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Catchgroove’s Hall Of Fame: Neil Young – Harvest Moon

March 12, 2017

HBO’s Big Little Lies has a great soundtrack.  In episode two, a couple of the characters slow dance to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” the titular track from the 1992 album.  It was a perfect TV moment and it reminded me that Harvest Moon is one of my favorite albums and it had been a few years since I gave it a spin.  So tonight, I am listening to the easygoing beauty.

After a few years of some pretty heavy rocking as The Godfather of grunge, Neil decided to reprise his mellow masterpiece and commercial success of two decades earlier: Harvest.   He reassembled the Stray Gators and augmented them with some amazing backup singers (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Nicolette Larson and half-sister Astrid Young).

Every song is great. The arrangements are elegantly simple and gorgeous.  The album song sequence is perfect. It is quiet, mellow and easy on the ears (Young was suffering from tinnitus after a loud Crazy Horse tour), but it is never boring.  The production sonics are pristine.  If you want to test drive how well speakers or headphones can play quiet music, this should be one of your reference recordings.

It is a bit melancholy in a good way (the most upbeat song is about a dog that died). It is a special skill to make slow songs swing. Neil made a true toe tapper and head nodder.

If you love Harvest Moon as much as I do, make sure you listen to Dreamin’ Man Live ’92, a solo live set from the tour that supported the album.  All the same songs in a different order – just Neil.  Just in case you thought Harvest Moon was just pretty production, Neil reminds us that it’s the songs that truly matter.  A bonus for you hardcore audiophiles, Dreamin’ Man Live ’92 is a HDCD.

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