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Neil Young
Albums

  • Everybody Knows This Is,
  • Nowhere,
  • After The Goldrush,
  • Harvest,
  • Time Fades Away,
  • On The Beach,
  • Tonights The Night,
  • Zuma,
  • American Stars N Bars,
  • Comes A Time,
  • Rust Never Sleeps,
  • Hawks And Doves,
  • Re.ac.tor,
  • Trans,
  • Life,
  • Freedom,
  • Ragged Glory,
  • Harvest Moon,
  • Sleeps With Angels,
  • Mirrorball,
  • Silver And Gold,
  • Are You Passionate,
  • Greendale,
  • Prairie Wind,
  • Living With War,
  • Chrome Dreams II,
  • Fork In The Road,
  • Le Noise,
  • Americana,
  • Psychedelic Pill,
  • A Letter Home,








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Neil Young

    Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere( 1969 )
    Cinnamon Girl / Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere / Round And Round / Down By The River / The Losing End / Running Dry / Cowgirl In The Sand

    It can be seen that Buffalo Springfield, Neil's previous band, were more Beatles than Rolling Stones. They were all about trying to achieve a certain level of art and craft. Neil's self-titled debut album followed on from this, although Neil wasn't sure of himself - wasn't confident with his vocals and wasn't confident with the direction of the music. Enter a band called 'The Rockets'. Neil saw something in them. They could barely play, yet they had a feeling. He renamed them 'Crazy Horse' and thus begun a long collaboration between Neil and his new found bunch of fellows. They reminded him of The Rolling Stones, in terms of feeling. Real Rock N Roll music. 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere', Neil's second solo album, is so far away from his debut - that fans commonly regard this as his 'real' debut. Well, things get complicated in Neil Young land, but that's another story, and shall be told another time. For the time, way back in 1969 - Neil Young invents grunge music. Which wasn't even born for another 20 years, but there it is, in the guitar sound. Neil didn't invent anything with his guitar sound. It took in various influences, but he combined those influences in such a way that it became a distinctive sound. Factor in his voice and the uneasy harmonies and raw backing of Crazy Horse - and that's Neil Young. 'Cinnamon Girl' could have been released at any stage in Neil Youngs career, and fitted in. It became a minor radio hit, and Neil was on his way.

    The title song is a sweet, imperfect thing, short and with nice harmonies and melodies from the folk crowd. 'Round And Round' sometimes takes some critiscm from my fellow internet reviewers, but that's to miss the point of what it is, rather than what it isn't. It's a song originally written for Buffalo Springfield and rendered here with additional female vocals and very uneasy vocals, shifting, like a camp-fire. It's a very hippie song - but this droning thing, this thing that goes on and on and on, repeating the same damn things..... it's so good. It's called 'Round And Round' subtitled 'It Won't Be Long', but it IS long. And it does go round and round. That was the entire point. Neil was about capturing a feeling, he was never about achieving any level of perfection. Thus, 'Round And Round' is the kind of thing that is so real, you believe that you could sing and play it yourself with your friends. Following on from the mighty 'Cinnamon Girl' and the melodic title song, it gives this album one hell of a good beginning. Following the nine minute tour-de-force that it 'Down By The River', this album loses its way a little, but we'll allow Neil that.

    'Down By The River' goes on and on, too. It captures a feeling, a great feeling and Neil and the Crazy Horse band felt like they could play forever - this is a heavily edited version of what they actually did originally play. Besides, any song with shambolic 'sha la la' vocals in it, is more than fine with me. 'Running Dry', subtitled 'a requiem for the rockets' is a noble song, the closing 'Cowgirl In The Sand' a ten minute thing that doesn't know when to end. Not knowing when to end isn't a problem though. The sound is good, the sound is great. Beautifully imperfect, and that voice of Neil's? He overdubbed vocals. He was unsure, yet growing in confidence. The one thing his voice did have, and still does, is that it doesn't sound like anybody elses, yet it retains a natural and very real emotional feeling. Imperfect, yeah? But sometimes, that's ok. Sometimes, that's more than welcome. 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' is one hell of an album.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    such a spectacular turnaround, in such a short space of time, from his overhyped, bombastic, and ultimately shallow debut. the only comparison that really comes close, so early in a career, is paul welller and the jam coming up with "all mod cons", 6 months after "this is the modern world", and let's be honest, the former was hardly as bad as "neil young", and the latter is certainly not in the same league, as "everybody knows this is nowhere". if ever there was a case of talking the talk, it could be found in his debut solo album, a piece which at best, could be described as "odd". riddled with half baked ideas, over emphasis on ecelecticism, and production values, akin to george martin working with blue peter style resources. the less said about that one, the better. here is the proof of young walking the walk. particularily impressive, when you consider that his back must have been really against the wall at this stage, and of course, not necessarily his fault, when you t! ake into account the (alleged) interference, with the mixing of the debut, and the "brian's back" style pressure, that the suits must have had him under, after the split of buffalo springfield. hard to really judge, by today's standards. perhaps on a par with caleb followill, or even thom yorke, bouncing back with masterpiece solo album, after being written off, when the fuss and hype of a disappointing debut backfired. it's just a thought really...... "everybody knows this is nowhere" sees the roots of the legendary briggs/young recording style, line 'em up, and knock 'em down, no frills, no bullshit. another remarkable development here, is the performance of crazy horse, considering their relative inexperience of the recording process, it's a case of "like ducks to water". danny sounds like he's been doing this for 50 years, a real tragedy, that it ain't never gonna happen.... hard to pick a highlight, like "trout mask replica" or "lady soul", you can conjure up a new fav! ourite song with every listen. today, it's the title track. la! h lah la la lah lah........ 10/10.

    GAZZA Edinburgh
    Pretty much perfect i reckon . Crazy horse gave young such a platform to improvise on but also were tight enough to rein in his excesses . Danny whitten was such a great foil for young also , his vocals blend perfectly with neils . The sad thing of course is that this record is the only real opportunity to hear how good the early crazy horse were - young split to work with crosby,stills and nash and whitten succumbed to heroin . But its a brilliant, brilliant record in particular the title track makes me feel so joyous . It was also one of the most sucessful exhibits of the "live in the studio" sound many 60s bands searched for . 9/10


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    After The Goldrush( 1970 )
    Tell Me Why / After The Goldrush / Only Love Can Break Your Heart / Southern Man / Till The Morning Comes / Oh, Lonesome Me / Don't Let It Bring You Down / Birds / When You Dance You Can Really Love / I Believe In You / Cripple Creek Ferry

    Neil was working with Crosby, Stills and Nash, who wanted him because he could play guitar - they needed a live show. It wasn't as simple as that, and Neil changed the dynamic of that ever fascinating collective forever. Still, working with the likes of David Crosby, a man with a keen sense and expert ear for vocal harmonies, for example - obviously rubbed off on Neil. Not that's there's huge evidence of harmony work here, but Neil's vocals do sound very strong. The spirit of Crobsy, Stills and Nash and their thirst for a commercial sound, their desire to be this huge selling band, has also rubbed off on Neil. Although working with Crazy Horse for this album, they aren't given billing on the cover artwork and guest muscians also feature. Nils Lofgren was a young kid given a chance by Neil, although Nils expected to play guitar. Not unreasonable really, seeing as he was a guitar player. In the event, Neil wanted him to play Piano. He'd never played it before! So, Nils gets down and practices. One result of this is his wonderfully felt, pounding piano part that appears through the storming 'Southern Man'.

    The opening 'Tell Me Why' has a Crosby, Stills, Nash kinda feel - a clean sound, acoustic picking and lovely sounding harmonies. The title song is similarly lovely, this time round just Neil and a piano for the most part. Perhaps there's a Joni Mitchell influence to the song itself, Neil suddenly gets really into singer/songwriter mode for this. Covering the country tune 'Oh Lonesome Me' re-enforces this. Neil plays the harmonica part, the piano sound is there again, beautifully recorded too. It sounds like a real piano played in a real room, not always the case when a piano is recorded for a rock album. The shuffling 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' is another sweet, delightful song, and the album is clearly shaping up. A mellower sound for Neil, with only 'Southern Man' and 'When You Dance You Can Really Love' showcasing the true sound of Crazy Horse, his backing group. Still, those Crazy Horse fellows? Since Neil took them over from their previous incarnation as The Rockets, they'd clearly grown. Enough evidence was present all through 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere', but 'Southern Man' is tight AND loose. It's funky and with feeling and the rhythm section combined with that silly, glorious and delightful piano part... well, it's really something.

    There are weaker songs here, 'Birds' and 'Don't Let It Bring You Down' seem to lack a little something, although both are played with the same impeccable taste and feeling the rest of the album displays, so they certainly aren't bad songs, just don't compare with the finest moments here. 'When You Can Dance You Can Really Love' rolls along nicely and is the sound of Neil, Crazy Horse and guest Jack Nitzsche with the piano parts - the guitars of Neil and Crazy Horse member Danny Whitten are the key to the sound, although listen to these piano parts. They get pretty demented in places! Ah, this is a fine album. Three albums for Neil, three different sounding albums each with a different feel. This would be continued for his next effort, although some fans thought it a step too far away from the Rock n Roll stuff.

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    Matt Byrd matthewbyrd@hotmail.com


    John john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    I've always found this one a bit dull. I like Rust Never Sleeps and Freedom much more. There are some grand moments on this album but some low points. 'Oh Lonesome Me' and 'Love Me Till The Morning Comes' are the true low points. The high points are high but never too high.

    John john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    In some ways the impetus for "Harvest", certainly attitude wise, if not in terms of compositions. A very seasonal album (early winter in my opinion), although it shouldn't be a reason not to apppreciate it any time of year. 9/10.

    GAZZA
    A beautiful album , neil showing that even outside of crazy horse and CSN he could deliver a set of impeccably beautiful songs and organic grooves . Crazy horse are used sparingly here , this ones more about developing neils solo chops on piano and acoustic guitar. "i believe in you" is one of the most heartbreakingly devoted things ever composed , "birds" and "only love can break your heart" pull you apart with their heartfelt simplicity . The simple truth is even at this early stage outside of the fab 4 and dylan noone could match this guy for songwriting . Any new fans could do a lot worse than start here .


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    Harvest 8 ( 1972 )
    Out On The Weekend / Harvest / A Man Needs A Maid / Heart Of Gold / Are You Ready For The Country? / Old Man / There's A World / Alabama / The Needle And The Damage Done / Words

    "I saw the needle and the damage done". Danny Whitten the Crazy Horse guitar player, ended up tragically dying and his use of drugs played the major part in that. Neil had actually fired Crazy Horse as his backing band, 'Harvest' came to be recorded in Nashville with a team of top session players dubbed 'The Stray Gators'. Of course, Neil being Neil, he was difficult. The drummer had an especially hard time and ended up playing very simply, no fancy fills or nothing - Neil didn't want that. He gets these bunch of guys in and ends up trying to get them to play like Crazy Horse! Well, not quite, but all simple stuff. There's a sense of space in all of the songs here. Simple arrangements, simple songs. Two songs are more elaborate, featuring full orchestral arrangements, 'A Man Needs A Maid' and 'There's A World'. The dark and very honest plea of the haunting 'Needle And The Damage Done' was recorded live and the closing 'Words' sounds like Neil Young and Crazy Horse - a little distorted guitar along the way, the only such moment on the entire album, it sounds like it belongs to a different album, yet it still fits. Following the stark 'Needle And The Damage Done', jumping to this thing - it works in the context of the album, emotionally, it sends a listener all over the place. 'Harvest', an album with the very radio friendly and huge hit 'Heart Of Gold', an album with a first two thirds that were pretty mellow and nice and an album that sold by the truckload, ending with these two blasts of darkness.

    The title song is the best thing here, Neil sounds yearning and the lyrics are very evocative. The steel guitar, the piano - the backing track is perfectly done, beautifully felt - a real classic song, no question. Much of the album was written whilst Neil was in love, a new blooming love affair. Which explains the overall softer tone of the record, perhaps. I'm not quite sure it explains 'A Man Needs A Maid' with its lyrical plea that Neil wants "Just someone to keep my house clean - fix my meals and go away." Still, the orchestral arrangement is beautiful, rising briefly into a wall of strings through the middle of the song. 'Heart Of Gold' is a nice tune, well played, well sung. A number one hit song! As was the album. Bob Dylan was pissed off, feeling that 'Heart Of Gold' may as well have been him, that it sounded like him. Bob wasn't doing so well in 1972 - for awhile at least, Neil was top of the game. Still, Neil Young being Neil Young? You think he gave the ( now very pleased at having a best selling artist ) record company what they wanted or expected??

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    Aaron glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    well i must say this album gets better by every listen as most Folk albums i feal do most of the time' a 'man needs a maid' is so wonderful as is this album the only badish song witch i find just ok is'are you ready for the country'but it does have some graet arangements on it musically one of the strongest but the worst song i give this a 9

    Matt Byrd matthewbyrd@hotmail.com
    I know very little of the Young catalogue.... and Harvest is almost the extent of my Neil Young knowledge. I was pleasently suprised with this album and recommend it. on repeated listening some of it seems a bit overdone but I say this is a very interesting one... a 9 from me. Now I need After The Goldrush or, as Adrian says, Tonight's The Night.

