil obsessive. It's also for Neil himself and, maybe, for the members of his inner circle who griped that the finished product never lived up to its potential. In other words, Harvest Moon was a collection of powerful songs whose emotional impact was lost in the layers of clean production and soft arrangements.

From Blurt Online by FRED MILLS:
Some reviewers have suggested a redundancy between this live album's "Natural Beauty" and Harvest Moon's, which was also recorded live, at Portland's Civic Auditorium early in the tour. The difference in texture and vibe couldn't be greater, however; whereas the former is Young as his most solo intimate and confessional, the latter was subjected to studio overdubs - vibes, bass, additional guitar and Larson's lovely vocals - giving the entire 10-minute minute song a stately, almost antebellum vibe. Ironically, though, it's Dreamin' Man's final cut, "War of Man," that provides the aesthetic and stylistic link with Harvest Moon. For while both are totally different arrangement-wise (the studio version was a kind of sturdy folk-rocker with prominent bass and a luminous pedal steel figure), the tune's indelible melody and soaring chorus - not to mention Young's deft, demonstrative picking, which powers both arrangements - makes it one of the most recognizable, and lasting, compositions in the songwriter's entire catalog.

But what do critics know anyways? Decide for yourself. Here's the entire album streaming. For free.

Track listing of "Dreamin' Man" on everybody for all of your support!).

Incidentally, Dreamin' Man, is now #142 #122 #79 on the Amazon Best Sellers Listing.

UPDATE: Here's the track sources using some very sophisticated research and analysis as posted on Rust and confirmed by Archives Guy:
01. Dreamin' Man - Portland, OR, 1992-01-24 (identified by Roel)
02. Such A Woman - Detroit, MI, 1992-05-20 (Falko)
03. One of These Days - L.A., CA, 1992-09-21 (Roel)
04. Harvest Moon - L.A., CA, 1992-09-21 (Roel)
05. You And Me - L.A., CA, 1992-09-21 (Roel)
06. From Hank To Hendrix - L.A., CA, 1992-09-22 (Johnny)
07. Unknown Legend - L.A., CA, 1992-09-22 (Johnny)
08. Old King - L.A., CA, 1992-09-22 (Johnny)
09. Natural Beauty - Chicago, IL - 1992-11-19 (Falko)
10. War Of Man - Minneapolis, MN, 1992-11-22 (Johnny)

Thanks Roel, Johnny and Falko!

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At 12/07/2009 11:48:00 PM, Anonymous LRR said...

anyone else notice that the disk is ordered chronologically by concert date?

At 12/08/2009 02:43:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

Ya know, strangely enough,I've never owned the album, "Harvest Moon",and, except for the title track,hadn't really heard the other songs from the album either.

If dreamin' man is "Harvest moon" in the raw...Well..I don't really want to hear the original.

The more I listen to dreamin' man the more I love this Album..Yeah, I've got the DVD "Heart of gold" and HAVE heard old King performed on stage, but this compilation of live acoustic Neil is a transition for me ..From the innocence and humility of "Sugar Mountain" to the beautiful original interpretations on "Massey Hall" the final trilogy of "Dreamin Man", my favourite way to hear, raw and now fullfilled..

Thanks Neil!..these songs all mean a lot to me and I'm sure I speak for all the "wheaties" that would share my sentiments.

Long may you run Neil..
...long may you run!

At 12/08/2009 03:53:00 AM, Anonymous Thos said...

Well spotted LRR! That's intetesting, as if this Neil views this disc as more of a documentary of the tour, rather than an acoustic alternative to the original album - which he presumably spent plenty of time choosing the tracklisting for.

Looking forward to my copy arriving today, Thos.

At 12/08/2009 07:21:00 AM, Blogger Grandmaster T said...

I'll take the Rotterdam shows anyday over "dreamin man" but still a nice compilation. I remember when I first heard dreamin man (the song) from the Rotterdam cassette... one of the most stirring solo live performances ever.

At 12/08/2009 08:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Dreamin Man " is simply awesome. Too bad, the sound is less pure than The Massey Hall. Fuckin numeric technologies !

At 12/08/2009 09:14:00 AM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Well the pitchfork review doesn't make any rational sense. It's a letdown, but it's great to hear Neil in this stripped-down form. It's like the guy started out trying to hate it, but by the time he got to the end of the paragraph, he completely changed his mind.

