Neil Young Albums From Worst To Best | Stereogum
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We usually don't pay too much heed to attempts to categorize Neil Young albums.
In some respects, it's an effort in futility. Most Neil Young albums are in fact somewhat uncategorizeable. Is it rock? Is it country? Country rock? Folk rock? Alt Country rock?
And rankings and lists seem virtually pointless. Every album has its strengths and weaknesses, every album has its time and place.
All of this said, over on Stereogum, a survey of "Neil Young Albums From Worst To Best" by James Jackson Toth which actually is a fairly thorough survey of 35 albums out of a catalog of over 40 or so (depending on how you count things like CSNY, Buffalo Springfield, etc.):
Aliens land.Certainly, there are any number of accurate and inaccurate assessments in the survey but check them out on Stereogum.
They’ve traveled from some distant planet with a specific mission: to find out what this ‘rock and roll’ stuff is all about. Through some curious coincidence, they find you. “What is rock and roll?” they demand, rayguns drawn. You begin to sweat. Still, there is really only one question you need to ask yourself:
“Which Neil Young album do I play them first?”
This is no hyperbole; Neil Young is the personification of rock and roll in human form. From his humble beginnings as a surf rocker in the Squires to his tenure in Hall Of Fame acts Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, to his most recent blitzkrieg Psychedelic Pill, Neil has spent a career as the embodiment of artistry despite fierce resistance. This iron-willed devotion to the Muse has not come without a price, however: While Neil’s successes have mostly flown in the face of prevailing music biz wisdom, his uncompromising nature has earned him almost as many failures, failures that should have sunk him several times over. His unpredictability and star-chamber business practices have often made him a pariah; his impulsive spirit and mood swings would frequently estrange his fellow musicians and most ardent supporters. Even more than Dylan, Neil Young has made a career of being consistently inconsistent.
And just for the record, calling a Neil Young album "worst" is -- in our viewpoint -- a non sequitur. Again, each album and song does have its time and place.
ps - be sure to check the comments, as well. Some spirited debate. ;)
pss - For the record, here's what we consider to be The Essential Neil Young Albums.