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Friday, November 06, 2020

Every Neil Young Album Ranked | The Guardian

1. Rust Never Sleeps (1979)


Here is a rank order list of every Neil Young album via Every Neil Young Album Ranked | The Guardian by Alexis Petridis. (Thanks Thos!)

Comments are amusing such as "Harvest at 17, behind This Note's For You at 16?!" With over 500  1000+ comments on the rankings, lists are more geared to generating discussion than being some sort of definitive historical index.

As everybody knows, numbers add up to nothin', as we noted recently on Neil Young's 7* Albums on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

Although, it did warm our little hearts a bit to see at the top of the list "Rust Never Sleeps" and the citation of the songs "Thrasher" right along with "Powderfinger".

Speaking of "Powderfinger", a new unreleased version of "Powderfinger" from 1975 Dume Sessions is now streaming on NYA. As Thos, notes in a message to us here at TW, hearing the recent Archives II outtakes of "Powderfinger", "Homefires" a,d an others, shows how much effort and revision Neil put into getting a song just right.

Sometimes you can trust the polling and voting and sometimes ... 


The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time| Rolling Stone
P. 80 - 3 of Neil Young's Albums
 (Click photo to enlarge)

 More on Neil Young's albums, reviews and commentary.

Also, see Neil Young on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Times.

Also, see Neil Young: Rolling Stone | 100 Greatest Guitarists.

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At 11/06/2020 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

So all you critics sit alone
You're no better than me
for what you've shown.

Numbers add up to nothing

I hear some people
been talkin' me down,
Bring up my name,
pass it 'round.
They don't mention
happy times
They do their thing,
I'll do mine.

I follow the road,
though I don't know
where it ends.

It’s all one song.

Peace 🙏

At 11/06/2020 12:40:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

The album 'Harvest' and my personal favourite 'Greendale' are showing immense class by not melting down on twitter due to their exclusion from the top 10.

At 11/06/2020 12:56:00 PM, Blogger Nimrod said...

Le Noise above Harvest? STorytone above Broken Arrow? Arc above Greendale? Ha. Funny jokes.

At 11/06/2020 01:02:00 PM, Blogger Harm said...

Beyond the top 10 there will always be discussion. Harvest is a little under appreciated, Old Ways is much better than third to last but of course A Treasure is far superior, like Bluenote Cafe is a superior album to This Notes For You. My main gripe with this list is a lowly 32nd for Greendale and a 29th for Trans.

The general consensus seems to be that his recent efforts don't hold up to his older albums. I can agree with that, I listen to albums like Life, Old Ways and Landing on Water with much more joy than Storytone, Monsanto Years or the Visitor.

It's to bad that live albums weren't included.

Anyway, my favourite album is also Rust Never Sleeps, followed by After the Gold Rush. Neil was on such a strong creative and prolific run between 69 and 79, with Long May You run being the worst of the bunch, which says a lot about how good the rest from that era is.

Most of his 80's albums are good fun, but his songs from that ers are better appreciated live (Solo Trans, A Treasure, Rusted Out Garage, Bluenote Cafe).

89 to 95 also provided some strong albums, Freedom, Weld, Harvest Moon, Sleeps with Angels, Mirror Ball.

After that his efforts were less consistent, I find myself listening to these albums far less often. Greendale being the exception. Storytone is the last album I bought. I just could not justify spending money on albums I'd only listen to a handful of times.

At 11/06/2020 01:20:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks folks. It's always a mildly interesting exercise to conduct these types of surveys from time to time.

Recall the just recently publication on Rolling Stone of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

As best we recall folks didn't feel this rank order was too off of Neil Young's 7* Albums included:

#72 - Harvest - 1972 (#82 in 2003)
#90 - After The Gold Rush - 1970 (#74)
#220 - Deja Vu - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - 1970 (#147)
#296 - Rust Never Sleeps - 1979 (#351)
#302 - Tonight's The Night - 1975 (#330)
#311 - On The Beach - 1974 (-)
#407 - Everybody Knows This is Nowhere - 1969 (#210)

Guardian had the following as the top 7:

7. TFA
6. Zuma
4. OTB
3. TTN
1. RNS

So essentially the same aside from Harvest getting knocked out of top 10 by Guardian. Again, that slight might just have been for provoking reactions.

In skimming thru comments, Harvest Moon definitely seems to be the top fave out side of the 70's.

However, most critics and hard core fans don't see Harvest Moon as favorably somewhat odd given the popularity of Harvest.

At 11/06/2020 01:24:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

“The Visitor” is missing, all live albums missing, the Special Release Series “Homegrown” is included, but all those Live Performance Series are excluded, and all Archives volume 1 studio material is excluded, Long May You Run is also missing, and there could be more that i missed.