Well, I listened to the stream a few times, and Hallelujia!!! This is 10x better than the original (and quite great!) Harvest Moon album. Alright, maybe 5x.

These songs are so much more haunting, effective, emotive and beautiful like this.

It really opens my mind to, and causes me to truly appreciate, the album itself, which I guess must have suffered from overproduction (though I never thought that prior to hearing this). It's like all the additional instrumentation somehow obscures the emotional impact that becomes so apparent and perfect in acoustic form.

It's beautiful. The sparseness works so perfectly, and the songs shine and soar without the weight of all that production value and accompaniment. Dreamin' Man could very well enter my top 10 Neil albums. I am running out to buy this one as soon as possible!

At 12/08/2009 09:51:00 AM, Anonymous eric said...

I love this compilation, the only thing missing for me are some cool raps!

At 12/08/2009 01:53:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

Yep!.. I'll have what Matt's having!..Nice comments Matt.


At 12/08/2009 04:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like all the source shows have been removed from DIME.

At 12/08/2009 08:56:00 PM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

I cant believe how great Neil sounds on this album. Nothing beats a Solo acoustic Neil show- really. If you've never had the chance to see him this way I recommend you do next time out. I love the raw driving chaotic, melodic insanity that is Crazy Horse but the feeling you have after seeing a whole acoustic show- it's peaceful and joyous yet intense and powerful at the same time. And its solo that you really see how truly talented Neil is- with out the band and shouted lyrics, you hear the beauty in his singing and all the colorful nuances in Neil's guitar.
Dreamin Man could not have come out at a better time for me. Harvest Moon was never an album I was able to relate to well. I was too young and too busy parting and getting crazy to really appreciate what Neil was driving at. I always liked a few tunes but it was never a favorite. I was into the darkness of Tonight's the Night, on the beach, etc. I love how Neil's music truly is a soundtrack to life. It's mostly his life but we as fans can relate the songs to times and periods in our own. Neil and Dylan are both really good for that. Now my life is changing in so many ways I can relate to many things including songs and albums that I couldn't before. Harvest moon being one of them.
After some life experience- love, loss, aging, it is much easier to see the simple beauty of many things. To appreciate things for what they are and not what you want them to be. Harvest Moon (and now Dreaming man) is a tribute to life, love and persevering. Neil puts these topics down in song so beautifully, so movingly and yet still so real. Neil, on this album better than any other, captures the bitter-sweetness that is life.
These live versions just have just refreshed the beauty that Neil brought to us back in 1992.
Has it been that long?
Rock on NEIL!

At 12/08/2009 09:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

could've called it Natural Beauty as he is

At 12/08/2009 11:56:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

Hey Shitty,thats not bad for an "idiot"! Yep, I'll have some of that too! lol

luv doc

At 12/09/2009 12:22:00 AM, Blogger astrololee said...

You know what is so amazing about Dreamin' Man is the fact that it came into being 17 years ago, right smack bang in between Ragged Glory and Sleeps With Angels...and the difference between these albums is so unbelievable!
On the horse, off the horse but with gaitors (with HM) and then back on the to speak, but in amongst all that its just Neil and a guitar doing was he does better than the rest - acoustic...with feeling that gives off such intense passion and vibes that he makes you wanna fall in love with him all over again!
I have always loved Neil with just a guitar and alone...remember back to 1971 and the BBC program when we all got to hear Harvest for the 1st time ... and weren't we all blown away by that!
Dreamin' man is better than Harvest Moon, its stripped away the fancy shit and left us the sunshine!
Thanks Neil for releasing this album for us to all enjoy, something for us all to reminisce about for years more to come!
If I could hear Neil like this for the rest of my life I can honestly say that I would not even miss his crazy horse days one little bit.

At 12/09/2009 07:42:00 AM, Anonymous MARIAN M. said...

All I can say is that the beauty and simplicity of this album left me breathless last night.

Thanks for a fantastic Christmas present, Neil!

I sure love you!!!!

Marian M.

At 12/09/2009 07:46:00 AM, Anonymous deborah said...

I saw this concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston...AWESOME show!! Gotta love Neil, no matter what he does. I have ordered the cd and anxiously awaiting it's my vinyl on the way too, with a record player on the xmas list !!

At 12/09/2009 08:15:00 AM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

Well Doc, anyone with the name "ShittyHorse" has got to be an Idiot.