    Dan Cadman danielofcadman@hotmail.com
    Fantastic album. Took me a long time to get into in though. "Old Man" is just the most cheerful song, always gets me up for the day.

    john.co.kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    you can spot a gormless politically correct male from a zillion light years off,by the way he will try to impress women by going on about how "mysoginist" a man needs a maid is. maybe i aint listenin' correctly,but i dont hear neil suggesting for 1 second that a woman's only purpose in life is be at a man's beckon call in his home! if anything, surely it's the MALE who is demeaned by this song by suggesting he has prehistoric views of women in general, and that he is so useless he cant even get up off his hide to do some housework! oh and out on the weekend is just BEAUTIFUL......... 8/10


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    Time Fades Away( 1973 )
    Time Fades Away / Journey Through The Past / Yonder Stands The Sinner/ LA / Love In Mind / Don't Be Denied / The Bridge / Last Dance

    Neil follows up the mega-selling 'Harvest' with an album recorded live and an album spawning no hits and not that many sales. It goes off into a rock n roll direction following the far sweeter and radio friendly 'Harvest', but not just that. Neil used a lot of the 'Harvest' musicians during the 'Time Fades Away' tour - a huge tour, big arenas, etc. Neil wasn't comfortable. The musicians lacked the chemistry of Crazy Horse. Not only that, but 'old black' Neil's guitar throughout the ages, wasn't available to him. Still, Neil didn't shy away. He was playing these brand new songs to the crowds, and the crowds didn't want to hear brand new songs, especially guitar heavy ones - they wanted to hear material in the vein of 'Harvest'. Besides that, releasing this after 'Harvest'?? It's shambolic, but not in the usual Neil Young fashion - lack of chemistry, as I said. The guitar playing, the bass, the drums... nothing stands out. There's no free-flowing jams, although the songs are still okay songs, even with these drawbacks. The opening title song reminds me of Bob Dylan circa 1965 and that's a good thing!! 'Journey Through The Past' is taken by Neil solo at the piano and it's a lovely tune, a genuinely affecting performance. On the otherhand, 'Yonder Stands The Sinner' has mis-placed lyrics, by-rote guitar parts, uninspired musical backing, etc, etc. Not a great moment, although the sound is pleasingly raw if you wanted a pleasingly raw sound, that is. Which following 'Harvest', not too many people did!! His new fans?? "Ah, let's lose em'" was Neil's attitude, much to the dismay of his record company, although the record company did follow him through his journey.

    Don't care at all for 'LA', which although a good song with good piano and steel parts - sounds like it needed another performance, another recording... another day, to bring out the best of it. The backing harmonies are lamentably flat and unfeeling, for example. 'Love In Mind', 'Don't Be Denied' and the bare Neil and piano of 'The Bridge' are merely ok songs. 'The Bridge' does benefit from being just Neil, piano plus harmonica. It's heartfelt and the feeling is there, there's real emotion here. The closing 'Last Dance', all eight minutes of it, brings out more interesting Neil Young guitar parts, although even here - his parts sound kind of fractured - as if he was holding back. Overall, this song does work. Something about the fact it sounds like it's gonna fall apart at any moment. Neil doesn't so much sing, as spout off words and sound generally on the edge. That's a good thing but it doesn't sound like a planned thing. It's the sound of a bunch of musicians not quite gelling. Sounds like everybody is pissed off! Actually, it's a pretty darn good performance!! As for the album, this really isn't essential. It's interesting, fascinating and intermittently enjoyable, but essential??

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    Duncan dlchesh@hotmail.com
    I have to disagree. Time Fades Away is Neil's finest. Whereas Tonight the Night is loose and raw, the studio production detracts from the intensity. Time Fades Away is all this and more. This is a band on the limit - ready to implode at any moment. In the context of the album the simplicity of songs like The Bridge and Love In Mind take on a whole new dimension. A powerful statement from an outstanding artist, vulnerable and honest. It's got to be a 10.

    Galen Clavio thermocaster@yahoo.com
    Actually, the album IS essential if you want to get to the heart of Mr. Young's work. By capturing both himself and the touring band in such shambles, he wholly debunks the "singer-songwriter" tag that everyone tried to pin on him with Harvest. This is such a NAKED record, far more so than even Tonight's the Night, because there's no hiding the absolute strain throughout - TTN interspersed cuts from outside the core studio performances for that album. This does none of that, and it helps this live album achieve its own sort of ragged glory.

    Jamie jamie@mermaidkiss.co.uk
    I think this album suffered critically as it came in the wake of the (justly) lauded 'Harvest' - no-one at the time seemed to know what to make of it or how to approach it. I'm in the UK and it's not currently available here - it fact it's never been released on CD here - is it out in the States? I think it needs to be made widely available and then re-assessed in the light of all Neil's work so far - not just as 'that album that came after Harvest'

    Igor Serrano Carreras Alella
    It does certainly fade... "The Ditch Trilogy" ... Good to know you have a ditch - or three, and a few more in the history of rock and pop music - to fall down in when you feel like you're stumbling through the dark still one more time around. I love the album. Very much. It somehow succeeds ( or is it rather about the failing of it all ) to fall in the category of such albums as Big Star's 'Sisters' Lovers", Joy Division's 'Closer', Nick Drake's 'Pink Moon', The VU's 'White Light, White Heat' or even Lou Reed's 'Berlin', among others ... where the titanic and precarious balance between 'verité ugliness' and 'artistic display" brings to you the view of a frozen Styx River where a foolish Orpheus clumsily glides over thin ice while oblivious of any Euridice and dammed (blessed?) with a limbus puerorum/womb nonchalance ... The song 'Last Dance' works for me as an epythome of all this ... when the artist / performer can't help but becoming a medium, unable to decide what's 'real' and what's not, being himself a merely chimeric and moving midnight lamp ... Pardon my pathetic, carried away, cheapest lyricism ... I'm under influence ... 'Sailors in snow, send a call out raising hands. Some are bound to fail, some are winter sun, ah." ; "Some are" - David Bowie


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    On The Beach 8 ( 1974 )
    Walk On / See The Sky About To Rain / Revolution Blues / For The Turnstiles/ Vampire Blues / On The Beach / Motion Pictures / Ambulance Blues

    Yeah, things do get kind of confusing now, I must admit. 'On The Beach' was recorded after the 'Tonights The Night' record, but for various reasons, released before it. It disturbs the correct chronology, but here we are with 'On The Beach'. Actually a step back from the darkness and very particular atmosphere of the 'Tonights The Night' album, but still generally a dark aggressive album. Well, any album containing 'Revolution Blues', a song about the Charles Manson family killings, is hardly all sweetness and light. Crazy Horse give solid backing and 'On The Beach' is the sound of Neil Young. It's far more back to 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' than anything he'd done since, and that's welcome. Eight songs, pretty nearly all of them good, 'On The Beach' is very solid. 'Walk On' has firm, chunky guitar, a solid rhythm and really effective if slightly hazy, harmony vocals. The guitar is the thing. Neil is back playing fabulous guitar, enough to erase the memory of the below par 'Times Fade Away' record at a stroke. 'See The Sky About To Rain' was an older song, already covered by The Byrds, for example - already recorded by Neil and Crazy Horse. Recorded again, here. A mellow, lovely atmosphere. Steel guitar, and the steel guitar of a certain Ben Keith, like many Neil Young associates, a man long associated with him. Ha ha, that's a sentence!! Neil got loyalty from his players and managers, etc, etc. What he didn't get during the 'On The Beach' sessions was a stable relationship, it was breaking down badly, which partly explains the overall tone of sadness permeating this record. It's not quite 'out there', not quite as aggressively dark as 'Tonights The Night', but the sadness is overwhelming in the performances of Neil.

    'Revolution Blues' is as dark as it gets however, lyrically it's a gas, a real piece of work. Neil sounds on the edge. It's a great track and rolls along in a reality all of its own - it captures the feeling of darkness so well. 'For The Turnstiles' and the blues based 'Vampire Blues' are okay, they fill out the record. 'On The Beach' falls away from its promising beginning, the first three songs seemingly being an impossible act to follow. The title track is delightfully weary and lost sounding, however. The emotion is there, in your face. "The world is turning, I hope it don't turn away" sings Neil, in the wake of having lost good friends, companions, in the process of losing his then wife. Everything turning away? "I need a crowd of people, but I can't face them day to day" sings Neil. A very honest lyric in a very honest, powerful song. 'Motion Picture' goes nowhere in particular, although it shares the weary feel like dying atmosphere of the title tune. The closing 'Ambulance Blues' opens with very pleasing acoustic guitar and moves on from there. It seems a song glancing back at better times, the lyric is full of lost happiness. It's a very sad sounding song and it goes along for eight minutes and drains a listener with its sadness - but yeah, it's a heartbreaking thing. A sadness shared. Neil didn't hold back, and although 'On The Beach' is a flawed album - it remains ultimately fascinating and hard to put down.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    10/10. the recent fuss and hype, are both perfectly justified. "after the goldrush" sounds like an artist on a creative high, with quality subconsiously oozing from his pen, "on the beach" reminds me of the "no pain, no gain" ethic, you hear in bizzare vietnam documentaries. the title track is so marvellously evocative, it makes solitude seem like the most orgasmic experience in the known universe. musically, it comes across as the long lost brother of "little lover" by AC/DC, and "come together in the morning" by free, just home from the front line, now completely immune to all that has come and gone. the chunky, slightly out of tune bass guitar, adds to the "mystique" (apologies for the "fancy" word), and surely nobody doubts at this stage that "ambulance blues" is the ultimate neil young composition. desrves to be recognised as one of the 30 greatest albums of all time, in other words, if a "greatest albums of all time" poll doesn't feature this, then don't take take it s! eriously. (the poll, that is.....)

    gazza gary.hess44@hotmail.com
    this is one incredible album from an incredible songwriter - the last 3 songs remain neils favourite amongst his own work - i can see why 10/10

    henk the netherlands
    great site...but. tonight's the night the best young album ? maybe but then a shared place with everybody know's and on the beach. the latter two being his best work as far as I’m concerned.


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    Tonights The Night( 1975 ) more best albums...
    Tonights The Night / Speaking Out / World On A String / Borrowed Tune / Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown / Mellow My Mind / Roll Another Number / Alburquerque / New Mama / Lookout Joe / Tired Eyes / Tonights The Night II

    Recorded in 1973 and having undergone a number of changes to the tracklisting, eventually deemed fit for release by Neil and friends. Any doubts they might have had are mysterious to me - because this is the single most powerful and real album statement Neil ever put out. An album that works as both a tribute and commentary on the drug related death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and the similar Rock N Roll related death of associate Bruce Berry - 'Tonight's The Night' sees Neil and Crazy Horse 'get there'. They had a rehearsal room, got drunk, and recorded after midnight once everyone was off their heads and sufficiently loose. They kept the tape rolling and recorded everything. Everything. Producer David Briggs wanted a far looser version of the album to be released, the original version. That version included drunken raps, spoken parts, linking the songs. This version probably is better, probably. It goes someway to being a proper record, without being an ordinary record, if that makes sense. David Briggs saw it as a compromise, but the fact remains. This is the best album Neil Young ever made. Take the opening title track. It's a bass line and croaked and off key vocals, but the bass line and the vocals? The piano?? It's so ominous, and the piano is great - makes the song. 'Speakin Out' goes for blues piano - and seems initially unremarkable, until repeated listens get the vocals into your brain, the feel of the song. The lyrics seem, well, just describing stuff. Nothing more than that - but it's believable. The guitar and piano combine - loose and beautifully felt.

    'Tonights The Night' is an album recorded as a tribute to the wasted, early deaths of two people very near to Neil. Rather than record any sappy tribute, he got the band out there, into the mood of darkness. All the better to commentate upon such things. At the end of the day, however, 'Tonights The Night' is just.... one of the most REAL sounding rock albums you'll ever hear. It's dark, the sound is murky, loose. You can hear mistakes and off key vocals, but mixed in with parts so true, so cutting through.... 'World On A String' rocks, the live 'Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown' features Danny Whitten, and it's spooky and great. A moment of genius arrives, truly, with 'Borrowed Tune'. At some point, the tune becomes naggingly familiar. No wonder..... amongst the lovely piano and harmonica cracked vocal, Neil sings this... "I'm singing this borrowed tune, I took from the rolling stones. Alone in this empty room, too wasted to write my own". I can't think of anybody else ever so honest... "my head in the clouds.... I hope that it matters". People steal tunes everywhere, but rarely admit as such in the lyric of the damn song! And, it's so.... ah... the way it leads into the prime, recorded live, 'Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown'.... The running order for this eventually released version of 'Tonights The Night' was agonised over. I'd say they got it right.

    'Mellow My Mind' is beautiful, more so than the entire 'Harvest' album. 'Albuquerque' has the 'Al...allllll,alll.............al........ burquerque' vocal part courtesy of Neil, which is great. It's got such beautiful steel guitar and piano and vocals... it's just, wow. Heartfelt and real. The best song arrives right near the end, however. Nothing is bad, nothing. Well, perhaps the reprise of the title song wasn't needed, but 'Tired Eyes'?? The piano is here, Neil speaks and then sings in weary harmony with his band members. Cracked and sounding as tired as the eyes the lyrics mention. Neil's association with Crosby Stills and Nash was a million miles away from the reality of 'Tired Eyes'. Serious lyrics, drunkenly sung, and you can tell. Everybody is tired, it's late, it's the next day - you only started recording at midnight. Like a bunch of drunken guys singing together, but singing with beautiful pedal steel, lovely piano and harmonies that get straight to your heart. 'Tired Eyes' is one of the very greatest Neil Young songs. 'Tonights The Night' is the greatest Neil Young album. The reality, something Neil always strove for. Honesty. Getting into a mood and feel - taking it out there. It was the seventies and the drug scene surrounding musicians was immense. Neil got there, got the feeling - and recorded a dark album that's so real and genuine - it can become your entire world.

    This review would have been better than it is, but I couldn't get out there enough, into the feel of the album. Thing is though, you don't have to. It's a great Rock N Roll album, one of the best - whichever way you feel. Get a moment of darkness one night, however, feel a little wasted? You'll get it. You will get this album. It'll take you to another place entirely.

