Neil Young (1969)
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The Emperor of Wyoming B+
The Supreme Being starts his solo career with a cowpoke instrumental that’s quite nice! It has a sweet instrumental theme (which should have been more prevalent in Buffalo Springfield’s final album) and has a sort of pleasant, laid-back quality that’s rather endearing. Musically, it’s professional and polished! Wonderful! Solo Neil Young already sounds better to me than BS!
The Loner A+
I guess it’s not too surprising that Neil Young would come out with a masterpiece so quickly although this is not always celebrated as such. Well it should be! Young’s style of songwriting is perfectly well in place here with a light take on hard-rock. The orchestration is just perfect with the right blend of crunchy guitars and string, orchestral arrangements. The development is the particularly creative aspect of this… especially his idea to break into a cowpoke instrumental not unlike the album opener. This is a very appealing song!
If I Could Have Her Tonight B
Very pleasant! However, nothing about it particularly threatens to steal my sweeties. The melody is so-so and the instrumentation doesn’t strike me with any sort of unusual creativity. In fact, I feel a bit betrayed by the development this time, because it doesn’t seem to particularly go anywhere and Young seems too satisfied with a boring fade-out. It’s main attraction is the calming atmosphere, which is quite fine!
I’ve Been Waiting For You A
When I reviewed David Bowie’s Heathen, I might have been being too hasty when I called Bowie’s version of this ballad better than this. Really, this is a fantastic original! The melody is catchy, and this time the instrumentation is pretty creative. I love the guitar noodling, but whoever was going insane with the panning nob gets a mean slap on the wrist.
The Old Laughing Lady C+
Such a sweet old song! Young delivers a nice, laid back tune and reserved instrumentation. The strings are as quiet as can be, and the acoustic guitar is strumming thoughtfully in the background. Well, that’s boring if you ask me!! A few bits, he starts getting into a jazzy passage, but that doesn’t last long enough. A “soul uprising” toward the end was kind of nice, I’ll say! Still, too little and too late.
String Quartet From Whisky Boot Hill C-
A string quartet, eh? Hardly something Mozart would pen, eh? The development is non-existent and the atmosphere is cheap. Only a minute long so it won’t waste too much of your time!
Here We Are in the Years B-
Not bad! I’m actually very new to Neil Young’s discography (at the moment only listened to his sophomore release at any great length), but I hope he figures out how to get rid of all these dull spots. He’s trying to sound subdued and beautiful, but the result was subdued and empty. A lot of wasted opportunity if you ask me! The instrumentation is certainly interesting, though… the drum-line evolves in such a way to make the proceedings as interesting as possible, and that synthesizer was a neat idea.
What Did You Do To My Life? A
The crunchy guitar is back and so are the infectious melodies! Wonderful! Young’s singing almost like he doesn’t care, but the instrumentation is so polished and creative that it makes this quite an excellent experience! Nice one, Neil!!
I’ve Loved Her So Long B
Sort of boring, and the soulful back-up singers honestly don’t add much. The classical oriented instrumentation is a nice attribute (keeping this album consistent since they’re pretty much all like this)! The melody isn’t that interesting, however, and he repeats it about a dozen times too much. He should have thought of something else other than fadeouts… they do get tiring…
The Last Trip to Tulsa D+
Pretentious twit! This is the real reason Neil Young could never be considered a classic. Nobody needed this bloated 9+-minute song of Young strumming an acoustic guitar, with his annoying whiny voice and singing an entirely uninteresting melody! If you love this song, then … I guess that makes you a *real* Neil Young fan. GO HANG YOURSELF!!!!! HAHHAHHAHHHahriiririr!!!!
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969)
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Cinnamon Girl A
A three-minute pop song that’s done with some crunchy rhythm guitars and Young singing rather pleasantly to it! He got his voice under control; the whiny nasal quality is almost not there. The melody is moderately catchy and the atmosphere (thanks to the presence of a small handful of guitarists) is quite thick. It’s well done, and one of the guy’s signature tunes!
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere A-
A solid track with a likable melody and a nicely done atmosphere. It’s not quite as striking as the previous track for several reasons! His “lah-lah-lahs” were a bit cheesy, but they were a good touch nonetheless. The crunchy guitars give the song more personality!
Round & Round (It Won’t Be Long) A-
Such a haunting little ballad! At first I wanted to dislike it because it’s a bit too long (at six minutes) and he pretty much repeats the same idea over and over, but it’s very engaging and manages to get under my skin.
Down By the River B
Really, this is what keeps the album from being a great classic. Some listeners really like this one, and I do think it makes a pretty good five-minute, rambly rock ditty. The guitar interplay is nice and entirely modest! The problem is he drags it on for nine minutes, and it’s just guitar noodling. It’s not too impressive… especially since it’s just the standard rambly song. The melody, whenever that pops up, isn’t so special.
The Losing End (When You’re On) B
Young’s back to his cowpoke roots it seems. The melody isn’t too catchy even though it’s simple. The rhythm section might be appropriate for the genre, but it’s too clunky for my tastes! Well, I surely gave this a high rating considering the criticism I just gave it. It’s a perfectly fine song as long as I’m not paying too close attention to it… I wouldn’t say this was an inspired song at all…
Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets) B-
Sort of a throwback to those depressing old Medieval English ballads… Something that Simon and Garfunkel might put out. They like boring their audience to death, too! This is very dark and dreary. A thick atmosphere might have done well enough to give it some depth, but I suppose he was under budget… and you probably didn’t do that sort of thing too often in 1969. I give it an extra point for that squeaky violin.
Cowgirl in the Sand A-
Ten minutes! The guy sure knows how to carry out a song! None of this hokey three-minute pop ditty nonsense for Mr. Young! Lucky us, this is actually a consistently good song. It opens up with a typical upbeat drum beat and rambly guitars. The pacing is good and the melody, whenever it decides to pop up, is one of the album’s nicer ones. The length is a drawback, however. I’ve never been much for these extended rock jammy types of songs, I guess, because I’m not always interested in guitarists in general! However, this has to be one of the best in its class… at least the soloists aren’t trying to show off … much.
After the Gold Rush (1970)
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Tell Me Why A-
Nicely done! It’s just Young singing with an acoustic guitar (with about a half dozen over-dubs or so), and it helps that the melody is memorable. He has this melancholic vibe down to an art by this point, so it makes a good, atmospheric listen.
After the Gold Rush B+
Young sings with his whiny voice to a piano! There’s an excellent organic quality to this that I really like! Young’s style here was oft-imitated by any number of ‘90s and ‘00s musicians such as Sufjan Stevens and Badly Drawn Boy. It takes awhile to get used to it, but there’s a very nice, subtle quality to it that’ll eventually get to you.
Only Love Can Break Your Heart C
Such a bland old thing! … Very clunky songwriting this time. The chord progression is horrible, and the melody doesn’t do a thing. Its usual tendency to be tasteful is the saving grace. But you can say that about a lot of things. Neil Young: Don’t be average!
Southern Man A+
MUCH better this time! In fact it could be something close to a classic! Finally, Young gets everything right! The melody is perfect; it’s catchy and very memorable. The whole mood, though, is what’ll get you. Pounding piano chords, lots of sweet guitar licks and snarly lyrics. Cool.
Till the Morning Comes B-
Another song that proves that those ‘90s and ‘00s indie artists had their roots in a Canadian with a whiny voice. Here is a very simple musical idea that lasts for 80 seconds. It’s pleasant and bouncy.
Oh Lonesome Me B
How can someone write something as vicious as “Southern Man” and then turn around and write something so boring??? … OK, it’s still a well-written ditty. The melody is decent, but it’s not extremely memorable. The instrumentals are very solid and professional, as usual! He brings in his harmonica again. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of these boring melancholic tracks. So sue me!
Don’t Let Me Bring You Down B+
More of that average goodness from Young. The songwriting, again, is good. This is quite good. (It’s not my fault these track reviews are sparse… I can only say “this is a well-written, melancholic song and a whiny voice” in so many words.)
Even more melancholic than the last one, but the voice isn’t so whiny. Maybe I should start rating these songs on a scale of melancholy and whininess! … Actually, this song is rather striking. A tad more on the atmospheric and beautiful side. His vocal harmonies (with overdubs I believe) are rather striking. The sparse instrumentation (just a piano) was all that it needed and more…
When You Can Dance You Can Really Love A
This just proves that his upbeat hard/soft rock ditties are his main strength. The pounding instrumentation and the crunchy guitars was done wonderfully, and I like the melody. It still has that same melancholic vibe of the previous songs; it just doesn’t have to be so dang boring in the process!
I Believe in You B
Melancholy: 7; Whininess: 5; Boringness: 5. I guess that means this ballad is pretty good! Well, it’s well-written, surely, and even has a little bit of that soul that so many of his fans like to inject directly into their bloodstream.
Cripple Creek Ferry B-
Melancholy: 4; Whininess: 3; Boringness 3. …Not a bad song, really, but more of an insubstantial one. It’s a minute and a half, and it doesn’t do much! Young does write a few good hooks at least.
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Out on the Weekends B
A perfectly nice little tune! The melody is well-written. The instrumentation is very minimal, which surprises me. Just a very lightly acoustic guitar strumming and a slide guitar goofing around in the deep background. A harmonica is recruited later on. It might have benefited from a little more studio innovation. For example, why does that drummer have to sound like he’s some sort of robot? This isn’t even fun like ‘80s New Romantic music was. What gives??? Anyway, this lack of development cost the song a few brownie points.
I know this is a critic favorite. I listened to this a great number of times and tried to figure out what’s so great about it. I couldn’t find it. This is just a typical country/western ditty and not much better than anybody else’s average country tune. Young sings a very simple, repetitive and unoriginal melody while the boring drummer drums and the bass player doesn’t seem to give a damn. All that said, it’s very clean and tasteful. Squeaky clean. What’s with the ending? Young normally does a fade-out, which is a weak idea to begin with, but he seems to stop playing. What a bummer…
A Man Needs a Maid B+
A little less derivative and boring than the previous two tracks. It opens with some simple, organic piano as Young delivers a number of heartfelt lyrics. (Barf!) He then brings in the London Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra manages to give the song some varied texture, which is very welcome. Brought down from a potential A- for feeling like it was a minute too long.
Heart of Gold A
He would never get another #1 hit! That’s probably a good thing… who likes a popular song? (I mean, Joe Public has horrible taste in music!) But this is a very good song, fortunately. Some nicely done acoustic guitar strumming open the festivities and Young delivers a legitimately catchy melody. The drumming is a bit more involved here than usual, which is to its severe benefit.
Are You Ready For the Country? B+
The very beginning seemed to feature the band gearing up moments before they started playing the root of the song. That’s about the only undisciplined part of the whole album! Also a semi-detached electric guitar can be heard playing in the background, which gives it a nice texture. Somehow, this reminds me of a Beatles song but with a blander melody. Well… I suppose that’s a compliment!
Old Man B+
A banjo? Neat! The song deserves an extra point just for that… it lends the song a perfect sound and texture. I also really like that he swelled the mood for the chorus. It grabs my attention when it comes up! Problems arise when I consider the melody, which has only a single good hook that’s repeated a bunch. Young’s not exactly living up to his “great songwriter” reputation there. A minor nit-picking is there’s an awkward transition at the very end of the song… It’s a small kink, but more evidence that this isn’t a flawless album like it was pretending to be.
There’s a World D+
The London Symphony Orchestra is completely showcased here… no rock or country instruments whatsoever. There are a number of problems I must address, but where to start? … First of all, the style of orchestration is the exact same as an old ‘40s or ‘50s cinematic score except distinctly cut-rate. Secondly, hearing this song develop is less entertaining than watching paint dry (thank goodness it doesn’t take as long). Thirdly, the melody sucks. Fourthly, the clean orchestra sound combined with Young’s voice is like Beauty and the Beast except they killed each other in the end. (The fourth point might have had an unintentionally interesting effect if Young experimented with it more, but he wasn’t in an experimenting mood.) I think I said enough.
The sounds of crunchy guitar licks are like an oasis to my ears! But what’s with the boring melody? The tempo is frustratingly slow, too. What’s the dillyo? Godfather of grunge lost the kick? LOST THE SOUL?? BORING!!!!
The Needle and the Damage Done B-
Wrong. The damage is almost done. There’s still one track to go after this. This is a two-minute ditty featuring Young singing a boring old melody to simple guitar strumming. This is all fine enough, but he’s actually done folk ditties better than this before. (A live recording, eh? He gets a polite applause!)
Words (Between the Ages) B-
This is kind of OK. Really more than OK. It goes on for six minutes and it’s verrrry mellow and drags on for too long. The melody doesn’t make an impression whatsoever and repeats too much. But then there’s an electric guitar solo in here! For the first time in the album, a guitar solo and it’s a bit of a sloppy one! It’s a little odd considering its context, but it’s a welcome change nonetheless.
Time Fades Away (1973)
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Time Fades Away A-
A bouncy, Dylan-esque, country-western, rock tune. It’s not bad!!!! The melody is catchy and the instrumentals are very good. They’re not trying to be show-offey, and they’re definitely not polished…… They’re the standard drums, country-esque bass-line, harmonica, piano and a harmonica all in a rocking collaboration. But this sound actually enhances his voice, in my opinion. He has an ugly voice anyway, and it sounds better when the instrumentals aren’t polished. That sounds like it makes sense.
Journey Through the Past A-
What a pretty song! He delivers a simple ballad with a piano. The melody is very pretty. Young’s vocals sound nice when he’s trying to be heartfelt… He absolutely couldn’t care less how ugly they were.
Yonder Stands the Sinner A
Here it is… the ugliest Neil Young vocal performance I have ever heard. And it’s great! He absolutely doesn’t care about how he sounds… I guess this shows rock ‘n’ rollers don’t need self-consciousness! That’s not to mention that the song is catchy. It’s a hard rock song (that’s verrrrry far removed from the types of songs we heard on Harvest) and it has spirit through and through.
This melody sounds a lot like “Cinnamon Girl,” but that’s a good thing I suppose! Despite the band being reportedly tired and flustered, the music is surprisingly beautiful. Young’s vocals are nice, they deliver a string of great licks of a very fuzzy guitar and whoever’s playing the piano is awesome. This album is so much fun!
Love in Mind B+
A two-minute piano song in the same vein as “Journey Through the Past.” I can’t complain about it much except it seems like it should have lasted a bit longer. It has a very pretty melody, and I like the lyrics. Cool.
Don’t Be Denied B-
The first track here that I’m not uniformly excited about. The melody doesn’t seem to take off, and it doesn’t quite strike me like the other songs do. The instrumentals continue to be rough and spirited, which is to its benefit.
The Bridge A-
Beautiful! It’s another one featuring Young singing a melancholic song with his piano… occasionally bringing in a harmonica. I like the melody, and he puts in some soaring, heartfelt mood swells. The ending’s a bit sudden, but… whatever. It seems like they always are.
Last Dance A
One thing this live album has surprisingly lacked was a lengthy jam-rock song where all the instrumentalists could show off their skills! … Well, here it is! I’ve been somewhat unimpressed with Young’s lengthy tracks (always seen them as more of filler), but this is a good one. Besides the fantastic electric guitar soloing, it has a great melody and a remarkably well-developed atmosphere…… they did something interesting for a live stage performance. Very remarkable.
On the Beach (1974)
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Walk On A
A bouncy rock song with a good melody and enjoyable instrumentals. That’s all you needed to tell me, and I would’ve been sold on it before hearing! Considering that it’s a much stronger beginning than I remember Harvest to be, this is like a breath of fresh air. The riff is catchy, and Young had the decency to let the song sound rawer and more imperfect. The result is it sounds more like a good song!
See the Sky About to Rain A
Nice texture! It seems like he put a simple distortion effect to an electric piano or something. It’s sloppy though endearing… far from that overly polished Harvest nonsense! That, plus a genuinely catchy melody makes this another ideal Young composition. I’m not crazy about the five minute running length, which seems rather excessive for the amount of ideas he presents, but its overwhelming charm is the overriding factor. The slide guitarist is does a fantastic job… he makes the instrument speak modestly without sounding at all like another country-western cliché. Wonderful!
Revolution Blues A+
If Neil Young had it in him to sound this cool all along, then I wonder what the heck he thinks he was doing in his career until now. This is a rather mean and driving rock song with an excellent electric guitar solo! The melody is catchy, and Young delivers a perfectly snarling vocal performance. …I’m tempted to say this is the better than any of his songs on his classic albums. (Well, it’s more instantly likable, at least.)
For the Turnstiles A-
Behold! DIVERSITY! … Just because this is a simple song nothing but someone picking a banjo and someone else picking an acoustic guitar, I give it an extra point. I always like a little spice with my rock albums, and Young seems to be happily delivering it. Young’s vocals are rather sloppy, but considering the guy has such an ugly voice anyway, it almost seems better this way. This is quite good.
Vampire Blues B+
And now, a little R&B. These sort of songs are derivative by nature, but Young glitters it up with some unconventional solos. His electric guitar work throughout is very playful, and whoever’s playing the organ is goofing around, too. That combined with Young’s sarcastic lyrics makes this rather memorable.
On the Beach B
This isn’t bad, but it’s seven minutes long and didn’t need to be. It’s a mid-tempoed ballad with a dash of blues, and he doesn’t go to many lengths to keep it interesting for its duration. Nonetheless, the hypnotic aspect of it as well as an OK melody keeps it from growing dull at all.
Motion Pictures (For Carrie) A-
A fantastic ballad!! I used to think this was for that Stephen King movie, but it’s for his then-girlfriend Carrie Snodgrass. It must be nice to have a pretty song like this dedicated to you. It’s very humble and the melody is sweet. Young with his imperfect voice sings like he means it. The imperfect instrumentation adds to its endearing humble quality.
Ambulance Blues B
At nine minutes, this overstays its welcome… But I could fathom worst nine-minutes, and I don’t consider it a criminal waste of time. The instrumentation is quite good here with young’s acoustic guitar strumming and earnest singing (though odd lyrics). Bringing in a genuine sounding harmonica and violin were great ideas. This is quite good!
Tonight's the Night (1975)
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Tonight’s the Night A+
Young’s straining his voice very earnestly here and genuinely seems like he’s bearing his soul to us right here… He’s not trying to be pretty; he’s singing something that’s actually meaningful to him, and you can tell it. The melody is catchy, and that’s a big thing. But this instrumentation is loose and as genuine as the voice. They’re playing in an R&B pattern with real drums, real guitar and BASS. The jam they go at in the middle of this is unusual… I think you’ll like it.
Speakin’ Out A+
More of that blues, except this is mid-tempo… but it’s blues done right. Usually I have a hard time even liking the genre, because it all sounds alike to me. (And why shouldn’t it; they’re all based on the same chord progressions and patterns!) But this is different. The instrumentation is thick and wonderful… like I’m in a small audience listening to this in a nightclub thick with cigarette smoke. It’s very personable and genuine and the instrumentals by everyone is fantastic. The melody isn’t that original, but who cares? This is great!!
World on a String A-
Good that they changed up the mood… They play a mean though subdued riff. They trick me thinking this was going to be some super-loud heavy metal song, but the instrumentals are quiet enough and Neil is singing long notes almost like he’s singing a ballad. Compared to the previous two, this isn’t quite as rollicking and the melody isn’t as catchy. But it’s unusual… it’s hard to know exactly what to make of it.
Borrowed Tune A-
He meant “Borrowed Tune” literally! It’s the same melody as The Rolling Stones’ “Lady Jane” (he admits it in the lyrics). This is a very nice ballad… Just like they were in Time Fades Away, Young comes off very well when he’s just sitting at the piano and bearing his soul. It sounds more genuine than any of the more popular ballads in my opinion.
Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown A
A very good hard rock tune! Young and the band don’t seem to want to do anything else other than play a good tune. The melody is very catchy and the guitars are very crunchy. Naturally, the instrumentals and vocal performances are imperfect… but that’s what makes it so good! (It’s played live by the way… although I get the feeling that the studio songs were more or less the same as live performances.) This is also notable for showcasing the guitar work of Danny Whitten, who died of a drug overdose months before they worked on this album.
Mellow My Mind B
Geez, Young really doesn’t care how he sounds… his voice starts croaking like a frog! Maybe he needed a drink of water or something… This is one place I’ll have to agree with the critics of this album; that voice does get annoying here. The song itself is quite good though. The instrumentalists don’t seem quite as bold as they did on the opening tracks, unfortunately.
Roll Another Number (For the Road) B+
More of a country-western song with that sort of bass guitar, a slide guitar and a honky-tonk styled piano appropriately going off! I’m also not too thrilled about this song, but that just could be because of my bias against country-western music. The melody is pretty good, though not especially original. It’s all entertaining and well done (still keeping on with that loose sound), but not as inspired as the others.
Surprisingly not too interesting… An unfortunate quality of the songs at the end of this album, it seems. It seems that the circumstances changed for the band… they don’t sound nearly as intimate as they did before. The melody isn’t bad and the loose, laid-back instrumentation is quite good. I don’t get the same, excellent feeling though.
New Mama B-
Oh I guess there was production on this album after all! This is a generally uninteresting song with young plucking and acoustic guitar and he overdubs himself a bunch of times singing over it. Sort of a throwback to his older albums… This ballad isn’t nearly as soul bearing as “Borrowed Tune,” but it’s not bad…
Lookout Joe B
Another good song! It’s more of a pounding bit of rock ‘n’ roll … the way Neil Young always makes ‘em. The melody isn’t phenomenally interesting, though, and it would have been nicer if it was better. I like those electric guitar performances!
Tired Eyes A
Ah, they’re getting back to those intimate, soul-tugging songs… The melody is extremely melancholy and everything about it just seems “special.” I can’t really explain it (and I’m REALLY no Neil Young fan). Young’s ugly vocals aren’t played for aesthetics… you can really hear the pain in the voice (or at least the drugs were doing weird things).
