Neil Young – Harvest – Our Shootout Winner in 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame since 2008.

Harvest is undeniably one of the most beloved albums in all of classic rock. We get letters all the time from customers hoping to get their hands on Hot Stamper copies, but we’ll never have the supply to keep up with the demand. It’s a tough nut to crack, because a Hot Stamper Harvest has to get so many things right — the lovely pedal steel guitar on Out On The Weekend, the LSO on A Man Needs A Maid and There’s A World (engineered by Glyn Johns), Neil’s grungy electric guitar on Alabama, and so much more. 

Many copies we played would work for the heavy songs and then fall behind on the softer numbers. Others had gorgeous sound on the country-tinged numbers but couldn’t deliver any whomp for the rockers.

A Copy For The Ages

Side two of this copy has STUNNINGLY GOOD SOUND! It’s punchy and lively with some of the BIGGEST BASS we’ve ever heard for this album. You won’t believe the WHOMP on this record — just listen to how hard Alabama ROCKS! The overall sound is big, open, and spacious with amazing transparency and lots of extension up top. The vocals are Right On The Money — very present with loads of texture. We rate side two an A+++ — that’s Master Tape Sound, folks, As Good As It Gets!

Drop the needle on Old Man. On virtually every copy we audition the chorus vocals strain to the point of being unpleasant, but here they are smooth and sweet.

Side one is a heavyweight as well, rating A++, just shy of the best. From the opening moments of Out On The Weeknd to the last bars of Heart Of Gold, this baby is meaty, punchy, and ALIVE. The pedal steel sounds unbelievable, surrounded by lots of ambience. The warmth, clarity, and immediacy are all top-notch. We had this rated as a triple-plus until we found one copy that beat it by a nose. If we had never heard that copy, we’d have had no problem giving this our top grade — it’s that stunning.

Condition Can Be A Problem — But Not Here!

One thing that had held up our search for Hot Stamper Harvests was the condition of most copies we’ve seen. We’ve got DOZENS of copies of this record and only a handful of them play as quiet as Mint Minus. There are some dead quiet passages on this album that are never going to be silent. It’s a chronic issue, but after years of buying every clean copy we see, we were able to find a select number of copies with superb sound and reasonably quiet vinyl. This copy plays mostly Mint Minus throughout, which is INCREDIBLY quiet for Harvest. I can’t tell you exactly how many copies we had to discard for noise issues, but it was a bunch.