Hindsight is a virtue, especially in the case of changing public opinion over time. Things that were once fondly remembered are now considered archaic, even embarrassing. The reverse is also true. There are a host of albums, now considered classics in their field, that were viewed far less favorably when they first hit shelves.
We have the gift of hindsight. For us, these records have always been considered monumental in music rooms. To say otherwise would be to speak of madness. But whether due to different social climates or defiant expectations, these records have divided opinion or been dismissed outright.
Some reviewers are wrong, it goes with the work, the opinion is of course subjective. But in these cases, it seems almost inconceivable that these records weren’t universally acclaimed from the start…
That’s the beauty of rock, however, it takes controversy and uses it as fuel. If rock musicians don’t piss someone off, they’re not doing their job…
With the news that Neil Young recently pulled his music from Spotify in protest against Joe Rogan, there’s once again a buzz around the aging folk rocker. Young has never been shy about speaking his mind, and he’s no stranger to divisive opinion. Indeed, some of his most beloved records were once considered below average.
Neil Young released a string of albums in the early 70s, all of which received lukewarm reception. After the Gold Rush was initially seen as a tired rendition of an America, Young seemed vaguely perplexed. He has since been considered one of the country’s biggest commentaries in shock after the summer of love.
Similarly, Harvest was poorly received by many critics. Even the cornerstone of music journalism, Rolling Stone magazine, anticipated Young’s efforts. They believed the album lacked focus and was derivative of his earlier works. Specifically taking into account the track Alabama, which they claimed was a lazy rehash of Young’s previous issue, Southern Man.
But Young’s chastising commentary on racism, his musings on drug culture and his desire for salvation weathered the storm of criticism. This disc contained Heart of Gold, Needle and the Damage Done and Old Man, what were they thinking?