After The Goldrush
Released: August 1970
Chart Peak: #8
Weeks Charted: 66
Certified Double Platinum: 10/13/86
As anxiously awaited as any album since Dylan's, Neil Young's poetic genius pours forth on this authentic pop masterpiece of acoustic metaphors and total musicianship. On hand are Crazy Horse, Steve Stills, Greg Reeves, and Nils Lofgren on piano, but Neil Young possesses these grooves with subtle complete control. Fans will memorize "Tell Me Why," "After the Goldrush," "Oh Lonesome Me," and all the others.
- Billboard, 1970.
While David Crosby yowls about assasinations, Young divulges darker agonies without even bothering to make them explicit. Here the gaunt pain of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere fills out a little -- the voice softer, the jangling guitar muted behind a piano. Young's melodies -- every one of them -- are impossible to dismiss. He can write "poetic" lyrics without falling flat on his metaphor even when the subject is ecology or crumbling empire. And despite his acoustic tenor, he rocks plenty. A real rarity: pleasant and hard at the same time. A+
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
The years have only been kind to what sounded like Young's best album when it was released. It's a mixture of his folkie ("Tell Me Why"), country ("Oh, Lonesome Me"), and hard-rocking ("Southern Man") selves, and there's also that mystical title track, which remains Neil Young's definitive statement of purpose. * * * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
After the Gold Rush is a great mix of Neil Young's two selves, with rockers such as "Southern Man" alongside ballads like "Tell Me Why," not to mention the glorious title track. * * * * *
- Alan Paul, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
- Collins Gem Classic Albums, 1999.
The former Buffalo Springfield singer-guitarist was not fully mature, like Athena from Zeus' head, when he released his third solo effort, a folk-rock masterpiece of biting ennui that still has a sound of hope and sets the tone for greatness to come. With each song a tight well-written gem, from the introspective "I Believe in You" to the incendiary "Southern Man," neither time nor repeated listenings have dulled its impact. * * * * *
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
For his third allbum, Young fired Crazy Horse (the first of many times he would do that), picked up an acoustic guitar and headed to his basement. He installed recording equipment in the cellar of his Topanga Canyon home in Los Angeles, leaving room for only three or four people. There, Young made an album of heartbreaking ballads such as "Tell Me Why" and "Don't Let It Bring You Down." The music is gentle, which didn't mean Young wanted it smooth. Nils Lofgren, then a seventeen-year-old hotshot guitarist, squeezed into the sessions -- only to have Young assign him to the piano, an instrument he had never played in his life.
After the Gold Rush was chosen as the 71st greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
A starkly poignant record, After The Gold Rush contains some of Neil Young's most love-torn lyrics. The cover photograph sums up the album's sentiment -- a solarized photograph of the glowering singer-songwriter walking in a near-deserted street.
Young's latest songs -- he had, until recently, been hard at work on the Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young album, Déjà Vu -- indicate a more introspective approach. Songs like "Tell Me Why," "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," and "Don't Let It Bring You Down" all go some way to solidify his reputation as a hopeless romantic. The energy and fire of his electric guitar playing emerges only twice, notably on the corrosive (and controversial) "Southern Man."
In patenting the late night feel of the record, After The Gold Rush was recorded with Young's latest find -- a young singer-songwriter and multi-instruentalist named Nils Lofgren, whose guitar playing and piano work would elevate this collection of songs to among the finest ever written by Neil Young. The beautifully evocative title track, for instance, a near-mystical eulogy to a vanished and fast vanishing America, has now become a cornerstone of Young's live set.
The record would pave the way, two years later, for Harvest, regarded by many as one of the most influential country-rock albums ever produced. Until then, though, After The Gold Rush, an altogether more sanguine collection of songs, would remain the highpoint of Young's career.
- Burhan Wazir, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.
Not long after this, his third solo record, Canadian-born California-based rock troubadour Neil Young began thinking about his albums as explorations of different moods. He'd gather a bunch of country-rock meditations under one roof (Harvest, from 1972, is the first and best of his peaceful easy titles), or pursue aggressive guitar rock (Rust Never Sleeps) with his bloodthirsty band Crazy Horse. This drilling-deep approach helped Young create a discography of thematically unified albums, many of them classics.
The sprawling After the Gold Rush presents Young at his most diverse, with brooding folk songs followed by rabid rock howls. Each selection is modest, more quick sketch than finished portrait: There are quaint little questioning songs ("Tell Me Why") that are the aural equivalent of needlepoint samplers. There are haunting thoughts on the rape of the earth (the title track, with the prescient line "Look at Mother Nature on the run in the nineteen seventies"), and songs that express lovers' idealism ("Only Love Can Break Your Heart"). And there is also "Southern Man," arguably Young's all-time most harrowing performance. Expressing outrage over the lingering racism of the American South, Young tells of phantom screams and "bullwhips cracking" with a wobbly fury in his voice, his indignation echoed by haywire spears of furious and beautiful electric guitar.
Because of its variety, After the Gold Rush is an excellent starting point for sustained exploration of Young. Those enthralled by "Southern Man" might investigate Tonight's the Night, Sleeps with Angels, and the rousing Live Rust. Those who resonate with "Tell Me Why" might next make room for Harvest, or its surprisingly strong sequel Harvest Moon. Truth is, after you lock into the Neil Young wavelength, the style and the setting doesn't much matter. The draw is his enigmatic and revelatory songs, which have a way of finding clarity regardless of what's around them.
- Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, 2008.
Young's third solo album emphasizes delicate acoustic warbling with a dark hue; "Birds" just might be his loveliest song.
After the Gold Rush was chosen as the 67th greatest album of all time by the editors of Entertainment Weekly in July 2013.
- Entertainment Weekly, 7/5/13.
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