Tonight’s the Night (Part II) A-
Can’t complain about hearing this song again! The first version was better, though… This is a more spaced out. I’m not too sure why he needed to include this version in the album as well… But he didn’t care what anyone thought of this album. He was depressed, dang it!!
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Don’t Cry No Tears A-
A nicely constructed mid-tempo straight rock number with a likeable melody and very crunchy electric guitars. The brief electric guitar solo is a bit sloppy though entirely charming. I wish this song would be a bit more distinctive (this being Neil Young, after all), but it makes a fine listen. Perhaps it’s even memorable after a few listens.
Danger Bird B
Geez this guy likes to bide his time! Though fortunately the track is entertaining. Here is a very slow, sloppy guitar-led ballad that goes on for nearly seven minutes. The melody isn’t anything to speak of at all, but at least the guitars are appropriately awesome. The guitar solos are great… very sloppy, but great. I guess you’d call it pre-grunge. It’s not a waste of time in the slightest, but it would have been nice if he would’ve at least changed the chord progression a little bit. Nonetheless, there’s an undeniable epic quality to this I like.
Pardon My Heart B
Not bad, just boring. It’s shorter than the last one and probably contains better musical ideas (well, the delicate arrangements are more intricate at least up to the point of having a twinkly piano you can barely hear). The melody is fine enough, but it’s not especially memorable. Naturally, the redeeming quality is the reason there are Neil Young fans in the first place: He sounds genuine.
Lookin’ For a Love C
As I’ve been saying all along, I was never too impressed with Young’s country-rock outings. For some reason, he got it in his head that it’s OK to write simple, standard, generic country-rock instead of inventing new ones… He should have concentrated on giving country-rock a distinctly Neil Young sound instead of giving Neil Young a distinctive country-rock sound. Not a complete waste… I like the arrangements. The jangly guitars are especially well played, and the song is better experienced if you concentrate your listening effort on those (except for the bass player, who, of course, sounds like every other freaking country-rock bass player … for crying out loud).
Barstool Blues A-
Much better! … Much much better!! The jump to another one of his typical guitar heavy mid-tempo songs was a bit sudden (I understand that “Lookin’ For a Love” was a leftover from a not-released album anyway), but it’s an appreciated one all the same. Again with the sloppy guitars!! Young’s vocals follow suit with a similarly sloppy voice. The melody is OK too. The result? A fine Neil Young ditty if there ever was one.
Stupid Girl B
That’s mean! It’s not the most inspired song, anyway. I appreciate that the song is structured rather uniquely, but I guess that doesn’t always translate into a good song. Not such an inspired piece though at least it’s listenable. Again, the guitars are present and sloppy… Not a big fan of this melody. The guitar solos are good though I’ve heard better from him.
Drive Back B-
This is pretty good as well… It seems like I should like it more. Topping the best of the previous tracks, the guitars are sloppier and fuzzier than ever. Even resorting to some electric guitar work that seems to top the highest registers actually allowed by the instrument. Crunchy guitars are everywhere! I just don’t like it a great deal. On a different day, I might rate it higher… who knows. (Guess I’m not the biggest grunge fan, anyway… not even proto-grunge.)
Cortez the Killer A
Probably the most renown song on the album, and for good reason! It’s pretty good! (Why am I using the term “pretty good” for all these song reviews??) It’s also nice that if he’s going to make a seven minute song that he makes it good. The song consists only of a slow, ballad-like rhythm, and it’s just guitar solo in the first half. It’s a very melodic solo, and really quite a joy to hear. The guitar tones sound a bit sloppy, but it’s all in all a very disciplined performance. In the second half, Young delivers one of the album’s finer melodies (singing very heartfelt lyrics about something I don’t actually care about). Musically, this is a solid song!
Through My Sails C+
A sweet little boring thing. A slow melody (without too many interesting hooks, in my opinion) with a lightly strummed acoustic guitar, bongo and very heavily mixed vocalsNot the most compelling thing on the planet… . It’s charming enough to be harmless. I guess Young wasn’t much for going out with a bang.
American Stars 'N Bars (1977)
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The Old Country Waltz A-
Uh oh… country-rock. A waltz, naturally. I actually like it though. It seems to keep all the best things about country and throw away all the bad stuff. So, you can expect a very tasteful array of instrumentals including a slide guitarist who knows what the hell he’s doing (that instrument tends to be either fantastic or vomitous). I really like the violin, too, who is playing his old cowpoke melody and actually sounding real. Young is taking some care in his vocal performance (good idea since this isn’t one of his proto-grunge outings). The melody is simple and likable… Cool.
Saddle Up the Palomino B+
The electric guitars are heavier on this one even though this is still good old country-rock. The instrumental mix is interesting and tasteful giving this the chance to feel far from generic country-rock. This riff isn’t the catchiest in the world and neither is the vocal melody, but it’s an enjoyable song nonetheless. Quite bold sounding.
Hey Babe A
Er… wow!!! Shame that Young can’t always come up with stuff this inspired. See what a melody can do for you?? Sure, it seems like he’s repeating the same hook over and over again, but I’m not going to cause a hissy fit about that. This is an utterly gorgeous song with more of those fantastic instrumentals… especially that slide guitar. Somebody give the slide guitarist a cookie. (I wish he would play on every country rock album, because I swear most slide guitarists suck.)
Hold Back the Tears B
Pretty good, though not nearly as much as the preceding song! The melody is likable enough but not so mesmerizing… The instrumentals are quite good though probably not representative of the best of the album. That common chord progression and typical bass line doesn’t help much.
Bite the Bullet B
The guitars are as crunchy as hell! … Is this even country rock??? Well, he retains the Linda Ronstadt / Nicolette Larson back-up vocals and the violinist! Actually, this is a welcome change of pace although this isn’t incredibly compelling. The gruff attitude is utterly nailed, but it all might have been catchier!
Star of Bethlehem B-
Meh… He follows up the gruffest song of the album with the most laid-back song… That messes with the flow, dagnabit!! But looking at the song independently, it’s … er, not so fantastic anyway. Give it extra points for having a charming atmosphere and the proper instrumentation. The melody is fine as well. So what’s the problem??? … Er, it’s kinda boring. Lyrics might be difficult to take for religious people, but you’ll get over it.
Will to Love C
“Sometimes I ramble on and on / And I repeat myself / Till all my friends are gone.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. I guess that’s his apology for this song… seven minutes worth of rambling boringly with an acoustic guitar (peppered a bit by other instruments along the way). What the hell are all those hissing sounds????? … A camp fire? … That’s a dumb idea. Everybody likes to *watch* a campfire… nobody just wants to hear the crackle. Apart from the sound effects, this surprisingly reminds me strongly of David Bowie’s early folk songs except not nearly as good. (You know, “Cygnet Committee.”) Comparing anything to Bowie’s early folk songs is hardly a compliment, anyway. That said, I like “Cygnet Committee” anyway. Sue me!!!
Like a Hurricane A+
Beautiful! You wonder how Young could stand to let his albums be so inconsistent. Longer than the last one, but he rambles based on a good melody, crunchy electric guitar and a solid backing beat. Some sort of distorted keyboard string sound subtly in the background gives it an interesting, disturbed texture. Not only is the melody among Young’s finest, but that electric guitar solo (pardon the cliché) will BLOW YOU AWAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah, it’s that good. I’m not usually impressed with guitar noodling, but here’s one of those happy exceptions… This guy sounds utterly demented… There’s more personality in that guitar than most actual people have. Cool. This eight minutes makes you forget the last seven minutes (still, it undeniably exists since I got it on paper). Probably my favorite Neil Young song (…hard to make such blanketed statements since I’m listening to / reviewing these albums in order).
A bit of an underwhelming closer. Two minutes worth of an uninteresting melody… But at least the guitars are as crunchy as ever… Probably would have hated this if not for the guitars. Doing that a cappella stuff wasn’t the best idea.
Comes a Time (1978)
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Goin’ Back A
While I’m not too thrilled about those uninspiring acoustic guitar riffs he opens with and occasionally revisits (I know he wanted it to be laid-back, but it didn’t have to be so melodiless). But when he starts singing the tune, it’s gorgeous! Oh man… Lucky us, he’s actually sounding laid-back here, which he was only pretending to be in Harvest. The arrangements, especially in the second half even get creative… He brings in some orchestral elements, but these are genuinely meaningful and rather breathtaking. Why… Why… Well, I love this song!!!! … One principle Young violates here is that he tends to repeat the same melody over and over again (he probably could have stood to work in other melodies), but this melody is so strong that I don’t mind it a single bit.
Comes a Time A-
The hillbilly violins that open this track makes me go “uh-oh,” but then he actually delivers a likable and catchy tune… It’s amazing what good melodies will do… Why, they might just actually make me like country-western music. This one’s shuffley, going a long at a very leisurely pace. Pretty back-up vocals from Nicolette Larson. My main complaint is that the chorus isn’t as hooky as it should’ve been… Otherwise, this is fantastic. The orchestration is wonderful, too… Love those string build-ups.
Look Out For My Love B-
Ah, betrayal! Not nearly as compelling as the previous two and not nearly as laid-back (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing)… But at the same time, I’ve got to appreciate the relative uniqueness of this one… Certain fuzzy guitar licks sound weird through my headphones. The problem is that I don’t like the melody too much. That’s the trumping factor here…
Lotta Love C-
Awwww! C’mon dude!! What happened to your melodies?? This one’s a very common track with the guitar, a loud though boring drumbeat and a pounding piano. Young’s whiny old voice sounds like it’s in default-mode! There’s nothing compelling about this song whatsoever!
Peace of Mind B
Back to laid-back mode, but the melody leaves something to be desired. The drums take an oddly militaristic beat, which doesn’t really suit it. The strings come in nicely, which contributes to creating a nicely done, forlorn atmosphere… Really, apart from the drums I love the arrangements! But they don’t mean a whole lot when the melody isn’t impacting.
Human Highway B+
Oh good!! Back to the hillbillies. One really deathly hook’s in here, but that’s it and the rest of the song isn’t so different from an ordinary, empty Joan Baez song. All in all, however, it’s a likable tune with nice, plucky instrumentation. Young should use the banjo more often! Such a beautiful instrument!
Already One B
Nice enough, but boring as hell. I probably would have liked this more if it appeared as the third track (though it still would have been a B for boringness). Just that the mood of those songs would have benefited the pleasantly sleepy nature of this one. As usual, I’m going to complain that the melody doesn’t interest me much at all… just… meh…
Field of Opportunity C+
This suffers from genericness… in a BAD way… I can picture any old country hillbilly writing a melody like this……. Because it’s not an original melody!! But to be fair, sometimes lifting common melodies isn’t bad when it’s done right… here, it’s fine. I can get caught up in this country / hillbilly vibe as well as anybody else… Just that nothing about this is inspired or inspiring… Just something to sit back to and instantly forget about once it’s done.
Motorcycle Mama B
I don’t see any overpowering reason why this is the highlight of the album… This one features Nicolette Larson at their most spirited (actually overpowering Young for most of it). Otherwise, this is a fairly ordinary roots-rock song with a shrug-worthy melody. (Though nice crunchy guitars!)
Four Strong Winds A-
Actually, this is almost fantastic! I give it the same rating, but I don’t like it as much as “Comes a Time” only because the melody is just a *tad* less hooky. I gotta love it, though. It’s a light folk song that trudges along at a very winsome, leisurely pace though still managing to sound forlorn though sweet. Love the mood, dig the pace and the melody is nice enough… so, this is a good song!!!
Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
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My, My, Hey, Hey (Out of the Blue) A
Apparently, Young was battling with the fact that he was becoming irrelevant, so he decided to just not be relevant… So, here’s Neil Young deciding to abandon the popular genres and simply deliver a pretty and melodic folk ditty. And all along, I guess all he needed was him, his acoustic guitar, a harmonica and an audience (that you can barely hear). The lyrics involve something about rock going old, and some of these lyrics were used in a famous suicide note. Yeah, you know all about that already.
Much like the previous track (stylistically) except it doesn’t make nearly as much of an impact. Nonetheless, it’s still refreshing to hear this guy be honest with his audience again (something we hadn’t seen this clearly for awhile now). It sounds like he means everything he’s singing about, which means the world. Wonderful work here…
Ride My Llama B+
…Er, what if I don’t wanna ride your llama? This is another acoustic-only track featuring Young doing nothing but delivering a song … about riding a llama. The melody isn’t anything particularly special, but it’s nice and lucid. I’ll also grant you this is the sort of song that has the tendency to grow on you rather nicely.
Very good. Based on my constant demand for melodies, I’m glad to report that this track meets my expectations. Making it even better is that it sounds like it means something, which makes me even more interested in listening to it. Er, it’s about Indians. Young is more engaging than ever---to the extent that I wish he was always like this. Even the arrangements have interesting, creative touches that add to its mystique.
Sail Away B+
Styx???? … Uh oh…… Oh good, this is another Neil Young song. This one’s stylistically similar to the previous songs except he brings in a light drumbeat. It’s folk instead of country, and it makes me wonder why he liked country music so much to begin with! The melody is somewhat predictable, though.
It’s interesting that every time I listened to this album, I barely notice its transition to an electric album. The previous track introduced a drumbeat, and this one has electric guitars and a bass! He even brings in some back-up singers… Interestingly, I think this would have worked really well as another guitar-and-harmonica folk number, but he had a great idea how to develop the whole album instead. Geez, it even has one of his mid-tempo and melodic electric guitar solos. He’s not trying to show off… just wanting to sound genuine. Cool.
Welfare Mothers B
Melodically, this is the album’s only relative miss. Really, all this seems to be is a chorus that’s repeated over and over again. The riff he uses isn’t especially great, and as I said, it ends up sounding too repetitive. It doesn’t do much to keep this album from achieving real classic status. The guitar solos are way too good for that.
Sedan Delivery A-
Geez, the fuzz keeps growing, doesn’t it? Well, I won’t say this is bad at all! Again, at least this isn’t another country-rock tune!!! … OK, let’s be more constructive. THESE GUITARS ARE FAST, UGLY AND AWESOME!!! No wonder Kurt Cobain loved this album so much… this is as pre-grungy as it gets without being The Pixies. Those guitars are ugly and flooded as ever. You can barely even hear Young’s singing voice (alas, the secret to the success). Nice melodic ideas, too, as far as that’s possible in such a song.
Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black) A+
More often than not, I’d have a cow, grind it into a gristly hamburger and then donate it to McDonald’s whenever someone would open and close an album with the same song re-done. But when it sounds completely different (stylistically) and lends the album it’s own unique dimension, then how can I possibly complain? This one’s even meaner and uglier than the previous track, and it effective brings that passive “concept” to a close. The guitar crunches sound almost mechanical/industrial as a matter of fact… except for a few really wicked solos here and there. Of course, the melody is just as perfect as it always was. Clearly, this is one of Young’s most unique songs.
Live Rust (1979)
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Sugar Mountain B+
I think this might have been my first exposure to Neil Young's music. My memory is hazy because of all the drugs I did, but I believe my English teacher thought reading Animal Farm provided a good enough reason to play some Neil Young in front of the class. Anyway, this is the first time in Young's discography that this song appears. It's not a bad tune... It's a strictly acoustic song, and the melody is likable. Young's vocal performance is what you'd expect. Kinda awful, but I assume if you get this album you'd be used to it by now.
I Am a Child B-
This song also doesn't appear anywhere previously on his discography. I guess Young had to gradually back into re-recording his back-catalogue, or something. This is similar to the previous song except he brings in the harmonica. The melody is nowhere near as compelling, but it's nice.
Comes a Time A-
This is not just a song from his back catalogue, but a title track at that. And that doesn't seem to be phasing him! Go Neil!! This is more stripped down than the original, but it was the melody that attracted me to it in the first place. It's a very pretty song that he sings with his acoustic guitar and harmonica --- yeah, that's all he ever needed I guess.
After the Gold Rush B
Not just a title track, but a real *hit* now. Oh man! The crowd's going wild! Unlike the previous three tracks, he's singing with a harmonica and piano. Boy did that guy love his acoustic-to-electric concept! It's funny that after these long weeks of Neil Young appreciation school, I still haven't grown a particular fondness to this song. I mean, even when we're comparing it to “Comes a Time,” I still find it somewhat bland. Oh well, the crowd is in seventh heaven.
My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) A
“When I get big I'm going to get an electric guitar. When I get real big.” He says that before scarfing down two dozen Twinkies. Well, we just heard this song in Young's previous release Rust Never Sleeps, which was incidentally also performed live and released the same year. I like the first one best just because the distracting audience was wiped out, and the guitars sound crunchier. But really both songs are great. Keep playing!!
When You Dance I Can Really Love A
I guess he got real big, because now he's performing the crunchy rock song from After the Gold Rush. Absolutely, it was one of the best songs on that album, and it's great hearing it again. The tempo is sped up a bit, which makes the guitars even sound crunchier. The guitars are slightly more distorted, too ... acknowledging that the events of the following nine years occurred! This is a very good rendition!!
The Loner A
Wow, this is from his debut! The guy sure knows what to pick from his back catalogue! (We're excluding the two unknowns that open the album...) I was moved enough to give the original an A+ because I was moved by the dazzling instrumentation. But this live rendition, done exclusively with electric guitars, is crisp!
The Needle and the Damage Done B+
There's some sort of storm and somebody tells the audience to think hard so that it would stop raining. (Is that Young talking? I can only recognize his singing voice.) Anyway, if you stop the rain, then you're never going to get a Harvest. And speaking of that album, that's the boring album where this song came from. But this is quite an improvement. This is much beefier. Cool. Harvest fans should compare these versions and try to come up with reasons that I'm wrong.
Lotta Love B
Just like the previous track, I didn't care for the studio incarnation of this song. I still don't think it's a particularly good song, but the instrumentation does sound much beefier (which really shouldn't happen in a live release... but here it is), and Young had a better handle on his vocal delivery. Perhaps it's not Young's most compelling melody, but it's surely likable. ... That's something I was too distracted to really notice too starkly when scoring Comes a Time.
Sedan Delivery B
This seems like a nicer version than the original, which was distorted as hell and gave credence to his godfather of grunge image. Nonetheless, the furious guitars are still here in all their glory, and Young's voice is ugly, too. Of course it's a well written song, but the original is always going to overshadow it.
Yet another song from Rust Never Sleeps. The third one. Why so many songs from the live album released the same year? ... Er, there was a reason for that I suppose. A documentary or something. Anyway, I loved this song originally, and I love hearing it again! Both the melody and riffs are catchy! I liked the original version better though.
Cortez the Killer A
Ah yes, his favorite song about that Spanish guy going around and taking things and killing people. For some reason I like this a tad better than the original. I guess they're both about the same quality, but I'm a little more engaged by this version. The guitar solos are excellent!!! They do this funny rhythm thing at the end, though... a nod to new wave? And that thing with the squeaky voice?? Eh... you hardly notice.
Cinnamon Girl A-
Yes, this is a good old fan favorite! They sure like playing it with a lot of distortion, though... geez...
Like a Hurricane A+
Ah here it is! I'd feel disappointed if I ever went to a Neil Young concert and I didn't get to hear this song! I haven't bothered trying to rank Young's songs (in my mind) but this has got to be in the Top 3. Easily. Surely, it's one of the best songs on the album.... Like the earlier version, this grabs me by the ears and takes me along for the ride. The guitar solo is in the Top 3 best guitar solos ever! (OK, I couldn't possibly know that ...)
Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) A
Probably my favorite song from Rust Never Sleeps. This is another fine rendition, but I gotta prefer the original. Both have weird vibes like they're going to end the world, though. And hear the guitar solo!
Tonight's the Night A+
Another one of my favorite Young songs! This one features yet another rip-roaring guitar solo --- you know, it's something those hair metal bands they could create something 1/234th as awesome. A great choice to end the album with ... Nice to have something this violent linger in your mind...
Hawks & Doves (1980)
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Little Wing B
OK, folks. Right away, you can tell that Neil Young just wanted to be as laid back and simplistic as he could be. Understandable since Rust Never Sleeps would have tired anyone out. This just consists of young singing a tune with his acoustic guitar and supplying some harmonica from time to time. The melody is rather sweet, and I like its unpretentious aura. The only thing betraying about this, though, is that fade-out, which happens just at the two-minute mark. I understand his non-ambitious attitude with this album, but the least he could do is finish these songs!!
The Old Homestead C+
When I said that Neil Young should finish his songs, I didn't mean that he should make them seven frikin' minutes long! And what can I say about this other than it's a very lengthy acoustic song that repeats the same melody over and over again. Why, it's so boring that it's fantastically boring!!! The guitar strumming and drumming make it seem very Dylanesque except without that world-worn quality. The only unique thing about this song is that theremin sound that's wobbling around very quietly in the background.
Lost in Space B
“Don't draw on the infinity board” ......? That's what I get for listening to Neil Young lyrics. ... Anyway, this one is OK. The chorus is really good, and it's sort of a shame he's just piddling around during the rest of this. (He sounds so much like a hippie here, I don't know if I have the heart to tell him...) There's a weird vocal distortion effect toward the end of this... and you guys thought Trans came out of nowhere!
Captain Kennedy B+
Arrrrrr matey!!!! If it wasn't for that Mickey Mouse voice, I would have a hard time knowing this was Neil Young at all. This just sounds like the average, extremely derivative British folk song that's been done a bazillion times from boring folk flunkies who can't afford a real recording studio. ... But why do I like it? I don't know...............
Stayin' Power B-
Not bad! But the melody isn't anything to write home about at all. In fact, it's terribly generic, if you ask me. This song actually has a piano that pounds away, an electric guitar and some thumping drums. The real star of the show, however, is the violin, which almost singlehandedly saves this song. Unfortunately, the pacing of the song is still clunky, and it seems too underdeveloped.
