American Stars 'n Bars

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American Stars 'n Bars
Studio album by Neil Young
Released June 13, 1977 (1977-06-13)
Recorded December 13, 1974-April 4, 1977
Quadrafonic, Nashville; Wally Heider Studios, Hollywood, California; Broken Arrow Ranch, Redwood City, California; Indigo Recording Studio, Malibu
Genre Heartland rock, country rock, folk rock, blues rock
Length 37:54
Label Reprise, Warner Bros.
Producer Neil Young, David Briggs, Tim Mulligan
Elliot Mazer "Star of Bethlehem"
Neil Young chronology
Long May You Run
(1976)
American Stars 'n Bars
(1977)
Decade
(1977)
Singles from American Stars 'n Bars
  1. "Hey Babe"
    Released: 1977
  2. "Like a Hurricane"
    Released: 1977

American Stars 'n Bars is the eighth studio album by Canadian musician Neil Young, released on Reprise Records in 1977. Compiled from recording sessions scattered over a 29 month period, it includes "Like a Hurricane," one of Young's best-known songs. It peaked at #21 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified a gold record by the RIAA.[1]

Background[edit]

In the summer of 1976, Young rekindled his partnership with Stephen Stills, resulting in a tour that ended abruptly and an album. He then embarked on his second tour of the year with Crazy Horse, but spent the first half of 1977 off the road.[2] His previous album had been issued in November 1975; after recording enough tracks to fill up one side of an album at sessions in April, he assembled additional tracks from earlier recording dates to make up the balance of the new album.

Content[edit]

"Homegrown" and "Star of Bethlehem" had initially been slated for his unreleased LP Homegrown.[3][4] Both of those songs, along with "Like a Hurricane," "Hold Back the Tears" and "Will to Love," had also been slated for yet another unreleased Young album project, Chrome Dreams. Seven of the nine tracks feature his regular backing band Crazy Horse, and another features country music star Emmylou Harris in a vocal duet with Young. Songs from the April 1977 sessions are all in a country-styled vein.

The album cover was designed by actor Dean Stockwell, who had also written the screenplay that inspired After the Gold Rush. It features Connie Moskos, girlfriend of producer David Briggs, drooping with a bottle of Canadian whisky in her hand and an intoxicated Young with his face pressed against the glass floor.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[5]
Robert Christgau B+[6]
Pitchfork Media (8.3/10)[7]

Initially receiving favorable reviews, the album was described as a "sampler...of Young's various styles",[8] even a "hodgepodge."[4] Paul Nelson, reviewing the album for Rolling Stone commented on the mixed selection of songs and styles, and praising the "gale-force guitar playing" on "Like a Hurricane":

The album can almost be taken as a sampler, but not a summation, of Young's various styles from After the Gold Rush and Harvest (much of the country rock) through On the Beach (the incredible "Will to Love") to Zuma ("Like a Hurricane" is a worthy successor to "Cortez the Killer" as a guitar showcase), with a lot of overlap within the songs.[8]

According to William Ruhlmann, in a review for Allmusic,

Neil Young made a point of listing the recording dates of the songs on American Stars 'n Bars; the dates even appeared on the LP labels. They revealed that the songs had been cut at four different sessions dating back to 1974. But even without such documentation, it would have been easy to tell that the album was a stylistic hodgepodge, its first side consisting of country-tinged material featuring steel guitar and fiddle, plus backup vocals from Linda Ronstadt and then-unknown Nicolette Larson, while the four songs on the second side varied from acoustic solo numbers like "Will to Love" to raging rockers such as "Like a Hurricane." "Will to Love" is a particularly spooky and ambitious piece, extending the romantic metaphor of a salmon swimming upstream across seven minutes. The album's centerpiece, however, is "Like a Hurricane," one of Young's classic hard rock songs and guitar workouts, and a perpetual concert favorite.[5]

It was finally released for compact disc using the HDCD-encoding process on August 19, 2003, as part of the Neil Young Digital Masterpiece Series along with On the Beach, Hawks & Doves, and Re-ac-tor.

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Old Country Waltz" (recorded April 1977) Neil Young 2:58
2. "Saddle Up the Palomino" (recorded April 1977) Neil Young, Tim Drummond, Bobby Charles 3:00
3. "Hey Babe" (recorded April 1977) Neil Young 3:35
4. "Hold Back the Tears" (recorded April 1977) Neil Young 4:18
5. "Bite the Bullet" (recorded April 1977) Neil Young 3:30

Side two[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Star of Bethlehem" (recorded November 1974) Neil Young 2:42
2. "Will to Love" (recorded May 1976) Neil Young 7:11
3. "Like A Hurricane" (recorded November 1975) Neil Young 8:20
4. "Homegrown" (recorded November 1975) Neil Young 2:20

Personnel[edit]

  • Neil Youngvocals, guitars; harmonica on "Star of Bethlehem"; organ, piano, vibes, drums on "Will to Love"
  • Frank "Poncho" Sampedro — guitars all tracks except "Star of Bethlehem" and "Will to Love"; organ on "Like A Hurricane"; backing vocals on "Like A Hurricane" and "Homegrown"
  • Ben Keithpedal steel guitar on "The Old Country Waltz," "Saddle Up the Palomino," "Hey Babe," "Hold Back the Tears," and "Bite the Bullet"; dobro, backing vocal on "Star of Bethlehem"
  • Carole Mayedo — violin on "The Old Country Waltz," "Saddle Up the Palomino," "Hey Babe," "Hold Back the Tears," and "Bite the Bullet"
  • Billy Talbotbass all tracks except "Star of Bethlehem" and "Will to Love"
  • Tim Drummond — bass on "Star of Bethlehem"
  • Ralph Molina — drums all tracks except "Star of Bethlehem" and "Will to Love"; backing vocal on "Like A Hurricane" and "Homegrown"
  • Karl T. Himmel — drums on "Star of Bethlehem"
  • Linda Ronstadt, Nicolette Larson — backing vocals on "The Old Country Waltz," "Saddle Up the Palomino," "Hey Babe," "Hold Back the Tears," and "Bite the Bullet"
  • Emmylou Harris — harmony vocal on "Star of Bethlehem"

References[edit]

  1. ^ RIAA database retrieved 22 August 2014
  2. ^ Sugar Mountain tour database retrieved 22 August 2014
  3. ^ Williamson, Nigel (2003). Journey Through the Past: The Stories Behind the Classic Songs of Neil Young. Hal Leonard. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-87930-741-7. 
  4. ^ a b Schinder, Scott; Andy Schwartz (2008). Icons of Rock. Greenwood. p. 469. ISBN 978-0-313-33847-2. 
  5. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Neil Young: American Stars 'n Bars > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Neil Young". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 10 March 2006. 
  7. ^ Mitchum, Rob (September 30, 2003). "Neil Young: On the Beach/American Stars 'n Bars/Hawks & Doves/Re-ac-tor". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Nelson, Paul (August 11, 1977). "Neil Young: American Stars 'N' Bars > Review". Rolling Stone (245). Retrieved 22 March 2011. 

External links[edit]