Neil Young - American Stars N Bars (1977)

Neil Young is a prolific Canadian singer-songwriter who has been releasing records since the 60s.
By 1977, Neil Young was well into a new chapter in his career, the first being his critically acclaimed and commercially successful early solo era (including his membership of CSNY), and the second being his dark, troubled, but artistically rewarding 'depression era'. Since then, he had made a combeback with Crazy Horse (1975's Zuma), recorded an album with Stephen Stills (1976's Long May You Run), and appeared in The Band's all-star cast farewell concert film The Last Waltz. Throughout this period he had also been recording alot of material which never saw release, including the aborted Homegrown album. His next release was 1977's American Stars N Bars.
The songs featured came from a variety of sources. The entirity of the first side was new material, recorded with a countrified Crazy Horse - Frank Sampedro (guitar), Billy Talbot (bass) and Ralph Molina (drums) accompanied by Ben Keith (pedal steel) and Carole Mayedo (fiddle), with backing vocals from Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson. These songs had a rough, live-in-the-studio vibe, and though they weren't anything groundbreaking, were a nice new addition to Young's canon.
The second side of the album was the more interesting one, its four songs dug up from various recording sessions. The ethereal, spooky "Will To Love" came from 1976 and featured Young playing all instruments including vibraphone and drums. "Star Of Bethlehem" was a quiet country-rock number from the Homegrown sessions, recorded in 1974, with backing vocals from Emmylou Harris. The last two songs came from 1975, shortly after the Zuma sessions, with Crazy Horse backing him. Of these, it is the epic guitar jam of "Like A Hurricane" that has endured as one of his most highly regarded songs, having already been a concert staple of his '76 tour with Crazy Horse.
Though its not regarded as one of his best albums overall, American Stars N Bars is evidence of the genius of Young's songwriting in the way he was able to dig around in his recent archives to come up with such great material and throw an album together.

Zuma (1975) <|> Comes A Time (1978)
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