Neil Young
After the Gold Rush


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
August 5th, 2005 | 135 replies | 20,233 views


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist


Neil Young will forever be remembered in rock folklore as the man who always did things his own way, never compromising his vision for anyone or anything. Unpredictable and completely unreliable, Neil Young continues to embody the typical rock n’ roll icon in a way that today’s stars could only wish to emulate. But Neil Young doesn’t have a publicist who’ll tip the media off whenever there’s a television to be flung from a hotel window. He’s a man who trusts his instincts and to hell with marketing execs and record company suits.

Naturally, the man’s musical career is just as eclectic and discontinous as his day-to-day behaviour. Those of us who attempt to gain an insight into his music through compilations invariably end up slightly confused. In a recording career spanning almost 40 years, Young has recorded some of the most uplifting hippie anthems and the most downbeat rock tunes (many of his 1980’s recordings led to his becoming a fore-runner for the grunge movement); he’s written some of the most introspective folk ballads and the most euphoric stadium rock anthems. His 2004 Greatest Hits release is a bold attempt to construct a compilation which spans his entire career while maintaining a sense of continuity. In truth, however, the only true way to listen to Neil Young is album-by-album and there’s no better place to start than his breakthrough solo release, After The Goldrush.

After The Goldrush isn’t Neil Young’s best-known work, but it features his best-known song, Southern Man, a bitter indictment of post-Civil Right Movement southern America. Young chooses this song, one of two on the album to involve a full electric band, to showcase his guitar chops. Southern Man is a dirty, dare I say grungey, rocker which is perhaps indicative of the south itself. The pleasant, upbeat vocals disguise an angry, politically charged lyric, depicting the deep south in a rather cartoonish light. His simplistic view of the south as the land of Klansmen, cross-burning and lynching may detract from the song’s power, but it was deemed important enough for a response from southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd in their 1974 track “Sweet Home Alabama".

Southern man/You better keep your head/Don’t forget what your good book says.
Southern change’s gonna/Come at last/Now your crosses are burning fast.


Many casual fans of the album will immediately point to the aforementioned and the second electric song on the album, When You Dance I Can Really Love, as the album’s strongest tracks. Giving my first impression of the album, I was guilty of just such an act. The reasons are obvious. Behind the overlong title lurks a delightful pop song that, believe it or not, you can really dance to. The lyrics are good by pop standards, but in the context of the album they’re merely the break in a sequence. A makeshift Crazy Horse perform both electric songs with plenty of energy and proficiency.

Album-opener Tell Me Why is about as typical a Neil Young song as you are likely to hear. As with Southern Man, an upbeat rhythm and melody play counterpoint to a serious message. The acoustic guitar accompaniment is excellent, bass notes are used well to give the song a slight western feel.

I am lonely, but you can free me/All in the way that you smile.

Radio hit Only Love Can Break Your Heart , Don’t Let It Bring You Down and I Believe In You form a trio of piano-led ballads which demonstrate Young’s emotional lyrics and oddly powerful voice. The former sees Young introduce us to his friend "who’s never seen/He hides his head inside a dream" while lamenting, "Only love can break your heart/What if your world should fall apart." Young again utilises the trick of dressing a downbeat lyric in a cheerful arrangement.

The latter songs both shift the focus to Young’s vocals which, though an acquired taste, are phenomenal on both tracks. His vocals are aswell superb on my favourite track from the album, Birds. Birds is a haunting ballad, dealing with the end of a relationship. Young, taking the place of a bird, warns his lover. "When you see me fly away without you/Shadow on the things you know/Feathers fall around you/And show you the way to go/It’s over, it’s over". The lyrics are tragically beautiful, and utterly endearing.

Oh Lonesome Me was the surprise choice for the album’s first single, showing how difficult a customer Young is, and is the only survivor from the early sessions for the album. It’s an old country song, written by Don Gibson, and is notable especially for the beautiful but subdued harmonica spot. Till The Morning Comes and Cripple Creek Ferry are both short, upbeat piano ditties, clocking in at around 1:30 each. The former serves, as much as anything, as a coda to Southern Man, while the latter is a suitably quirky outro for the album.

