American Stars 'n Bars

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American Stars 'n Bars
American Stars'n'Bars.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 27, 1977 (1977-05-27)[1]
RecordedDecember 13, 1974-April 4, 1977
StudioQuadrafonic, Nashville; Broken Arrow Ranch, Redwood City, California; Indigo Recording Studio, Malibu
Genre
Length37:54
LabelReprise, Warner Bros.
ProducerNeil Young, David Briggs, Tim Mulligan
Elliot Mazer "Star of Bethlehem"
Neil Young and Crazy Horse 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 folk rock songwriter 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 received a RIAA gold certification.[2]

Background[edit]

In the summer of 1976, Young rekindled his partnership with Stephen Stills, resulting in a tour that ended abruptly and the album Long May You Run. He then embarked on his second tour of the year with Crazy Horse, but spent the first half of 1977 off the road.[3] His previous album, Zuma, had been issued in November 1975. After recording several country rock compositions at sessions in April 1977, he assembled additional tracks from a variety of earlier recording dates to make up the balance of the new album.

The April 1977 sessions featured Crazy Horse augmented by an ad hoc grouping dubbed "The Bullets": pedal steel guitarist and longtime Young collaborator Ben Keith, violinist Carole Mayedo and backing vocalists Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson.

Content[edit]

"Homegrown" and "Star of Bethlehem" had initially been slated for his unreleased LP Homegrown.[4][5] 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. Songs from the April 1977 sessions are all in a country-styled vein.

The album cover was designed by actor and Young's close friend Dean Stockwell, who had also written the screenplay that inspired After the Gold Rush. It features Connie Moskos, then the 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
SourceRating
Allmusic3/5 stars[6]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[7]
Pitchfork Media(8.3/10)[8]

Initially receiving favorable reviews, the album was described as a "sampler...of Young's various styles",[9] even a "hodgepodge."[5] Paul Nelson, reviewing the album for Rolling Stone commented about the mixed selection of songs and styles, and praised the "gale-force guitar playing" of "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.[9]

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.[6]

It was finally released on compact disc, as an HDCD, 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]

All songs written by Neil Young except as indicated.

Side one[edit]

Performed by Neil Young, Crazy Horse and the Bullets; recorded in April 1977.

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."The Old Country Waltz" 2:58
2."Saddle Up the Palomino"Neil Young, Tim Drummond, Bobby Charles3:00
3."Hey Babe" 3:35
4."Hold Back the Tears" 4:18
5."Bite the Bullet" 3:30

Side two[edit]

No.TitleRecording dateLength
1."Star of Bethlehem"November 19742:42
2."Will to Love"May 19767:11
3."Like a Hurricane"November 19758:20
4."Homegrown"November 19752:20

Personnel[edit]

  • Neil Young — vocals, guitars; harmonica on "Star of Bethlehem"; glockenspiel, keyboard, piano, vibes, drums on "Will to Love"
  • Frank "Poncho" Sampedro — guitars all tracks except "Star of Bethlehem" and "Will to Love"; synthesizer 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"

Charts[edit]

Chart performance for American Stars 'n Bar
Chart (1977) Peak

position

Australia (Kent Music Report)[10] 21
US Billboard Top LPs & Tape[11] 21
UK Album Charts[12] 17
Canadian RPM 100 Albums[13] 16
Finnish Album Charts[14] 30
French Album Charts[15] 4
Japanese Album Charts[16] 63
Swedish Album Charts[17] 16
Norwegian VG-lista Albums[18] 5
New Zealand Album Charts[19] 35
Dutch MegaCharts Albums[19] 5
US Cash Box Top 100 Albums[20] 16
US Record World Album Chart[21] 33

Year End Album Charts

Chart (1977) Rank
Canada Album Charts[22] 96

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[23] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[24] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-06-08. Retrieved 2016-10-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". Riaa.com. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Sugar Mountain". Sugarmtn.org. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b Schinder, Scott; Andy Schwartz (2008). Icons of Rock. Greenwood. p. 469. ISBN 978-0-313-33847-2.
  6. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Neil Young: American Stars 'n Bars > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: Y". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 23, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b Nelson, Paul (August 11, 1977). "Neil Young: American Stars 'N' Bars > Review". Rolling Stone (245). Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  10. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 295. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. ^ "Stephen Stills". Billboard. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  12. ^ "STEPHEN STILLS | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  13. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (2013-04-16). "The RPM story". www.bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  14. ^ Sisältää hitin: Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1961.
  15. ^ "InfoDisc : Les Albums (Interprètes, Classements, Ventes, Certifications, Les Tops, Les N° 1...)". www.infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  16. ^ "クロスビー,スティルス,ナッシュ&ヤングの売上ランキング". ORICON NEWS. Retrieved 2020-10-11.
  17. ^ "swedishcharts.com - Swedish Charts Portal". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  18. ^ "norwegiancharts.com - Norwegian charts portal". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 2020-06-21.
  19. ^ a b Hung, Steffen. "The Stills-Young Band - Long May You Run". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2020-06-21.
  20. ^ "CASH BOX MAGAZINE: Music and coin machine magazine 1942 to 1996". worldradiohistory.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  21. ^ "RECORD WORLD MAGAZINE: 1942 to 1982". worldradiohistory.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  22. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". web.archive.org. 2014-04-05. Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  23. ^ "British album certifications – Neil Young – American Stars 'N' Bars". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  24. ^ "American album certifications – Neil Young – American Stars 'N' Bars". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 17 November 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]