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    Oran oran_mo@hotmail.com
    hi adrian, first-time visitor to your page - and what a page it is! you're a great reviewer, really capturing the music with your words. about tonight's the night - you got it, dead on. this is neil's greatest album. i agree with every single word you've written, down to the smallest details about the individual songs - tired eyes, man! a-a-aaah-aah-aaah-lboquerque! mellow my mind! the only point of disagreement is that i would give this a ten, even by the strictest criteria. anyway, a job well done.

    khorsani khorsani@hotmail.com
    Adrian, I really like your website, a masterful job and a great service to us music geeks but I have to disagree with your choice of "Tonight's the night" as the best Neil Young album. I'm listening to After the Goldrush as I write this and Tonight's the night does not even come close tp ATG. Infact Harvest and Are you passionate are far superior than Tonight's the night. Keep up the good work. Khorsani Brooklyn, New York City.

    Benjamin Soetaert Benjamin.Soetaert@UGent.be
    I normally never let me guide by reviews, but I wanted to buy a new Young-album and I dind't know wich one... followed your advice and bought "Tonights the night" BAM. what a great album. BAM. what a great site. You probably get a thousand mails like this each day, but still : thanks ! and keep on reviewing ! love your work. 1 remark : 200 motels? a ten? woow. let me listen to that album again...

    GAZZA
    Its a great neil young album , one of the many many great works hes produced but somehow i feel the myth behind this record has actually overshadowed the records on either side of it "zuma" and "on the beach" which i personally feel are superior expressions of whats contained here musically . Not that the compositions here are anything but outstanding , but its certainly not the place for novices to shakeys music. The songs are all recorded with a sloppy one take vibe in neils rehearsal space , indeed the whole thing feels like collapsing in on itself frequently as if the band just learned the songs before the tape started. It feels worn out , a little disgusted with itself , like waking up with a huge hangover after the funeral of a loved one . Which brings us to danny whitten the crazy horse guitarist whos death at the hands of heroin prompted this recording . "come on baby" shows us all just what neil and crazy horse missed when whitten passed away - the! exuberance of their voices and guitars in unison is a thing of exuberance and joy and burns with a real fire . Sampredro is a great player but he could never really replace whittens playing singing and songwriting - Neil realised this alright and the grief expressed here is very real .


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    Zuma( 1975 )
    Don't Cry No Tears / Danger Bird / Pardon My Heart / Lookin For A Love / Barstool Blues / Stupid Girl / Drive Back / Through My Sails

    The closing song is a Crosby Stills and Nash collaboration. It's a moment of beauty that highlights the potential of those guys together with Neil - if only they could agree upon anything for long enough to get into harmony properly. It's just a little acoustic Neil Young song, nothing special - but recorded on Neil's terms - losing the overly slick and polished nature of certain Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young material. It's a lovely song. 'Zuma' was the first Neil Young and Crazy Horse album to feature guitarist Frank 'Poncho' Sampedro', a replacement for the departed Danny Whitten. Neil sounds energised playing alongside a second guitarist again, and 'Zuma' contains a bunch of great guitar sounds. 'Cortez The Killer', all seven and a half minutes of it... is just deliriously serious and great, guitar solo, the works. A tour-de-force, a prime Neil Young moment. The second longest song here is 'Danger Bird', sharing some of the weariness of the 'Tonights The Night' record but a little less out there, a little less dark, but none the worse for it. The recorded live in the studio nature of the song shines through. Capturing a moment, capturing a feeling. Besides, even with 'Cortez The Killer' and 'Danger Bird' and everything else, the opening 'Don't Cry No Tears' is stupendous enough on its own to ensure this 'Zuma' album is hugely great. 'Don't Cry No Tears' has alive, chunky and real guitar sounds, interweaved together - the two guitars. Crazy Horse were back, well and truly. Harmonies, punch and drive. It's a truly fantastic song and performance.

    Ah, there's a bunch of other stuff on this album too. Seems silly to even talk about it, just get the album and listen to it already! For the record, the acoustic based 'Pardon My Heart' features real sounding singing and harmonies, 'Looking For A Love' varies the album with a country feel. 'Barstool Blues' features the same great guitar sound that's a feature of the opening cut on this album, 'Drive Back' has energy and a really cutting electric guitar. Only the mediocre 'Stupid Girl' really fails to impress. Having said all of this, 'Zuma' does revolve mainly around its two or three clear highlights. It lacks the atmosphere of other Neil Young albums - by his standards, it's pretty regular, and without any abiding image or feeling to leave the listener with. It sounds really great though, and that's more than enough in this case.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    poncho is really on top form here. he doesn't try to be like danny, but at the same time, developes the wonderfully intense sound, he and shakey used to perform so effortlessly. sounds like another "let's just do it and get da fuck outa here" kind of jam session that these guys do so well. the two more mellow moments are a genuine treat and fit in effortlessly with the more uptempo moments. the live in the studio, style production has a great timeless quality about it, this album sounds like it could have recorded last month, if you weren't aware of the artists, or the era it comes from. 8.5/10.

    gazza gary.hess44@hotmail.com
    Anyone wanting a crazy horse record should start here - fantastic songs played with passion and intelligence . teenage fanclub for instance based their career on this and dont cry no tears and through my sails are 2 of his finest songs . 10/10


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    American Stars N Bars( 1977 )
    The Old Country Waltz / Saddle Up The Old Palomino / Hey Babe / Hold Back The Tears / Bite The Bullet / Star Of Bethlehem / Will To Love / Like A Hurricane / Homegrown

    An album consisting of songs drawn from various sessions, thus 'American Stars N Bars' lacks the unified feeling of the best Neil Young albums. Coming after a run of such great albums, you can't help but feel disappointed, in fact. Oh, by all means, what's here is far from being bad, it's just any sense of ambition, or riding high artistically and creatively has gone. The opening two songs are quite nice, country tinged numbers and both feature female harmonies and fiddle and lord knows what else - country tinged, as I said. Just the one Neil Young classic on this album, but what a song! Guess which one I mean?? Well, easy answer, everybody got it, yeah?? Of course you did, because 'Like A Hurricane' stands head and shoulders above everything else here. One of the greatest songs Neil Young ever wrote or recorded. The recording of Neil Young songs is often as important as the song itself. Here, we get the natural, recorded live sounding, loose and ramshackle, yet still together..... Neil Young feel. End of sentence. Neil cuts through with his guitar, and the lyrics are something to hang onto. Moving back, 'Hey Babe' is more country, almost pure country this time, but for the voice of Neil Young, which never ever will be pure country - Neil is a folk guy, a Rock N Roll guy. You remember those country Dylan albums, 'Nashville Skyline' and the like?? How Dylan changed his voice? Well, I heard Neil got more into country in the mid to late eighties, but for now - the combination of Neil + Country doesn't quite gel, entertaining as the song still is - just doesn't convince.

    After 'Hold Back The Tears', another country effort, 'Bite The Bullet' is a guitar monster, although lacking in form and structure, although its welcome to have a guitar monster on this album. The female backing vocals are really irritating by this stage in the album, however. I really wish they weren't there at all, they take away from the overall effect, rather than add to it. 'Star Of Bethlehem' is a very simple acoustic song, complete with those female backing vocals and a song in country, rather than folk, Neil Young mode. 'Will To Love' is seven minutes long and a boring seven minute long waste of space, however tender or genuine Neil intended it to be, or not. Following the mighty, very mighty, and the only reason you need this album, 'Like A Hurricane', comes 'Homegrown'. A crunchy Neil and Crazy Horse type of sound, a Neil Young sound. Forget the country stuff, 'American Stars N Bars' shines brightest when Neil Young sounds like Neil Young. It's as simple as that.

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    Nick Davis Nick@directions.uk.com
    Well I've been investigating Neil A LOT recently though I haven't come across this album yet - it's fairly low down the pecking order. However I have recently heard 'Like a Hurricane' and what an incredible song. It has Neil written all over it. It's THE Neil Young song. If anyone ever asked me to play them a song that defined his sound, that would have to be it. I thought 'Cortez..' was his best ever epic but I think 'Like A Hurricane' blows it out of the water, even if the chorus is a bit too similar to 'Ruby Tuesday'...

    GAZZA
    This rating is too low - i know its one of neils periodic makeshift releases but the quality of the songs are great. The 1st half was recorded as a rehearsal at neils home with crazy horse and emmylou/linda rondstadt (without telling them it was going to be released) the 2nd features songs from the unreleased chrome dreams album . It would have been a classic neil young album but songs from it appeared on later albums like rust never sleeps . Surprised at the criticism of "will to love" it was only a demo recording here (you can here neils fire crackling in the background) but its a beautiful song and sounds perfect for CSN . The mighty "like a hurricane" is the best track here but the crunchy "homegrown" aforementioned "will to love" and "hey babe" and "hold back the tears" are strong material and the performances are good. Some of neils other cobbled together releases arent anywhere near as good as this one . 8/10

    Esquivel
    All Neil Young fans who don't like this album or just think it's only good for "Hurricane" and that's it, reconsider. For an album pieced together from leftovers and cast offs it's a pretty great record. No big statements, just some fine music that ain't asking too much of you. Give Neil a break. He doesn't always have to be some haranguing musician. Sure it's a stop gap release but not one to be ignored.

    Dude Ligonier, PA
    One of the reviewers gave this a 6 1/2? Hmm, let me offer this anecdote:

    At a song circle at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2006 or so, one of the players gets his turn, stand up, and annonces, "I defy anyone who does not belong to the Church of Neil Young's American Stars n' Bars..."

    For those of us who grew up with this record, first via Neil's Decade release, which contains Like a Hurricane, Homegrown, and Star of Bethlehem, it was as influential as the pot we smoked incessantly in those days. The rest of the record has incredibly memorable songs -- Saddle Up the Palomino, The Old Country Waltz, Bite the Bullet, Hey Babe and, most astonishingly Will to Love, which seems to use a fireplace to augment the rhythm section and talks of salmon swimming upstream and dodging the harpoons...In the Young biography "Shakey" they discuss Will to Love, only to reveal that they have no recollection of recording it at all...true subconscious mining...give it a Bo Derek, mates.


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    Comes A Time 8 ( 1978 )
    Goin Back / Comes A Time / Look Out For My Love / Lotta Love / Peace Of Mind / Human Highway / Already One / Field Of Opportunity / Motorcycle Mama / Four Strong Winds

    A return to 'Harvest' territory in one sense, a sense that this is easier listening. Indeed, this album reportedly sold more copies in its first month than the previous SIX Neil Young albums sold altogether! So, his record label must have been pleased, anyway. A female vocalist joins Neil, Nicolette Larson, and she tracks him perfectly. Two voices becoming one, but sometimes they drift a little, Neil never being a perfectionist - but that just adds to it further. The opening song is just beautiful, the vocals, the feel. An acoustic solo Neil Young song added to by a rhythm section later on, as most of the songs here were. An unusual way for Neil Young to work, but there you are. The title song is great, sweet, little country picking feels - lovely and happy - Neil hadn't sounded full of love and happiness for an eon. You see, this is what's great about Neil Young. On the one hand you've got 'Harvest' or this album right here, 'Comes A Time' - uplifting, happy music. On the otherhand, you've got a 'Tonights The Night' - and it boils! Neil is confusing sometimes, but he's a good guy, so i've heard. Ultimately. And, I don't know, this album just has something. It's not as richly produced or orchestrated as 'Harvest', on the face of it - but something like 'Look Out For My Love' will arrives, mostly acoustic, occasional bass, sweet harmonies- and it just sounds so honest and pure.

    'Lotta Love' is a fabulous song, one of Neils best. It's very simple, very straightforward - very affecting. 'Human Highway' - the acoustic opens, the country enters. It's ok - Neil was meant to be making this weird film, he poured 3 million dollars into it. Something to do with a tree turning into a rocket, or some other such weird notion. That Neil for you - he gets these flights of fancy, sometimes. Ah, ultimately, 'Comes A Time' is sweet, pretty consistent - the acoustic nature of most of the songs, overdubs added of course, but still - giving this a very natural, warming feel. Something like 'Field Of Opportunity', sweetly naive and silly, but pedal steel and a pure vocal - it works. The closing 'Four Strong Winds' is a Crosby Stills And Nash tune in all but name - it's so soft and nice - it almost makes you sick. 'Comes A Time' is the total opposite of 'Tonights The Night', but you know one thing?? Those female vocals combining with Neils? That happens all through 'Four Strong Winds' - the pedal steel guitar weeps, it's beautiful.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    a great album. the production is creative and subtle at the same time. "already one" is my personal favourite, although "lotta love" runs it a close second. nice one, shakey. 8.5/10.

    gazza gary.hess44@hotmail.com
    Neil returns to nashville , and makes a pleasant countryish(with a small c) based record . Nicely arranged strings and masses of acoustic guitars dominate the sound , and we have the lovely voice of nicollete larrson introduced here. If this had followed "harvest" neil might have been viewed as more of a country act but as it stands its a pretty good album but a little unengaging in places . motorcycle mama has a great vocal but is horribly out of place here , and "already one" is basically "long may you run" with different lyrics. The rest is cracking - my fave? "look out for my love" The closer"4 strong winds" is a cover of an old canadian folk song from neils roots and sounds strangely like a kind of farewell here . Your ratings spot on id say , i mean was this guy good or what ? i dont think i own a bad album of his . Probably the most consistently good songwriter since lennon/mccartney .