After a successful show, the violinist was asked to return here in “Coastline” where it has a better melody to work with. This has a boogie woogie swag to it, and it's sorta entertaining. Even a bit of well-used slide guitar there in the background. The chord progressions are very generic, but somehow Young makes it seem rather fresh. So, good job there.
Union Man A
The one and only gem from the album. The reason I like it is not just because it's so upbeat, but because Neil Young comes off so incredibly charming! I'd almost call it “bubbly.” I love those “yeahs” and that little piece of audience participation is fun as well. The melody is light, poppy and very snappy albeit not particularly original.
Comin' Apart At Every Nail B-
Almost the same song as “Union Man,” but that's not a bad thing! The pacing and melody is almost identical, except this time certain bits of the melody come off as too generically country-western for me. Though the song isn't without its charm. There are a couple other singer singing along who probably didn't rehearse much... Well, it sounds *real* and that's surely worth something. I also like those blocky chord interludes that pop up every once in awhile.
Hawks & Doves B
This is a little hotter and heavier than the others, and it's quite a bit more typical of Young. The song starts out really well, but it becomes pretty apparent that he wasn't going to go anywhere else with it. The violins are here, naturally, but they almost seem to be holding this one back with a number of generic lines. Nonetheless, this stands as a pretty good song, and a fitting closer to this very non-noteworthy album.
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Opera Star A
This song is pretty frikin hilarious. You can already tell this is a huge departure from that tepid Hawks & Doves! Those electric guitars are loud and the pace is toe-tapping. Young delivers a very spirited performance, which is highlighted by Young's cartoonish “Ho ho hos,” which is complimented by a much lower pitched “Ho ho ho.” .......You're just going to have to hear it. Not only is this song good for the novelty effect, but the melody is catchy as hell. I gotta like this Neil Young incarnation!!
Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleeze B+
This isn't even remotely as fun as the previous song, but at least he's favoring the harder rocking songs and keeping a far cry's distance away from that ... previous album. The melody isn't very memorable, but the instrumentation is very bold and can be affecting. I like that it's rather spirited and heavy handed.
I'm probably just going crazy, but I find it hilarious that Neil Young spends this entire nine-freaking-minute song singing “Got mashed potato / Ain't got no T-Bone!” ... But in my defense, this riff (that never changes) is so damn catchy that it had plenty of inertia to keep it going for all that time! What's more, the guitar noodling is absolutely first rate... that guitar is constantly changing texture, refreshing the experience just as it starts to grow a little bit dull. The rhythm notably has those hand-claps, which like it or not keeps this one sounding poppy ... as well as that melodic, bouncy bass. Well, well, well...
Get Back on It B
Yeah, he got back on those MEDS. Here's a very straitlaced boogie rock song that's not very unique for the genre. This is OK, but nothing too special. It's only two minutes so you might not even notice it.
Southern Pacific B+
Here's a very normal rock song with lotsa distorted guitar, and I love it! Because, when Neil Young is in doubt, he should always pack on that wonderful distorted guitar of his. The rhythm goes chugga-chugga like a train. Naturally, it's very simplistic, but that's been the theme of this album. When it's done this well, it's hard to ignore.
Motor City C+
The one neat thing about this song is that really heavy and deep guitar that comes pounding through every once in awhile. Other than that, this song doesn't really do anything for me. It's not very exciting, and the trite melody really starts to get annoying. That guitar duet in the middle is really clumsy...
Rapid Transit B
Another entertaining number! This one's thicker, heavier and a little more spirited. This is a lot like hard-rock psychedelia used to be... it even includes those good old, aimless guitar solos! It's also funny to hear Young do those goofy “brrrrrrrr” and “ssssssss” noises throughout this. I like the riff, even though it's hardly original.
I reiterate: When in doubt, crank up those distorted guitars. Apart from machine gun sound effects puttering off every 10 seconds and a militaristic drum roll, this song is nearly eight minutes chock full of some of the most aimless electric guitar soloing that ever existed in the world. (Oh yeah, and Young sings through this... but I think I'm starting to naturally filter out his voice.) I suppose I should hate this song because it's so silly, but ... whatever. I like blowing out my ear drums every once in awhile for no real reason.
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Little Thing Called Love A-
Hey, don't look so worried! It's OK... This ain't synth-pop yet. In fact, this is a lovely three-minute pop song with a catchy melody and a nice, poppy little riff. As you can tell from the song title, this is strictly unpretentious. I'm not sure if Young ever did straight pop-rock like this before ... and he's pretty good at it. (But I don't think that was too difficult for someone like Neil Young.)
Computer Age A-
Now this is where the poop hit the rotating metal blades. Here's Neil Young recording electronica music in the same style as Kraftwerk and distorting his voice through a vocoder! ... In fact, considering that bands like The Eurythmics were already in full flight by 1982, “Computer Age” already seemed passe. But it does bear the marks of someone who was a closet admirer of Kraftwerk and just wanted to play around with their style a bit. And it does have merits, anyway. The melody is very catchy, and so is that electro-riff! And even though the basis of this song is very primitive electronica, Young still plays guitar on it ... it's just quieter than usual.
We R in Control A+
Yeah... and A+ for a Neil Young electronica song. But I can't help it. At any rate, before you make up your mind about Young's flirtation with electronica, you should hear this song! It kicks BUTT! That electro riff is very dark and menacing. And that more sing-songy chorus he works in reeks of awesomeness. Furthermore, the lyrics are cool. It's about robots, or something, that have taken over the future-world. (Oh god... I think I'm a sci-fi geek.)
Transformer Man B
OK, this is where Young's vocoder experiments start to get a little annoying. But in all honesty, this is a pretty dang good song even with the vocoder! This one's an electro-ballad. Usually, this is where electronica musicians take some time to develop those intricate synthscapes... But Young doesn't do that at all. But somehow, despite that, this turned out to be a pretty dang charming song. The melody is perfectly captivating for its three minutes, and it reminds me of a song from ELO's Time (one of the great electronica albums). Cool!
Computer Cowboy B-
Computer cowboy?! ....... This time, he uses very choppy, real guitars instead of synthesizers, but he's still singing in that vocoder. You'd think the real guitar ones would be better, but this lacks the charm as the others. I will give him credit for developing such a dark and menacing atmosphere, though!
Hold Onto Your Love C
...Oooof. I'll tell ya. I tried to like this. This isn't one of the electronica songs, but very straightforward pop. It starts out nicely enough with a new-wave style jerky drum beat and a light synthesizer groove. Neil Young sings in his normal voice a very simple melody. But the melody is just bland... by the time the song is finished, after three minutes, I'm very ready for it to be over.
Sample and Hold A-
I think this is where Neil Young finally got it out of his system. Here is a massive, eight-minute tribute to electronica... he uses drum machines and a vocoder and everything ............................... and it's pretty dang good, if you ask me. It probably would have been better if it was only five minutes long, but I still sit through this feeling utterly delighted with it. Similarly to “We R in Control,” the atmosphere is very menacing! The melody is catchy and the chords are especially good for this genre. Also, helping matters is that heavily distorted guitar that contributes everything to that atmosphere.
Mr. Soul B
A ROBO VERSION OF THE BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD SONG!!!!!!!!!!!! Neil Young... man, you just go too far. He must have been trying to piss off his fans intentionally! But in all honestly, this isn't bad. Of course the non-robo version sounded better, because that riff doesn't sound very good in this choppy form. This was good as long as he didn't make it more than 2.5 minutes long ... and so this song is only overextended about thirty seconds.
Like an Inca A-
Touched for the very first time!!!!!! (...sorry.) And look at this! By all accounts, this is a very normal Neil Young song! Yeah! It's back to that folk-rock formula with a catchy riff and a number of impressive guitar riffs. I guess he wanted to give his horrified fans a treat after baring through his electronica stuff! This song has a catchy riff and a very good melody. His guitar noodling, while surely has been more intricate and more technically impressive in previous albums, dazzles this song up pretty well. The one thing I fault this song on is the 10-minute running length. It doesn't do anything more that a five-minute song would have had plenty of time for.
Everybody's Rockin' (1983)
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Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes C+
I've listened to this song a whole lot, and I really don't like it. Sure, the source material is fine, but I really don't care for this presentation. And Young's ill-suited voice isn't the half of it. It's that lackluster instrumentation! I mean, if you're going to do this, ya gotta do more than just have this wussy little drum pittering around, an incredibly cliché piano solo, and the most annoying saxophone loop in the history of mankind. I mean, he could at least have bothered putting some more prominent guitar in this. He was kind enough to do that in Trans, for heaven's sake!
Rainin' in My Heart C-
An old blues cover now. The instrumentation has similar problems. If that pianist just would stop pounding that thing like he was in an earthquake, and actually play the thing, then we might have had something. That harmonica is mixed too loudly as well! (Come to think of it, considering the circumstances, I'd imagine these mixing problems are more of the record company's fault than Neil's...)
Payola Blues B-
Finally an original! ... You wouldn't actually be able to tell it apart from the covers since the whole point of it is to be derivative. This is a boogie song, which reminds me perhaps not inappropriately of Frank Zappa's Cruising With Reuben and the Jets. The lyrics are pretty dang funny, though... they're about the Alan Freed payola scandal.
I'm actually able to tell this original apart from the covers, because of the harmonies. Not the typical doo-wop style. But why does he still retrain that drum beat, too-suppressed guitars and the doo-wop singers? I know I've been complaining about the derivative songs, but this is completely the wrong presentation for such a song. It's so wrong that it's just painful to listen to. Especially toward the end when they keep repeating the same three notes over and over. This is just a bad song through and through.
Kinda Fonda Wanda B
Is that Jane's and Peter's illegitimate half-sister? ... OK, bad joke. At least this original uses the right chords, and I think those doo-wop singers provide something decent here for once. The mixing is generally better, but that piano solo comes in like a nightmare! There's a point in here where Young mutters “tweedledee!” in a pitch higher than he usually sings. Hilllllarious.
Jellyroll Man A-
This is also an original, and it's difficult to tell apart from the last song except Young appears to avoid some of the pitfalls that plagued the previous songs. The song has some good swing to it, and that call-and-response thing he does with the doo wop singers is pretty fun. (Yeah, I know ... we heard that a million times.) I guess my only complaint about it is that harmonica sounds a little like those screaming root plants from one of the Harry Potter movies.
Bright Lights, Big City B-
This cover is without the same charm as the previous song... Everyone seems asleep here. Although very little of this annoys me, and that includes a not-so-piercing harmonica solo. Though I still wish they would have spent some time working out that sound...
Cry, Cry, Cry B
I know this album is only 25 minutes long, but I'm really looking forward to getting this thing over with. This sort of music isn't my cup of tea, if you couldn't tell. (Although I do like Elvis... At one point I was actually going to try reviewing him... I might still do that.) At the very least, this has a pretty cool '50s pop-star guitar solo in it. Otherwise, I find it too much like the others and pretty boring...
Mystery Train B+
Is it just me or is this album getting better? Eh... no, it's not me, it's the album. It just seems like he laid off all that annoying stuff that was plaguing the earlier tracks. This is a very straight-ahead cover. The drum sounds like a train and we hear the doo-wop singers sing “woowoo!” LIKE A TRAIN!
Everybody's Rockin' A-
This is the amusing closer. A doo-wop song that Neil found somewhere and wrote different lyrics for it. I guess everybody was doing that back in the '50s, so there's no big problem with doing that in the '80s I guess. Well for this type of music, this song is pretty good. I gave it an extra rating-boost for that funny saxophone squeal at the end. So, this song just surpassed “Jellyroll Man” as the best song here. Congratfluations!
Old Ways (1985)
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The Wayward Wind B+
This is a cover from a songwriting duo that I know nothing about! But I enjoy listening to this laid-back song with a pleasant melody. The instrumentation consists of acoustic guitars, ploppy bass and some clean harmonica. There's also some scaling strings going off in the background, which I suppose is supposed to represent the “wayward wind.” Those strings end up being the one factor that keeps this song from being too dull.
Get Back to the Country A-
If it wasn't for that Jew's Harp boinging throughout, this hillbilly country song might have just been too *normal*! That's the sort of touch that proves Neil Young was enjoying himself, and I always like listening to music from people who were having fun. It's not just that Jews Harp, but that enjoyable fiddle, finger-picking bajo and some nice lines delivered from a slide guitarist. This is nothing more than a lot of fun!
Are There Any More Real Cowboys? B
This is a tad more standard country song without much of an original melody. It's a mid-tempo ballad with fine lyrics. Though nothing too inspired. Nonetheless, it continues to be an enjoyable piece, and the ultra-polished instrumentation does it well.
Once an Angel C-
This reminds me of those horrible gospel-country songs I used to hear all the time when I lived in Kansas. I think the only real reason I'm glad I moved outta there is to get away from stuff like this! Again, the melody is completely derivative, and there's nothing too great about the instrumentation. Very standard, very boring.
This is much more original, but not the most interesting song that Neil Young has ever done! It starts out with a lone, dull bass-line as Young starts singing some boring melody. Eventually, a violin comes in and scales around. A female singer in the background sounds either like a ghost or a coyote! This thing goes on for five minutes... I like the instrumental changes throughout, but it would have been better to think of some new melodies.
California Sunset B-
This is much more upbeat and hillbilly-like. I guess that proves that if you must write country music, the more you sound like a backwoods hillbilly, the better off you'll be! You see, them hillbillies know how to have fun with them fiddles and stuff even though they're not too sure how to write interesting, new melodies.
Old Ways A-
This one's a little closer to old-school rockabilly than the straight country songs that this album has been infested with. And, rest assured, this is much grittier than anything that appeared on Everybody's Rockin'. Young delivers an uncharacteristic growl in his vocal performance, which makes it a little more interesting! This reminds me more of a Rolling Stones than Neil Young!
My Boy A
Yay! The melody isn't one of those stupid cliché things... it's actually something that Neil Young would write. The melody is catchy, and the chord progressions are very good for this genre. The lyrics are obviously very personal to him, and there's a very strong bittersweetness to this. The instrumentation still uses the country flavoring, but they enhance this atmosphere. Some plucky banjos keep the country flavor, and some rather spooky slide guitar piddles around in the background. Very nicely done!!
Bound For Glory B+
Here's another straight country song, but it has a nice tune. The instrumentation continues to be very smart and clean though still pretty standard. There's a piano, thumpy bass and slowly strumming acoustic guitar. That fiddle is much better than the vocal melody! Young is also duetting with someone... I'm guessing that's Willie Nelson. My major criticism of this song is it's six minutes long... But it doesn't get incredibly old.
Where is the Highway Tonight? C
Does the highway move around sometimes, or something? ... Well, Young sure chose a boring old country song to end the album with. Another one of those slow, goofy cowpoke songs that don't add anything to the genre or Young's discography. I'm glad that this thing is only three minutes long, because that's the moment when this thing stops being boring and finally grows tedious!
Landing on Water (1986)
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Weight of the World C
As long as Neil Young had to make an '80s electro-groove song, he'd might as well make it a weird groove. I like the unusual drum beat, but that keyboard sounds like it was only half working. An interesting idea, but it does have that nagging tendency to get on my nerves. Some glass-breaking sound effects and other sound effects recall Kate Bush, but her uses sounded much more conducive to the whole experience! That section in the middle is really terrible, though. The groove gets a little more busy at the end when Young chooses even more annoying synthesizers to contribute to the groove... Geez, dude!
Violent Side A-
This is much better, because it doesn't annoy me! I think Neil Young lost the memo that said washed-up '60s and '70s stars making electronic albums in the '80s have to use drum machines, but there's a real guy pounding these things! He's doing it an a very robotic fashion, so it still fits in with the overall style of this album. Young is also playing the guitar in a robotic fashion. I believe the memo also stated that you have to use keyboards, but I don't think there's a keyboard anywhere here. Just very robotic guitars. Well, I guess that makes this an interesting song! The melody is very nice, and that child's chorus he brings in works surprisingly well, and the melody has plenty of good hooks. Well, well, well!
Hippie Dream B
This song was written back in the '70s as far as I'm aware! To keep with the weird instrumentation style of the album, he uses wavy keyboards and somewhat stilted drum rhythms. Though he does provide some very nice, “crazy” guitar licks throughout to give it a sort of seedy atmosphere. This isn't bad, but the bizarre instrumentation was more awkward rather than inspired.
Bad News Beat B+
I think I'm enjoying these songs more than I should be! But then again, I can't control what entertains me! This song is characterized by another faux drum machine, and a rapid keyboard intro. The instrumentation is interesting enough for it to be crazy enough to be fun. Some of it is terribly awkward, though... especially around the two-and-a-half minute mark is rather awful. Also, this song might have done better if Young would've limited that two-chord part.
Touch the Night A
I know... I'm enjoying this more than I should. I think I'm supposed to be offended by this song, but I actually think it's pretty good. Young's going off on more of a wussy heavy metal route, but I genuinely love hearing him play all those metal guitar solos! The use of the children's choir and those crunchy violins (sort of reminiscent of “Cloudbusting”) was pretty creative... especially in a fake metal song.
People on the Street C
Neil Young is trying a bit too hard to mimic pop music ala Michael Jackson here, but that whiny white Canadian just doesn't have the coolness! The groove is very clumsy here and gets old fast. It's still very underproduced, which makes it interesting in that sense! The synthesizers strewn throughout sort of halfheartedly mimic the sorts of things played on the radio... You can say that about the other songs, but this is where that gets a bit annoying.
Hard Luck Stories C
He's doing a sort of dark synth-pop song, now, and it honestly isn't that appealing, either. The groove is simpler and better constructed than the previous tune... but it does have a bit of a grating quality, and there's no real energy to it. By the end, I wish that he would have invested a bit in a real chorus or something.
I Got a Problem B
Kind of good, this time. Again, there's a sort of synth-pop thing he's doing with the guitar. It's just four notes he's repeating. The drumming is a lot better here than it had been in previous tracks. It still sounds a bit too loud, but I like the rhythm he's playing. I don't care much for the melody, but that obviously wasn't Young's biggest concern at the moment! The electric guitar solos we hear in the background are easily the highlight of this.
This song starts out pretty well. That busy groove Young constructed is really weird and produces an interesting texture. But that chorus sort of ruins the flow... Don't get me wrong, I like that there was a chorus. Just the one that he put in here throws us off the tracks a little bit. By the end, that groove grows a little boring, but he ends it before three minutes, which was just about right.
This is a pretty decent closer. Again, Young constructed another awkward and underdeveloped synth-groove. This is one of the longer songs, so it's nice that the synth-groove generally had enough stamina to keep it going that long. To keep us interested, there are a few moments when the drums have a bit of a tantrum. Toward the end, there's another one of Young's metal-oriented guitar solos, and there's an annoying sounding keyboard doing an improvisation. It's not bad!
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Mideast Vacation A
Wow, this is actually good! I was expecting some more goofy drum loops, half-baked grooves and a nearly non-existent melody, but I'm actually enjoying this! Young is definitely still in the '80s. They use those stadium-drums and all sorts of keyboards. But unlike anything in Landing on Water, I love these keyboard sounds! A number of interesting sound effects are inserted throughout the track, including airplane noises and gun shots. Very well-programmed! The melody is catchy, and I enjoy listening to this. Nicely done!
Long Walk Home A-
And now he slows things down to deliver a ballad just like the olden days! The melody is quite good... It's nice to see that old songwriting talent seems to have returned to us. The lyrics are very political, which I suppose is why they inserted these sound effects (even though they might have sounded musically awkward... as opposed to the previous track where they contributed more fruitfully to the atmosphere).
Around the World A
Hey! You're not allowed to make good '80s rock music with stadium and keyboards and stuff! I thought we proved that you didn't know how to do that very well in your previous album, but here you go completely blowing that notion out of the water. The harmonies are good, and I like hearing Young's vocal melody. My only complaint is those keyboards, which sometimes seem a bit too loud. Given that, this is still remarkably enjoyable. An extra point for that weird, explosive ending.
Inca Queen C+
This has the same problem that so many other eight-minute songs do! It's eight minutes long! Young has a nice little mood going, though, with quite a good melody. I like that ultra-clean guitar sound even though it's sounding a bit too much like Dire Straits. It's very repetitive, and I'm very ready for it to be over by the end. It just didn't have that much staying power. I like that he wanted to try a different style, but that doesn't mean he has to be boring!
Too Lonely B-
I'm guessing Neil Young's favorite song is “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.” He ripped off the same song for “Mr. Soul!” Of course, this version is a less-inspired rip-off, although it's still sort of fun. Most Young fans really regretted him trying to act too much like an '80s pop star, and he's going at it rather obnoxiously here. He's singing like ... uh ... Mick Jagger or something. This is fine enough to tap your toes with, but this is basically forgettable.
Prisoners of Rock N Roll B
Here's his final FU to Geffen... this was the last record he released under his label, and I'm sure they were glad to be rid of each other. Here, he's stating that the record company kept trying to change him, so that's why he was being so naughty releasing these bizarre records. The lyrics are the interesting part of the song, but I like the melody alright. It's a guitar-heavy rocker with a dumb, catchy melody. There is an overextended coda to this that was a bit unexpected. It's a bit of a deranged, atmospheric part where their distorted guitars just play a bunch of noise. Hah!
Cryin' Eyes B-
Again, this isn't bad... it's just banal. The guitars are heavier, surely, which I'm sure the fans were much happier to hear than those keyboard-led ditties that opened the album, but what's the point of these silly rockers? If it was just slightly more polished, this might have made a good hair metal piece! (Well... Neil Young certainly had hair...) The star of the show is, of course, the guitars. Those squeaky things are a bit mental, which I confess I do like to hear!
When Your Lonely Heart Breaks D
.....oh no.... He's trying to do a power ballad. Please don't!!! These are terrible songs even from bands who did that thing for a living. And to hear Neil Young try it ................... say it ain't so!! Oh well. Don't worry too much, folks. At least this thing is about as underorchestrated as it gets. Those synths are way too quiet. This is a huge failure, but at least they chose to bore me to death instead of annoy me. Young's vocal melody is terrible, but this is a power ballad so that goes without saying...