Poor research to state its “All” NY albums, when it clearly is not the case.

At 11/06/2020 01:39:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Unknow @ 01:24:00 PM - agree on lack of consistency. Omitting live albums is legitimate call to make altho it should be stated up front. Kind of a mistake to omit in the case of neil tho.

Rules out TFA. Also technically rules out RNS, as well. Many don't realize that RNS is a live album recorded at Boarding House, San Francisco in May 1978. Just that neil scrubbed off the audience applause on front & back of each track.

At 11/06/2020 01:41:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I recently received an email from a friend in Dublin. A large and informal Neil group just ranked the albums and Zuma was #1!!!!

At 11/06/2020 01:50:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

@abner Snopes

I would like to see this list, can you share ?

Zuma is one of my own favourites, hard to narrow a lifetime of output to one album,
but Zuma was definitely very close to the top

At 11/06/2020 02:15:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

It’s not hard to narrow down a lifetime of output to one album....... it’s impossible!!!!

..... and pointless.

Peace 🙏

At 11/06/2020 04:37:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

It's always interesting to see how these stack up. I understand leaving off most of the Archives series as they're not original albums of new material. On a similar basis, I think you can even make an argument for counting TFA and RNS while leaving aside other alive albums, and there's a decent argument to categorize Hitchhiker and Homegrown as original albums that simply didn't come out when they were supposed to. Then again, Bluenote Cafe might also merit recognition on similar grounds to TFA and RNS. Conversely, The Stills-Young Band arguably shouldn't be counted if they aren't also going to count CSN+Y records.

That being said, counting Arc without mentioning Weld (or any other live albums) is a weird call. The Visitor also is totally MIA. Which is a shame, as I'd argue The Visitor, Peace Trail (too low on the list, imho), Storytone, Colorado, and the Pill are all relatively recent albums that hold up well against most of Neil's '80s output. Also, I would have ranked AYP? a bit higher; the blurb it receives goes to show that people still have a hard time hearing that album for what it is aside from Let's Roll.

I suppose I'm pushing back a bit on some of the consensus regarding NY's recent albums. However, while the differing viewpoints are always interesting academically, as Dan says, it's otherwise impossible and pointless to quantify our appreciation of NY's music in this way. When it comes to preference between Neil Young albums, it will always be too close to call.


At 11/07/2020 09:39:00 AM, Blogger Andreas said...

Off topic: New interesting Neil Young Coveralbum from Scott the Hoople, project from former R.E.M. guitarist:

At 11/07/2020 01:18:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Yes, Thrasher- I got it a bit wrong- here it is:

1. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
2. Zuma
3. After the Gold Rush
4. Harvest
5. Tonight’s the Night
6. On the Beach
7. Time Fades Away
8. Ragged Glory
9. American Stars and Bars
10. Rust Never Sleeps

At 11/07/2020 02:22:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

“Let there be songs to fill the air”

Peace 🙏

At 11/07/2020 04:08:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Abner, I suppose I lean lightly toward Neil's softer, acoustic folk rock elements. I personally would put Gold Rush, Harvest, Rust Never Sleeps, and the Ditch trilogy ahead of Zuma. Much like Everybody Knows... the highs on Zuma are stratospheric. Yet the interesting thing about albums--in the most artistic sense of the word--is that the whole can be greater, or lesser, than the sum of the parts. In a sense of overall musical and emotional impression, I find the albums I mentioned a hair more consistent than EKTIN and Zuma.

Obviously, everyone's mileage will vary here, and I can definitely appreciate the "argument" for Zuma.

@Dan Swan-- "Love and only love will endure" from sea to shining sea.


At 11/07/2020 04:32:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Actually, the same is true of any work of art or any "whole." There are well-known logical fallacies related to this point. To say that the whole is greater or lesser than the "sum of its parts" is itself problematic. we need to know how that is the case and I do not see any other possibility expect how it is that parts fit together to make the whole. This can be very difficult to see in the case of any art work. And then the pieces can fit together to create emergent properties (like a biological whole). Those emergent properties can be "feels" and so forth that are not reducible to any of the parts or even all of the parts. Novels and albums are paradigm cases of how the human imagination can create emergent properties from fitting parts together in the right (or wrong) ways.

At 11/07/2020 05:38:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Abner, I guess my disclaimer I may not be 100% an empiricist and/or naturalist. My openness to other paradigms no doubt affects my perspective.

The problem is, we can quantify music in terms of time signatures, note lengths, movements, instrument voices, chord combinations, and all kinds of other things that music theory students will know much more about than I. And even then, beyond the West, there are other systems or paradigms that treat concepts of melody, harmony, rhythm, and notation in completely different ways. People were intuitively making sounds we hear as music long before there was a formalized, quantitative rubric(s) to communicate how those sounds are created. So the perception and experience predate the systems that document and quantify musical sounds. And these sounds seem, to me, to be the only remotely reducible "parts" we are dealing with here.