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    Rust Never Sleeps( 1979 )
    My My Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) / Thrasher / Ride My Llama / Pocahontas / Sail Away / Powderfinger / Welfare Mothers / Sedan Delivery / Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)

    An album recorded live, the acoustic first half delivered plain straight, the second electric half with added overdubs in the studio. Neil discovered effects pedals and ( adopt the voice of Frank Zappa for this ), various "DEVICES!" and comes out on top. One song, the song that bookends this album in two different versions, soars above nearly all of the others. The 'into the black' version is the exciting, stunning and emotional electric version. Crunching guitar sounds, stomping - mentions of Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten and rust never sleeping. It's better to burn out than fade away. That line has come to haunt Neil through the years - because of course, he has faded away. He had a terrible eighties, a great start to the nineties, but you know?? He never burnt out, he's faded away. He's tried very hard not to - new concepts, daft concepts mostly - but to his credit, he's always kept moving, kept going. He's always tried to fight back the onslaught of rust. Well, yeah. Something like that, anyway. But hey, on the acoustic half of this record, second song 'Thrasher' has captivating lyrics and really works, it's a fabulous song, right up there. You know?? Well, listen to it. I'm being vague, I realise - but yeah, this works beautifully. In actual fact, this first acoustic half of the album is damn near perfect, Neil keeps things simple from a musical standpoint, but the lyrics tell stories and give off images. His voice does the usual Neil Young thing. Yeah, affecting. You never quite know why, or can pin it down. Maybe just the humanity and reality that the vocals of Neil Young give/gave off during this stage, get to you? Well, they get to me. Great lyrics.

    Moving onto the electric half, well, 'Into The Black' rules over everything else. Punk rock, you better believe it. You wouldn't get David Crosby or Stephen Stills performing such a song. You didn't get Dylan performing such a song in the late seventies. Neil kept trying to piss people off. The crunch and distortion of the guitars really make this song - and the lyrics of course. Instantly memorable. A truly great track. 'Powderfinger' and 'Welfare Mothers' both make me wish I was there, rather than listening to them via an overdubbed in the studio live recording. Still, both songs rock. 'Sedan Delivery' is prime Crazy Horse, a Crazy Horse reborn, A Neil Young as valid as he ever had been. Troubles would loom large, but that's another story, and shall be told another time.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    this is what tarmac and creosote sound like. it's my party and i'll cry if i want to, so you better start sending my regards to johnny. 10/10.

    Don Downs donald.downs@ocfl.net
    I read in an interview once that the disgusting raunchy (blamp blamp blamp)guitar sound was achieved by Neil accidently dropping his amp down a set of stairs and ruining the speakers.

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Got this recently and its another solid record . the acoustic side is flawless and beautiful - although thrasher sounds a bit reminiscent of everbodys talkin and campaigner . the electic side has welfare mothers and sedan delivery , 2 songs ive never been crazy about but recently started to appreciate a bit more . powderfinger is amazing though . After this though it was downhill for most of the 80s for neil but his run from ragged glory to sleeps with angels rivaled his best work .


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    Hawkes And Doves 7 ( 1980 )
    Little Wing / The Old Homestead / Lost in Space / Captain Kennedy / Stayin' Power / Coastline / Union Man / Comin' Apart at Every Nail / Hawkes & Doves

    Not the greatest, serious artistic effort in the world, ever. Not the all out Crazy Horse magnificence of side two of 'Rust Never Sleeps', either. Yeah, Neil entered the 80s in modest fashion. After being voted artist of the decade in a certain music magazine, he gave us less than thirty minutes of new music. Nearly eight of these minutes are housed by just the one song, a composition dating back to 1974, 'The Old Homestead'. Still, the version of the Hendrix tune 'Little Wing' is nice, I enjoy it. Very relaxing, very nice harmonica, very sweet vocals. Affecting. Acoustic guitar is all over 'Hawks And Doves', by the way. It's not 'Harvest' type of sound however, not at all. We've just got a modest, unassuming set of songs performed very naturally and sounding like very low-key affairs. So, 'Lost In Space' is one of those camp-fire sing-a-longs, earnest strumming kind of thing, that Neil does so well. It's a decent song. Elsewhere, 'Captain Kennedy' is so quiet and unassuming, it may as well not exist at all, very slight, very slight. 'Stayin Power' is kind of clumsy sounding and only distinguished at all by being a full band performance. Drums, fiddle. A nice sound actually, even if the song itself isn't upto all that much. The chorus is decent but the verses aren't all that good. Still, credit where credit is due, the fiddle does sound good.

    More fiddle runs through 'Coastline' as Neil slips more obviously into country mode. Pedal Steel? Yeah, it's all here. Again, not much of a song, but the sound is nice and warming. Unassuming yes, but very relaxing to listen to. Very easy to listen to. No great work of art, a let-down certainly after Neil's 70s peaks, but not awful or anything, no, not at all! The album has some kind of cohesion thanks to the clutch of semi-country/country tunes that decorate the second half. Come the closing title song, we get a song that sounds like it was recorded live and also a song that contains the only notable electric guitar playing of the record. At last, Neil plays his guitar! It combines with the fiddle sound! Oh, I like this song. Back to that near eight minute long 'The Old Homestead'? Yeah, it's good, a major Neil Young composition. It has a seriousness about the lyrics and the performance that's perhaps lacking elsewhere on the album. Still, credit where credit is due. It wasn't a new song, but it certainly is more than worthy of Neil having returned to for this album right here. A good album, nice. That word again, nice. 'Hawks And Doves' isn't going to set anybodies world on fire, but Neil fans will enjoy it, you know?

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    Jeff Schone schonejl@hotmail.com
    I understand and can agree with your view that Hawkes and Doves doesn't have the continuity of a truly great album. Nevertheless, some of the songs are very interesting. I would contend that Captain Kennedy is a great song, not the slight nothing that you make it out to be. It's so different, so interesting. In combination with another wierd number, Lost in Space, and the title track, this is really an enjoyable album to listen to.

    GAZZA
    Surprising that this gets a slightly higher mark than the similarly structured but superior "american stars and bars" especially when so much of the 2nd half is clearly substandard . (staying power is pretty catchy though) The fiddle and electric guitar take on country gets pretty tiresome as do some of the bizarre lyrical themes here . (see union man and the title track) .The 1st half is sublime acoustic folk . All 4 songs hail from the unreleased "homegrown" sessions 1974 (neil opted to release tonights the night instead) "little wing" is brief and sweet (not the hendrix song though) and "old homestead" and "lost in space" - with its weird underwater vocals and chilled ambience are the 2 strongest songs . "captain kennedy" is a the sarcastic narrative of a young man heading to war.Mellow folk with an authentic twist . However the 80s beckoned and it would provide slender pickings for such a prolific songwriter . Neil always followed his own path but this seems a littl! e lazy by his standards , its best treated as a 5 or 6 track ep (and the album is short enough in its entirety) Obviously personal and business problems took their toll but it would be another 10 years until neil delivered another consistently strong album. 5/10


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    Re.ac.tor( 1980 )
    Opera Star / Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleaze / T-Bone . Get Back On It / Southern Pacific / Motor City / Rapid Transit / Shots

    As I understand it, there was to be no publicity surrounding Neil and his wife Pegi and their new born son, suffering from severe cerebral palsy. They joined a program to help him move around, crawl - to look after him. It required constant attention and dedication. They couldn't go out - Neil had severely limited opportunities to record new music. Because there was a strict 'no publicity' thing however, newly released Neil Young music, such as 'Reactor', and his debut for Geffen, the controversial 'Trans', appeared as simply inexplicable Neil Young releases. We can now understand why the lyric to a song here, 'T-Bone' reads as follows... "Got mashed potatoes. Got Mashed potatoes. Got Mashed potatoes. Aint got no T-bone. Aint got no T-bone" repeated six or seven times, that's your lyric. Good, huh?? Neil recorded this album with his regular backing band, Crazy Horse. It was to be their last collaboration for quite some time. The goings on in Neils personal life affected his relationships and their was a stress and strain. Given all these facts, it's quite remarkable that 'Reactor' came out as well as it did. True, it's no 'Tonights The Night' or 'Rust Never Sleeps'. Well, of course it isn't. 'T-Bone' alone ensures that it isn't! But, simplistic lyrics aside ( and other songs here are hardly poetry ), 'Reactor' works well enough.

    'Opera Star' is full of riffs and a dirty atmosphere and faintly ridiculous 'ha, ha haha haha' backing vocal parts. A lot of fun. 'Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleaze'is the clear highlight of the set. It's no coincidence that it's also the song with the best lyric, storytelling, etc, etc. The musical backing is fine Neil Young and Crazy Horse. What can you say? The stomping during the instrumental breaks alone, let alone the sheer atmosphere and delirious rock n roll joy the song evokes overall, means 'Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleaze' is more than good enough. 'T-Bone' could be seen as funny to some sets of ears and eyes, but not to mine. A simple riff, a repeated nonsensical lyric. Bearing in mind the goings on in Neils personal life, a dinner one evening was probably all he actually DID have to write about. It's sad, his first child also suffered from the same illness. Something like that is obviously going to affect you. Immense credit to Neil that he carried on AND did his duty to his son(s).

    'Get Back On It' is piano led, boogie rock. 'Southern Pacific' rolls along very nicely, a nice 'train rhythm' to the song. I do like songs with that shuffling train rhythm, oh yeah. Not much else to say about the album, except that yeah, it is good overall and that the closing 'Shots' hints towards the Mr Young experiments with technology that his next effort would display.

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    Trans 6 ( 1983 )
    Little Thing Called Love / Computer Age / We R in Control / Transformer Man / Computer Cowboy / Hold on to Your Love / Sample and Hold / Mr. Soul / Like an Inca

    There were many problems with 'Trans' when it was released. Critics savaged Young, not understanding one little bit him and his 'Trans' album. Geffen were dismayed, having just signed Neil for a million dollars per album. They'd eventually sue Neil for making albums that weren't characteristic of Neil Young albums!! But, that's another story. As for 'Trans', the producer David Briggs hated it. Neil wasn't entirely satisfied himself, either. 'Trans' includes two or three songs intended for an entirely different album altogether, a regular band album. It's from those sessions the opening 'Little Thing Called Love' comes from. David Geffen apparently heard what Neil was upto and was under-whelmed, thinking that Neil could do more with the songs. And, true enough, 'Little Thing Called Love' is hardly the best thing Neil has ever done. If only David Geffen had known what Neil was cooking up in his studios on the side, he'd probably have kept his mouth shut. For yes, the first Kraftwerk influenced, vocoder drenched Neil song arrives with 'Computer Age'. Neil had got a fascination with toy trains, with all aspects of new technology - due to his continuing search to make his sons life better. To discover ways of his son communicating with the outside world. The vocoder, disguising neil's vocals - was one aspect of this. Another reason Neil chose to use this hideous device was that he wanted to see what would happen if he made a bunch of recordings that didn't sound like him. Well, he managed that. The problem with the 'computer' songs here are most definitely the vocals, by the way. Neil has said in subsequent years that critics didn't understand what he was trying to do with 'Trans'. Neil hardly helped them understand however, by clouding the vocals, making the lyrics indecipherable. Neil has said of 'Transformer Man' for instance, that it was a song for his son. That if we read the lyrics we shall understand. Well, making the lyrics comprehensible and audible when we are actually listening to the song might have helped, just a little.

    The songs contain lots of mentions of trains and technology. Neil never sounds like himself, but both 'Computer Age' and 'We R In Control' do contain nice musical melodies. As for 'Transformer Man', the key song here. Well, it's actually something quite startling and special. Neil sounds like a lost and lonely alien trying to get across these emotions to an uncomprehending human race. The melody is gorgeous, the song is gorgeous. 'Computer Cowboy' sounds like a regular Neil Young Crazy Horse type of song put through a vocoder and computer blender and vomited out again. 'Hold On To Your Love' contains actually decipherable lyrics. A shame this song was chosen to feature a production enabling us to actually hear Neil's words, cos they aren't much worth hearing, for this song, anyway. 'Sample And Hold' is another song inspired by Neil's computer and toy train and technological fascination. It's quite scary sounding. One thing we have to give the guy credit for. No other artist of Neil's era, Sixties? No other artist attempted anything quite as new as 'Trans'. Neil tried to break new ground. Sure, he may not have quite managed to do that because of the various flaws the album contains. It helps if you want to break new ground if people actually listen to the record you've created without completing missing the point and hating it in the process! Oh, and yeah. Before I go. Neil re-creating the Buffalo Springfield song 'Mr Soul' as a computer-age, vocoder drenched techno track probably wasn't going to ever be the best way to please his old fans. In a word, it's truly bizarre.

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    Jonno Rattman jonnorattman@gmail.com
    I thought that this was probably the worst Neil Young album I owned, and I own his entire discography.. I disliked it so much, that for a period of time, it turned me off completely from Neil Young, and Buffalo Springfield. I thought that his Buffalo Springfield covers were almost disrespectful to their originals. If I ever need generic, crappy 80's music for a film, I'll be sure to use something from this album.

    Fiona therapst@xtra.co.nz
    Well, I personally think it's an awesome album. Sure it was different to what we knew of Neil but that it what is so great about the man, his versatility.

    ghostdawg ghostdawg@elemental.org
    Trans was the first electronic music album I heard. It became a stepping stone to kraftwerk, gary numan, house music, and can. It's my fave neil album. I'm impressed how ahead of it's time it was. One can see a thread between the lucky thirteen version of sample and hold, to "pump up the volume" by MARRS, to the later 808 driven acid house movement.


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    Life( 1987 )
    Mideast Vacation / Long Walk Home / Around The World / Inca Queen / Too Lonely / Prisoner Of Rock N Roll / Cryin Eyes / When Your Lonely Heart Breaks / We Never Danced

    It's fair to say that Neil had a difficult 80s. His muse deserted him, family problems hardly helped and changing technology only futher confused matters. Still, 'Life' was the first album he'd made with his regular backing band 'Crazy Horse' since 'Reactor'. This helped. A set of interesting material helped. Thus, 'Life' is one of the more bearable 80s Neil Young albums this writer has heard. 'Long Walk Home' includes genuine harmonica, for example. The gospel feel of the vocals, the piano. The production trap of the 80s completely fails to harm this particular song, it's nice. I can't quite say the same for the opening number, the drums are full of 80s echo, or something. The vocal doesn't quite reach you. Guitar appears here and there. It's an interesting mix of 80s and Neil Young. Ultimately, it doesn't quite sound like either, and falls somewhere inbetween. Ah, are we alternating? The third track is far worse than 'Mideast Vacation', which at least has its moments. 'Around The World' sounds like Van Halen, or something. Well, nearly. Nearly is bad enough. Then we get 'Inca Queen' which includes some quite lovely guitar. Nice vox and lyrics. The things is drenched in synthetic 80s, but a nice song is a nice song. The first half of the album is wrapped up with more semi van halen ramblings. 'Too Lonely' is so 80s, so generic - that's its a wonder Neil thought it worthy of release, especially given the vast catalogue of superior unreleased songs and recordings he apparently has. Jesus, i'm sure the song includes the phrase 'big tits'. It might not, but my hearing of it this way may as well be the truth, even if it isn't. I don't know. The song doesn't warrant me looking up the lyrics, quite frankly. They don't seem very interesting, in any case.