At 12/09/2009 08:30:00 AM, Blogger Greg McGarvey said...

funny how some of these blog comments have more thoughtful reviews than Pitchfork's! :)

At 12/09/2009 10:08:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

Ya know, Neil "uncut", "in the raw"
Acoustic with "no bells and whistles", "no smoke and mirrors" is really gettin back to his original roots. He is the true romantic...his lyrics, though some times simple, are straight from the heart and I suppose that is why we can relate to him so.
Here I am. in my "Quiet time".
Its 2 o' clock in the morning,everyone has gone to bed in Oz and I'm sittin' back here just listenin' and reflectin' with "You and Me" playing ,just softly breaking the nights silence.
I luv this time with Neil...and as much as I enjoy the other side with his electric craziness with the Horse, Pearl jam, Sonic youth or whoever he collaborates with,'s just Neil on his own, reflecting, reminiscing, with just the bare instruments and that haunting voice, live and unadulterated without technology, pre recorded backup or photoshop, that grabs me the most.
Yep, I wanna be a dreamin' man too!!


At 12/09/2009 10:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DM is in heavy rotation and hasn't left my player as of yet.

Perfect mood music for a snowy day.

janie in the wisconsin woods

At 12/09/2009 11:00:00 AM, Blogger andrea1bianco said...

Usually Pitchfork is hardly kind with Neil.Maybe they think it's a cool attitude.
Never mind!
Andrea." So Tired"

At 12/09/2009 02:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of Pitchfork, when Are You Passionate was released they rated it 7.5 out of 10, which was among the more favorable reviews it received. Oddly, that review no longer appears on their site while reviews of his other albums can still be searched. I wonder why they removed it, maybe they regret rating it so highly.

One thing I thought was on the mark, though, was this line from their review of the Archives: "Neil Young is an odd sort of perfectionist, favoring a raw immediacy in his recordings that often means leaving the mistakes in for purity's sake, but he's obsessed with making sure those mistakes are mixed and mastered to sometimes unattainable standards of fidelity." Always thought that was a funny way of putting it.


At 12/09/2009 03:01:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

doc, you really said it best with "it's just Neil on his own, reflecting, reminiscing, with just the bare instruments and that haunting voice..."

That is where Neil truly, truly transcends. As one of the reviews put it, Neil is one of the few people who can come out on stage alone with just an acoustic guitar and blow peoples' minds.

At 12/09/2009 03:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Know what you mean about Pitchfork reviews.

It's like some are written by the character in High Fidelity played by Jack Black. The more obscure you go the more cool you are.

At 12/09/2009 03:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion Dreamin' Man is to Harvest Moon what Massey Hall is to Harvest.Still can't wait to hear Rainbow Hall '73 from TTN tour and Atlanta '76.Just CAN'T wait to hear version of Helpless with Nils Lofgren playing the accordian.:)

Rancho Relaxo

At 12/09/2009 05:32:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12/09/2009 07:28:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

Kimball just sent me an acoustic rendition of Neil doin' Cortez!..

Just when ya think you've heard every version, every nuance of Neil doin' his songs, along comes another version that blows your mind..all the stars must have aligned for Neil that is a beautiful version..Thanks heaps Kimball!

Appreciative Doc

At 12/09/2009 09:36:00 PM, Anonymous Bigchief said...

I was looking at these reviews while I was streaming 'Dreaming Man' when I came across one in particular that was the epitome of most of the critics ranting against Neil for no other reason than for the sake of ranting. The critic in my crosshairs at the moment is Doug Collette from Glide Magazine.His knowledge of Neil is obviously as limited as I am of his work. He noted that Harvest Moon was Neils return to Reprise. I guess 'This Notes For You'(88),'Freedom'(89),'Eldorado'(89),'Ragged Glory'(90),as well as 'Arc & Weld'(91)and C,S,N,& Y's effort 'American Dream'(88,Atlantic). Although I may be nit-picking here, If another critic is going to slam dunk my hero, he should have more integrety and do some research. First he say's that Neil's high pitched voice has never been as strong and confident, then he does a 180 and it's all down hill from there.And all you critics sit alone ...

At 12/11/2009 02:05:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

Just an observation...if ya look real hard at the cover of "dreamin man", that face, with a little imagination can actual look like a tree with a girl in a paddock as part of the nose... funny how people perceive things differently hey?...great work Gary!

observant doc lol

At 12/11/2009 04:48:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

I'm sure the album "Dreamin Man" is going to re ignite that special time in your life...just a song or a simple lyric in a song can have that effect.
Liza's is Harvest Moon.