We Never Danced B+
This seems like Young was going for another pop ballad, but it's not a power ballad, and that's the big difference. It reminds me quite a lot of “Don't Forget to Dance” by The Kinks, which was a fine pop ballad! The melody isn't quite as captivating, but I like those instrumentals. They're the usual synthesizers and reverb-ridden drums that most bands were using in the '80s, but there's something jumbled about them that makes it seem like it's on acid. The melody deserves a B, but those effects deserve a +.
This Note's For You (1988)
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Ten Men Workin' B-
O, play me them blues, bluesman Neil Young! Even though Young got away from the soul-sucking Geffen label, he certainly hasn't gotten back to normal. Generally speaking, this is the same sort of corny R&B music that any goofy, cut-rate former star might have come out with. It has a swinging rhythm section, the usual generic chord progression and a blaring horn section that does precisely what you think it would. But the good news is that it doesn't sound cheap. And I do like those blaring horns. They're neat-o! The big no-no Neil does here was extend it past six minutes. It's a good four minute song, but it didn't have that much staying power.
This Note's for You B+
Why thanks, Neil, I always wanted an A-sharp! I can use it to replace my B-flat, which wasn't working properly the day I got it! ... Well, this song is barely over two minutes long, which makes me wonder why he didn't trade with the previous one and make both of them about right! This song seems to be an excuse for him leaving Geffen records, and perhaps the new one understands that he's not interested in whoring himself! Musically, this is a little more of an aggressive blues song than the previous... but it's even more '80s-fied.
Coupe De Ville B
This album is so formulaic, that Young does the quasi-predictable thing and lets the third entry be a slower ballad. Sort of the pattern I get from many typical albums. It's still a bluesy song, though, which I suppose means that Young sounds a little more like himself, because he isn't hiding behind so many instruments! Also, the melody is a little Young-ish, except with some reserved clean-guitar strumming and an occasional sax and horn section coming in. That could be my imagination. This track is pretty good, though. The melody is catchy, and at least the instrumentation isn't cheesy at all.
Life in the City C+
This is basically indistinguishable from “This Note's For You” except it lasts longer and it's sloppier. It seems like they went overboard on that reverb ... perhaps to drown out the over-cluttered instrumentation. Those '80s drums couldn't have been louder. The melody isn't anything to speak of...
This reminds me of Dire Straits' attempts at this sort of atmospheric guitar noodling excursions... But Neil Young is nowhere near as an engaging noodler than Mark Knopfer in such areas. This guitar clomps instead of twinkles. They don't even sound too sure about what they were doing! I know these comparisons are probably unfair --- but it's pretty obvious what Young was shooting for. And besides, I didn't particularly care for it when Dire Straits did these slow songs anyway. What Neil Young had the ability to do was write a more interesting melody, but this is toneless. Just a massive borefest.
Married Man B
Another one of those upbeat bluesy songs with blaring trumpets. It's basically indistinguishable from the first track, but at least that means the blaring trumpets are kind of cool, and the drum isn't so deafeningly, '80s loud. Also, that means this is about as generic as it gets (while still being fun).
Sunny Inside B+
Hey, I like this one! It's a little closer to a '60s sunshine pop tune instead of a generic blues song, which helps suit to my tastes a little better. Though the instrumentation is basically the same as the others. We still have those blaring trumpets pretty much drowning everything out, and the rhythm section has a cool swing to it!
Can't Believe Your Lyin' C-
I like that sentence. You can write “your” or “you're” and nobody can say that you misused it in a sentence. Maybe that's a cool idea for some little middle schooler taking a language arts test. This song is a good counter-example “Coupe De Ville.” Then, I appreciated that the instruments shut up for once and allowed Young's voice to talk to us... But the problem is this piddly blues song is so boring here that I just want to hear the ugly '80s drum again beating my brains out.
Hey Hey B+
I know less about jazz than I know about classical music (so it isn't much at all), but this upbeat blues-rocker has those funny wobbly trumpet noises all throughout. They sound a bit like a horse whinny... It's kind of funny, because we know they weren't being too serious about it. Otherwise, the horns are mixed pretty well in here, and Young is giving a nice, energetic performance. It's fun to listen to, for sure.
One Thing C
This slow jazzy thing is better than “Can't Believe Your Lyin'” and “Twilight” combined, but it's six minutes long and boring as all heck. It's just a minimalist jazz tune with an all-too-typical melody and a lot of saxophone solos that aren't interesting whatsoever. I understand that Neil Young only wants to do what Neil Young wants to do... but I hope he starts to want to do something worth doing. SOON.
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Rockin' in the Free World A-
You get an acoustic anthem that was recorded live with very distinct audience cheers from an apparently small audience. Considering the song itself reeks of classic Neil Young, I get the feeling that he wanted the cheers to get the record listener riled up about his return! ...Could it possibly have been calculated like that, or is it my imagination? Eh, I don't care. It's a good song with nice hooks. It's probably even as good as he did things in the '70s, which is saying something.
Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero Part 1) A-
Some of these ultra-long tracks have bored the crap out of me in Young's back catalogue, but this thing is pretty cool to listen to for the entire eight minutes. People who love his lyrics will likely find these amusing. I just like hearing the snappy drum trotting, and that incredibly catchy vocal hook Young unearthed to sing. A few nice atmospheric feedback noises were added to the mix to give it more atmosphere. There's a saxophone that comes in occasionally... it's a little cheesy but I like hearing it. Some points in the middle where he brings in slide guitars and changes the rhythm weren't too great, though...
Don't Cry A
He's bringing in that crazy, crazy, crazy ultra-distorted guitar probably for the sake of itself, but I'll admit that the thing is dang fun to hear! Some people connect this to grunge... but I have a feeling people only say that because they hear other people say it. Fortunately, this gimmick isn't the only thing making the song a good listen ... Yes, I like the melody! Even Young's vocal performance is pretty good. At least he sounds like he believes himself, which is saying a lot.
Hangin' on a Limb C+
This is a tasteful acoustic ballad where Neil Young sings for four minutes with Linda Ronstadt. It's very nice and thoughtful, but sort of museum-boring. I don't really enjoy it, but it's impossible as hell to disrespect it. (Oh no, I was feeling the exact same things about his early '70s albums!)
This is OK at times... At other times, it seems like it was lacking a something. The melody is OK, but not really enough to overcome these thoughtful, minimal guitars, which is what I'm actually paying attention to when I hear this song. Well, the guitar is really superb, but sometimes it seems like it's missing something. There really wasn't a good reason to take this past six minutes, either.
The Ways of Love B
The melody is prettier, and that somewhat dreary atmosphere works to its favor pretty well. Also, we're spared an insanely long running time, thank goodness. Young is duetting with Linda Ronstadt again in the nice chorus. It's a nice song with some nice musical ideas that fail to really catch fire. (...for example, that militaryesque drumming section was a good idea to change the pace, but did it really fit?)
Whoah... 1989. Up until now, I didn't get such a distinct idea that this album was released in 1989. But that goofy synth keyboard gives it away! ...That said, I don't actually care about that. This song is a little better than the previous song for a bolder chorus an an even stronger melody. Though I didn't quite give it that B+ just because the '80s keyboard section is really dull... and it pops up about a half dozen times. For the record, he could have played that sequence with any instrument, and I would have felt the same about it. Geez, this guy is having a return-to-form, and yet it's so dull!
On Broadway A-
This is Neil Young's version of that classic old Broadway tune with a lot of feedback. Actually, it turns out to be pretty dang good in the end. The drum beat somehow comes off as menacing while he's noodling around with his guitar in a bouncy fashion. Toward the end, it gets a little bit demented, and that crazy distorted guitar comes in and seems to pound it into the dirt. .....This is fun.
Wrecking Ball C-
This is a huge snooze-fest if you ask me. The melody is more of a carbon copy of those toneless adult-contemporary ballads. Young's snoozy vocals just go to amplify the snoozy qualities of this. Yeah. No need to listen to this more than once.
No More B+
Well, at least this picks up much of the slack after my entertainment-need was completely neglected after the previous track! The pacing is more upbeat (good), the development is steady (better), and the melody is actually catchy (even better). A really oddly doctored electric guitar comes in toward the end and makes car screeching noises. This might have been influenced by grunge, but the rest of the song is nothing like it...
Too Far Gone B
I will compliment Neil Young for keeping the song length respectably under three minutes, but I will say that it he dragged it on for another two minutes I would have gone completely nuts. This one has a good pacing to it, although it does seem a little bit corny. It's almost like a slowed-down skiffle.
Rockin' in the Free World A
Repeating his idea for Rust Never Sleeps, he closes the album with an electric version of the acoustic song that opened it. I do like the song, and this vamped-up version is awfully cool to listen to. I think this song more closely resembles '80s hair metal than grunge, but who am I to argue with public consent? I don't care about the lyrics, but I think the anthem spirit of this is nicely done. I like the melody, and frankly find the whole thing exciting. Cool!
Ragged Glory (1990)
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Country Home B+
Wow, that's some dirty guitar tone! ... Wow, that's some generic melody! ... I'm not going to complain about the melody, though. At least it isn't entirely bland, and the only thing we're really paying attention to is that guitar anyway. It does help that Neil Young overdubs himself, which not only makes the melody more tolerable, but also his whiny voice more tolerable. I'll throw in the general complaint about this being too long (seven minutes) without having any ideas other than the guitar solos and call this track review complete.
White Line B+
That guitar is really messed up! No wonder so many of his fans like this album! ... The melody is a little more compelling than the previous track, but somehow this misses out on the epic quality. I really don't care for the rhythm... it has an “oompa-oompa” quality that for some reason isn't clicking well with me. (I could possibly revise this opinion one day, but I'm not going to lie to ye.) The extra-dirty guitar is really cool, though.
F*!#in' Up A
That's a good question... And that's a good song, too! This time, the cool, extremely-distorted guitar comes in with not just good solos, but a really mean-sounding riff. The beat is really driving, this time, and the melody is actually catchy. As usual, though, it's the solos that most people care about ... and Neil's going to town. Really shredding that guitar as if he didn't care about its feelings. He's screeching that thing like he was strangling a cat. (I don't know how I'm supposed to describe guitar solos. I'm not that good of a writer.) The ending is really overextended with a lot of quiet feedback tones. What a freak.
Over and Over B-
I know I'm going to be met with some flack for this, but this thing goes on well past eight minutes, never ever changes its melody or tone or chord progression, and the electric guitar noodling isn't incredibly interesting this time. Apart from assuming that we'd all have unlimited attention spans to take such lengthy 'epics' at least Young was being modest about the guitar soloing... mimicking the melody instead of doing some sort of flashy hair-metal thing. But the melody is fine and only grows slightly old by the end. So...whatever. He ends this song with an overextended electric guitar note and feedback noise... exactly the same as the previous!
Love to Burn B
Ten minutes? ......Geez, man! Well, he does a flashy guitar solo, at least, with a lot of distortion! It's the sort of filthy thing this creepy old man was always best known for. The melody this time is so-so... The hook isn't that memorable... Even though he repeats it about eight trillion times, it doesn't stick in my mind like I think it should. The riff is OK, but it's a not-too-exciting bluesy thing. Just the guitar solos are the things worth hearing here. ...Honestly, I only ever half pay attention to it. It's sort of cool to listen to while you're driving or surfing the 'Net or something.
Farmer John B-
Just a bouncy riff going on for four minutes while Neil Young delivers a silly, simple melody about being in love with the farmer's daughter. Luckily this goes on for only four minutes, because that's about as much as I could possibly take of this. I mean, I think the texture is pretty neat, but couldn't he have varied it up a little bit? Is this asking too much??? ...His gimmick of ending all these songs with the same long-drawn-out note is getting a little tiresome.
Mansion on a Hill A
There's more pop-appeal to this one, which is why I like it more. The groove holds together well, the melody is catchy (though incredibly simple), it is just about the right length (five minutes), and he finds a good balance between the verses and the electric guitar solos. I wish Young would have been a little more musically creative, but this is absolutely the best we could have hoped from him......... and it's a fun song anyway.
Days That Used to Be A-
Wow, this song has an excellent melody... It's about 50 percent the same thing as a famous Bob Dylan song. (I was going to sift through his albums, but I wasn't the only one to have noticed it. It's a rip-off of “My Back Pages.” I guess ripping off Dylan doesn't make him Young-er than that now! .....er, sorry.) I do like that awesome guitar riff that Young worked in here, though. It's more of that ultra-distorted stuff, which I can eat up like cotton candy.
Love and Only Love B
Interestingly, this bears a slight resemblance to a Bob Dylan song that would be released 10 years later called “Things Have Changed.” Well, anyway... This thing is dragged on for 10 minutes again, and there was no reason for him to do that other than to just show off with his guitar. I know many, many, many people treasure every little lick that he's ever given to that blessed instrument. I love listening to him do that. But I can't suppress my feeling that this is waaaaaaaay too long. I would have accepted this at six minutes. In fact, the vocal melody he has here isn't bad at all and again, the song has a really cool drive. But hearing the guy whacking around with his guitar for so long is too much for me. I've never purported to be much of a Neil Young fan to begin with... so most of you probably think I'm evil anyway.
Mother Earth (Natural Anthem) C
Not sure what the point of this one was (other than to be a pompous dork). Just Young and his friends singing along with an extremely distorted guitar and nothing else for five minutes. It's really slow-moving and boring. There wasn't a good reason to make a grunge-ish song without a drum beat. Is that shallow?
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Hey Hey My My (Into the Black) A+
He begins this track with some of that incredibly low and distorted guitar that he’d been messing about with for the last few albums. But he quickly plays this good old song that we all know and loved from Rust Never Sleeps. And, WOW, it’s nothing less than an electric guitar symphony! We have his back-up instrumentals playing the familiar rhythm while Neil comes in and wonks around, terribly inspired, with his instrument. ...I don’t always appreciate his ultra-distorted and barely accessible noodles, but it definitely helps when he plays it with such an excellent song.
Crime in the City A
This is a really huge improvement over the version that appeared in “Freedom,” and anybody who loves the electric guitar is bound to agree with me. This guitar riff playing throughout is great, and there’s a more vibrant rock ‘n’ roll spirit to this. (Although I’ll admit to missing that funny, rolling drum beat from the original.) I’m not too sure what was with that brief anthemic bit in the middle, but ... I’m willing to ignore that. Of course the biggest improvement of them all was that he shaved it off two minutes... I’m used to live albums extending the original songs...
Blowin’ in the Wind A-
This isn’t as bad as it probably looked on paper. (Well, if I read about it before I heard it, I probably would have expected the worst.) This is a verrrrrrry slowly played version of the Dylan tune with just singing and incredibly loud, obnoxiously distorted electric guitars that sound much different than a 12-year-old would. It takes nearly seven minutes to play out. Geez, this is pretentious as hell, but it’s oddly compelling. Yes. Modern science can’t explain it, but I’m not bored with this whatsoever. In fact, it’s just the opposite and more; I like it! It is an unusual and dark interpretation of that old classic. The layered vocal harmonies also help to keep the thing fresh.
Welfare Mothers B-
Why did he have to do this song, of all things, from Rust Never Sleeps? I do suppose that it actually finds an unexpectedly comfortable home in the grunge era. It also improves on it by axing that awkward rhythm section, which cluttered the original a bit. Plus, that overly simple riff seems to flow better with the overall song this time, although I still don’t think that’s such a great riff. But the one thing that you will pay attention to must here is his inspired electric guitar noodling... For the most part, he lays off that hellishly distorted thing and goes for the most traditional electric guitars. So, the first half of the song is somewhere in the A- range. After that, the song just gets bad. There’s a section with a lot of yelling (they’re play acting) amidst an incredibly dark sea of distorted guitars. Everything slows down, and they chant a bit. Terrible. And none of that really lets up until the end. If you like listening to ugly, aimless guitar, then I guess you’ll get your fill here...
Love to Burn B
This is quite a bit looser than the studio version of this from Ragged Glory, though I don’t particularly prefer one over the other. I suppose this proves that I’ll never be in the same league as Neil Young fans: I still think that 10-minute running length was way to excessive. It has a mildly compelling riff, but my brain really gets numbed down at the end. Maybe you’re supposed to listen to it when you’re high or something. Just like the studio version, the only real reason to hear this song is the electric guitar solos. But that’s another problem, isn’t it? I’m saying the exact same thing on all these songs!! ... OK, I’m going to quit complaining before I get hurt. That guitar really does have a sort of manic depressive personality...
Cinnamon Girl A
Oh yeah! Remember when Neil Young used to be an old FOLK GUY??? Yeah... Well, this wasn’t one of his old folk songs, of course; it was pretty grungy to begin with. And this is just a good retread of that old song. For the most part, they play it just like it did back in the ‘60s except the guitars are a bit heavier. They seem to have a reverence for it... they don’t have any weird guitar solos (except for a brief section at the end where they’re clumsily making up stuff off the top of their head), and they don’t let it go past five minutes. Well, what can I say? It’s great to revisit them old days!
Mansion on a Hill B+
Give me this over “Love to Burn” any day of the week. Yeah, it’s an overly repetitive song that does get a little bit cumbersome after the six-minute running length, but the groove is a lot more addictive to me somehow. The guitars crunching around in the background are really fun to hear. But this wouldn’t be a proper song on this album if it wasn’t for a very squeaky electric guitar that wonks around throughout the track. It’s sort of good, but I’d rather hear something that’s not so ear-piercing.
F*!#in’ Up A
Oh yeah... you and I both know it. This is such a cool song that it doesn’t even know how cool it is. The version from Ragged Glory was undoubtedly one of that album’s highlights. That version was quite a bit tighter than this version, but this one has the utterly wild electric guitar solos sewn throughout it. It’s true, I seem to be becoming less and less impressed with those as this album progresses, but they really do sound more exciting when a good song like this is backing them up. (Oh geez, that devilish coda that takes about one minute? They probably should stop doing those... They’re getting irritating.)
Cortez the Killer A-
Here is the epic old song from Zuma, and it’s sort of exactly what you’d expect if you’ve been following this album for this long, It’s quite a bit longer, the guitar is more distorted and it makes a very fine listen. I also appreciate that they chose this slower paced song to go right in the middle, because I was getting sort of sick of all that fast-paced stuff. I still like the melody from the original, so this is still a nice piece to just sit back and soak up.
Oh yes... This was one of my favorite songs from Rust Never Sleeps, so I’m gladder than ever to hear this! He did have a very good track listing for this album despite a few hiccups here and there. It’s a lot more electric than the original version, which I’m sure you probably could have guessed! The electric guitar solos aren’t particularly special here, though...
Love and Only Love A
WOW. I complained in my review of the original incarnation of this song that it was way too long. Obviously things have changed here. It’s still way too long, but I’ll be damned if Young isn’t giving us some of the coolest wonks on this whole album. Besides, how can I think this song is too long anymore? It’s 10 minutes long, which is just like these others. I do find the melody to be very catchy ... this is the song that sounds an awful lot like a song Bob Dylan released in 2000. So you know it’s got to be good.
Rockin’ in the Free World B+
Hey look! This track is only eight and a half minutes long. We can go home early! But let’s listen to this song before we do... Once again, Young picks one of his better recent songs to put in this album. There are a lot of electric guitars (DUH) and he provides a really, really sloppy solo in there ... among the sloppier ones of the album ... yeah, I don’t really care for that solo this time. I don’t like that squeaky aimless stuff. But the melody of this was quite catchy to begin with, so there you go. What’s the deal with these codas? They spend two minutes on this one? Do they think they are rock ‘n’ roll Beethovens? Just end the freaking song already...
Like a Hurricane B+
I LOVE THIS SONG! Of the three versions of this song I heard so far, this is probably the worst of them. At any rate, I’m not even remotely inspired here to give it an A+, which is what I gave the original versions. I’m not going to sit here and compare versions, but I found the originals much more vibrant and colorful than this one. The electric guitar noodling is OK, but he’s really getting tiresome with all of this nonsense. He’s just concerned with playing notes and not so much concerned with how they actually sound, and he goes way too far again. That part in the middle when Young starts singing the song a capella with a few squeaky guitars playing around... blah.
Farmer John B
Wow, five minutes long? Where’s the fire? Actually, you can count this as a three and a half minute song, and the rest of it consists of Young making what sounds like Tarzan noises to the audience, who call it back out to him, and then another electric guitar coda. The first three and a half minutes consist of that bouncy riff I remember from the original... and they shave it off by nearly a minute, so that was good.
Tonight’s the Night A-
Oh yeah! Here’s that excellent title song from that excellent album Neil Young released a really long freaking time ago. This isn’t nearly as endearing as the original one it seems and it surprisingly isn’t even played as roughly... Instead, this seems more contemplative. But at least it has a good melody and those electric guitars aren’t so obnoxiously squeaky here... instead choosing to play it more in a Dire Straits sort of way, which is something that I endorse after some of those previous guitar solos. Once again, there’s a crazy-long coda full of noise. It sounds like bad traffic.
Roll Another Number B+
It’s always a magical thing when I get to the end of a particularly long album. And here it is. I made it. ...This is another selection from Tonight’s the Night, a country-western sort of tune. They decide to cut me a break and only spend five minutes on it. To be honest, I never cared for the melody to begin with. I find the thing very cliche ... it’s too much like other country-western tunes. The plodding pace could be trying to some listeners’ patience, but only bugs me a little bit. Of course, there’s some electric guitar noodling in here, which I’m sure is the only reason why some people love Weld.
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There is only one track in Arc, and it’s called “Arc.” If you change that last letter to a ‘k,’ it will turn into a giant boat with two animals of every kind in it. If you add an ‘h’ to the end of it, it will turn into McDonald’s where you can purchase a delicious milkshake. If you just leave it alone, it’ll be 35-minutes full of cat screeching and airplane noises. ...OK, those aren’t cats, and those aren’t airplanes. Those are guitars and a ton of feedback noise. Yes, this is a sound collage generated from all those terrible, overextended codas to Weld, and they were aimlessly copied and pasted together. This is retarded.
