Young’s 1972 smash delivered on the promise of CSNY, offering California rock rife with acoustic guitars, piercing lyrics, and cozy West Coast production. “Heart of Gold” was the blockbuster, yet only one of many brilliant tracks. This deluxe box adds a documentary film, solo BBC concert (much of which is on Youtube), and unreleased cuts.
Pick any studio track and marvel at the guitar artistry. On “Old Man,” Neil plays a beguiling chord figure, complemented by James Taylor on guitar-tuned banjo and Ben Keith’s pedal steel. Only a million ’70s teen pickers tried to figure out “The Needle and the Damage Done.” While acoustic guitars dominate the LP, “Alabama” is electrified country-rock. Vintage video from Neil’s barn shows him jamming on a Gretsch White Falcon and reveals where much of Harvest was recorded.
Among the BBC live tracks, “Heart of Gold” is met with silence for the simple reason the audience had never heard it before. And, Neil’s unreleased tracks are good, not earthshaking – this box is of interest more for its remastered studio tracks and video documentary. By itself, the 1971 footage of Young, Stills, and Nash recording harmonies for “Words” is spellbinding.
This article originally appeared in VG’s March 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.