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Neil Young on the back story to 'A Treasure' country album from the 1980s

June 15, 2011 | 11:35 am

Neil Young-International Harvesters 1984-Joel Bernstein 
Even by Neil Young’s mercurial standards, the '80s were a particularly turbulent time for him musically.

He launched 1980 with “Hawks and Doves” and the thrashing 1981 outing with Crazy Horse, “Re-Ac-Tor,” before jumping headlong into electronic music with 1982’s “Trans.” He hit the rewind button with the '50s rockabilly-laced “Everybody’s Rockin’” the following year, then went country for 1985’s “Old Ways.” In 1986, it was back to more conventional Neil Young territory in “Landing on Water” and a year later, “Life,” once again teaming with Crazy Horse. The decade closed out with his big-band blues effort, “This Note’s for You,” and 1989’s rock-focused “Freedom.”

That’s part of the reason he’s just now gotten around to releasing “A Treasure,” a 12-song collection featuring the country-leaning band that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member toured with in 1984 and 1985 under the name the International Harvesters.

“This is a finished project,” Young told me recently for a story in Wednesday's Calendar. “It just took a long time to finish. I didn’t realize it until I had time to go through everything and see what I had [from that tour].  Things were going so fast. I was doing a lot of different things at the same time, and I didn’t always stop to finish things.

“Now I have time to stop. I have researchers looking at things [in his archive]. They’ll come up with a bunch of takes people agree are great, then I listen and pick the ones I like. There’s a method we have.”

Young has posted some video on his website in which performance clips are mixed with interview footage in which he discusses his fondness for the International Harvesters and the lawsuit that ensued when his label felt he was delivering music that executives considered “uncharacteristic of Neil Young.”

-- Randy Lewis  

Photo: Neil Young, second from right, with the International Harvesters in 1984. Credit: Joel Bernstein

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