So, (with Thrash's blessing of course),...What IS that "one song",
be it from this album or any other of Neil's,that has had that unexplained profound effect on your life that takes you back to that moment in time when you hear it, that you want it to last forever?

romantic doc

At 12/12/2009 11:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that I agree with the jist of much of these reviews, which seems to be that this one is more for the uber fans than the general public. I count myself among the uberfans, and I greatly enjoyed the free stream and will be buying it as soon as the chance arises. I think this will get way more plays than harvest moon, which honestly was never a favorite of mine.

But to the more casual neil fan, this one just isn't as interesting when compared to previous performance series releases. Massey Hall for example is not only a stunningly beautiful solo performance, but it features a great selection of songs from arguable Neils most creative period. Its a pretty strong candidate for being the one disk you hand to a non-fan to win them over permanently. Live at Fillmore provides a similarly awesome document of the flip side of Neil, backed by Crazy Horse at their best. Although it should have included cinnamon girl (grumble grumble) its awesomeness is still undeniable. Sugar Mountain is maybe more for the devoted, but as a historical document its incredible, with the great mix of springfield and early solo tunes, and the between song banter, you get a great document of neil as he was first coming into his own as a solo artist. It feels like history in the making.

Dreamin Man, recorded much later in his career and featuring songs from only one album (and again, an album that was never a favorite of mine, which I think is true of many fans)just doesn't seem to be worthy of the same level of excitement. Not complainin, just sayin.

BTW, pitchfork appears to have redeemed themselves with their recent very high rating for the original recording box set, including perfect 10s for nowhere and gold rush. So they're not all bad.


At 12/12/2009 09:07:00 PM, Blogger D.I. Kertis said...

Following up on my comment about Such a Woman, I've finally heard the whole thing and have a chance to write about it. My general impression is that this is a wondrous improvement over Harvest Moon and I can see why Neil was interested in this concept, as much as putting it out now--out of chronology--demonstrates the artistic impulse. Though there are many strong pieces on Harvest Moon (Dreamin' Man, Such a Woman, You and Me, title track, War of Man, and One of these Days being the highlights), it is only know that they are fully revealed. One of the key reasons why the acoustic, self-accompanied approach works so well with Neil's music is because what catches you to begin with isn't any complexity of melody or arrangement: it's all in the lyrics. Because the lyrics--particularly of the songs on records like Harvest Moon--lay bear the emotions of the songwriter, which are universally relatable emotions. Everyone relates--so it captivates everyone. There is such power in these lyrics that to get rid of the trimmings of orchestras and overdubbed backing vocals actually clarifies and improves their great quality.

In addition, the sequence is now much stronger. Unknown Legend is a solid song but doesn't belong at the beginning--it's not that solid. Putting it there on the original Harvest Moon seems to be an example of the same in medias res approach Neil also took with Are You Passionate?, open with You're My Girl. In both cases, this made for less-than-brilliant sequence that, especially with AYP? damaged the overall experience (these days, as often as I listen AYP? in its original order, I also listen to it in the order shown on the cards on the back cover--minus the unreleased Gateway of Love--or a variant thereof.) So I appreciate that Neil decided to revisit these songs as well as the sequence (which, if the Shakey biography is to be believed, was a nightmare in the first place) and that he was able to produce what I feel is a more listenable alternative.

On a separate note, as this is a CD only release, I don't see that it can be put in any future Archives DVD or blu-ray set. This, plus the fact that it's packaged differently than the other PS volumes (note the same, a record spinning) background on the sleeves of the previous four) leads to believe that we may not have to be concerned about having this sold to us twice...

At 12/13/2009 05:36:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

You've definitely got a way of composing words and comments so eloquently..Have you ever thought of getting a job as Neil's Spin doctor?When Neil becomes your next President ( as you haven't had a legend musician running your country yet...definitely put in for the job!'re a shoe in!!

Luv Doc

At 12/14/2009 09:38:00 AM, Anonymous Feathersfall said...

This album is so pure. The essence of acoustic Neil. There's magic in the air.

At 12/14/2009 06:28:00 PM, Anonymous raincheck said...

It's beautiful. Oddly, it seems to be that people feel the need to put down Harvest Moon in order to love Dreamin' Man. That is sort of dumb. Neil did a helluva nice job on Harvest Moon. This is another look at the songs. A hautingly beautiful one.


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