American Stars 'n Bars
|American Stars 'n Bars|
|Studio album by|
|Released||May 27, 1977|
|Recorded||December 13, 1974-April 4, 1977|
|Studio||Quadrafonic, Nashville; Broken Arrow Ranch, Redwood City, California; Indigo Recording Studio, Malibu|
|Label||Reprise, Warner Bros.|
|Producer||Neil Young, David Briggs, Tim Mulligan|
Elliot Mazer "Star of Bethlehem"
|Neil Young and Crazy Horse chronology|
|Singles from American Stars 'n Bars|
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.
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. 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.
"Homegrown" and "Star of Bethlehem" had initially been slated for his unreleased LP Homegrown. 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.
|Christgau's Record Guide||B+|
Initially receiving favorable reviews, the album was described as a "sampler...of Young's various styles", even a "hodgepodge." 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.
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.
All songs written by Neil Young except as indicated.
Performed by Neil Young, Crazy Horse and the Bullets; recorded in April 1977.
|1.||"The Old Country Waltz"||2:58|
|2.||"Saddle Up the Palomino"||Neil Young, Tim Drummond, Bobby Charles||3:00|
|4.||"Hold Back the Tears"||4:18|
|5.||"Bite the Bullet"||3:30|
|1.||"Star of Bethlehem"||November 1974||2:42|
|2.||"Will to Love"||May 1976||7:11|
|3.||"Like a Hurricane"||November 1975||8:20|
- 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 Keith — pedal 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 Talbot — bass 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"
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||21|
|US Billboard Top LPs & Tape||21|
|UK Album Charts||17|
|Canadian RPM 100 Albums||16|
|Finnish Album Charts||30|
|French Album Charts||4|
|Japanese Album Charts||63|
|Swedish Album Charts||16|
|Norwegian VG-lista Albums||5|
|New Zealand Album Charts||35|
|Dutch MegaCharts Albums||5|
|US Cash Box Top 100 Albums||16|
|US Record World Album Chart||33|
Year End Album Charts
|Canada Album Charts||96|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||60,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
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