Harvest Moon (1992)
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Unknown Legend A
Neil Young opens this pleasant acoustic album with a pleasant acoustic song! But this is so utterly nice that I should have italicized utterly. This mid-tempo beat is kept bouncy by a very steady drum-line. Young's vocals were doctored with reverb to give this song a distinctly dreamy sort of atmosphere. A chorus of female back-up singers come in at the right time with their words and their “oooooooos.” Some blessed soul plays a minimal slide guitar, quietly in the background. ...And, best of all, this is such a sweet melody! We were always aware that Neil did well with melodies, and this is just another example of this. This is the sort of song that you can sit back and soak up under the shade of a tree. Gorgeous!
From Hank and Hendrix A
Er, wow, I guess this is a different track. It's the exact same drumbeat playing at the exact same pace, the exact same sort of instrumentation and the exact same sort of melody. But there's a new chord-progression, and that's what keeps it apart. Also, we get a chorus of Neil instead of a chorus of females. Other than that, this is the same song. Nonetheless, I don't want to fault Neil for that. As long as I was sitting back in the shade, I'd might as well do it for another five minutes. This is quite a cool exercise in nostalgia. The dreamy use of the harmonica and slide guitars, instruments that I sometimes have difficulty liking, deserve an Olympic gold metal. Screw the Dream Team!
You and Me B
I'm still under that same tree, and I'm no less charmed by this song. But if I wasn't intaking a healthy supply of caffeine, this song might inspire me to fall asleep. This song is a duet between Young and Linda Ronstadt with only the acoustic guitar as accompaniment. Such limited accompaniment always comes off as a little pretentious to me, but this is still a nice song to hear. Young comes up with a nice vocal melody and interesting, complicated harmonies. Ronstadt is so nice to hear. So, this is a good song. Yah.
Harvest Moon A+
Maybe he only inserted the previous song where he did was to help separate these songs. Once again, there's that slowly-paced drum beat... apart from a few minimal skips here and there, it's the exact same sound and the exact same pace. The big difference with this one is the utterly gorgeous melody and the haunting “ooooooh” in the background provided by Ronstadt. This is such a beautiful, mellow tune that I think I'd like this song to be playing when I'd die. Now, that's something I can't say about anything. That slide guitar is positively dreamy!
War of Man A-
Still that same old heavenly mellow pace and atmosphere, but this one doesn't quite have that same smooth pace and haunting atmosphere. But, gee, that melody is still fantastic. I can hardly believe this old fogie had so many nice hooks locked up in his brain. If you had a hankering for something a little harder, this is the closest that it gets here. There's a pretty mean riff that Young plays with his acoustic guitar along with a louder snare drum. He also brings in a fairly loud electric bass guitar... geez, I could just tell he was gritting his teeth, restraining himself from using those dark distorted guitars I got my 12-lifetimes fill of in Arc.
One of These Days A
Even though this is a slow-paced and mellow album, the slow-pace tempo of this tune ends up getting the better of me. And yet somehow it's so utterly charming and beautiful that I can't even bear awarding this anything less than an A. But it's still a hopelessly gorgeous song with more of those gorgeous back-up vocals who, again, seem to come in at the right time. Neil Young takes on the role of a hardened cowpoke who is singing about the days that have long gone by. I can't be sure why it took him so long to write songs like this. Maybe he only had to age a little.
Such a Woman A-
Count this as definitive proof that Harvest Moon is better than Harvest (although I don't think a whole lot of people are trying to argue that point). I remember being bored to death by these overly orchestrated, cinematic ballads that had appeared on Harvest, but it's quite the contrary with this one. The harmonies are so captivating that Beethoven might have liked them. The orchestration is wisely kept in the background, using it to boost the song's mood rather than providing the bulk of the song. It's that morose piano that's the main instrument. Young might have overdid it with the reverb here; it sounds like he was playing this on a music stage with the worst acoustics imaginable! But that does help the song's dreamy atmosphere, which goes well with the subject matter in the lyrics. My only big complaint is this seems to go on for a little too long.
Old King B+
Woof! This song is about an old daawwggieeeee. He brings out the old banjo for this one, and it's playing a riff that's exactly the same as The Beatles' “One After 909” for some reason. But I'm sure their riff was borrowed from somewhere else. You know how it goes. This could possibly be the least pretentious song of the album, but it's also one of the least captivating. But you really have to give Neil Young credit for coming up with an original-sounding melody even though this country-western genre has been done to death. The descending bass in that bridge is really brilliant, somehow.
Dreamin' Man B
I'm having difficulty figuring out if this is actually a worse song than most or I'm finally starting to get bored with the album. I suspect it's a little bit of both. Once again, this is an acoustic number with that steady drum beat. There are some very sweet back-up singers (though it's not Ronstadt, which means they're not as good, and that slide guitarist deserves a high-five. The melody is nice, and Young sings sweetly to it, but perhaps its hooks aren't quite as potent as the other ones. And he does seem to repeat the same hook an awful lot.
Natural Beauty C+
One thing that Young should be commended on in the previous nine tracks was his restraint toward the song-length. For the most part, these songs were as long as they should have been. It's not that this isn't a good song... Technically speaking, this is a better composition than the previous song. The hook is certainly more compelling. It just had no freaking business lasting more than 10 minutes long! I suppose it could have been worse... while this song is monotonous and slowly paced, so was the rest of the album. Unless you're paying verrrrrry close attention, you probably won't even notice how ungodly long it is.
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The Old Laughing Lady B
Wow, he pulled this one right out of his deep past (his fairly non-renown debut album), and I'm sure only a small handful of people in the audience even recognized it! The original was dead dull and slow moving, and this version is still dull but it's more quickly paced. So that improves it in my book. This surely doesn't have one of Young's best melodies, but it does have a pretty cool harmonica solo in it!
Mr. Soul B
My first reaction to this was “Hey! He's doing a Satisfaction cover!” But then I remember that he used to be in this country-rock band where he wrote a song that ripped off that song. Oh man, there must only be 100 people or so in that audience, but they're going nuts for Neil! (What, did they let his fans in there or something?) Anyway, apart from the whole ripping-off thing, this is a respectable performance from a respectable song. I don't seem to care for this one in an acoustic setting...
World on a String B+
This is a funny old song from Tonight's the Night. I hate to say it, but it's really missing a lot from its original incarnation. Without the electric guitar, this song sounds exactly like “The Old Laughing Lady.” Alright, I guess there's at least a sort of middle-eight section in here at least! Once again, Neil's harmonica solo is very cool. If you like his hobo harmonica, then this is a good album for you to get.
Ah, this one's from Rust Never Sleeps, and it only goes to further my theory that that was the utter peak of his melody skills! ... At least in the '70s. The melody is sweet, his Mickey Mouse vocal performance is pretty well captivating, and he gives a very longing sort of feeling in that harmonica solo. Nice show, old boy!
This is a ballad written in 1976 that has never been released before! How many songs has this dude written? He pulls away the acoustic guitar and brings out the piano, which was a nice change of pace I guess. This is a nice little song, and I wonder what it would have sounded like with full instrumentation... But as far as his songwriting goes, this is one of his more boring ones. (Zzzzzzzzz!)
Like a Hurricane A-
I don't think I'll ever see Neil Young in concert, but if I did, this would be the #1 song I would have wanted to hear him perform. So, it's great that he does it here! On the other hand, I'm not particularly enthralled with this. He sings it with a lone accordion making it sound like some crusty old sea shanty or something. It's an interesting take, but to be frank I'm quite bored with it. Nice melody, but that's it.
The Needle and the Damage Done B
Ah, he does one from Harvest, which I assume that most of the audience wanted him to perform from beginning to end! (He gets a major eruption of applause from this one—that's how I know!) I'm looking at my old Harvest review, and I'm giving this a slightly higher rating even though there's very little that's changed between the two version. Hey, maybe I like Harvest better now, or something! I will admit that it has a pretty nice hook in it.
Oh yeah, Neil Young made a few albums with a bunch of hippies called Crosby, Stills & Nash once. I remember that. This one was on Deja Vu, an album that pretty much everybody in the world likes more than I do! This was also one of the better songs on it, so I do actually like hearing him do this. He plays the piano on this one, again, and it's very nice and mellow. The female back-up singers that pop in give it a nice, dreamy texture. A lot like Harvest Moon, I guess. (And he also says “Big Bird's flying across the sky!” Yeah, I'd like to see that!) Anyway, this might just be the sweetest moment of the whole album. It might even be better than the original in its own way.
Harvest Moon A+
Ah yes, this is from Neil Young's latest album, which also happened to be one of his best albums of all time. I mean, just hearing this next to these other songs just makes that bleeding obvious doesn't it? .... OK, a shuffly drummer pops in for the very first time, so maybe it's the power of the drums that make me say that. But seriously. I think this song completely rules over everything else on this album so far. I LOVE THIS SONG! It's almost exactly the same as the original, but that's quite alright with me! (But there's no slide guitar. Maybe that's electric or something! Screw it! Contribute to global warming and bring back the slide guitar!!!!)
Transformer Man A
Ha! He performs a song from his most odd-duck album of them all, Trans, that funny electronica album that you can't find anymore. Of course, this unplugged setting means that we can finally hear that song without those weird vocodor things, and ... whatdayaknow? It sounds like a Neil Young song! And it's a very sweet one at that with one of the hookier and more captivating melodies on this disc.
Unknown Legend A-
So, yeah, Harvest Moon is pretty much Neil Young's best album ever according to this live album. (Never mind that it was an acoustic album, so he didn't have to change them very much!) Somehow, he's able to recreate much of the dreamy texture that was all over the original... Of course, it's not quite as hopelessly captivating, but it's definitely up there. This is the perfect song to sit back to and soak up!
Look Out For My Love B-
This is one of the more boring songs from 1978's Comes a Time. Perhaps a little more boisterous and energetic than the duller original, and the female back-up singers are certainly worth their weight in gold. But this is not such a remarkable song... the hooks are rather dull, and it's not as memorable of a listening experience as many of these other songs. It goes on for six minutes, too, which is longer than the original.
Long You May Run B
For whatever reason, I haven't gotten around to reviewing the Stills/Young album Long May You Run, and this is actually the first time I heard this song! Well, it's a nice little country ballad! I took a listen to the original, and this is a little more slowly paced and “contemplative,” if you want to call it that. I'm not extremely wild about this one, though. It's a typical Neil Young acoustic song. If that turns you on, then all the more power to you!
From Hank to Hendrix A
Seriously... Harvest Moon is an utterly awesome album. These selections positively rule over everything else here! Although this is basically the same thing as the original version, by why should I complain about that? (On the other hand, I guess the whole point of the Unplugged series was *not* to perform the well-known songs exactly the same way that they originally appeared!)
Sleeps With Angels (1994)
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My Heart A-
I've always suspected that Neil Young was somewhat limited as a songwriter. The only reason I like this song is for that really cool piano sound that he came up with. I don't know how he did it, but it's awesome! The melody itself is OK, but it's hardly “hooky” or anything. I suppose you could like this song for the lyrics if you want to be weird like that...
Prime of Life A
Do you know the main reason I like this song? It's for that demented recorder sound that noodles around throughout. I also think that chugging groove is pretty cool. The Crazy Horse guitarists bring in some quirky, ultra-distorted guitar tones, but they're more playful and not the stupidly “distorted to be distorted” variety of their previous albums with Neil. Again, this interesting instrumentation really trumps the melody... but the melody is pretty good as far as his melodies go!
Man, that piano tone is absolutely the coolest... This is very slow moving, typical Neil Young ballad. The melody ain't that captivating, but it's alright. I just like listening to that organic piano tinkling around very pleasantly in those mid-ranges. A crazy-distorted guitar and a fairly normal regular acoustic guitar comes in at times and brings us an interesting solo. This is really nothing more than a great song to sit back and chill out to... And man is it ever good for that!
Sleeps With Angels B+
This is interesting. You can hear a lot of that ultra-distorted guitar at the beginning of this, but it's playing a riff, which is better than that just being aimless with it. It's not greatly enjoyable, though. I think that guitar is perhaps a bit much, and I find this pretty difficult to like. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is the lyrics, which are reportedly centered around Kurt Cobain's suicide... as you probably knew long before I did, Cobain quoted Neil Young in his suicide note...
Western Hero B
Not an altogether bad ballad, but it needed something extra to pop out at me, I think. The melody is OK, but not great, and there's more of that crazy-distorted guitar in the background. Although, this time, the guitar seems more like it's here just to clutter things up instead of serving any great purpose... I suppose this continues to be a pretty nice song to sit back and soak up, though I'm getting bored with it to be frank.
Change Your Mind A
Surely one of the better melodies on the album. This actually has a chorus, so it seems like a bit of a novelty for Neil Young in this album, I guess! I mean, his songs that have choruses almost sound like pop rock! I think he probably could have made more interesting arrangements... this screams for some more polished and REM-ish instead of merely using that wonky guitar of his to litter things. Though the guitar is undoubtedly cool to listen to, but it's not all that constructive to the song. It's also worth noting that this song goes on for fourteen minutes. That was probably overkill, but to its credit, I almost don't even notice the time running out like that. ...So, as far as his extremely long songs have been going in the '90s, this is surely one of his better ones.
Blue Eden B+
I'm getting a little bit tired of all these songs having the same mid-tempo pace. His electric guitar is really cool, of course, but I really start to get the impression that he's doing it, because he doesn't know what else to do. Other than that, this is a mightily respectable song, and the guitaring is very cool despite my complaints about it.
Safeway Cart A
Why, I went to Safeway just the other day, so I guess this song is about me! ...Or, maybe it's just another cool Neil Young song! Man, he's still doing that mid-tempo pace, which seems to get drearier and drearier the more that I listen to it. But I can't deny that this song is pretty dang cool anyway. The atmosphere is more engaging here than usual, and that groove is nice and crunchy. Young's ultra-distorted guitar noodles only appear minimally, which is a generally more favorable proposition than that thing noodling around constantly like it does on some of these other songs. So, nice joerb!
Train of Love B+
Mannnnn... I wish I could lie to you and claim that this isn't another slowly paced ballad. But nope. This is another slowly paced ballad. I like it and it's 100 percent respectable, but ... grrrrr! I wants variety!! Again, it's really nice to sit back and soak up, and the melody is rather sweet. Nothing particularly notable with the instrumentation other than it's tasteful. I sort of liked those weird, quirky things they were doing at the beginning of this album. Couldn't they have come up with more stuff like that?
Trans Am B
Guess what? This is another slow song! This deflated “B” rating has nothing to do with the fact that I'm getting tired of slow ballads... I just don't think this song has enough of an engaging atmosphere for me to score it anything higher. I sort of like Neil Young's almost spoken-word, cowpoke delivery. I also like hearing that rubbery guitar noodle around. It's played very nicely, and again it's a good song to sit back and soak up. But ... eh, I'm bored.
Piece of Crap A-
Hey, that's one of my favorite phrases! Oh no, I think this album is about me!! (I genuinely believe that most rock musicians have me in mind when they write songs... even if they were recorded long before I was born...) Another reason why I think Neil Young wrote this about me is because he finally granted my #1 wish and actually brought in something with a little bit of RHYTHM! Yes sir, this is a fast-paced song! It's not a *great* song, mind you; it's pretty sloppy and I don't find the riff or melody to be particularly enchanting. But those really gruffy howls of “Piece of crap!!!” throughout this song are funny. Plus, the distorted guitar noodling is pretty cool!
A Dream That Can Last A-
Yayyyyyy!! Neil Young brought back that funny piano tone that we first heard in “My Heart.” That's really cool, because I like that sound!! Once again, I don't find anything particularly great about the melody; it's the piano that makes it for me. Also, that really, really loud “death-march” drum was a really cool touch.
Mirror Ball (1995)
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Song X A+
I think I probably gave out mixed messages, previously, when discussing what I thought of Neil Young's grungy stuff. Let's clear it up now. I'd much rather sit through an album full of Neil Young's grunge than I would one of his folky-country albums like Harvest or Comes a Time. (Harvest Moon, however, is still in debate!) It's just that Neil Young would frequently take the grunge stuff WAY TOO FAR, and I start get sick to death of it. Need I remind myself of Arc? (Achthkth... I shouldn't have reminded myself of Arc!) But this grungy song absolutely rules over the North Kingdom. It's a really kick-ass combination of grunge and a sea shanty. Imagine Neil and his whole band play the gruffest guitar and singing a song prominently featuring the lyrics “Heigh ho! Away we go!” ...Lemme tell you, if you're not imaging something that's anything short of 100 percent awesome, then you're going to have to throw out your imagination and just take a listen to this song already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Act of Love A-
Another absolutely tasty song where the guitars are so dang LOUD and DEEP that they seem to completely rule over everything in the world. The pure energy and power emitting from this song is amazing! (OK, this is exactly how he did things on Ragged Glory, but whatever.) Neil Young even took a little care to write a decently hooky melody! I could complain that he repeats that dang melody an awful lot (he does that all throughout this album), and he could have made it a minute shorter, but that's small potatoes compared to my major complaint: This song has a long-drawn-out ending with those distorted guitars playing ugly, extended notes. I got more endings like that out of his discography than I ever needed in a billion lifetimes. Neil needs to get over himself.
I'm the Ocean A+
An extremely invigorating song. As I was listening to this album in preparation for this review, I always seemed to immediately sit up and take notice of this. It's seven minutes long and repeats like a broken record, but I'm absolutely glued to it regardless! What we have here is a lot of gruff grunge guitars, of course, but we also have a catchy and danceable bass-line, and a very subtle accordion wailing in the background! Strange, hypnotic, and very cool.
Big Green Country A
Man! Is Neil Young on fire, or what? I continue to believe that his melodies were never the cat's meow, and the ones on this album seems to have an inherent tendency to just repeat themselves over and over again... But this one actually has a hook that's interesting enough to keep the momentum going. People who love Young's guitar solos will find a really, really cool one here... It's full of personality, which of course is the makings of a great guitar solo! The only thing really missing in this song, I guess, is a 'quirky' bonus. You know, “I'm the Ocean” had an accordion, and “Song X” sounded like a sea shanty. Something funny like that would've been good. Without it, it sounds an awful like the previous two tracks, which were similarly energetic and powerful.
Truth Be Known A-
Still awesome, and I love listening to their grunge guitar. The main reason this one gets an A- instead of something higher is the simple fact that it's mid-tempo. I know... shallow, right? Well, it doesn't quite emit the same sort of energy, does it? And the melody isn't any better than any of these other songs... It just repeats a pretty catchy hook over and over again... So, this song simply has to be rated lower! I still think this guy is totally on fire... (This song sounded like it threatened to have another one-minute coda of extended distorted guitar noise, but he faded it out instead. Good choice!!!)
This sounds a lot like arena-rock. Then again, wasn't “Smells Like Teenage Spirit” just a rewritten version of Boston's “More Than a Feeling?” ...No?? ... OK, I don't remember where I read that, exactly... Anyway, this is nothing but an arena-rock song except of course the guitars are extremely grungy. I can't be too sure why I listen to this song and it screams “B+” at me. Perhaps this is just a little to overly flashy without concentrating enough on “awesome” like the previous five songs did pretty well. Maybe I'm getting a little tired of these overly repetitive melodies. Or, maybe I'm just upset that this song is about hippies.
What Happened Yesterday
Brevity, my friends. This is 45-seconds long and consists of Neil Young singing something boring and dreary with an accordion. This is why Neil Young will never be elected president. ...Oh, and he's Canadian.
Peace and Love B+
Man, maybe Neil Young was feeling a bit nostalgic for the hippie days! After all, wasn't he supposed to be some sort of hippie guru? If I was formerly a hippie guru, and then it turned into the '90s, I'd be feeling pretty nostalgic also. ...OK, I don't know why I just wrote that. (I just ate a Snickers bar, so I'm feeling pretty good right now.) This is a pretty nice song overall, but it seems like it's missing something....... I know what it is. What in the name of holy frijoles happened to the bass guitar? Most of the previous songs I gave As to had such an infectious bass line and therefore incredible drive! I still hear that guy grooving along, but he doesn't by any means give it quite the backbone. That said, this is a *big* song, and I'm rather awe-inspired by it. Neil comes out with some amazingly towering guitar performances. There's also a pretty neat section with an accordion that keeps on popping up. Yes, sir. I enjoy this song, too. (P.S. STOP IT WITH THE DISTORTED CODAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!)
Throw Your Hatred Down A-
This is much more driving, and I'm coming to the conclusion that this is one of the best melodies on the album. Once again, Neil comes out with a positively tortured guitar solo, which proves exactly why everyone says he's the best at solos! I really enjoy listening THE CRAP out of this song! So, why isn't this an A or an A+? ... Because my track review rating system isn't perfect. I've got to mark a point off for saminess somewhere. I don't mean that he should experiment with techno or anything... but these songs are really beginning to blur together, they're so absolutely similar. (Could you imagine Neil Young with techno? I wonder if he would have done that if he continued that confused '80s period into the '90s! ...Ha!!!! ...Oooo. OK, I'm perishing the thought now.)
It's funny that even in Neil Young's finest albums, he always seems to have at least one track that completely loses me. “Scenery” is that song in Mirror Ball ...But the good news is that even though it's extremely long and I'm officially tired of listening to grunge music, I still find it relatively fun to listen to. The guitar solos, of course, are amazing. Very dirty, very ugly, but they always seem to be contributing something interesting. Never a dull moment, if you're only paying attention to the solos. The problem comes with the overall swagger of this. Repeating the same thing over and over again was more than enough for the five minute songs, but this baby goes on for nearly nine minutes. That said, I'm a little surprised that I don't get completely bored with it... even as I watch the time go... Neil Young's really good at being hypnotic in this album, for some reason. The space-ship noises (electric guitars no doubt) and the twinkly piano in the background get bonus points.
