NEIL YOUNG -- Old Ways (Mobile Fidelity)

When Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs release something on vinyl and/or CD, it's generally one of the artist's better (or at least more well known) titles. Instead of releasing one of Neil Young's more popular albums, like "Harvest", "After the Gold Rush", or "Freedom", they decided to release Neil's country album from 1985, "Old Ways". Long out of print on vinyl, and previously only available in the US as an import CD, MFSL's Anadisq 200 version of "Old Ways" sounds great.

"Old Ways" starts off with a cover (a rare occasion in itself for Young) of the 60's pop classic, "The Wayward Wind". The orchestration on the track is lush and warm. "Get Back to the Country" (one of five songs with Waylon Jennings guesting on vocals) is one of the most cheerful songs Neil has written. You can almost hear him grinning as he's singing this one. The piano on "Once an Angel" sounds clear and natural.

Sonically, one of the highlights on the album is the closing track on side one, "Misfits". Featuring the same string section used on "The Wayward Wind", the dynamic range on "Misfits" is superb. The upright bass is deep and resonant, never muddy at all. The percussion instruments used on the track are all clear and distinct.

One of the most touching songs on the album is "My Boy", dedicated to Young's first son, Zeke. Neil played the song on banjo on his 1983 acoustic tour, prior to the album's release. The album's version features a full band arrangement.

MFSL's packaging on the Anadisq 200 version of "Old Ways" is top-notch. The sheer mass of the album & cover is impressive in itself. Pressed on 200 grams of virgin vinyl, "Old Ways" sounds and looks great. It may not be "After the Goldrush", but Mobile Fidelity did a fine job on this one. If they decide to release other titles from Young's vast catalog, fans are going to be in for a real treat.

© 1996 Steve Marshall