    If this seems i'm starting to rag on this album, don't be too annoyed. It has a certain vitality, no doubt Crazy Horse helped in this respect. 'Prisoner Of Rock N Roll' is too dumb for words, but nevermind. The album finishes off and turns into Dire Straits territory. 'We Never Danced' is kind of nice and there is some interesting material here. Add a few more worthy songs, have it recorded three years later, and voila! It might have been terribly good. But, we'll never know. The synths and middle of the road rock n roll eventually becomes slightly tiresome. Still, credit enough. Average kind of credit, you understand.

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    Freedom 8 ( 1989 )
    Rockin In The Free World / Crime In The City / Don't Cry / Hangin' On A Limb / Eldorado / The Ways Of Love / Someday / On Broadway / Wrecking Ball / No More / Too Far Gone / Rockin' In The Free World

    Neil wasn't the only legend who had a difficult 80s. Bob Dylan? Joni Mitchell?? Ah, many others. Some would re-enter the 90s with a renewed vigour. Neil was one of those, but in a way, he led the way. The opening song is/was an anthemn and one of the best things he'd ever written. Recorded live, played on acoustic guitar. Neil's acoustic playing rocks harder than many guys electric playing! Now, that's something! Still, this album isn't all about one song. Two versions of 'Rockin In The Free World' bookend the album, the second version being the noisy electric version. Memories of 'Rust Never Sleeps' spring to mind. Where was I? Oh, yeah. 'Crime In The City' continues with acoustic guitars, among other instruments too. It's a fine song. 'Don't Cry' confirms that here is an album. The burst of electric noise shortly after the one minute mark confirmed that Neil was well and truly back. Neither 'Eldorado' nor 'Hangin On A Limb' get my vote, the album sags a little towards the middle. 'The Ways Of Love' and 'Someday' are ballads and not exactly thrilling or essential, although Neil sounds in fine voice and sounds in fine sentiment. 'Someday' is actually quite pretty if we're being fair. 'On Broadway' returns Neil and his friends to a rough and ready sound, a loose and natural sound that sounds as if everything is about to collapse at any moment. The drums just about hold the beat, but only barely. The bass is plodding, Neil sails over this backing with guitar that sounds as if it doesn't know where its going at all. That's Neil Young music, proper Neil Young music. It works.

    The piano led 'Wrecking Ball' sees Neil sing in that weary 'i've been through it all and might die' voice, that voice he uses so well. A 'Tired Eyes' kind of voice, as if the world is about to end. It's such a beautiful song, so very lovely. "We'll go dancin' tonight" sings Neil, sounding as if he can barely move from his bed, let alone dance. I like that sound, that feel. That weary, genuine seeming Neil Young emotion. More acoustic guitar for 'Too Far Gone', 'No More' is kind of perky sounding and everything is wrapped up with a storming electric version of the song that opened the album. A good record this, it works. It works.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    the flashy, glossy packaging of the final product may have put a lot of people off, which is a real shame, as like dylan, 1989 was the year neil young decided to be neil young again. excellent!!! "crime in the city" is a nice piece of thoughtful acoustic rock, with production deliberately timid, but not without driving home its eerie and powerful intentions. a true case of let the music do the talking. the production in general is somewhat odd. basic, laid back instrumentation on most of the songs, but yet a strange, mildly grating, digital echo, which seems to intrude on the collective sound. i'm not sure if young really wanted it that way, but it doesn't take from the album as a whole. i've always regarded "don't cry" as the generation x, bastard child of "cinnamon girl", dripping with cynicism and frighteningly aggressive riffing. the strange mix of different genres on "freedom" are rather enjoyable, "hangin' on a limb" could be described as a belated 1980s "already one",! "no more" is rife with the intense ambiguity of "the loner" (seems like shakey really did fell like going back....), and the coda features a beautifully bizzare guitar solo, which makes it seem like 1969 again. hell, if only the "neil young" album could have been as inspired and unpretentious as this. "someday" echoes springsteen in every possible way. production, arrangement and the "everyman" ethic are all present and correct, making for one of shakey's most underrated songs. "the ways of love" is easily the worst thing on it. a mawkish, overproduced piece of candy floss, that sounds like a reject from "old ways" and christ, that's saying something..... at the end of an exhaustive experience, we go back to a very enticing square one. ah well, i probably didn't get the message first time, so two for the price of one suits me fine. a pretty good deal, if i say so myself. 8.5/10.

    GAZZA
    Neils had spent the 80s making mainly bizarre records perversely exploring rockabilly,electronica,country and folk , while being plagued by personal and business problems. "freedom" follows on from his big band excursion "this notes for you" and uses the same personnel . "freedom" fortuantely has much better material . It sags badly in the middle as adrian says , and the production is dreadful in places but this was a solid step in the right direction . "crime in the city" "rockin in the free world" are almost cinematic in their description of a world gone wrong .fantastic doomy rock- "dont cry" and "hanging on a limb" show neils 2 sides best rockin and abrasive , soulful and acoustic . both songs beautifully played and sang. The next 3 tracks are dreary but "wrecking ball" is as haunting a thing as the mans ever written and "too far gone" is another beauty from the shakey archives . Next album seen him reunite with david briggs and the horse and fully reali! se his 90s comeback (and he made more better albums than dylan in the 90s) this is just the beginning.


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    Ragged Glory 8 ( 1990 )
    Country Home / White Line / Fuckin Up / Over And Over / Love To Burn / Farmer John / Mansion On The Hill / Days That Used To Be / Love And Only Love / Mother Earth

    Neil returns truly to a rough and ready sound, to a live sound. The opening 'Country Home' goes on for seemingly an eternity, but you can lose yourself in his guitar. Neil was never truly a guitar hero, just that the sound he got was real. He seemed real, even when you worried that he really wasn't. He'd come back with something that sounded either so ramshackle or so real that you'd rather just go with it, than be a cynic. Perhaps he really is real, you ever thought of that?? Perhaps this isn't just marketing?? I know this is a hard concept to grasp in this day and age, but you know, try to trust at least somebody. 'White Line' follows the opening song, and this is a serious song. It could have been recorded at any stage during the Neil Young career, but that's not actually a bad thing. If you could say the same about a 1990 Paul McCartney song, you'd be laughing, you know?? But, this is Neil Young, and people tend to dismiss, or say the same things about him, whatever he does. 'Fuckin Up'? It does what it says it does. It's nasty rock n roll music. Surprisingly, nasty rock n roll played by some hippy sixties survivor, but you know. Neil knows what he's doing. He does things without giving a damn what others think. Just whatever he feels like at the time, one of the most honest performers in the entire history of rock music.

    In some ways, this is a typical Neil Young album. Which is why fans of any era of Neil music should at least dig something here. 'Over And Over' is eight minutes long, lots of distorted guitar, etc, etc. It's not actually great material, i'd put the quality of the material here as being slightly below the quality of the material on 'Freedom', but the sound and feel here is better. Overall, it all evens out. 'Mansion On The Hill' gets me, great riff. 'Love And Only Love' manages to be longer than ten minutes, but whatever. It works, just about. Neil has that commitment about him, for this album. It's not great material, it's no work of art. This is just Rock N Roll.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    i think you hit the nail on the head. "freedom" has better, more toughtful, songs, but is slightly let down by the fm orientated production, whereas this album may have mildly inferior tunes, but benefits from the more raw sound, and live in the studio approach, that young and crazy horse do so magnificently. similar to "zuma" in its intentions, and all the better for it. 8/10.

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    This ones better than freedom in my book . especially mixed up with arc weld (the live album) neil hadnt sounded this raucous in some time - fuckin up ,love to burn , farmer john and the nostalgic days that used to be all hit the spot , and even if crazy horses playings a little one dimensional its still one of neils finer late period records and the start of his most recent purple patch which ended with sleeps with angels.


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    Harvest Moon( 1992 )
    Unknown Legend / From Hank To Hendrix / You And Me / Harvest Moon / War Of Man / One Of These Days / Such A Woman / Old King / Dreamin' Man / Natural Beauty

    An album that was a record company executive's dream, an album easily pitched as a natural successor to Neil's famous and best-selling 'Harvest' some twenty years earlier. Neil recruited many of the same musicians that had worked on the original album and they all set to work on a new batch of Neil Young compositions. Which is the key, really. Although sharing many similarities with the original 'Harvest', the emotion behind many of the songs is different and the sound is very much a 90's Neil version of the original. The arrangements are simple enough and the melodies are evocatively simplistic in the best Neil style. Yet of course, it doesn't sound the same at all. The sound is the sound of pleasing, modern country rock mixed with a sheen so the whole thing has that 'commercial' sound. Of course, it is Neil Young we're speaking about rather than Dolly Parton, so even having said that, we know what to expect. 'Harvest Moon' is a solid collection of ten seemingly hertfelt songs that's easy to listen to with your loved one. Not all Neil albums can have that said about them, let's face it. 'Arc Weld' for Valentines day, anyone??

    Still, the opening track here is utterly gorgeous by anyone's open-minded standards. It's just a beautiful song, not much more I can say about it really. It flows well into 'From Hank To Hendrix', which although not quite as heart-tugging works in a similarly lovely and softly strummed way. Steel embellishments, etc, etc. Neil and acoustic for track three, for variety. The title song, a song with a lot to live upto, because of course, although not exactly a true follow up to the original 'Harvest' album, people being people, will of course make such comparisons. Happily, for the most part, 'Harvest Moon' as an album lives upto such expectations. The title track has keening and delicate female harmonies and I like it. The rock 'n' roll Neil fan may be much less impressed with the album as a whole, but you know, Neil does do strange things from time to time. His entire 80's output, anyone? Oh, to end this paragraph i'll mention 'War Of Man', a Neil song that is rendered with acoustic, electric bass, not much else. A great song and also a song it's very easy to imagine Neil doing a scorching Rock version of. Get in there!

    I like most of the songs here, 'One Of These Days' is jaunty for such a quiet song, 'Such A Woman' I don't enjoy at all, it sounds like the kind of song Art Garfunkel would kill for. Art? Looking to ressurect your solo career? Look no further!'Old King' has a proper country feel and is upbeat at a time when the album needed to be upbeat. 'Dreamin Man' does little for me, flows by inoffensively. The ten minute long closing song 'Natural Beauty' will at times test your patience and at other times have you enthralled in its combition of Neil, acoustic and harmonica/piano embellishments. To end, i'm trying to think of a rating. I've had one in mind all along. 'Harvest Moon' is lovely, yet ultimately, you don't get wrapped up it in quite enough emotionally. It's not to do with the lyrics or anything, rather the presentation of the songs and the songs themselves. Songs to enjoy and admire, rather than songs to change your life or songs to live inside. Still, whilst they are playing, the best songs on 'Harvest Moon' will have you entranced.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    i must disagree with you in relation to "such a woman" neil was probably listening to "pacific ocean blue" around this time, and here is the possible evidence. anyway, what the hell is wrong with art garfunkel???!!! first you have a go at dolly parton, and now this guy! i suggest you check out his cover of "disney girls". go for it adrian.... a fully remastered version of "harvest moon" with the cmtv orientated production sound eradicated, would be a nice treat. 7.5/10.

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Neils best of the acoustic albums he did in the 90s ,seeming to alternate them with heavy guitar albums.It reminds me off sitting around with old friends drinking wine , shooting the breeze . Indeed the albums theme seems to be that of old friendships/relationships revisited and reevaluated . I cant really be objective about this one - like so much music its wrapped up too close to our own lifes to be reviewed and ranked. Harvest Moon is a beautiful sounding album in my opinion the acoustics sound so warm and spacey , the harmonies drift and float across the sound . A very nice sunday morning cd at the least adrian

    GAZZA
    Briggs last album with neil . At least he went out in style - neil and his producer had an amazing rapport over the years and young was clearly devastated at his passing . But before his death he made one last great crazy horse album . The playing here trademark crazy horse , providing that rock solid but sloppy backing that brings out the best in neils playing . The 2 piano pieces that bookend the album are like funeral marches from the wild west , "prime of life" has great harmonies and a prominent flute playing the melody . The rest of the album is moody,downbeat,bluesy - neil conjuring amazing,subterranean sounds from his guitar. "change your mind" returns to the early crazy horse sound , beautiful singing on a touching song that stretches out to a lengthy jam before reprising itself with the disturbing "blue eden" . All the songs are consistently strong but the album just fails becoming a classic by including "western hero" which is exactly the same as "tra! in of love" just with different lyrics. I reckon your rating is once again spot on .