Brevity, my friends. This is one minute long, and consists of Neil Young singing something boring and dreary with an accordion. This is why Neil Young will never be el.................. Uh oh, this album seems to have gotten me in the habit of repeating myself! (I think that Snickers bar is wearing off now. Yo soy sleepy.)
Dead Man (1996)
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Guitar Solo 1 C+
Do you know what I like best about this song? It's the ocean waves that begin the album! Other than that, it doesn't sound like he planned this out too well. He's just strumming along in this very whispery, subdued mode, and occasionally the guitar gets a bit louder and plays somewhat random notes. This is really freaking boring if you ask me, and it's only interesting to people who are completely in love with the electric guitar or believe that Neil Young could do no wrong. ...In other words, you'd have to be nuts! At the same time, though, this is weirdly respectable. He comes up with odd patterns!
The Round Stones Beneath the Earth C+
Here is a little bit of dialog... You have to be some sort of high school English teacher to understand what they're saying. High school English teachers are better than I, so I won't even try it. And then there's a little bit of minimal guitar noises deeply in the background. ...Again, I've gotta give credit to Young for playing his guitar to match the mood of the movie. I mean, I'm not too sure who other than Young could have done this. At the same time, it's just not anything too interesting. Ehmnhmhn! I'll give it another C+. Apparently that's my respectfully dismissive score.
Guitar Solo 2 C
Yikes, Young's reverting back to his evil helicopter noises that I remember throughout his early '90s grunge albums. Turn that distortion down! It's bugging me out!!!!!! ...I really wish that I could say nicer things about this, but that sound is only cool if it's backing something up. Not if it's just hanging there all by itself. (I'd really like to talk to a rational person who loves this album. I know they're out there. Somewhere on the Internets.)
Why Does Thou Hide Thyself, Clouds C+
Here, we get to hear Johnny Depp reading a bit of William Blake poetry while Young noodles around quietly in the background. I will say one thing in its favor: Depp is much better at reading poetry than Joan Baez was in that horrid album of hers called Baptistry. But, again, I'm not entirely interested in this, and only some sort of high school English teacher would probably like it. (Have I mentioned that this might be a good album for a high school English teacher?)
Organ Solo B-
Holy crapoley. I'm going to have to go back to my previous few Neil Young reviews and change every instance where I said he was playing an “accordion” to “organ.” I swear, this thing sounds like an accordion to me! ... Oh, I'm probably not going to change it. I'm too lazy. ...Well, this is a depressing solo, of course. Just a lot of chords and stuff. I'm giving this a B- because I think that instrument sounds really cool, and also it's nice that he laid off that grungy guitar for a bit.
Do You Know How to Use This Weapon C+
Here, Neil Young continues to play that organcorddion amidst some dialog. That Indian guy announces to Johnny Depp that his name is “Nobody.” I remember watching that bit in the movie. It's a pretty cool thing to have a character who claims his name is “Nobody” probably... In the second half, Young picks up his geetar again as Depp reads some more poooooetrrrrryyyyyyyy. (It would have been cool in the movie if Johnny Depp turned into a tree, because then he'd be a poet tree! Huhuhuhuhhhhh! ...... You see what this album is doing to me? It's making me think of bad jokes!)
Guitar Solo 3 C
This is a tuba solo!!!!! ....... Oh, I can't fool you, can I? Nah... Once again, Young plays that geetar all rhythmy and eerie. There's some ocean waves going on in the background, which is sort of cool. (Wait, do you hear those ocean waves? Gee, I hope I'm not imagining those.) Again, Young comes up with enough patterns to make it somewhat respectable. I'm just not enjoying this at all. Baaaaaah! ... And it goes by so slowly! This four and a half minutes seems like it takes almost five minutes!
Nobody's Story C
Ah, so the character named “Nobody” has a story apparently! ...I'll give you the Cliff Notes so you don't have to listen to this song to figure out what it is. “Nobody” is a half-breed outcast, and he was raised by an elk who he killed. He likes to cut people with knives. Then white people locked him up and took him on a tour. And then he learned English and read poetry ....................OK, that's all you need to know. All the meanwhile, Young noodles around in the background. Yah.
Guitar Solo 4 C+
Would you believe me if I told you that this was a kazoo solo? ......... Ah, yer just no fun!!!! Again, this is another respectable guitar solo where Young piddles around rhythmically in the dark, dark recesses of his instrument. This ain't my cup o' tea. In fact, I don't really even understand it. That C+ is almost arbitrary. (Again, I hear ocean noises in the background! What???)
Stupid White Men C
Yeah, white men are stoooooooooopid. And this is more dialog. Johnny Depp and that Indian guy are whispering to each other in the middle of the night. I can tell it's the middle of the night, because I hear crickets and things. And there's a fire crackling, too. It's sort of cool that Johnny Depp comes out of one speaker and the Indian guy comes out of the other! (Ohhhhhh, yes! I get impressed every time I hear panning!) ...So anyway. If you think you like dialog and you have such terrible vision to see the TV set, then you might get something out of this. And you're gonna wonder... why is there opossum in the beams? ...I'm not even going to pay attention to this anymore. I'm gonna surf the 'Net!
Guitar Solo 5 C
Play him off, keyboard cat! ...I mean, play him off geetar Neil! ...For fourteen minutes. Again, this is a lot of guitar noodling, and it sounds like all the other guitar noodling............. I'm gonna surf the 'Net some more. I can't even think of anything stupid to say.
Time For You To Leave, William Blake
I just read some of my own brilliant reviews. I'm really a narcissist. I think I should get a Pulitzer, but of course they never will because my reviews just go over the Pulitzer Prize committee's heads. I'm just too intellectual for them. ....Anyway, this is some more dialog. Less than a minute this time, but I'm not going to pay attention to it. I'm just going to read some more of my own reviews! THEY'RE BRILLIANT!!!
Guitar Solo 6 C
Would you believe me if I told you this was a guitar solo? ................HA! I TRIXED YA! ...Ah, now, The Lord of the Rings was a good movie! I wouldn't mind an entire album of Golum saying sentences with the word “trixed” in it for an hour. That would be something cool. If Neil Young wants to come along and noodle with his electric guitar behind that, then all the power to him. ...Now, for your next album, I think you should make some disco music. Disco rules. This is a weird guitar solo... It sounded like he was killing a cat for a moment there. At another moment, he's imitating a dial tone. Alright, I'm done with this.
Broken Arrow (1996)
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Big Time B
Hi there! Welcome to a new Neil Young album. I hope you like his slowwwwwwwwwwly paced songs, because this is slooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. And it's more than seven minutes long, so you'll be listening to it for awhile. As you'd probably expect, Neil fills it to the brim with all his grungy electric guitar noodles. Cherish those noodles, my son, because those are the best thing that this song has to offer. The melody, while OK, doesn't interest me at all. And the band pretty much just plays this same groove and the same mood the whole time. It would have been nice if they would have let the song evolve a little bit instead of just keeping the same old, boring pace. But whatever. This is Neil. He's old and cranky, so we should let him do whatever he wants. He's not gonna listen to me anyhow........... that is, if it was possible to send this review into the past. (The Internet is an amazing thing, you know, so it could be possible. If you're some sort of genius nerd from 1996, please pass this review onto Neil posthaste.)
Loose Change B
I wonder if there's a Neil Young fan out there who would send me an e-mail telling me exactly what they like about listening to the same groove play for 10 minutes in a song that never changes its overall mood. Neil Young comes along with a lot of noodles and changes the texture around slightly, but all in all, this is the same old pounding riff that gets repeated over and over and over... I know, he is well known for doing this, but this time, this riff is a bit dumb. So, it doesn't quite get me in that hypnotic state that songs like this need to get me in. Give Young all the credit you want for his guitar noodles. They're good, of course. A little bit Philip-Glass-esque at times, which I don't object to. Again, a more interesting riff would have helped matters.
Slip Away A-
This one actually seems to do something. There's something that I like about the groove this time, and how Neil's vocals seem to soar nicely over it. Again, I'm gonna complain about it taking forever and never doing anything to alter the mood thus making it more listenable to my ears... But I guess I'm just repeating myself. This time, however, I'm able to get into the hypnotic state that they were going for, and thus I am more prone to thinking that Neil's noodles are quite excellent.
Changing Highways B
Sort of weird and likable. By far the most “exciting” song of the album. But the only thing he did to achieve that was to give it a bouncy country-western rhythm. It was probably a good idea that he kept this under two minutes, because I think this would end up driving me maaaaaaaaaaad! It's quite a strange little song, though. I can't claim that the melody is that great or anything. It's still pretty depressing despite the “upbeat” rhythm.
Again, a relatively short running length helps keep this one manageable, and Young actually finds an interesting riff to give us. Still, it's a bit slow moving for my taste, and all that guitar gets a bit cumbersome to me. (Obviously, electric guitar fans are going to think pretty highly of this.) At the same time, despite it all, it engages my interest fairly well throughout. Young's vocal melody is pretty good even though it feels like he was falling asleep. ...Man, he probably was. Quick! Someone give him some Jolt Cola!
This Town B
Kinda good... kinda not... Man, I can't stress this enough. These songs are slooooooooooooowwwwwwwww! At least he doesn't drag this one for 8 billion minutes. It was looking to be a double album there for awhile! Sometimes slow songs are fine, but this one just trudges along, never really doing anything interesting. The melody is fine, but hardly enough. And, I don't even get much out of that brief electric guitar solo. So, take that!
Music Arcade C+
I dunno... Neil is bringing out an acoustic guitar and practically whispering the lyrics. I guess I'm supposed to sit forward in my chair and believe that he is saying something terribly profound. ...But that strategy doesn't work on me. The lyrics are OK, but hardly the deal-maker. I just get bored to death of all this strumming and singing a strictly so-so melody. I know, I'm being rough, probably. But I'm borrrrrrrred!
Baby What You Want Me To Do C
I can't be sure what prompted him to bring in an eight-minute R&B song that sounds like it was recorded badly in a nightclub. You can make up some noble explanation for this if you want to, but to me, it seems awfully tacked-on. You can hardly hear Neil Young's vocals at all, but I don't really want to, because they're playing so slowwwwwwww. I can still pick out his guitar solos, which are grungy and wonderful of course, so at least this has that going for it. But altogether, this is just one whopping huge snoozefest.
Year of the Horse (1997)
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When You Dance A
This album is full of mid-tempo blurs, but as long as the mid-tempo blurs sound like this one of Young's finest songs of all time, then this is quite alright with me! The band is still in grungy mode, but not in the super-distorted type that tormented me back in those Weld/Arc days. For the most part, Young just concentrates on playing the SONG. The guitars are appropriately dark and crunchy, and they sound wonderful. The obligatory extended guitar solo is weird, which is the way I like it. So, yes! This is a good performance of a good song!
Barstool Blues B+
This is of the better selections from Zuma, if I'm going to trust the review of that album I wrote about two years ago. And this was a mightily good selection for them to pick to drag on for nearly 10 minutes. (I mean, I'm not wild in the first place about 10-minute songs that repeat the same thing over and over and over...) But this is good! Again, the guitars sound excellent and don't give me Arc flashbacks whatsoever. I'm hypnotized fairly well (although I suppose it could have been better), and Young's guitar solo ain't bad either. Perhaps this is a slight waste of time to anybody who isn't in love with Neil Young for his guitar solos, but speaking as someone who isn't particularly in love with anything Neil Young, I can actually claim to enjoy this.
When Your Lonely Heart Breaks C+
Ah, I saw that I gave the original song a D. Probably being a bit harsh, since the melody is OK, but I objected mostly to its ultra-plain instrumentation and desperately dull pace. But this live setting improves it considerably. I listen to it now, and I think it's quite alright. It's just as slow paced and nearly as minimal as the original version, except of course that grittier and more grunge-tastic bass guitar. Young's lead vocals actually seem a little more sweet and angelic. ......I'm still gonna say that they could have done more to punch this up. Why not do some acoustic guitar strumming in there, for texture? ...I don't know. ...This continues to be way too freaking boring for my taste, but at least it was improved considerably.
Mr. Soul A-
Oh look! He's covering “Satisf..... Oh yeah. I forgot again. .......This is actually a pretty neat cover of that one Buffalo Springfield song. Again, it's a slowed down version of the song, and he mostly uses acoustic guitars. In that way, it's a lot like the version he did on Unplugged, which sort of goes to prove that he didn't actually change his act very much when he recorded that live set! I suppose the slow pace starts to get a tad boring after awhile, which gives me the idea that perhaps this doesn't hypnotize me as much as they were hoping. But anyway, this was a pretty neat song to begin with, and I like hearing it well enough!
Big Time B
Hi there! This is the first song on this live album that came directly from the album Neil Young was touring to support at the time. This isn't particularly better or worse than the original version. In fact, it sounds almost exactly the same to my ears. The distorted, grungy guitars are quite a bit fuzzier than anything that had been on here previously, which I suppose some fans might appreciate. Me, I prefer them when they are toned down! ...All in all, this ain't one of Neil's best songs, but it makes an OK listen for that entire seven and a half minutes.
Let's see, he did a version of “Mr. Soul” on his previous live album, and he also did a version of “Pocahontas.” These aren't even considered his most popular songs of all time, so why does he keep on bringing these things up? Maybe he thought Pocahontas from that recently released Disney movie was pretty dang good looking? I know I did! She was quite the cartoony babe! But why does he always seem to bring up Marlon Brando in his fantasy? .....That's a little weird. Anyway, I like this song, and I'll gladly listen to him perform a million different versions of it; I think it has a good melody and its calming pace is easy for me to sit back and let it soak in. Weirdly, that rumbling guitar they clutter in the background is sort of cool. I know, I'm supposed to hate that rumbling guitar after it violated me in Arc. Great guitar noodling, too. Neil's always good for that. Always. ...Well, 99.7% of the time.
Human Highway B
Yeah... I think the slowness of this album is really starting to affect me badly. This is the sleepy acoustic song he did for his rather underwhelming Comes a Time. The melody is OK even though it sounds a lot like a boring 19th century hymn that people sing at funerals. Not bad if you're into that sort of thing, I suppose, but I'd rather listen to Elvis. And I don't really like Elvis that much.
Slip Away B+
Another selection from his most recent album, and it was one of the better songs for my money. Again, this is played a lot like the original version was, except Young-philes are probably going to notice differences in his guitar noodling. But like I really give a crap about trying to pick up subtle little differences in his guitar noodles!! I might have a lot of free time, but not that much free time! I'll just listen to him noodle along for nearly 11 minutes, and I ain't gonna cry foul.
This was also easily one of the best selections from his previous album! It's nice that he's playing mostly my favorite songs from there, and leaving dull stuff like “Music Arcade” and (let's face it) “Loose Change” by the wayside. This song actually has a pretty interesting riff and a memorable vocal melody with lyrics that somehow manage to grab me. Again, you're going to have to be some sort of Neil Young nut to find any major differences between this and the original. ...I mean a nut. It's done at exactly the same pace, and the exact same tone. Let me reiterate: NUUUUTTTTTTTT!
Danger Bird B
Pterodactyls, no doubt. It's a little known fact that Neil had a morbid fear of pterodactyls. The way they squawk and swoop down at you, and their poop is gigantic! ...What he certainly didn't have a fear of was taking part in these obscenely long versions of his songs. Granted, this is one of his better ones, from Zuma, so it makes a decent listen for sure. However, this is obviously going to be one of those moments that you'll like depending on how much you like 13 minutes worth of Neil Young playing an excessively slow song and doing a lot of ugly and grungy guitar solos over. You know exactly who you are. As for me... Eh!!! Not bad, but not particularly mind-blowing either. I do little else than space out through most of this. Then again, I'm guessing that was more or less the point of this whole album.
This was Neil Young's middle finger to the Geffen label back in the old days when he used to fight with record companies. Sort of a cool rebel song, I guess, and the melody is alright. Of course they grungify the heck out of it with all sorts of mad electric guitar solos. This one's so mad, in fact, that it sounds a little more like a self-destructing tape-recorder by the end with all those wild whizzes and whooshes and ends with a weird rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Not bad, I guess. Not particularly awe-inspiring, either. This isn't Neil's most inspired song, and I'm not getting a whole lot of joy out of listening to this one to be honest, but .................. eh, I never grow tired of listening to it. Even though it goes on for nearly seven minutes. (I must've accidentally lengthened my attention span between now and when I reviewed Broken Arrow!
Sedan Delivery A-
Yay! A good song from Rust Never Sleeps! (Not that “Pocahontas” wasn't a good song, but this was the second to last song from that album, which means it's ROCK 'N' ROLL!!! Yes sir, your reward for sitting through this entire double album beast was to finally get to a point where these guys actually *rock out*. I know, that's weird! Neil Young yells part of the lyrics, and does this weird Frankenstein electrocution thing with them at points. So, it's like somebody was trying to bring him back to life with all this electricity! Again, the grungy guitar starts to get a little bit crazy with this one, but I think that's what everybody is looking for in a Neil Young performance. This ain't bad.
Silver & Gold (2000)
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Good to See You A-
Oh, the pleasantries! Neil Young hadn't been so goshdurned pleasant since Harvest Moon! It doesn't pack any punch at all like any of his '90s albums, and I guess it wasn't supposed to. This is just a laid-back country ballad with a little bit of slide guitar, and a cute, thoughtful melody. Young's vocal performance is sweet. It's a bit boring and 100 percent unoriginal, I suppose, but I like it. Makes a good song to sit back and soak up.
Silver & Gold A-
Nice melody! Again, you're going to have to really be into his folk tendencies to actually like this, but I'd imagine the seasoned Neil Young fan was ready to hear him go back to these gold old days. It's just Neil singing with his well-textured acoustic guitar, and he brings in a harmonica solo in the middle. His vocal performance is pretty good, and the lyrics aren't bad either. Cool!
Daddy Went Walkin' B
Alright, he's not even trying. We sort of suspected as much with the previous two tracks, but this is basically a rewrite of every '20s folk song in existence. There are a few distinct Neil-Young-ish sections in here, but they tend to be a little bit long-drawn-out and dull. The instrumentation, however, is nice, but I wish it had more of an atmosphere. ...I mean, I know he was going for the whole fresh-air, country-fried thing, but there's nothing wrong with a little bit of instrumental depth!
Buffalo Springfield Again A
Ugh! I didn't like that old band very much, but this little retrospective is quite a charming song. The drum beat keeps a nice, crunchy, shuffly texture, and Neil's soaring vocal melody has quite a lot of hooks in it. I even approve of those minimal, gentle slide guitars bending throughout as well as that sloppy-but-appealing harmonica solo in the middle. All in all, this is quite captivating! It's got a cool nostalgic feeling, too, which is obviously what Neil was feeling when he wrote this.
The Great Divide A
Oh, what a sweet little song. If only he had a little bit of Linda Ronstadt on back-up vocals, it might have been a Harvest Moon sort of song, although those (woodwind?) instruments noodling around in the background give it a priceless depth that I really adore about it. I also really like this melody, and that gentle way that Neil delivers it. The drum beat continues to be fairly loud and solid, which of course helps me like the song. (Oh, the power of the drums!)
Horseshoe Man B
Good, but this one seems to be missing the boat somehow. Not too terribly different than the previous track; it's a gentle ballad with a solid drum beat. But the melody doesn't seem to be too memorable, and the harmonies don't seem to penetrate my soul. I like the instrumentation, though, particularly that twinkly piano that comes in at times. It's a nice listen, but it's not one of the main highlights.
Red Sun C+
This one has a little bit of a Scottish bagpipe thing going with it or something. I've also got to complain that this sounds like Neil turned on some movie about Scotland and wrote a song based on the melody of one of those cliched songs they keep on playing. I've also got to complain that this song is so freaking clunky. Neil can't seem to sing three words without pausing. ........Aaaaarhhhggghhh! Stoppit!!!
Distant Camera B
This is better than the last one, for sure, and I'm able to listen to it without going bonkers. But it's also a fairly undistinguished song with a merely so-so melody and nothing particularly different about the instrumentation. Again, if you love Neil Young and his laid-back folky numbers, then you're going to love this. If you tend to get bored with those songs, then you'll undoubtedly find this to be kinda boring.
Razor Love A-
Mmmmm... Razors... Apparently Young had written this quite a long time ago. It's one of the more celebrated songs of the album, and it's about as pleasant and likable as anything else on here I suppose. Although at more than six-minutes long, it starts to try my attention span although it's mesmerizing enough for me to never grow completely bored with it. The melody is good, but it's not great. The instrumentation is gentle and dreamy with a shuffly rhythm, but not captivating enough to make it great. Therefore, this is a good song, but it's not a great one!
Without Rings C+
Argh. Could he have possibly ended this album on a more drab note? It's just Neil singing with his acoustic guitar. There isn't even a harmonica solo in the middle to keep things fun. I will say that I like hearing him sing in that lower tone that's pretty rare for him. (Because usually he sounds like Mickey Mouse.) But............. geez, this song is so slow moving and dull. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And now, the album's over. Boo yah!
Road Rock Vol. 1 (2000)
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Cowgirl in the Sand B+
The original was a whopping 10 minutes long, and this is almost twice that much. I hope you're like me right now and have your entire afternoon off! Based on the extreme amount of “devil's helicopter” grunge guitar on here, I would suspect this was recorded right in the waning days of his grunge period. ...Oh man, do I really have to say anything about this? You already know whether you'll like this or not. You don't need me and my freaking opinions! As you would suspect, Neil Young is in solid form here. The guitar sounds good even though it might still be too dark at times for my taste, but at least he's not doing those air conditioner noises he was doing in the early '90s. That much I'm grateful fer! The extensive noodles are good and they get pretty intense by the end, although I've sat through enough of these over the past month or so that I'm barely even impressed anymore. Been there done that already, Neil! The song they're performing is a good one. ...They really didn't need to carry this on for so long, but whatever... Neil Young is Siamese, he do what he please.