All that is left to mention is the title track. As one would expect from a such-named song, After The Goldrush sums up the album in a mere three minutes. A disciple of the eco-conservationist movement, Young saves for the album opener his most poetic encoded message, noting, "Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970’s", a prophesy of the rape of the world’s resources by the industrial sector and beyond. His sentiment was to be echoed years later by one Kurt Cobain, a lifetime fan, in his composition “Rape Me".



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Comments:Add a Comment 
robo2448
August 5th 2005


132 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is an excellent cd. I didn't think I liked Neil Young, but on the recommendations of some people here, I decided to check him out and borrowed this cd from my mom. I love it. Don't Let Me Bring You Down and the title song are my faves.

drugstore cowboy
August 6th 2005


4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think Birds is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. This album is probably my favourite Neil album.

Good review, I enjoyed reading it.

DesolationRow
August 6th 2005


833 Comments


Great review! :naughty: You get a cookie. And you will eat the cookie!This Message Edited On 08.06.05

temporary
August 6th 2005


207 Comments


Excellent review! Southern Man is by far my fav Neil Young song.

libuerto
December 27th 2005


2 Comments


Has anyone heard of My Morning Jacket?


libuerto
December 27th 2005


2 Comments


Sorry, i am a new user to this site, though i've been using it for music reviews for a while.
Anyway, I recently discovered a band called My Morning Jacket and everyone thats heard them say they sound like a young Neil Young, and they do. It would be worth it to check them out.

Iai
Emeritus
March 27th 2006


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Know when you ear an album for the first time, and love it so much you beat yourself up for not having heard it earlier?

Yeah. Happened just now.

tom79
May 5th 2006


3372 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^oh yeah :p
anyway this is one of my favorites from Neil Young. The title track is so good, as is the rest of the album.

Digging: Karate - Some Boots

Sepstrup
August 9th 2006


1563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is really really good. I almost instantly fell in love with it. Not sure what my favorite is. Southern Man, Birds and I Believe in You are all wonderful songs. But then, so are the rest of the songs on this album.

Sepstrup
August 10th 2006


1563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Which is the next Neil Young album I should get?

Sepstrup
February 12th 2007


1563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The song writing here is magnificent, but his voice does become annoyingly high-pitched at times doesn't it?

But hey, I still love it.

MrKite
March 2nd 2007


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think this still needs time to grow on me. I like it but not as much as I think I will in a few days.
Are Neil's cds usually like that?

Sepstrup
March 2nd 2007


1563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I loved this immediately, so I don't know. Harvest took some time to grow on me though, for some reason.

MrKite
March 2nd 2007


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

After a few more listens today I think I should raise my rating.
It just took a bit for me to really get the songs and connect with them.
I'm really liking Tell Me Why, ATGR, Southern Man, OLCBYH, and Cripple Creek Ferry. I like how Cripple Creek Ferry finishes this off.

any14doomsday
April 10th 2007


679 Comments


Southern Man, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, and After The Gold Rush are awesome back to back to back.

actually pretty much all these songs are awesome.

jrowa001
August 22nd 2007


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

got this album today, its really good. i like his stuff. im mad it took me so long to finally get this album

CelestialDust
December 17th 2009


3155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

idk where to start with neil young

Jethro42
December 17th 2009


12438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

*Southern Man, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, and After The Gold Rush are awesome back to back to back.

agreed.

@ CelestialDust; Very hard to say indeed. I'd say the live 'Unplugged', 'Harvest', 'After The Gold rush', 'Freedom', 'Harvest Moon' and finally the double cd set 'Decade'(compilation). No particular order ;(

Roach
December 17th 2009


2148 Comments


not here

CelestialDust
December 17th 2009


3155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

alright jethro that narrows it down slightly i guess lol thanks



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