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    Sleeps With Angels( 1994 )
    My Heart / Prime Of Life / Driveby / Sleeps With Angels / Western Hero / Change Your Mind / Blue Eden / Safeway Cart / Train Of Love / Trans Am / Piece Of Crap / A Dream That Can Last

    An album hailed upon its release as Neils tribute to Kurt Cobain and also as one of the best records he'd ever put out. I don't know about all that myself. Sure there are a couple of songs that seem to hint at being about Cobain. Sure, this album continues the rich vein run of form Young was experiencing 'Freedom' onwards. You know, this is a fairly unassuming record, all in all. I do adore the opener, 'My Heart'. Over the simplest of melodies Young sings lyrics through verses then lyrics through the chorus, which repeats. His voice sounds wonderful, reaching and straining and world weary and loving and lonely, lost. Delicate and hopeful. You know how Neil sounds like that sometime? 'Prime Of Life' on the other hand is mid-tempo, indistinct yet with a great sound from the musicians. Again, it's a song that doesn't really seem to be trying to grab you by the balls in terms of rock music, nor is it a song that is obviously a sweet commercial ballad. 'Driveby' is another slowish song. You see, at this stage, nice as the album seems to be, nothing seems overly essential Neil Young. The title track has a bit of bite about it in rock terms and arrives as a welcome sonic diversion. It's a very decent track with a live sound and vocal melodies seemingly ignoring the backing group, yet deliberately so. A switch back to the simple understated beauty of 'My Heart' for 'Western Union' and suddenly this album which i've already embraced, yet admitted in my heart isn't perfect..... becomes something precious. It becomes comforting. I'm not at all sure why this should be, though. Makes this a pretty useless record review, doesn't it? Well, sometimes music isn't science. Sometimes the colour green isn't produced by conciously taking the elements yellow and blue. Sometimes you're just painting in green. You know, because it looks nice and means something to you.

    The six minute long 'Blue Eden' starts with slow guitar instrumental groove. It has feeling. The vocals come in, it sounds lonely. 'Safecart Cart' is another one of those Neil Young paintings, best appreciated by hearing, rather than trying to take apart and piece logically back together again. It's no classic, as no individual song from this set is, really. Yet, put together, well. Well, it's still no classic, but it's close. It's an album for cold, dark nights. It'll send you someplace and you won't quite know where you are exactly. Like a dream that becomes a nightmare at a certain part of the night, then changes. You awake and know you've experienced strong emotions, yet you don't quite know exactly why? Perhaps i'm just incoherantly rambling, yet also perhaps that is quite appropriate for a Neil Young review?!! Anyways, great sequencing for the album. 'Train Of Love' picks you up a little after 'Safeway Cart', 'Trans AM' is driving through the woods late at night. 'Piece Of Crap' is great Rock n Roll. Such welcome relief! The closing song seems to be a sister to 'My Heart'. "The cupboards are bare but the streets are paved with gold", sings Neil. He also tells us he saw a young girl that didn't die as the song suddenly seems to be gospel music from some kind of parallel universe. We don't know what gospel it is, exactly. Doesn't bother me. It's Neil Young. A dark, miserable album yet a dark, miserable album that uplifts you. Quite clever, really.

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    john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    i hate 1994. that god damned year conned me so much with its plasiticy, false promises, and fake dawn of positivity. god i was a fool. "piece of crap" really sums it all up, everybody should hear this album at least once, just to purge yourself of all the anti climax, hyped bullshit, you ever got sucked into, and allowed yourself to be manipulated by. this isn't 1994, it's ANTI 1994. 10/10. and shakey rolls on.........

    GAZZA Edinburgh
    Briggs last album with neil . At least he went out in style - neil and his producer had an amazing rapport over the years and young was clearly devastated at his passing . But before his death he made one last great crazy horse album . The playing here trademark crazy horse , providing that rock solid but sloppy backing that brings out the best in neils playing . The 2 piano pieces that bookend the album are like funeral marches from the wild west , "prime of life" has great harmonies and a prominent flute playing the melody . The rest of the album is moody,downbeat,bluesy - neil conjuring amazing,subterranean sounds from his guitar. "change your mind" returns to the early crazy horse sound , beautiful singing on a touching song that stretches out to a lengthy jam before reprising itself with the disturbing "blue eden" . All the songs are consistently strong but the album just fails becoming a classic by including "western hero" which is exactly the same as "train of love" j! ust with different lyrics. I reckon your rating is once again spot on .


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    Mirrorball 6 ( 1995 )
    Song x / Act Of Love / I'm The Ocean / Big Green Country / Truth Be Known / Downtown / What Happened Yesterday / Peace And Love / Throw Your Hatred Down / Scenery / Fallen Angel

    Dark and murky, but really only in sound rather than lyrical or vocal emotion. The down and dirty sound was created with the help of long-term 'grunge' meisters, Pearl Jam. Now, I like Pearl Jam. In fact, in the related pages section you'll find many reviews of Pearl Jam records! Still, if this album was intended as marrying Neil to the grunge scene, it doesn't. It more comes across as Neil just doing his thing. Pearl Jam contribute some fine musical moments, though you have to struggle somewhat to hear them in places, such is the way the album has been recorded and mixed. Almost like Pearl Jam were a little too professional for Neil, so he had to throw in some other factor to balance that out. If that is the case, it kind of makes the collaboration pointless from the off. If it was merely a case of Neil working with different musicians just for a change, that's fine. I can understand that. Anyhoo, a couple or three songs feature a pump organ. One of these songs is the brief, happily quiet 'Fallen Angel'. It's a soothing moment after all the noise elsewhere on the album. Ah, 'Downtown'! It's not an original moment, even the title recalls many previous Young works. Still, it has a fine chunky sounding rhythm section and numerous guitar parts. Indeed, the rhythm section are noticeable throughout the album. Not always in a good way, many songs are propelled forwards, which is not at all the right phrase to use, via the rhythm sections steady groove.

    The few songs that start a little bit faster, such as second song 'Act Of Love' end up lacking purpose coming across as mere jams moulded into a live-sound and lacking structure and purpose as a result. Still, 'Act Of Love' is one of the better numbers here like this. I do enjoy the near eight minute 'Peace And Love' quite a lot, but only parts of it. The guitar solo that arrives around the five minute thirty mark is pure class. Oh, I nearly forgot about 'Scenery'. This catchy little ditty (???!) manages to reach just shy of nine minutes, and you know what? If you take a little bit of the beginning of the track, then skip to a little bit of the end of the track, missing out the eight minutes inbetween? Well, let's just say you'll be fairly glad you saved yourself a further eight minutes or so of listening to exactly the same thing for no apparent reason! 'Big Green Country' is good, Neil and friends trying something with a little energy about it. Um, most of the album is merely a little trying and a little ho-hum. It doesn't at all reach the heights a collaboration such as this could have.

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    Silver And Gold 7 ( 2000 )
    Good To See You / Silver & Gold / Daddy Went Walkin / Buffalo Springfield Again / The Great Divide / Horseshoe Man / Red Sun / Distant Camera / Razor Love / Without Rings

    Amid rumours of a Buffalo Springfield renunion and around the time of a genuine Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young reunion, comes a new solo Neil Young record. It nods to his past, it makes absolutely no bones about being new or fashionable. It's just a bunch of mostly acoustic Neil Young songs. And so, a couple of unassuming classics decorate the first half of the album. The title track indicates that nobody can sing the word 'gold' quite like Neil Young. Indeed, this is the kind of song that should have appeared on Harvest Moon, but didn't. The opening track is in a similar vein, it's such a simple song, has such simple melodies and playing. This is Neil forgetting about Grunge, forgetting about his 90s revival. This is just such a sweet little song! Then, we get some kids thing that is for nobody but Neil and his private life, I should think. Yeah, 'Daddy Went Walkin' leads into 'Buffalo Springfield Again', an obvious autobiographical nod towards his former group. And, delightful! I make no bones about not being grammatical. I make no bones about enjoying this little unassuming record, but. Of my opinion, and some people are in accord with me, this record is a little too mellow and unambitious and forgettable to rank alongside the really good Neil Young records.

    And as such, the second half of the album is simply dreary. It goes down to 'Harvest' territory but without the ambition or conviction. We've got the little acoustic bits, the little piano bits. We've got a song such as 'Horseshoe Man' which starts out so delicately and wonderfully straight, yet never gains anything. There is no detail, no shading. It remains something just a little on the wrong side of dull. Still, the best songs here are good enough and the rest is listenable. It will do for now.

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    Jon jonbloke@blueyonder.co.uk
    I don't think silver and gold was a new song, I was reading his biography (Shakey-very good read especially if you like detail) and he went in and recorded it with some producer a good 10 years before this album. Walked in sat down stated playing and when the producer told him he'd not got a proper take Neil exploded, saying he'd been trying to record a good version of that song for 15 years or something.

    Fenton girl wheel79@hotmail.com
    Oh Silver and Gold, the track, it makes my arms go limp. Just like 'coupe de ville' which I haven't heard in a very long time. Silver and Gold nestles on the album of the same name, like a little nugget in a pan full of soft dust.. it's the only song I turn up. I don't LISTEN to this album. It's perfect for driving to, or just having on, it's soothing and creates a mellow ambience, keeps me soothed on a sunday. It's not his best but it's still wonderful. I like it. I don't always want to be challenged!

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    I felt this was a slight work on 1st listen but its grown on me over the years. Neil wrote this prior to going on a csny tour &springfield reunion (to compile a box set and held an impromptu jam at neils place) Hence the songs are from the viewpoint of someone missing family,home and old friends . (prarie wind is most similar in this respect) Its a pretty easy going listen but "buffalo springfield again" is touching and "red sun" and "horseshoe man" are both top rank neil songs . "razor love" is almost trance like in its devotion and "without rings" takes you aback with its rather sour and angry lyric , especially after all the love and tenderness that precedes it . Id say your rating is about right its got 4 great songs , 3 solid ones and 3 kind of forgettable but innofensive ones . 7/10 . My neil young fixation continues ........


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    Are You Passionate 6 ( 2002 )
    You're My Girl / Mr Disappointment / Differently / Don't Say You Love Me / Let's Roll / Are You Passionate / Goin Home / When I Hold You In My Arms / Be With You / Two Old Friends

    Collaborating with Booker T & The MGs for this album kind of proves that Neil, even 36 odd albums into his career, always wants to try something different. So, we get a few R&B sounding rhythm tracks. With members of Crazy Horse in tow, we also get a few more typically grunge sounding Neil Young moments. So, Motown and soul characterises album opener 'You're My Girl', a mid-tempo five minute soul-pop song. Neil puts in one of his softer, more delicate vocals and whilst this isn't an instant pop wonder as many classic motown tunes were, repeated listenings do seep the tune into your, well, soul. So, in that respect, the song definitely works. 'Mr Disappointment' is another slow-burner, a five minute track with a low-growled Neil vocal contrasting with falsetto moments here and there and some understated yet lovely keening guitar lines. It's a nice tune. By the time of third song, 'Differently', attention startes to waiver, though. Another mid-tempo tune, slightly lacking in passion but not obviously so, that starts to make a listener question the album titles true meaning. When 'Don't Say You Love Me' arrives, the fourth five minute plus tune in a row and another slow burning, mid-tempo tune with impeccably played, yet dull backing, you'd be forgiven for turning your stereo off altogether. Putting on 'Zuma' or something for some real fiery and, dare I say it, passionate Neil performances. Still, music-wise this album is characterised by some lovely little piano lines, plenty of decent guitar lines and a solid rhythm section. Not enough fire, though, Neil. Not enough passion!

    We have to wait until 'Let's Roll' to get a song that sounds like Neil just playing and recording live in the studio. Sadly, it's a song that goes absolutely nowhere. The albums title track is another slow to mid-tempo attempt at soul-blues and the album only picks up and acheives any kind of fiery, genuinely soulful passionate level once the Crazy Horse assisted gem that is 'Goin Home' arrives. Suddenly, we've feedback and thunder and a Neil vocal rising above it all. 'Be With You' also has a bit of energy to it and combines the motown feel of 'You're My Girl' with the more typical Neil Young rock n roll perhaps better than any other song here. However, as the blues ballad of 'Two Old Friends' bores to its close you'll not likely be left feeling that 'Are You Passionate' was a very succesful collaboration bourne out of mutual creative energy. The Booker T guys do their usual professional session muso job, Neil sounds anything but passionate, largely coasting through the album. One or three quality tunes abound, if abound is the correct word to use, but this is far from being an essential Young album.

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    Greendale 7 ( 2003 )
    Falling From Above / Double E / Devil's Sidewalk / Leaving The Driving / Carmichael / Bandit / Granpa's Interview / Bringing Down Dinner / Sun Green / Be The Rain

    I was walking into work one morning, listening to 'Greendale', thinking about the story-aspect of the album. A series of scenes set in and around a fictional town, almost like a collection of little short stories. Fictional? My thoughts drifted back to a couple of Randy Newman albums, he'd do these great songs with lyrics based on real events. I'm thinking to myself Neil Young could have done the same, taken some old land somewhere where a bunch of stuff happened and write songs about it. Why? Well, I just think we might care more. Nice as the sound of 'Greendale' is, I find it hard to really care about the songs or the characters/events depicted within. Still, that sound? It's a real natural sound this 'Greendale' album acheives. It sounds warm and analogue, which Neil will no doubt be pleased to hear given his past blasts against digital recording technology. Yes folks, isn't progress a marvellous thing?

    Progress? 'Greendale' sounds exactly like any album Neil might have recorded in the late seventies. Only not as angry sounding. We've got several songs chugging along nicely, seemingly pleased enough with themselves to sound great... and not bother really reaching their full potential in terms of tune and substance. 'Greendale' is a case of nice idea and sound, shame about the overall impact. Part of the problem is the repetive nature of the music itself, the same rhythm seems to form at least half of the album. I imagine this was deliberate given the idea behind the album but it makes for difficult listening sometimes. Sometimes, I want to scream when the drummer goes back into that same old beat and the guitars chug alongside him sounding suspiciously similar to how they did in the previous song. Still, as Neil says in one of the albums rare true ballads, it's like "turning the pages in a book trying to find something new." Props to Neil for trying to find something new in terms of the concept of the album, shame that his writing wasn't as sharp as it could, and probably should, have been.

