Essential New Music: Neil Young’s “Hitchhiker”

Neil Young has acknowledged that his late friend/producer David Briggs was the guy who could get the most out of him as a recording artist. This is probably true. Of course, Briggs had plenty to work with handling Neil Young in his absolute prime. And this is what you want to hear. Drawn from the notorious Neil Young Archives, Hitchhiker is a perfectly wonderful solo-acoustic session recorded one day in 1976. Of the 10 songs performed, eight ended up being redone in more elaborate form for now-celebrated albums On The Beach, Zuma and Tonight’s The Night. More than any other rocker of the ’60s and ’70s, Young was able to switch from high-decibel crunch to bare-bones acoustic and still keep his edge. Boasting vintage takes of “Powderfinger” and “Human Highway” as well as rare treasure “Give Me Strength,” this is a most welcome collection.

Mitch Myers