Six and a half years later, Comes a Time finally was the Neil Young album for the millions of fans who had loved Harvest, an acoustic-based record with country overtones and romantic, autobiographical lyrics, and many of those fans returned to the fold, enough to make Comes a Time Young's first Top Ten album since Harvest.
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In the fall of 1978, Neil Young undertook a North American tour with Crazy Horse, then added overdubs to new songs recorded on the tour for one of his best albums, Rust Never Sleeps. In the fall 1986, he did the same thing, but Life, Young's first album with Crazy Horse since 1981's Re-ac-tor, was not one of his best albums. It was, however, better than most of the other albums he had made in the 1980s, and it was the first really interesting album he'd made in a long time…
In the 15 months between the release of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and After the Gold Rush, Neil Young issued a series of recordings in different styles that could have prepared his listeners for the differences between the two LPs. His two compositions on the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album Déjà Vu, "Helpless" and "Country Girl," returned him to the folk and country styles he had pursued before delving into the hard rock of Everybody Knows; two other singles, "Sugar Mountain" and "Oh, Lonesome Me," also emphasized those roots…
Old folkie that he is, Neil Young harbors a soft spot for songs as protest, and The Monsanto Years is full of them. Where he often railed against war, here the purported target is the agricultural company Monsanto, a firm that, among other things, specializes in genetically modified crops, but Young uses that as a pivot to rage against all manner of modern outrages. Apathy among the populace, avarice among corporations, and cultural homogenization provide the throughline on The Monsanto Years, and while the weathered hippie takes some time to lay down his electric guitar and breathe, this isn't a mournful album like Living with War, his W-era missive.
In May of 2011, Neil Young drove a 1956 Crown Victoria from his idyllic hometown of Omemee, Ontario to downtown Toronto's iconic Massey Hall where he intimately performed the last two nights of his solo world tour. Along the drive, Young recounted insightful and introspective stories from his youth to filmmaker Jonathan Demme. Demme, a long-time fan and collaborator, captured these tales of Young's childhood and masterfully weaved them together with his mesmerizing music including songs from the 2010 album Le Noise and powerful renditions of classics including Ohio, Hey Hey, My My", I Believe in You and previously unreleased songs "Leia" and "You Never Call."
On ISLANDS, Crimson left behind the formula they followed for their first three albums, setting off for more adventurous avenues of expression. If his leadership were ever in question before, Robert Fripp had emerged as the mastermind of the group by this point. There's a much looser feel here, and even when essaying a delicate ballad like "Formentera Lady" or the gorgeous title track, jazzy bass and piano lines and free-wheeling percussion keep things from getting too settled. The jazz influence always present in Crimson grew far more pronounced on ISLANDS via saxman Mel Collins and pianist Keith Tippett.
Lizard, King Crimson's third studio album and second release of 1970, was, like its predecessor In the Wake of Poseidon, the product of a studio band. It was also the first Crimson album for which Robert Fripp provided all of the music. Remarkably self-contained & sounding somewhat atypical for a King Crimson album, even by the standards of a band that rarely sounded similar from album to album, Lizard is an often overlooked and under-appreciated gem from the band's early years. Certainly at the time of release, anyone expecting an extension of the soundscapes introduced & explored on the band's earlier two albums was in for a surprise.