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    Ric Nightingale ricnight1977@yahoo.co.uk
    I remember buying this album very clearly. I'd just been dumped by my girlfriend the day before I got it. It was the day before my birthday too!!! Bah, August 2003 wasn't a very good month. Whenever I listened to this album it reminded me of that period in my life. And for that reason alone i can no longer listen to it. Kind of acts like a time machine if you know what I mean. If my memory serves me correctly Greendale was very underproduced and sounded more like a bunch of demos. Far too long aswell. 4/10

    Andy C coffeee_d@hotmail.com
    Underproduced? This album sounds absolutely amazing. It sounds REAL. Which is the WHOLE point of Neil Young. We're in an age when songs are cut and pasted in studios and effects are used to emulate real sounds. Todays music is like processed microwave food...greendale is the audio equivalent of a beautifull hand made dish made with real fresh ingredients. If only the songs were better.

    GAZZA
    Neils music had tailed off a bit since "sleep with angels" , not to the extent it did between "reactor" and "life" but still an inevitable downturn in quality. Greendale marks the repoliticising of shakeys music . Basically an examination of life in a small fictional california town , it widens its net to take in crooked cops,murder,media distortion and eco politics as the suburbs get taken over by the cities . Theres a fair amount to take in but it is very cleverly put together ( the notes and artwork give significant clues to how you listen to the lyrics) and as a result of this elaboration the music HAS to stay a simple but rock solid groove - apart from the spooked out acoustics of "bandit" - because the lyrics ARE the most important thing . But I do agree that about 3 tracks are too long however . But greendale IS a great album , a divisive one amongst his fans but thats the point of neil really . Which other artist in his late 50s is pushing himself like this ?! Making a rock opera with accompanying movie !! Lets see dylan and macca rise to the challenge . "a little love and affection in every thing you do , will make the world a better place even after you" Well said shakey 8/10


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    Prairie Wind 8 ( 2005 )
    The Painter / No Wonder / Falling Off the Face of the Earth / Far from Home / It's a Dream / Prairie Wind / Here for You / This Old Guitar / He Was the King / When God Made Me

    Neil experienced a brain aneurysm and stared death in the face. Released surprisingly soon afterwards, 'Prairie Wind' finds Neil looking backwards, looking inwards and doing so with a warmth and humanity. 'Prairie Wind' is an acoustic Neil album, coloured by subtle enough backing vocals in places, tasteful and effective pedal steel guitar and a gentle yet melodic rhythm section. The lyrics are strikingly simple, deliberately so perhaps because Neil surely wanted these tributes to his late father and stories for his friends and family to resist interpretation. Sometimes this approach fails, the cloying and annoyingly soppy lyrical tribute of 'This Old Guitar', which does contain some truly awful lines along the way. Mostly though, we're sailing in clear blue water and the lyrics effectively do their job. So, facing mortality? Well, 'When God Made Me' and the lovely 'Falling Off The Face Of The Earth'. Looking back at his roots, 'Prairie Wind'. 'It's a long road behind me', he sings, seemingly somewhat obviously on the albums opening cut, yet 'The Painter', with its restrained musical backing perfectly accompanying one of Neils warmer and most beautiful vocals for many a year, is a good way to introduce the album and its ideas. A short note, those who enjoy the noisier Neil Young and find it hard to stomach his softer records, you'll probably want to give 'Prairie Wind' a miss. It's sounds smooth, warm and inviting. It doesn't 'rock', though. Doesn't 'rock' at all apart from the superb near six minute wonder of, errr, 'No Wonder'. It's easy to imagine 'No Wonder' sitting easily in a Neil Young live set of any particular theme or style he wishes to present, bearing in mind his vast catalogue of songs. 'Far From Home' is also one of the, how can I put this, jauntier songs of the set, Neil delights with the piano, the harmonica see-saws and the songs got a groove. 'Bury me out on the prairie' sings Neil, again, looking back to his childhood and musing upon his ultimate fate.

    Back to the softer, dreamier tunes. 'It's A Dream' is a poignant six a half minute tribute to his father, it would seem. Aching and lovely pedal steel, Neil reaching for his affecting falsetto, which is still there, more or less at least, forty years into his career. The Young falsetto also gets a workout during 'Falling Off The Face Of The Earth', another set of musings from Neil, yet with the simple backing, effective and addictive. I should also mention at this stage the strings that pop up here and there on the album. If you've read the reviews linking 'Prairie Wind' to the two 'Harvest' albums, this is the most obvious musical link for me. Otherwise the tunes on this album and their content don't have a tremendous amount in common with 'Harvest', really. Lyrically 'Prairie Wind' certainly weaves a particular and focused picture, for example. Well, the Elvis tribute 'He Was The King' is corny I suppose, but funny with it and seems to be a heartfelt tribute. The closing 'When God Made Me' is a series of lyrical questions without answers. With gospel backing vocals, appropriately. The vocals are mournful, the piano beautifully picking out an easy melody. Neils voice holds ultimate sway, a capitvating presence going right through the song. It's a fitting closer to a frequently lovely record, although the absence of another 'No Wonder' means ultimately 'Prairie Wind' does tend to be a little too smooth and downcast for it's own good.

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    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Poor old neils been very ill of late,most artists would take a break but neils throwing out 2 new albums and a film in quick sucession . This ones a warm acoustic based album with added orchestra,vocal choirs and horns , Unfortunately the songs arent as strong as say harvest moon ( a career highpoint along with unplugged) but theirs plenty of nice moments to show that neil is still a relevant artist. The lyrics of the record concern family,mortality,childhood,home and the nature of being an artist in the twilight years. The opening "the painter" is just heartrendingly beautiful , an ode to his mother perhaps ? "falling off the face of the world" and "here for you" are 2 of the prettiest melodies hes produced in ages . Neil pledging his loyalty on the latter in a really lovely way. "this old guitar" lyrically shows neil is well aware the musics more important than him , pledging allegiance to the muse -even to the extent of recycling the melody of "harvest moon" (! in joke maybe) Like adrian i like "when god made me" too , the choir and churchy piano work well and these are sentiments all thinking people encounter in their lifes . I quite like the elvis tribute too , it kicks up its heels and brings some light relief to the preceedings . "no wonder" though seems clumsy - lyrically angry (with republicans??) and musically awkward. And the horns dont work well with the melody on "far from home" either. The title track has a nice relaxed groove but its prolonged too far to an interminable level, ditto "only a dream" which has a pretty melody but the strings overpower it and theres a lack of a contrasting melody giving the impression ones listening to a john denver album for a bit . That these tracks are back to back is a big minus on the pacing of the album. All in id rather hear harvest moon or comes a time but its far from a disgrace and we shouldnt be too critical, 7/10 . Be well shakey ...


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    Living With War( 2006 )
    After The Garden / Living With War / The Restless Consumer / Shock And Awe / Families / Flags Of Freedom / Let's Impeach The President / Lookin' For A Leader / Roger And Out / America The Beautiful

    Nine original compositions recorded in just six days. He borrows liberally from the pen of Dylan for two of these tunes, 'Roger And Out' being 'Knocking On Heavens Door' and the originals of 'Flags Of Freedom' clearly based somewhere in the past, 'Chimes Of Freedom', anybody? The other seven tunes more or less each have the same distorted, chugging riff as each other, but we were never expecting 'Living With War' to be a work of art, were we? As a document of its times it works better, it will always be tied into the events from which it came. It's both a critical document of the Bush era and a rallying cry. As for borrowed and recycled melodies, fair enough, Young himself would likely say guilty as charged. It's not really the point of the record, yet the energy and commitment is never in doubt. This energy means something like 'After The Garden' is utterly believable and even with the very familiar sound and melodic strands, it's dictinctive enough as a song overall to be a very pleasing album opener. The lilt and hopeful sound of the title tune is of course a misnomer, the lyrics have no such confusion to them. These two strands work well. Young knows the record can't just be declarative statements, it's also got to be good rock n roll, and it is. It's more satisfying than the mans previous rock n roll set, 'Greendale' without a doubt. Probable not intended to be a lasting momument within his vast catalogue, though. The projects inception and quick rise to realisation ( it was within the shops in a month of being written and recorded ) sees to that.

    'Families' at just over two minutes is the shortest song here, yet also the one that manages to lodge itself within my memory banks the most successfully. 'Let's Impeach The President' may well be more newsworthy, yet 'Families' just hits me harder. It's also perhaps looking at the wider picture of war and politics - those ultimately affected. 'Looking For A Leader' mentions 'may be black or a woman after all', a reference to the two prospective democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. With the gospel backing vocals and a committed performance from Young, it's also a highlight of the album. We forward to the close, a rendition of 'America The Beautiful'. A massed choir and quite affecting, although ultimately an indulgence afforded to Neil by the message the album is giving out overall and rather dubious as far as repeated listening is concerned. Still, it's taken a seasoned campaigner such as Neil Young to make a stance. Rock music these days is often too inward looking to realise or risk looking at what's actually going on in this big, wide world of ours.

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    John, County Kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    Always one to keep in tune "with the times", Young slaps together for me, what is one of the finest rough and tumble albums of the 21st Century. Nothing wrong with the political stance he is making, even if it does come across as a little gung ho in places. The sleeve is a key representation of the album's no bullshit ethics, and the ease from which he can change from angry grungy comment, to a completely sincere "America The Beautiful" is highly commendable. 8.5/10.

    Will Petersfield
    I must say Living with War is Neil's most vital record since Ragged Glory and arguably his second best in almost 30 years - since Rust Never Sleeps. There's not a weak moment and the highlights are numerous (Restless Consumer, Shock And Awe, Flags Of Freedom, Looking For A Leader), its s great performance record with direct and powerful content. 9/10


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    Chrome Dreams II 8 ( 2007 )
    Beautiful Bluebird / Boxcar / Ordinary People / Shining Light / The Believer / Spirit Road / Dirty Old Man / Ever After / No Hidden Path / The Way

    As 'Beautiful Bluebird' swings into view, it seems that 'Chrome Dreams II' is going to be that forgettable kind of Neil Young album that merely does exactly what we would expect, and no more. The song lazily passes by with Harmonica and acoustic guitar, but it ain't no 'Heart Of Gold'. 'Boxcar' arriving afterwards also fails to raise the temperatures. First though, a little history. 'Chrome Dreams' was intended to be a 1977 album release for Neil Young. It was shelved, reportedly after Neil played it for Joni Mitchell who advised against him releasing it, saying it was all over the place. Now, 'Chrome Dreams II' does include a few songs apparently dating back to that period in their origins, yet 'Chrome Dreams' was to have been an entirely different beast. 'Powderfinger', 'Pocahontas', 'Hold Back The Tears', 'Too Far Gone', 'Homegrown' and most famously, 'Like A Hurricane' were all originally slated to appear on 'Chrome Dreams'. These songs , as any Young fan will tell you, eventually appeared in different guises on various releases, some as much as ten years later. Now, that may well be true and maybe the album was 'all over the place' but I like those kind of Neil Young releases. It's that spirit that 'Chrome Dreams II' re-captures well.

    We've two songs on the LP that amount to nearly half of the overall running time. 'Ordinary People' is the more convincing of the two, so much so, that it becomes right up there with the Neil Young classics. It's an eighteen minute monster with good lyrics, great soloing from Neil, trumpets sweeping back and forth. It has a mantra like quality and demands to be as long as it is. Now, if it were me, i'd have chopped the first two songs and started the album with the audacious 'Ordinary People', but I guess somebody at the record company thought customers would be put off when checking out the album on the Jukeboxs of record stores up and down the land. Perhaps that's right, but opening with 'Ordinary People' would have made for a stronger start. Still, we're moving in the right direction now as 'Shining Light' is one of those hippie campfire singalongs Neil Young does so well. He tries a similar trick after the fourteen minute 'No Hidden Path', more of which later. Well, 'Dirty Old Man' isa fun grungey little track and 'Ever After' goes for a faint whiff of a country feel. Both these songs are rock solid. 'No Hidden Path' is less a song than 'Ordinary People' was but it fits the album as a cousin or brother to 'Ordinary People', so we welcome it anyway. Then, more sweet relief, 'The Way' almost threatens to turn into a Brian Wilson number at one stage, most welcome.

    The children singalong. We all rest, smiling to ourselves in the peace that the old hippie Neil has given us. We're confused, the album lacks cohesion of course, yet this time it's a good, not a bad, thing.

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    Gazza
    Well this was a surprise in title at least as this album bears no relation to the unreleased "chrome dreams" in song lineup . "bluebird" might be no "heart of gold " but "ordinary people" sure isnt "like a hurricane" . Its a song that doesnt belong on this album really , on "this notes for you" the album it was recorded for it would have been the best track by a mile - here its sequenced to ruin any mood the album creates or goes on to create by virtue of its extreme length . It just sounds like an opportunity for neil to say the word "people" quite a lot . What the hell does neil know about ordinary people anyway?? Its a shame cos the rest of the album is pretty solid "the believer" and choir enhanced "the way" are 2 very beautiful songs and at times his new line up kick into crazy horse circa "ragged glory" territory with "no hidden path" and "spirit road" . "dirty old man" just makes me laugh out loud with its silly lyrics and dumb grungey tune . Chrome d! reams is another excellent neil young album padded out by the unecessary inclusion of "ordinary people" (which would have been better on his upcoming box set archives) . I guess lots of neils albums since the mid 70s have been assembled in this way with odds and ends thrown in and sometimes thats frustrating , but here thankfully its surrounded by mainly very enjoyable material . Neils post millenium music may have started off low key but is now starting to show the consistency of the 89-94 highpoints .


