Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 15. 1972
Neil Young: Harvest — Reprise
After three first-rate LPs from Neil Young, his fourth offering Harvest is a dissapointment.
At his best with a small, tight band playing solid yet gentle country-rock, his adventures into the territory of the Moody Blues and Andre Kostelanetz prove to be musically unrewarding.
The recurrent theme of the lyrics appears to be the standard 'back to the roots' syndrome, yet the melodies seem better suited to the world of the Hollywood epic rather than the great outdoors.
Not even Neil Young can disguise indulgent, self-conscious lyrics with an onslaught of strings, horns and church bells. Tracks as boring and bleak as Theres a World and A Man needs a Maid do nothing to enhance the reputation of a talented musician.
However, the crop is not totally blighted and there are a few good tracks, namely Out on the Weekend, Harvest and Old Man. True to its title, and perhaps the most memorable song on the album, Heart of Gold features the tight, controlled guitar-work and beautiful harmonies which has proved to be the formula of Young's past success.
Needless to say, the production of this LP is of a superior quality, with a greater emphasis on instrumental variety. In the past, Young has tended to rely too heavily on the Southern Man/Cinammon Girl-type graunching guitar chords and interesting yet undisciplined lead breaks. In Harvest, he moves into musical fields only to find the grass is not quite so green on the other side.
Definitely worthy of a hearing, yet undoubtedly a dissapointment for those who have enjoyed his earlier albums.
Ticket: Awake — Down Under DL 1502
In this first record from Ticket, the group has done itself an injustice by trying to bite off more than it can chew. But the ability is there, although it doesn't have the sophistication which seems to be epitomised by the phantasmagoric cover picture (provided by Mystic Garbage Truck). When there are only seven tracks on a record they must be colourful enough to sustain attention Dream Chant, is the longest track, and is the worst offender: as on all the tracks, there are tempo changes (three on this one), but variation seems to occur only between sections and not within them. And when they are repeated, it becomes monotonous. Also, lead vocalist Trevor Tombleson sometimes misses the note, which doesn't improve things.
Awake is a stimulating opener, featuring good basic timing by Ricky Ball on drums and Paul Woolright bass which is consistent throughout the record. However, the powerful backing tends to overshadow the vocal and this is even more evident in Highway of Love, one of the best numbers. The lyrics are at fault — banal, cliche-ridden and repetitive. The instrumentals, particularly effective lead guitar work by Eddie Hansen, make up for it.
One of the "Twenty Dynamic Hits" you hear ad nauseam in the radio ad is Country High — aimed at the hit parade with a commercial tambourine-backed country beat.
A Hendrix-like influence comes through occasionally — lead and vocals on Broken Wings in particular. The bass work on Reign Away is excellent; this number would be typical of Ticket's sound.
It's bloody good to see a record of this quality produced by a NZ group. Its in the same vein as Highway and Taylor and it provides a sound basis for the improvement that is probable.