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Neil Young’s new live record gives his dismal ’80s a bright spot

Neil Young’s new live record gives his dismal ’80s a bright spot (photo)

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The accepted wisdom regarding Neil Young‘s career is that, unless you’re really willing to dig for gems, you’d bdo best to skip his ’80s output. In the decade-plus that came before the reign of Reagan, Young released some of rock’s most memorable songs–“Cinnamon Girl,” “Southern Man,” “Down by the River,” or for a few years, pretty much everything he touched. And after the ’80s, he occasionally approached the apogee of his output, with Ragged Glory, Harvest Moon, Mirror Ball and a personal favorite, Silver & Gold. But when you have to comb through about a decade’s worth of material to realize the (relatively low) highlights are “Hippie Dream,” “This Note’s For You,” and, uhh, “Inca Queen,” you’d do best to find alternative ways to spend your time.

But A Treasure, released today by Reprise Records, collects 12 tracks recorded live by Young and a band of country music all-stars he called the International Harvesters in 1984 and 1985. You might recognize some of this work from Old Ways, his 1985 fuck-you-it’s-country statement from Geffen, and you’ll eventually spot the woozy, warped number as a rebuilt “Flying on the Ground is Wrong,” the Buffalo Springfield hit. But five of these songs have never been released, and even the songs that you know spring with a new vitality that, given Young’s reputation during this era, you might not expect. He sounds like he’s having fun, and the band behind him sounds both well-rehearsed and ultimately fluid. Young’s released a lot of live records over the years, especially with his Archives series. This one’s worth your time.

As good as A Treasure is as a live set, it also succeeds contextually, forgiving the bulk of Young’s dismal ’80s output and adding an enjoyable adventure in the middle of a decade that, for his career, didn’t really have many. With its brittle electric chew, an unreleased song like “Grey Riders” serves as a chain between Tonight’s the Night and Ragged Glory; his ease in front of and natural affinity for the country band at his back on the fairly perfect “Nothing is Perfect” links Harvest to Harvest Moon and Silver & Gold. It’s an oasis for a portion of Young’s career that’s long needed it. Don’t treat the date like a warning label; treat it like a chance at new appreciation.

Something you like about Neil in the ’80s that we don’t? Yell at us.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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