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    Fork In The Road 5 ( 2009 )
    When Worlds Collide / Fuel Line / Just Singing A Song / Johnny Magic / Cough Up The Bucks / Get Behind The Wheel / Off The Road / Hit The Road / Light A Candle / Fork In The Road

    Fork in the Road is an album by Neil Young and it sold a paltry 28,000 copies during it's debut on Billboard, peaking at number 19. This is simply not good enough for an artist of Neil's standing. Then again, the album was inspired by a Neil Young alternative energy kick, trying to get electric power systems working. Indeed, Young's own 1959 Lincoln Continental is serving as a prototype for Young's experiments in this area. This concept for the album isn't really even the reason for the huge amounts of controversy surrounding the release. Young fans have been up in arms expecting the long awaited Young archive series, only to be met with this rather lukewarm new original album instead. Young has history of not doing what people expect him to though, of course. 'Trans' in the early eighties nearly sunk him and earnt him a lawsuit ultimately, from his own record label. No Crazy Horse here by the way, although you wouldn't really notice on the likes of 'Just Singing A Song', itself proof of Neil's utter lack of creativity of purpose here, and this is a highlight! On this album, Neil tries to convince us of electric and alternate power sources for cars whilst singing of speeding down the road and a heavy metal 'continental'. The often presumed crazy man Frank Zappa meanwhile predicted in NINETEEN EIGHTY THREE (?!?!!!!) "We propose to acquire the rights to digitally duplicate and store THE BEST of every record company’s difficult-to-move Quality Catalog Items [Q.C.I.], store them in a central processing location, and have them accessible by phone or cable TV, directly patchable into the user’s home taping appliances, with the option of direct digital-to-digital transfer to F-1 (SONY consumer level digital tape encoder), Beta Hi-Fi, or ordinary analog cassette (requiring the installation of a rentable D-A converter in the phone itself . . . the main chip is about $12). All accounting for royalty payments" He also said "Music consumers like to consume music…not pieces of vinyl wrapped in pieces of cardboard and people today enjoy music more than ever before, and, they like to take it with them wherever they go.” Wowsers! Tell that to the record company lawyers who 'defeated' the Pirate Bay!

    'Cough Up The Bucks' is so lame it takes me back to 'T-Bone' from his 'Reactor' album. That was bad, but this is worse. Tired recycled melodies abound and I don't want to sound like George Starostin but he'd have a field day reviewing this. Mark Prindle will probably like it because it's so incredibly dumb but I don't like it not for any analytical scientific reason and I won't try to be funny, either. This album just sucks bad and is one of the worst ever Neil Young albums. I'm kind of glad it's sunk saleswise without a trace.

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    Brian Holland
    I know you've spent a great deal of time and whatnot on analysing them albums (and god knows how many), and i really enjoy your perspective on a lot of them. Especially your Dylan and Young opinions. My opinion really differs though, as you might have suspected. I think the new Young album is great music. I think Mirrorball is great music, too. I love how he doesn't NEED more than 2 or 3 chords to spend 9 minutes on them. I love how he can write an album about a car. Believe me when I say that Fork In The Road is also best considered a 'car-album' in context. I can't imagine turning up 'Fuel Line' and now rock my head like a moron, simply because songs like that just Hit The Spot sometimes. You should try something like that after a hard days work, it might Change Your Mind! Keep 'em reviews coming though.. My grade would be a 7˝ here. Thanks!


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    Le Noise 7 ( 2010 )
    Walk With Me / Sign Of Love / Someone's Gonna Rescue You / Love And War / Angry World / Hitchhiker / Peaceful Valley Boulevard / Rumblin'

    Neil Young has always been one to throw a curveball at his audience every now and then and 'Le Noise' certainly fits into that category. Daniel Lanois produces and the concept of just Neil and his electric guitar would appear to be an attempt to capture the raw essence of what makes Neil Young. Sure, the treated guitars and echoey vocals irritate in places and I suspect 'Le Noise' will go down as a bit of a marmite release within the Young fanbase. You have to wonder though which other 60 something musician still has the ability not only to surprise, but also to provoke? 'Walk With Me' and 'Sign Of Love' certainly don't make it easy - the two songs flowing into each other with droning vocals and seemingly random guitar stabs before 'Sign Of Love' somewhat flatly flows by without really registering at all. Still, the album thankfully improves after this somewhat upsetting opening brace of 'tunes'. Well, we stay in mid-tempo, we pass through the stark dirge of 'Someone's Gonna Rescue You' before 'Love And War' reminds us how good Neil can still be. The guitar is still there, a lone electric voice, quieter than before as Neil sings properly, writes actual melodies and presents lyrics with meaning. 'Le Noise' remains at this stage 'a sad' album though, you wouldn't put it on at a party or even put it on right after 'Rust Never Sleeps'. 'Le Noise' radiates cold rather than warmth, something I suspect that happens when you have the harsher electric rather than warmer acoustic to accompany Neil throughout the album.

    'Hitchhiker' is a great Neil Young track you know will work live, even though here it's just anguished, angry, biting Neil plus guitar doing the same - with basic drums and bass adding depthness to the sound this would be classic Neil Young, no doubt. Then we discover though 'Hitchhiker' dates back to the 'Trans' era and was actually played live throughout the 1992 tour. Yeah, and i've just called it the best song on the album so far? Yeah, sorry about that Neil. Didn't mean to deliberately suggest your new songs aren't a patch on the old. 'Rumblin' closes the album out, it begins with a definite Lanois touch of texture before Neil creates the exact same guitar tones and distortion and general lack of finese musically he's done almost everywhere else on the album. All in all, this is an interesting Neil Young album rather than a particular good one, yet equally, you have to admire this. It cools you down in summer and spring but sounds like ice when listened to during the cold winter nights. A mood piece, certainly.

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    Americana 8 ( 2012 )
    Oh Susannah / Clementine / Tom Dula / Gallows Pole / Get A Job / Travel On / High Flyin' Bird / Jesus' Chariot / This Land Is Your Land / Wayfarin' Stranger / God Save The Queen

    Neil reunites with Crazy Horse for the first time in ages to produce an album of old songs, quirky songs and folk songs. You can call this a warm-up set for an album of new songs, but that would be a disservice. You can call this a marking time release, or simply one of the most straightforward Neil Young releases for a good while, but neither assertion would be entirely correct. No matter what the source material, Neil and Crazy Horse put it through their own fuzzy and loose noise filters, and out pops nearly entirely enjoyable listening as a result. What really gets me is how fresh and new they manage to make even the most recognizable material sound, take 'God Saves The Queen', not a Sex Pistols cover, rather the British national anthem. I probably hear it every week in some fashion or another, and dreaded hearing a Neil Young take on this, surely it doesn't matter what he does with it, it's still not going to sound anything other than horrid? Well, almost, but he sings verses even us Brits not know, we rarely get to hear the full thing, after all, and treats it as a militaristic marching band song, leavened by female backing vocals here and there. At the other end of the record, aged song 'Oh Susannah' is also given the full Crazy Horse treatment, treating a listener to just over five minutes of what ends up coming across as pure Neil Young, whatever the original of the material. Darkness abounds during 'Clementine', for all the world like it could have come straight off the 'Rust Never Sleeps' tour. 'Tom Dula' reminds me of around twenty Neil Young songs all at once, all from before 1980, I must add. As such, and this tune runs to eight minutes, it becomes an album highlight - it's full of clashing cymbals, enjoyable shouted 'Tom Dula' parts and 'ooooohhhhh' vocal harmonies. Good to hear also that Neil can still play guitar as well as he ever could, it seems. Well, he has a style, you know the style, you know how it sounds - some say Neil Young and Crazy Horse invented grunge, and that grunge is dead but it's clear nobody told Neil.

    'Gallows Pole' is entertaining despite the subject, Neil and band take this with a jaunty steps and swinging beats! 'Get A Job' follows with Crazy Horse doing doo-wop, a song this listener knows more from listening to Beach Boys related music that Neil Young related music - view it as a fun diversion. 'Travel On' is melodic and bouncy, a good road song and 'High Flyin Bird' could have come from the pen of Neil Young whilst he was still in Buffalo Springfield - 'Lord I'm gonna die' he sings, as the guitars swirl away. 'Jesus Chariot' is better known to me as 'She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain' and is worthy purely for the 'When She Comes!' chants in the background. The ever-lasting Woody Guthrie favourite, which it seems every American with a guitar has done a version of, is sent through the Canadian Neil Young filter, and it comes out okay. Not much you can do with such a song really is there, unless you wanted to be controversial and do a Drum 'n' Bass version. That's about it, may as well mention 'Wayfarin' Stranger' as I've mentioned everything else. It's acoustic, and Neil is fine voice, and straight and that's it. Anyway, 'Americana' is better than it has any right to be, most artists tackling such material put in dour, overly serious and overly respectful versions - Neil Young And Crazy Horse are just having fun, and fun is in short supply these days, so congratulations to all involved in this albums creation, really.

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    Psychedelic Pill( 2012 )
    Driftin' Back / Psychedelic Pill / Ramada Inn / Born in Ontario / Twisted Road / She's Always Dancing / For the Love of Man / Walk Like a Giant

    Opening your new album with a twenty-seven minute long track and then including another two that break the fifteen minute barrier is never going easy to review - perhaps a deliberate two-fingers from Neil at critics for his more esoteric album works? You could say quite reasonably that a lot of the songs here feel under-written, snippets of ideas surrounded by jamming and guitar solos. You could also state that this is one of the 'most' Crazy Horse, Neil Young and Crazy Horse albums he's ever made. You could state that even though it's called 'Psychedelic Pill' that there are few sings of drink and drugs and the type of atmosphere that made 'Tonight's The Night' so alluring, for instance. There is something else going on here, a live sound achieved and Neil wants you to listen to this via the high-definition Blu-ray audio version, or at least the vinyl version. He has sequenced the album and put together the songs in such a way picking out one track to stick on your IPOD is a fairly pointless endeavour. Even the title track fails as a central track, it fails to give over what the album overall is about - no individual track does. Taken together with 2012's earlier Neil Young release Americana, and taken together with the book Neil is writing - this is very much a biographical, yet somehow 'state on now' album release.

    'Driftin' Back' as a song is over after about three minutes when Neil decides to allow the band to kick in, we're going electric for jamming around the tracks main themes. Fifteen minutes later you probably feel enough is enough, but onwards for another twelve minutes anyway, just because Neil and Crazy Horse can. Yes, 'Driftin' Back' is a single three minutes worth of material, presented to a listener at mini-album length, yet strangely, rarely gets boring, the repetition becomes hypnotic. Back to digital, your MP3 set on random, if 'Dritin' Back' came on in the middle of a playlist at a party, it would be a hard sell for anyone, Neil Young fanatic included. Memorable improvised lyric - 'Gonna get me a hip-hop haircut', yeah, that's worth waiting some twenty odd minutes for - maybe! The title track meanwhile has some treated sound-around, kind of windy effects - probably aiming for psychedelia but this modest, chugging rocker would probably have been better off without these effects. 'Ramada Inn' runs to nearly seventeen minutes, is probably a better 'song', certainly lyrically than 'Dritin' Back' yet lacks the never-ending charm of that particular musical delight. Still, wonderful guitar solos abound throughout 'Ramada Inn', complete with fuzz, echo and intent.

    'I Was Born In Ontario' is the first track that resembles anything like a proper song, a such, it's a fun way to end the first CD. Oh, yes - we have a whole second CD to come! 'Listen to The Dead on the radio' sings Neil during the mid-tempo, faintly entertaining and swinging 'Twisted Road'. We're not deviating by the way sonically so far during the album, all live sounding, fuzzy and surprisingly strong vocally, turning back the years is Neil, it sounds very mid to late Seventies Young vintage, 'For The Love Of Man' is a ballad and something of a welcome sonic pause, although Neil has done this kind of thing better in the past, 'She's Always Dancing' is a weaker moment, loud and serving much the same purpose as the entire album thus far, just not quite enough of a tune, or with enough aggression to make it entirely worthwhile. We finally leave this journey with 'Walk Like A Giant', a sixteen minute monster of fuzzy guitar attack good enough to sit in any Neil Young set-list. Yes, you really do need to listen to an hour plus of music to get to the album highlight, another anti-digital age listener swipe from Mr Neil Young? Nice vocal harmonies a feature, the guitars shine from the off and the lyrical theme of 'Walk Like A Giant' suits as guitar solos shoot into the back of the imaginary arena that sonically is 'Psychedelic Pill' all over - you can hear the echo, see the band and feel the vibrations.

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    A Letter Home( 2014 )
    A Letter Home Intro / Changes / Girl from the North Country / Needle of Death / Early Morning Rain / Crazy / Reason to Believe / On the Road Again / If You Could Read My Mind / Since I Met You Baby / My Hometown / I Wonder If I Care as Much

    Neil comes fresh from wanting everybody to buy his new MP3 device in order to hear albums as they were meant to, like, hear albums as if you were in the studio. He releases his hardware and it looks like a tube of toblerone chocolate, but is a very nice device indeed, packing in some impressive components. 'A Letter Home' then is of course a bunch of ancient and often random songs, deliberately recorded to sound like it was recorded not even on magnetic tape, but on something made by Thomas Edison! We have crackles, and harmonica and something Dylan would have recorded in 1960, three years before he was famous. Yet, this is Neil Young. Almost everything he does, even if it is absolutely rubbish and largely lacking in any artistic merit - fascinates. 'A Letter Home' flowing from the Dylan cover 'Girl From The North Country' towards 'Needle Of Death'?

    'Needle Of Death' is a song Neil always should have sung - it's a gloriously brilliant song from one of the UK's finest ever folk song-writers - Bert Jansch. Bert basically invented Paul Simon - the Paul of his Simon and Garfunkel days. Without Bert - beautiful British name - there would be almost no anything in singer-songwriter terms. Neil tackles 'Needle Of Death' fantastically, sounding like he is about to die any moment - that is the Neil Young I love. Neil also sings 'Crazy' - yes, that one. He sings 'Reason To Believe', yet another fantastic song. He then sings a bunch of other fairly forgettable songs to finish off this album set - a very weird album set that has really no goodly reason to actually exist. I mean, Neil? Neil??? Really??????

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    this page last updated 27/03/16


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