Walk On B+
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He's doing a song from On the Beach, one of Neil Young's greatest albums ever! He doesn't cover too many songs from there on his live albums, unless I'm mistaken. So, bring it on! This is a nice rendition, although I think they could have made it sound more crunchy, bold and heart-pounding. This seems pretty weakly performed. The guitar tones, while dark, seem pretty piddly and weak. The twinkly piano going all over the place seemed misfired. Eh. Nice song, and I like hearing it again, but I would have gone for a different approach.
Fool For Love B
I suppose that Neil Young needed to give his fans a real reason to purchase this album, so he performs an unreleased song, which was written back in the This Note's For You period. But I didn't care for that album, which could explain why I don't particularly care for this song. I sort of like the crunchy guitar tone even though it's accompanied by a clunky drum rhythm, but the melody is uninspired. It's a short three and a half minutes, so take it or leave it, I guess.
Peace of Mind C+
Why does he always seem to do songs from Comes a Time on his live albums? I might be an obsessive nut-case, but I'm not enough of one to compile statistics on how often a Comes a Time selection pops up on his live albums. It's too often, if you ask me. This is one of the more boring songs from there with a melody that's only interesting in spots, and that incessant military drum beat just gets me down. .......GET ON WITH IT!!!!
This was six minutes long on Harvest, and it's 11 minutes here. He extended it just in case if you haven't beaten your head against blunt instruments enough in your lifetime! But to be fair, I actually find sitting through this a fitfully pleasing experience. The drums seem to play thunderously and epically, and that's well-accompanied by some of Neil's famous noodles. Again, 11 minutes of it was a bit overkill, but whatever. Neil Young fans probably liked this song to begin with, and this 11-minute version is hog heaven for them.
Motorcycle Mama B-
Here's a song that I think we were all hoping to forget even existed. It's the old rednecky tune from Comes a Time. Again, why does he seem to be always pulling songs back from that album? IT WASN'T EVEN A PARTICULARLY GOOD ONE! Oh well... Whatever. Just like the original, this is very derivative and has a boring melody. He duets with a female who seems to be singing a little too loudly. Shhhhhhhhhh!!!! This is a Neil Young concert!
Tonight's the Night A-
Yayyyyyy!!!! I like this song!!!!! ...Alright, it's 10 minutes long, which again seems pretty dang excessive, but as I told you already, I have the entire freaking afternoon free, so I have time! ...But did the original this slowly? Couldn't they have brought out that menacing drum beat and confident piano a bit earlier? I guess I'm just nitpicking, because listening to this song is just about the freaking coolest thing I'll be doing this afternoon probably. Oh... I guess I could complain that he's bringing back those deathly dark guitar tones that still torture my dreams from Arc, but I don't care anymore. This is a good song! If it wasn't so slow-moving in spots, it would have been an easy A. Just concentrate on those rockin' bits, please!
All Along the Watchtower A
Here is a surprisingly good grunge version of the Bob Dylan song! Funny how it sort of grabs me right away! I guess that's the power of Bob Dylan. Young goes a bit nuts noodling around with his guitar like he's some sort of insane person through most of this, but I guess that's why we all like him. Again, I've gotta tell you I'm getting tired of listening to him noodle around all the time like this... Neil Young had released a lot of albums in the '90s and I've listened to them all in my recent past. But maybe the fact that I'm still enjoying this says a lot about how much it rules. Young picks up quite a thunderous pace, and you can just hear the audience going completely wild through this. So, this is some pure, ugly mayhem, and it's good for eight minutes worth of listening!
Are You Passionate? (2002)
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You're My Girl B+
I guess Neil Young had much weirder ideas than collaborating with Booker T. and the MGs. At least we're pretty much guaranteed to be given a very cool R&B rhythm in each track, and I'm 100 percent in favor of that. Although, given that this is Neil Young, we're also 100 percent guaranteed to be treated to a hearty dose of his eunuch vocals. That squeaky little voice of his is even worse here, as he frequently tries to take it higher than its natural range. ...I like the backing instrumentation, of course. It's crunchy and fun to listen to. But it's also a bit bland.
Mr. Disappointment C+
Talk about “Mr. Disappointment!” You know that people like to make love to R&B records? This would be a good lovemaking album for men just before they realize they have to go into the doctor's office to get a prescription of Viagra. This thing is just so slow moving and lammmmmme. What's the point of writing such music if you're not going to put any soul in it? I'm glad that Young doesn't squeak these vocals the whole time, but I also don't think grumbling the lyrics was a great idea. There might have been something to this melody, and I sort of like it, but the end-result is something that is slow-moving and tedious. Boo! I can't seem to bear giving it anything less than a C+ though. ...Well, it's tasteful at least!
Is it just me, or are Booker T. and the MGs playing the exact same thing that they played on “You're My Girl?” Alright, they're playing a slightly different chord progression, but the pattern they're playing is exactly the same. There's a mid-tempo bass guitar thumping around with electric guitar stabs at regular intervals. ....Urgh, and if they have to play the exact same pattern, why couldn't they have at least made it something less mind-numbing? IS NEIL YOUNG TRYING TO KILL ME OR SOMETHING? Even though this monstrosity lasts for more than six minutes, I guess it isn't all that bad. Young doesn't sing a half-bad vocal melody, and his voice isn't annoying. And, whatdaya know? Booker T. comes in with some nice organ fills from time to time! He should have been allowed to noodle around some more!!!
Argh, this album is so mind-numbingly mid-tempo that I'm going half-crazy. But here I am, as I live and breathe, swearing to you that I like this song. I credit that mostly to that alluringly sweet, twinkly piano that you can barely hear in the first minute. It's so angelic! But why did they stop it? ...I also appreciate that they changed the pattern a bit. The bass guitar is a little bit bouncier, and the lead guitar plays a vaguely funky pattern. Neil Young's vocal melody isn't too great, which of course means it's about as good as any vocal melody that he has ever written.
Let's Roll A
Really? A 9/11 song? ...I guess it was 2002 and people were still pretty shaken by it. ...Oh huh. I remember that. Anyway, in case you didn't gather as much from the title, this is Young's take on the whole United 93 incident. Not that I particularly care about the lyrics, but I like that menacing mid-tempo groove they come up. As long as you're going to make an album full of lengthy mid-tempo songs, you'd might as well make them sound threatening. Not the sort of neutered stuff of “Mr. Disappointment.” And a cool guitar solo to boot? Hells yeah! ...But seriously, 9/11 sucked.
Are You Passionate? B
I'm passionate. I don't know about you, though! Do you know what this song is? YES, YOU DO! EVEN IF YOU HAVEN'T HEARD IT! IT'S A DULLY PLOTTED MID-TEMPO SONG! Just like so many Neil Young songs, this is just a tad too thoughtful and classy for me to dismiss it. The melody has at least something for me to grab a hold of. There's a half-hearted guitar solo on here, which seems as though it was half-hearted on purpose. ...I could think of about a billion more exciting things to do other than listen to this. But I'm not going to do any of those things!
Goin' Home A-
Screw you guys! This is by far the gruffest song of the album so far and therefore it's quite exciting, but then you go and extend it out for nine minutes! ...I know, insanely long songs are like Neil Young's bread and butter, but does he think I have an attention span made out of steel? I'm not the immortal music listener, you know! I can't pay close attention to all of your subtle guitar noodles! I get bored like everyone else! But seriously, this song is pretty good. It might go on forever, but at least it has a cool riff that sounds like an Indian war chant from a cowboy movie. ...Given the subject matter of the lyrics, Young did that on purpose!
When I Hold You In My Arms B-
Huh. I can't believe that last track actually ended. Somehow I didn't think I was going to make it out of that alive. But here I am right now, listening to a different song. ...It's a boring piece of crap, but at least it's different. Seriously, what is possessing Neil Young to write so many of these mid-tempo songs? They're not unpleasant, or anything, but I'm having an awfully difficult time keeping myself from just spacing out. ...Maybe that's what this album was meant to do? This is a good album to listen to if you don't particularly want to listen to anything.
Be With You B
Alright. Neil Young hates me. I don't see any other explanation for this. This is exactly the same thing as “You're My Girl” and “Differently” with an identical bouncy bass-line and those regular electric guitar stabs. Are you guys really this hard up for ideas? The main difference is this band seems to be taking it a little harder and rougher, and Neil seems to be singing a little more passionately. Other than that, HOLY CRAP!
Two Old Friends C
If I was going to commit suicide, it would be because of this album. Yup, this song doesn't stray from this album's tendency to be full of dull mid-tempo songs. Making it worse, this song doesn't even have a halfway decent melody. Making it even worse worse is that Neil's guitar noodles don't sound too far removed from something that you would hear in elevator music. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT A DIRE SITUATION WE'RE IN HERE???? Let me ask you, something, Neil. What was your motivation for even recording this song? Did you want to say something, or did you just not have anything better to do? Did you only do it, because it beat sitting around at home watching an episode of The Golden Girls?
She's a Healer A
Nine freaking minutes long, but I've been slowly going mad throughout this entire album, and I'm pretty sure I'm about as mad as I'm possibly going to get. At least Neil Young decided to be relatively nice to me and grant me a hypnotizing groove that sounds different than “You're My Girl.” Booker T. (I think) plays some very subtle, twinkly piano throughout, and somebody let a saxophonist come in and make some jazzy, minimalistic toots! Of course, Young noodles around with his guitar a lot, and he sounds positively cool with that jazzy vibe! There are some female back-up singers (his sisters?) that are quite ethereal and haunting. So, there we go. Here is a song that works wonderfully even though it takes freaking forever.
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Falling From Above B+
I'll tell ya what. I'm only two minutes into this seven minute song, and I'm bored with this album already. Based on my experience over the last few days listening to this album, I'm going to spend most of this review twiddling my thumbs. Neil only comes up with a few chords, plays them forever, and sings a melody he seems to make up on the spot. At least Crazy Horse gives us a nice, steady crunchy rhythm to keep it from getting too tedious. You'd think that he would take the opportunity to do a 12-hour guitar solo, but surprisingly there isn't much of one. We just get this very faint, rusty screech occasionally. ...Come on! I thought the whole point of these boring, repetitive things were do to guitar solos! ...Maybe he didn't want to distract us from his lyrics? ...Crap, man, I stopped caring about Neil Young lyrics years ago, metaphorically.
Double E B+
Man, this is the most generic blues riff that I think was ever written, and here Neil Young goes and repeats it at a strictly mid-tempo pace for five minutes. Again, the only thing that saves it is rhythm section, which continues to be clean and thwoppy. Maybe the die-hard fans would particularly like his sloppy guitar solos. His solos seem to be more minimalistic lately, which I guess is cool. But seriously, more guitar noodles would help me forget that I'm listening to five pure minutes of the exact same riff, the exact same tempo, and the exact same mood. ...And this is one of the more exciting songs of the album! Gahhh!
Devil's Sidewalk A-
I gave this one an A- because of the guitar noodles. Young woke up from his zombie coma and starts letting them rip again. But HOLY CRAP, this song is so boring and repetitive. The melody consists of three notes that Young repeats over and over and over. That's why he had to noodle around with his guitar, to keep us from concentrating on that mind-numbing melody for so long! ...I will also give some credit to the especially crunchy rhythm section that also makes this song seem more important than it deserved to be.
Leave the Driving B-
Don't you hear this? THIS MELODY IS THREE NOTES BEING REPEATED OVER AND OVER!!! And this is another mid-tempo song. How exactly is this different than the previous song? Now look. I'll grant you that despite this song's utter simplicity, this song seems to draw me in. How it does that, in my view, is nothing short of magic. The important thing this song did right are the exact same it did on the previous song: The guitar noodles are good. There's also someone playing a cool harmonica solo. The main difference is the rhythm, which doesn't seem to be quite as menacing, and this takes seven minutes out of our lives as opposed to five.
Alright, here's the album's first marathon song. Ten minutes long. How long can you last before you space out and start thinking about something else? Me, I'd say I do pretty good at the beginning. Neil opens it up with a subdued and rumbly noodle and I like listening to that skipping bass-line at first. ...But then at least two minutes into the thing, I say to myself: “Holy cheesecake, is Neil still noodling?” Eventually Neil starts to sing, but my brain has become numb to the rhythm and the bass-line already that I hardly care about it anymore. This song is pretty good for putting me in some sort of trance, but I wish that it would do something to grab my interest instead. (Well, he says “asshole” at one point. That seems to grab my attention for one second.)
Oh, ain't this a novelty? This is almost a real song! Listen to Neil Young singing a wandering melody! ...Alright, he's muttering these lyrics mostly, but that's still better than just singing three notes over and over, and there's a distinct chorus. The rhythm section is especially cool here, every second or so the drums give us this heart-thumping “BA-BOOM.” There's a thoughtful acoustic guitar fluttering around throughout, giving us an absorbing texture. ...This is pretty good! Plus, it only lasts five minutes, which is like two minutes when it comes to this album.
Grandpa's Interview B-
This is 13 minutes. Whoah boy!!!! Good thing I'm in the middle of my summer vacation and I literally have nothing better to do than sit through this! (...Actually, I'm enjoying myself pretty well. I just like being a drama queen.) ...I'm not sure what exactly I can tell you about this that I couldn't also have said about “Carmichael.” At first, I like listening to Young's extended, rumbly guitar noodles. I like the rhythm, too, but the bassist doesn't come up with anything even remotely as interesting as the catchy thing he came up with “Carmichael.” ...Generally, this is a hypnotic and absorbing song even though it lasts an insane 13 minutes. But seriously, Neil. How much of this ultra-repetitiveness do you think we can take? I know your guitar noodles are fab, but ... wow ... at some point, it's just gonna be too much. My breaking point is seven minutes. ...I will say that I appreciate that Young seems to be doing a little bit of play-acting with his vocal performance. ...I guess that's the “rock opera.”
Bringin' Down Dinner B+
Whoah! Was that a song just there? ......... Holy crap, I almost missed it! It's three minutes long, over at the blink of an eye! (Why does this album make me think I know what experiencing continental drift is like?) Young pulls out that famous organ-that-sounds-like-and-accordion, sings a dreary melody, and then it's over. ...Not half bad, I tells ya!
Sun Green B-
Twelve minutes this time. Holy crap, man!!!! You're really doing a wonder on my attention span! Just like most of these songs, it's just the same thing getting repeated over and over and over and over and over. The melody is a little more complex this time. I think it's more like five notes that get repeated. Luckily, that rhythm section is still crunchy enough to grab my attention, and the guitar noodling has sort of a bad attitude. I like guitar noodles with a bit of 'tude!
Be the Rain A
No, the reason I'm giving this an A is not because I'm glad this album is over and thus I can finally get on with my life! (After all, what am I getting onto? I'm just gonna review another album! I'm made of free time at the moment!) No, this is easily one of the coolest songs here. True, it is obscenely long and 100 percent repetitive, but I like that determined rhythm, and that gruff old texture that they come up with. But the real reason this gets an A is for the guitar noodle. I've sat through many-a-Neil-Young-noodle in my short time on this planet earth, but I've gotta say that this is one of the most pleasurable ones he's ever done. Just listening to him go at it amidst this gruff backdrop is totally absorbing. Also, weirdly enough, Young actually comes up with a melody that's pretty hooky. I also like that Neil decided to scream some of the lyrics through what I guess is a bullhorn. Funnily enough, it makes these hokey lyrics about saving the planet seem more important.
Greendale Live at Vicar St. (2003)
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Falling From Above C
Hi! There's some applause. Neil Young mutters a little bit, and some annoying members of the audience try to banter with him, but Neil ain't takin' none of that. He starts a-strummin' that acoustic guitar and sings a lot! He plays a little bit o' harmonica, too! .......You can surely hear the lyrics better without the rhythm section, and I guess some listeners might like that. BUT I DON'T CARRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! (These track reviews are going to be fun!)
Double E C
Neil Young mutters A LOT at the beginning of this. I really don't know what he's saying that's supposed to illicit such laughter from the audience. This must be the same audience from that one live Joan Baez album where the audience cracked up when she announced she was taking her shoes off. ...There must be something warped about a hippie's sense of humor! ...About five minutes into it, Young finally gets around to playing the song. ...God, I'm bored. I think I'm just going to give all these songs Cs and be friggin done with it!!!!!!
Devil's Sidewalk D+
Do you hear all those chuckles in the audience? WHY ARE THEY LAUGHING? ...I guess perhaps they're just giggly over seeing Neil Young, their hero, in person. ...Alright, to be fair, he's referring to something that had been in the local papers, which I guess makes it an “inside” joke. ...So, whatever. Maybe it's funny. I don't get it. ..........So, he starts to play the song four minutes into it. And, again, it's just an acoustic version of that song from Greendale. It still has a three-note melody. Couldn't he have added a few more notes?
Leave the Driving C-
The devil lives in Greendale! He only speaks for a minute before playing this little track. Again, it was never such a complicated song to begin with. Just a few notes being repeated over and over and over for seven minutes. He plays the harmonica a few times, which helps matters. ...But not much. I'm slowly going out of my miiiiiiiind!
Carmichael is a police officer! (I'm only telling you everything you need to know about this concept album!) And then he starts to play. It's much slower than the original. Where the hell is Crazy Horse? Why couldn't someone in the audience at least have provided a little percussion with their chairs? ...This track takes a total of 11 minutes and 33 seconds, it never does anything interesting, and I wrote almost the entire main review right now! Usually I don't even start that until I'm through with these track reviews.
Hey! The audience is doing alright! Do you know how I know that? Neil Young asks: “You doing all right?” and the audience responds with a little “woohoo!” ...After that point, this song pretty much goes downhill. I'm not even bothering to turn the volume up, because I don't care what he's talking about. Zzzzz. I don't know if you remember, but the original version of this was five minutes. This is 13 and a half minutes. This is how much time that he spends muttering at the beginning. But after that complete nonsense is over, he starts to sing the song, and reminds me of why I thought it was the best on on Greendale. It has a melody! That's right—there are more than three notes! Sometimes, it seems he'd rather talk the melody rather than sing it, but I'm OK with that. Also, he does this weird vibraty thing with his acoustic guitar that's pretty cool. How does he do that? Is it magic? YEAH! I THINK IT IS!!!! (I'm pretty bored. I should go surf the 'net or something until this song runs out.)
Grandpa's Interview C-
If you often think to yourself that life is too short, then you should take a listen to this song and intensify that emotion. 16 minutes. The first four consists of muttering, and the remaining 12 minutes is ole Neil at the guitar, harmonica and singing lyrics. Just like the original, Neil does a bit of play-acting, which I guess is entertaining in a way. But this is still just a mid-tempo one-man acoustic song that goes on for way too long. .......I'm just gonna surf the 'net some more. I spare you my psychotic rambling just this once!
Bringin' Down Dinner D+
I was having so much fun surfin' the 'Net that I almost forgot to write about this. Yeah! He takes out the accordion-organ! Listening to this stripped-down version of it makes it painfully obvious that this is a two-chord song. Ughhhhh. Two chords back and forth, back and forth. This is like a funeral for funerals.
Sun Green DDDDDDDD
Sun makes water turn green! BECAUSE ALGAE DOES PHOTOSYNTHESIS! ...Just one of the many useful things I learned in middle school science. (Why am I thinking about middle school? That was probably the lowest point my life.) The interesting thing here is that Neil brought a loudspeaker and screams a bit just like he did in the original. You can actually hear what he's saying, which I guess is nice, but that doesn't excuse the fact that this album is boring as hell. ...Man, that loudspeaker is so annoying that I can't even surf the 'Net in peace.
Be the Rain K
Don't pollute the Earth, kiddies! George W. Bush is evil!! (Oh wait, we're not to that album quite yet. But we do know that George W. Bush's name added up to 666 somehow, so he has to be evil. Plus, he had an evil laugh and tortured people.) Anyway, this was one of the better songs from the original album, but again Neil mutters a lot at the beginning of it, which increases the running length to more than 11 minutes. Just like everything else here, it was good in its original incarnation, but hearing this stripped down version takes everything that was even vaguely interesting out of it. This is about as boring as it gets. Ugh. ...But how can I get angry at it? Right now, I'm feeling pretty ecstatic that this album is about to be through playing, I'll never listen to this long, boring, muttery album ever again, and I can get on with my stupid life. Hurrah!!!!
Prairie Wind (2005)
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The Painter A-
Well, this is nice. I like that Neil Young went back to country music, and he's not doing that weirdly repetitive folk music that nearly drove me crazy in Greendale. The song is structured such that it has a distinct verses and chorus section, and both sections are interesting and catchy. There's a thoughtful, echoey slide guitar in the background to accompany his singing and acoustic guitar playing. The lyrics are somewhat cliched... talking about the winding roads of life and following dreams and stuff. But the sincere way Neil delivers it makes me believe what he's saying. All in all, this is a very good song. Very good. Inspiring? Not so much. But I like it.
No Wonder A
You have to trust me. I am really happy that Neil Young returned to writing real songs again. I mean, this song has verses and a chorus and they're actually engaging to me. Awesome. That's all I wanted. And unlike most songs in this album, Neil Young is singing rather loudly and passionately. In addition to the standard acoustic guitars, there's a pretty loud and involved rhythm section and a (very quiet) electric guitar passage. Just to make it more interesting, texturally, he even brings in a fiddle in the final third. A FIDDLE!!! Holy crap, this is a tuneful, well-arranged Neil Young song. My life is great right now.
Falling Off the Face of the Earth B+
Nice. This sounds exactly like it belongs on Harvest Moon, which is one of my favorite Neil Young albums. So, I'm happy right now. It has nicely strummed acoustic guitars, a thick atmosphere, light touches of female back-up music, and some slide guitar. Although the melody here is awfully repetitive and I get bored with it pretty quickly considering it's only a three-minute song. Despite it sounding similar to Harvest Moon, it's not nearly as haunting. Songs on that album seemed to linger with me long after they were through playing.