But how do you or can you quantify the impression or experience of any work of art? And should we really be trying? We're talking about subjective aspects here, are we not?

There's a line of thinking that says quantity and discrete category are, in the first place, functions (illusions, even) of human perception--that perception being the only POV we have at our disposal. In the sense that one can't definitively falsify such sweeping claims, I don't suppose they entirely stand up to analytic philosophy or empirical naturalism.

From a logic point of view, it comes down to how we theorize, or conceptualize, the idea of a "whole", doesn't it? This leads to a chicken/egg problem: does the ability to theorize a whole necessarily imply the prior existence of that whole, or does the very act of theorizing itself bring that whole into recognizable existence? In other words, is a whole innate and natural, or is it a construct only existing in the mind? If we take the "whole" to be a conceptual construction rather than some innate entity, then I don't see how it can be fully, directly subject to quantification or empirical analysis. If we take the other approach, one's left with the problem of clearly defining and demonstrating that entity. Adding layers to the onion, the album and the novel are each culturally, historically developed forms, although they've now been around long enough that many (most?) people seem to view them almost as facts of nature.

Clearly, I can't disentangle all of this here and now, and wouldn't try. Maybe it's better, if slightly less satisfying to the strictly empirical mind, to think of phrases such as "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" as approximate figures of speech. A conceptual or theoretical construct is simply an attempt to make thoughts and experiences comprehensible and thus communicable, striving to translate into recognizable terms subjective experiences we would otherwise struggle even more to communicate.

At 11/07/2020 07:06:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

What draws us to completely immerse ourselves in music, I believe, has far more to do with an emotional response than an intellectual one. When we really connect with a song or album, it’s because we’re emotionally moved by it. This connection has little to do with our intellect, and more to do with our hearts. It also has a lot to do with our life situation at the time of exposure, and how it relates to where we’re at when we hear it. The music that has made the biggest impact on me was the music that spoke to my situation at that moment. Sometimes you may not be open to a certain album or song until years later, when perhaps, you’re more emotionally open to receive it. It all comes down to how it feels when you hear it, and less to do with what you think when you hear it.

Peace 🙏

At 11/07/2020 11:38:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Dan, I think you put in simple, down-to-earth words what I was trying to get at. We can't quantify how we respond to art. In literary studies, texts are spoken of as "aesthetic objects", but that's a specialized term that doesn't simply refer to a physical thing. We can't actually treat a work of art as if it were just a concrete object, because we respond to it with feelings and those aren't concrete.

Talking about parts and whole can only ever be figurative and proximal when dealing with something subjective, intangible, ephemeral, and experiential. And music is all of those things. Other discussion is mostly academic and may, at times, border on semantics.

At 11/08/2020 03:35:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

My active command of the English language may not be up to the task to participate in this thread, but nevertheless I would like to express my thanks to Abner, Dan and Ian for sharing their toughts. In a time, when anti-intellectualism has come in high regard everywhere your musings are highly appreciated. Sent out from the pandemian vortex in Europe.

At 11/08/2020 04:04:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@Ian : Indeed. My intention was to echo your point, as I resonated with where you were coming from. Emotional impact will always defy logic, yet it seems in our nature to attempt a logical explanation. As Jimi Hendrix once said: “knowledge speaks, wisdom listens”.

Peace 🙏

At 11/08/2020 08:00:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Best albums to each his own but 69-69 was the peak in my view. Recent stuff in the bin.

At 11/08/2020 09:37:00 AM, Blogger Thos said...

Wow Andy, does anything post-1970 count as “recent”???!!??

At 11/08/2020 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Thos : I’m guessing Andy just made a typo, and meant 69 - 89 or 69- 79. If he only likes one year of Neil, he wouldn’t be visiting here at all.

Peace 🙏

At 11/08/2020 02:43:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Ian, Dan,
Nothing I said lends any support to quantifying musical quality. Emergent properties clearly include all the details of music that Ian mentions (these are causal elements of what emerges). For example, the manner in which the novel is organized into a whole (even if "whole" is not formally defined) brings about a meaning that is not reducible to its parts. The meaning itself, which is the emergent property or properties is or are not quantifiable! Meaning is inherently qualitative. Ultimately, we have to make sense out of how we make judgments concerning the quality of art. Dan, I totally agree with you on the emotional quality of music. I think of Tonights the Night and I believe that there is despair but ultimately the whole album is not despairing. It transcends despair by confronting it. The emotional aspects of the music, as a whole, cannot be quantified. Judgments must be qualitative. Ian, on the question of theory and the whole, etc.., I think it is probably in the end incoherent to argue that the theory brings the object of theory into existence. On a more refined note, certainly a Kantian sort of point always lingers- the mind makes contributions to the objects of experience so that those objects can be brought into order and organization. Music is an empirical, experiential phenomenon and so our theories endeavor to organize the reality of music. This does not preclude the problem of theory bias or theory laden objects such as "wholes." I think, however, basic ideas and intuitions do not go away. Our best and most powerful theories explain quite a lot about the things and systems being theorized about. This is criteria for any theory (as is scope, simplicity, internal consistency and so forth). Thanks for the exchange of ideas, this is fun.

