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AMERICAN STARS 'N BARS
Released - 1977, Reprise Records. Produced by Neil Young & David Briggs with Tim Mulligan*
Neil Young - Lead & Backing Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars (Lead), Harmonica; Piano & Percussion on track 7.
Frank Sampedro - Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Larson - Backing Vocals on tracks 1 thru 5
* "Star Of Bethlehem" Produced by Elliot Mazer
All songs written by Neil Young except as indicated below.
Long before Neil Young released his first full Country 'n Western album, Old Ways, he recorded several country-rock LPs, including American Stars 'n Bars, which Old Ways is most similar to. Other than the last two tracks, the songs found here are either country-rock, or just plain country. It opens with a nice country song, "The Old Country Waltz", with Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson adding their sweet country backing vocals to. They also add more of the same to the next four songs. Their backing vocals alone give you a feel to what direction Neil wanted this album to go. The best songs on the album, as far as the country-rock songs go, are "Saddle Up The Palomino", which includes some grand lyrics, and the cool "Hey Babe". The best plain country song is the already mentioned, "The Old Country Waltz".
This album has a nice steady, mellow flow to it, that is, until you get to the last two numbers, and boy, does it change it's style for these closing tunes. "Like A Hurricane" is a hard rock song with Neil playing an acid like lead electric guitar, which blares it's heavy riff throughout the entire song. By far the best song on the album. "Homegrown" starts out the same way, with that same sounding guitar riff, but it does mellow a bit as the song progresses and perhaps, just for a tease, the vocal sing-a-long harmonies, sang at it's ending, almost gives this rock song a country feel as the album closes out, perhaps to remind us that this ain't no hard rock album after all.
American Stars 'n Bars is one beauty of an album, and you don't have to be into country music to dig it.
- Keno 2003
To listen to some soundclips from AMERICAN STARS 'N BARS or to purchase it click on: American Stars 'N Bars
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