Far From Home B
The best thing about this song is that seedy horn section he brought in. The worst thing is that he seemed to abandon the idea he had earlier in the album of writing distinct verses and chorus sections. This, like most of the songs from Greendale, is essentially a handful of notes being repeated over and over. Those swinging horns distract me from that a little bit, but they don't completely succeed keeping this song from growing dull. ...At least it has instrumental interludes featuring nice harmonica solos.
It's a Dream B-
Yay! This is one of those songs that has a chorus and verses and stuff, which means that Neil Young actually spent some time writing this. On the other hand, this song is so freaking slow-moving and long (six and a half minutes) that I start to get restless with boredom halfway through. The string-orchestrated instrumentation is nice, and I like the subtle slide guitar throughout... But Young doesn't quite succeed in making such a haunting atmosphere that I can get caught up in for so bloody long.
Prairie Wind A-
Cool! This song has a chorus AND he brought back the swinging horn section and female back-up singers. Plus, this song has a rather tense atmosphere that immediately engages me, which is fairly rare in Neil Young these days. All that said, though, I haven't been able to come up with a compelling reason for this song to be more than three minutes long, but he's extended this thing well past seven minutes. ...But I enjoy listening to it the whole way through for the most part, so I guess the insane running length isn't much of an issue. It's hypnotizing enough.
Here For You B
A new song! I thought “Prairie Wind” was going to last forever, but lo and behold, time eventually runs out. Anyway, here's another very nice, laid-back country tune with slide guitar and harmonica. Neil Young mutters the lyrics like some sort of world-worn cowpoke like he does all throughout this album, and I guess I like him for that. Generally speaking, this isn't profoundly different than everything else in the album, and I don't find this melody too interesting. So whatever. It's average. It's pleasant.
This Old Guitar B
Holy crap, all of these songs sounded like weak clones of Harvest Moon, but Neil's using the exact same acoustic guitar riff that he used in “Harvest Moon.” ...Listening to his discography for awhile, I've been getting pretty used to Neil Young repeating himself, but this is just blatantly lazy. Ah well... it's a nice riff, anyway. The main reason I'm docking this a few points is just that it's so BORING. He's muttering even more than ever before through this, and maybe that singing style is overstaying its welcome slightly.
He Was the King B+
Nice. He changes things up with this song that's almost upbeat! The horn section is so swinging this time that it sounds almost Vegasy. You don't know how excited that makes me! But again, this song is plagued by such a long running time that it seems terribly stale by the end despite its good intentions. Brevity is wit, or whatever, you know.
When God Made Me B
Neil Young believes in God. There's something. This is a piano song that sounds like some sort of church hymn. Except it's more boring than most church hymns, and therefore it's pretttttttty boring. Even the church lady could play that piano without making it seem so dang clompy!! But at the same time, those choir singers are rather sweet and haunting.
Living With War (2006)
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After the Garden B+
Neil Young's writing sing-songey songs now!!! Has he ever written songs like this before? I don't remember a whole lot of his songs seeming to concentrate on melodies instead of other things that happen to be on his mind at the moment, such as crazy distorted guitar, homey country flavors or freaky '80s experiments. But this song is pretty strongly melodious. I suppose anti-war anthems, or wannabe anti-war anthems, are required to have tunes that people would want to sing along with. So light up your cigarette lighters (or, these days, open your cell phones), sway back and forth, and join in with Neil every time he sings “After the garden is gone!” ...It's not a bad song at all, especially for those purposes, even if the melody is a little cheesy. This is an ordinary mid-tempo pop rocker. He brings in a little bit of that distorted guitar sound in a few select moments, which I suppose reminds us that this is still Neil Young.
Living With War A-
You can even hear back-up singers fashioned to sound like a crowd of neo-hippies singing along with him. As much as I hate neo-hippies, I can't deny that this would be a pretty good song to sing along with. The melody is good, and the lyrics are engaging, well-written, and brightly support his cause. “(In the crowded streets / In the big hotels / In the mosques and the doors of the old museum / I take a holy vow / To never kill again / Try to remember peace)” Even though it's nicely written, I still get that feeling that it's a little too middle-of-the-road and needlessly long to earn anything more than an A-. (Although five minutes worth of “needlessly long” for Neil Young is pretty small potatoes.)
Restless Consumer B+
This is back to the typical Neil Young-ish guitar-heavy, ultra-repetitive longwindedness. This sounds like it could have appeared on his early '90s albums, which I'm sure some of his fans were thrilled to hear him do again. And this is fun to listen to! He keeps a nice beat and he sings an OK melody, which helps me bear through its near-six-minute running length without getting particularly bored. He noodles around with that distorted electric guitar most agreeably! (I guess he realized people weren't going to be impressed with that obnoxious devil's guitar tone he kept screwing around with in the grunge age.)
Shock and Awe B
I kind of have trouble distinguishing this from the previous song. It has the same general pace, texture, melody... The main difference is that Neil sounds angrier here, and there's some blessed soul playing a trumpet in this. Reading through the lyrics, it appears as though he's angry about the early days of the Iraq War. (“Back in the days of shock and awe / We came to liberate them all / History was the cruel judge of overconfidence / Back in the days of shock and awe / Back in the days of "mission accomplished" / Our chief was landing on the deck / The sun was setting on a golden photo op / Back in the days of "mission accomplished"”)
This is what I like. A two-and-a-half minute Neil Young pop song with catchy verses and choruses, good production, and an upbeat rhythm. I don't know why he didn't do this sort of thing more often in his career! He's pretty good at it! The distorted guitar tones haven't changed from the previous songs, and that's a good thing! The lyrics are happy ones that pertain to soldiers leaving the war and going home to see their faaaamilies.
Flags of Freedom B
This is basically the same thing as the previous song except it's about a minute longer, its melody isn't quite as catchy, and there's a harmonica solo. Oh, listen to these biting lyrics... (“Have you seen the flags of freedom? / What color are they now? / Do you think that you believe in yours more than they do theirs somehow?”)
Let's Impeach the President A-
...This is the song that was in the news for a little while when this album was released. I don't know why. It's just another upbeat, mid-tempo song with that Neil-Young-signature distorted guitar incorporated in tis texture. The melody is catchy but a bit dumb. It's basically like all the other songs on this album, so I don't know why this one would have made the news and none of the other ones. ...Or maybe this song made the news because of the lyrics. (“Let's impeach the President for lying / And misleading our country into war / Abusing all the power that we gave him / And shipping all our money out the door / Who's the man who hired all the criminals / The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors / They bend the facts to fit with their new stories / Of why we have to send our men to war / Let's impeach the President for spying / On citizens inside their own homes / Breaking every law in the country / By tapping our computers and telephones / What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees / Would New Orleans have been safer that way / Sheltered by our government's protection / Or was someone just not home that day?”) ...My guess is he didn't like President Bush a whole lot.
Looking For a Leader B
Upbeat pop-song with a good melody... etc. etc. etc... If you read deeply into the lyrics, you can hear Neil Young endorse himself for president. (“Lookin' for a leader / To bring our country home / Re-unite the red, white and blue / Before it turns to stone / Lookin' for somebody / Young enough to take it on / Clean up the corruption / And make the country strong”) Yeah... Somebody Young enough... Could you imagine? The halls of the White House filled with grungy guitar players and unkempt hippies...
Roger and Out C+
This has been a somewhat atypical Neil Young album until now in that nothing in particular seemed outrageously overlong or boring. But I'm listening to this ploddingly paced song and .......... blughhhhhh ............. it's boring. The funny thing about it is that it's the first thing in awhile that actually has a different pace. But maybe that's why I find it boring. The lyrics are very heavy-handed, though, dealing with the death of a soldier.
America the Beautiful B
Alright, I definitely don't remember a Neil Young album ending quite like this before. Considering that I've reviewed 38 Neil Young albums, I guess it's nice to be able to say that. The question is, if ending this album with a straight gospel choir rendition of “America the Beautiful” was a good idea or a terribly pretentious one. I'm on the fence on that one, like I am about a lot of things. All I know is that I've heard this song about a billion times so far in my life, and I didn't particularly need to hear it again. Especially if it's just a straight rendition.
Chrome Dreams II (2007)
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Beautiful Bluebird A
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah! You know you're in for a good time when a Neil Young song starts off with a gently plucking acoustic guitar and a sweet harmonica humming away. He wrote quite a nice vocal melody for it, too. If I was the type of person who listened to Neil Young albums, I could imagine myself eventually memorizing this song and singing it along with him. It's a little repetitive, but I don't get too tired of it. It's such a nice little country tune, and that acoustic guitar is beautiful! It's not a slide guitar, but he makes it slide around anyway. So nice to listen to.
Hard to argue against the awesomeness of this song. It features a nicely thumping drum, a memorable vocal melody, these kind of awesome Native Americanish back-up singers that kind of sound like fans of the Cleveland Indians, and some of the sweetest finger-plucking banjo I've ever listened to! Plus, it's kept under three minutes long. It gracefully makes an entrance, makes an impression, and then exits. Oh, what I would give for more Neil Young songs like this!
Ordinary People B
Not a cover of the Kinks song, in case you were worried. But if you listen to this, you might actually wish it were! This monstrosity is almost 20 minutes long. That is more than 1/4th of the album's entire running length! So, what is so special about this song that he needed to drag it out for so long? I will say that he at least had the courtesy to make the guitars crunchy and bring in a full brass band to spice things up. But after five minutes of this, I don't see a great compelling reason for the rest of it. Other than the lyrics, I guess, but I can read those on a piece of paper. At least Young has some nice guitar solos that get crazier as the song progresses... That right there is the main reason that I'm not completely bored with this. (By the way, what's with those distinctly '80s sounding keyboards?) ...I'm waiting forever for this song to be over with. Does Neil Young think I'm immortal or something? Does he want me to be as old as he is by the time I'm done listening to this?
Shining Light A-
The shining light is that I finally got to listen to another song! This is a rather strange one coming from Neil Young considering it immediately reminds me of Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Memory.” Or maybe it reminds me more of the Bee Gee's 1969 hit “First of May.” Either one, this is completely uncharacteristic of Neil Young! (I might have to tell my dad that I listened to a Neil Young song that sounds like the Bee Gees, and he'd probably hit me.) But I swear that is what this song sounds like! He even has these guys going “oooo!” all the time in the background. This is so weird! Anyway, it's a nice song. Perhaps he's trying to hard to achieve this golden pop sound, and the melody is a bit goofy, but it makes a nice listen. Plus it's less than five minutes long, so it's very unlikely that you'll die by the time it's through playing.
The Believer B
Holy crap, am I going senile or was Neil Young trying to do some sort of Marvin Gaye light R&B groove going? It's so weird hearing this from him! It's not particularly good... The melody is forgettable, and the sparse instrumental textures don't appeal me that much. But it's sweet to listen to, and it's less than three minutes long. Seriously I have to restrain myself handing out As to Neil Young songs that have the good sense to not take forever.
Spirit Road A-
This is just about the right length for a jam jam jammy jam jam Neil Young song. This is six minutes worth of a heavy drum beat, slight distortion and tons of involving guitar solos. The melody is strong enough to keep the experience punchy, but it probably could have been better. ...It'll make a good listen. It'll be sure to fitfully please all his fans!
Dirty Old Man A
Wow! This is a little cheesy, but it definitely captures my attention! The lyrics are pretty hilarious, and it marks the first time in Chrome Dreams II where I didn't have to force myself to pay attention to them. Also, this song is pretty awesome. It uses a simple R&B riff that's being recycled for the eight billionth time, but Young makes it sound fresh with that ultra clean and deep rhythm guitar, inspired guitar soloing, and a rather humorous vocal delivery. Plus, it's only three minutes long! Parfait!
Ever After C+
I might not have minded if a three-minute song like “Dirty Old Man” was dragged out to oblivion, but I'm extremely grateful that he kept this utterly slow and plodding country ballad to three minutes. I don't get much at all out of the melody or the textures to really justify him playing this so slow. SPEED THIS SUCKER UP, YOU OLD COWPOKE!
No Hidden Path B-
No easy path, either, if you're planning on sitting through this whole thing. Yes, this is another one of those insanely long songs that Young curiously thought that we'd have the patience of sitting through. (On the other hand, his core audience did a lot of acid in the '60s, so they probably can't think very quickly anyway!) Like “Ordinary People” before it, I can at least respect that Young keeps it paced nicely with a steady drum beat and bass, and he litters it up nicely with solos. But there's too little in here that keeps me from spacing out with an empty grin on my face like Robert De Niro in Awakenings. Or maybe that's what Young was going for? This is music for comatose patients!
The Way A
The way, the truth, the light! The LIGHT!!! (I'm mentally baked right now because of these long songs... I think I know what these aged hippies feel like... Except those lucky bastards got to live in the '60s!) Anyway, if you made it to the end of this album and you're not dead, then congratulations! You're one of the few! Young delivers quite an odd treat as a reward. In fact it's so odd that I have to express how odd it is with capital letters and a plethora of exclamation marks. THIS SONG HAS A FREAKING CHILDREN'S CHOIR IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's nice to know that Neil Young well into the 21st Century is still capable of finding unexpected ways to freak me out. But in all honesty, this is a very sweet song. It has a nice melody, compelling chord progression, good instrumentation. It's piano centered, but he uses some light keyboards to keep its background moving. It's slow in spots, but all in all, Young did a nice thing here.
Fork in the Road (2009)
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When Worlds Collide A-
This starts out sounding like a rusty old version of a Led Zeppelin song! Of course it sounds like a Neil Young song as soon as he starts to sing, but still... This is an old-fashioned hard rock tune! Not a terribly exhilarating one since the only “rocking” thing about it is that guitar, but that guitar is menacing and so I listen to this thing quite content about it. The drums are quiet and tinny, and of course Young's vocals are sleepy. Well, this is Neil Young, what do you expect?
Fuel Line A+
HELL YEAH! If Neil Young really has to start writing riff-rock, this is exactly the way to go about it. Give it a catchy riff that's tightly played, and yell the lyrics. You know, this is rock 'n' roll; it's yelling music! He even puts in some back-up vocals that are more melodic than his main vocal melody. This thing is a blast!
Just Singing a Song A
I suppose the '00s are nearly over and the '80s revival will go along with it making way for an oncomming '90s revival. Is Young perhaps warming up his grunge chops for a second go at it? This is a very good song, anyway, with one of Young's more solid, hummable melodies, and the heavy guitars achieve a sort of dreamy atmosphere that I find appealing. Nice one!
Johnny Magic A
Wow, he's singing about the city I grew up in! Although I wasn't aware that it was “the home of the heavy metal continental.” It's more like the home of abortion protestors and third-rate gangs. Anyway, this is another excellent hard-rock type song from Neil Young. If he wants to keep doing these short, catchy, heavy guitar pop-rock numbers for a looooong time, it would be fine with me. This is great! (Oh I guess the “heavy metal continental” is his car. Well... OK... This is why I'm not much of a lyrics guy.)
Cough Up the Bucks A-
I'm really liking this album. Here is another fun ditty with a heavy rhythm, tight riff, and a somewhat interesting spaced-out lead vocal melody from Young. The guitars sound excellent, and I even like his quasi-rapping of “Cough up the bucks!” throughout the song fun.
Get Behind the Wheel B+
He's taking out the Chuck Berryisms for this one! ...I'm not a huge fan of Chuck Berry style '50s rock, but I have fun with it every once in awhile. Of course the riff doesn't seem that interesting to me, and the melody likewise. But this is fun.
Off the Road C+
Alright, the ballads start to grate at me a bit. The melody is OK, but the super slow pacing and minimalist instrumentation just make this BOOOORRRING. At least there's some nice back-up singers that come across every once in awhile that keeps it from growing too tedious. But seriously, this song needed a good ole kick in the pants.
Hit the Road A-
JACK. This is another guitar heavy, upbeat, CATCHY, pop-rocker and thus 1000 percent more entertaining than that ballad and most of Young's back catalog was. It's sloppy as hell, but as long as he keeps on with these upbeat rockers, I cannot possibly dislike it.
Light a Candle B+
Not that I dislike Young's country ballads, but I'm glad that he waited until now to finally give us one. The rock music at the beginning of the album was a lot of fun, but now I'm ready to sit back and soak up one of his pastoral tunes. This isn't as good has his best country ballads in his back catalog, but it doesn't try to be. It's just a nice song with an acoustic guitar.
Fork in the Road A
Another toe tapper! Even better than his other toe-tappers, I reckon. It's catchy, fun to listen to, and those guitars are slobbering all over this! Young grumbles a bit like a child molester in the final third of it... This song is something about the government. Bailouts. Losing money. Ah... That dang economy.
Le Noise (2010)
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Walk With Me A
I've got to say... I almost didn't think this would happen, but... I find Neil Young's ultra-distorted electric guitar entertaining again. How did he do it? He treats it basically like an acoustic guitar. There's none of that horrid helicopter noise to rattle by brain, and he doesn't use tones that are too screechy. Though there is a point toward the end where he launches into a sequence of echoey instrumental sound effects, which I don't find terribly interesting... But until that point, all he's doing is chugging along with that HUGE electric guitar, and singing surprisingly a rather catchy ditty. Reading these lyrics, I've gotta wonder, though, if he thinks he's a divine power or something. (“I feel a strength, I feel your faith in me / I'll never let you down, no matter what you do / If you just walk with me and let me walk with you / I'm on this journey, I don't wanna walk alone.”) ...But then again, I suppose if Jesus were to compose a rock album, it might sound something like that. That guitar sound is epic, for sure.
Sign of Love A-
Much the same as the previous song, as a matter of fact, except without that somewhat dull instrumental interlude at the end. Young is chugging away at that MIGHTILY heavy electric guitar while singing a melody that's far catchier than it has any right to be. If he were to perform this with just an acoustic guitar, I doubt he would need to strum that guitar much differently. ...There is a very neat echo effect put on Young's vocals, which makes it sound like he's singing to the universe.
Someone's Gonna Rescue You B
...OK, the gradually degrading song scores are probably evident that Young's gimmick of playing that HEAVY electric guitar is losing its novelty for me...... But I promise you that the songs are getting gradually less interesting. Here the vocal melody is a little bit boring, and he's not finding terribly interesting patterns to play with that guitar. ...In the opening song, there was actually a second guitar providing some extra texture. But here, he's just playing one extremely distorted guitar and singing over it. Nothing too notable in the riff category, either.
Love and War A
Yay! He gives the distorted guitar a break for a bit, and strums with a normal acoustic guitar for a bit. ...And wow this song is beautiful. ...It's moody and sad, but it's still something I find myself getting easily drawn into. Though I'm almost positive I heard that melody somewhere else. (It'd take me too long to figure it out... Shoot me an e-mail if you catch what I'm thinking of...) Again, I only hear one guitar playing on this, but he finds plenty of different musical ideas to keep me consistently with him. ( “I've seen a lot of young men go to war / And leave a lot of young brides waiting / I've watched them try to explain it to their kids / And seen a lot of them failing.”)
Angry World B+
Back to the distorted guitar! ...Still a cool sound, but after the previous song, all I really want to hear him do is play more of that acoustic guitar. But then again, this song is about the “Angry World,” which calls for a little bit of snarling electric guitar. In fact, it's rougher and more snarling than I've heard it before on this album... It starts to approach unlistenable territory, but never quite makes it. Maybe he went a bit too far for my tastes, but still the melody is pretty good. ...All throughout, I hear this extremely eerie sample of Young's voice being repeated over and over again. …It sounds like it's repeating “Hate me” or “He ate me.” ...Either way, it's pretty freaky. And I suppose I should give Young credit—after all these albums—for writing a song completely unlike anything I've heard him do before.
Wow... I guess as long as he was going to use this heavy guitar sound, he's finding appropriate subject matter. Earlier in the album, he sounded like God. In the previous song, it sounded like the angry, collective snarl of every angry person in the world. Here, he's singing about drugs, and I'm guessing that disgusting, grungy guitar sound is exactly what happens in his brain when he is on drugs. (Did Neil Young actually do drugs? ...Gotta assume the affirmative.) My main complaint about this is the melody, which gets awfully repetitive and on my nerves. ...But then again, he's singing about drugs. (“You didn't see me in Toronto when I first tried out some hash / Smoked through a pen and I'd do it again but I didn't have cash / I didn't have the cash / Then I tried amphetamines and my head was in a glass / Taped underneath the speedometer wires of my '48 Buick's dash / But I knew that wouldn't last.”)
Peaceful Valley Boulevard A-
The second and final song on here where Neil Young gives that distorted electric guitar a rest and plays the old acoustic guitar. He's still singing a song that's extremely sullen, gritty and rather depressing. ...But then again, when has Young ever written a song that wasn't depressing? His melodies are still really good, and perhaps this shows him peaking again. ...The only issue I throw with this song is that it lasts more than seven minutes without ever really changing, and it does grow less interesting to me as it goes along. However, it's nevertheless perfectly listenable. It's just Young playing with his acoustic guitar with an echo effect put on his vocals. He's singing about environmentalism, another issue that had been close to his heart forever. (“Who'll be the beacon in the night? / Who'll be the one to lead the nations? / And protect God's creations? / A polar bear's still drifting on an ice floe / Sun beating down from the sky / Politicians gathered for a summit / And came away with nothing to decide.”)
Young has one last hurrah with his HEAVILY distorted guitar... although it comes off as very dreary in this instance, and thus all I really do is sit through this mostly tired of it. ...The sound was pretty cool in earlier spots of the album because it seemed like he had a reason to use it. Here, however... eh. The sound isn't particularly gruffy or mean. Though he's singing about something pretty big in the lyrics. (“And the earth is slowly spinning / Spinning slowly, slowly changing / I feel something in the air.”)
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