At 11/08/2020 03:24:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Abner Snopes : I really appreciate your input in this discussion, and I agree wholeheartedly with you that although “in Tonight’s the Night there is despair, yet ultimately the whole album is not despairing. It transcends despair by confronting it”. What a wonderful interpretation of what is really happening within that album. I believe that is exactly the reason why that album has endured the passing of time so gracefully. By confronting the despair, the album ultimately becomes a cathartic experience for the listener. Which is one way music induces the emotional impact we’re all searching for.

Peace 🙏

At 11/08/2020 04:55:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Sorry guys 69-79 plus a few others - I have all the records but never return to them like the early stuff.Sooner or later we all get old.

At 11/08/2020 07:19:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Abner, I did not mean to misconstrue or misrepresent anything you've said. What you seem to be working through are the limitations of analytical and logical frameworks in dealing with these questions meaning, form, and aesthetic response in art, and I was looking to amplify/expand on that line of thinking.

Theories tell us about what we know, but can also address what we don't know or maybe can't know. Although this is getting a little tangential, the insistence on things being knowable and coherent (and coherently knowable) can itself be looked at as a theoretical position.

Of course, an "album" exists objectively as a set of audio recordings presented in a particular arrangement via some medium of storage and distribution. It also exists as the acetate or other master recording from which all subsequent copies are produced. At another level, however, it exists as a blueprint or concept in the mind of the artist, and as the totality of what the listener hears during playback. Since at least the time of the Beatles (among others we could name),the word "album" has not been simply synonymous with "collection of songs". For example, what makes TTN an album is arguably not just the fact that it plays 12 songs in a row.

What makes a collection of songs, or sound recordings, into an album is both experiential (for the artist and the audience) and intangible. This distinction is not based on the concrete object presented to us as an LP or CD, but rather one that humans have devised, and thus one that exists principally in our own minds and through a considerable degree of cultural consensus. The experience is what cannot be fully measured, or divided into literal parts and wholes--that was my point.

Even after we have defined album, what can affirm that Tonight's the Night qualifies as an album in the experiential, intangible sense except declaring it to be one? This is where we hit the question of theory and the (un)knowable, which we can't seem to avoid dealing with here. Arguably, as soon as I declare that Tonight's the Night is an album, I am theorizing to some extent, because I'm relying on a set of understandings or assumptions (theory) about what constitutes an album and I'm making a judgement that TtN as presented fits these criteria. Thus, it's not actually possible to speak comprehensibly about (for instance) an album without theorizing the object to some extent. Note that I'm not speaking solely about scientific theories here, but applying the word as it's used to include both understandings supported by scientific method and the levels of knowledge we pursue in the humanities and "softer" sciences.

Given that I remain willing to entertain that it may not be possible to answer all questions solely through analytical or empirical means, I think the most valuable thing theories can do is to keep us asking questions about what we know and we know that we know these things, while also allowing for the recognition of the unknown. Of course, the danger of acknowledging the unknown (and maybe even the unknowable) is that it can give cover to disinformation ("fake news") and foster a "post-truth" culture in which folks refuse to agree on a baseline objective reality. We have, as humans, have to work on ways of acknowledging the unknown while still making it clear what we do know and not allowing important decisions to be made under an "anything goes" rubric in which there's no firm standard of truth.

At 11/08/2020 10:21:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

all well articulated and interesting. I think, however, the last point speaks loudly. What is unknown and mysterious about art is- in my view- the very same that is unknown and mysterious about the meaning and depth of human life. It is finally knowable, but not in propositional form, not as true statements. Art is revelatory. It exposes the truth.

At 11/10/2020 10:29:00 PM, Blogger Mister Henry said...

@Andreas Really appreciate you highlighting Scott McCaughey's new Neil covers album! Scott is a real mensch, a great musician and so much fun to be around. I'm very happy that he's doing okay and making music with his friends. Great choice of songs and Mike McCready plays guitar on many of them. Hope Volume 1 is just the start.

Last time I saw The Baseball Project, Scott sang a beautiful version of I Still Miss Someone during the encore, would have made Johnny Cash proud. One a.m., waves crashing outside on a magic night of music.

Thanks again and take care.


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