Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Neil Young: International Harvesters: A Treasure [Reprise, 2011]
Two remakes from Old Ways, two from Re-ac-tor, one from Harvest, and one from Buffalo Springfield, plus six more or less "new" songs, all recorded a quarter century ago. Reads like the profit-taking vault dig it is. What it sounds like, however, is the redemption of Young's lost mid-'80s--the countryish album Old Ways was supposed to be, neither rote like Re-ac-tor nor static like that sacred cow Harvest. Ben Keith, Spooner Oldham, and Tim Drummond know Nashville but can play whatever, in this case a loping rock bent and flavored by Rufus Thibodeaux's Cajun fiddle. You bet Young knew how thematic the superb "Nothing Is Perfect" was when he stuck it just before the farewell "Grey Riders," a spooky signal that deep down he was the same nut he'd always been. A-