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Shakey II - Neil Young's Discography


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#101 torrance

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 11:06 AM

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7) 'Sample and Hold' - Trust me when I say that this is a compliment, but this sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure'. Also... I don't care if it's the case, but Neil must've won some mega bet when he put the lyrics "Sample and hold, hair - blonde, eyes - blue, weight - 110, disposition - even, mood code - rotary adjustable" in his song. Probably cost some drunk dude down at the bar $20, but it was worth the bet. This song just pounds you for eight minutes (if you've got the cd - shorter if you've got the original LP). Fuckin' brilliant - I love this album. 8.5

great thread, i'm recently coming out of a self imposed ban on listening to neil young that lasted a couple of years, due to a few coincidences i was convinced that listening to his reccuds brought me nothing but misery and bad luck :blink: . now i've decided i was being a paranoid idiot and am listening again, sample and hold was the first song i heard since losing the paranoia, i only heard part of it (it's 8 minutes long!?! :D ), since it was on the neon neon influences mixtape and i was blown away by it, i could hardly believe it was neil young, nevermind that it was supposed to be one of his terrible synthpop experiments i'd heard about.

that plus this positive review means i'll be hunting down trans sharpish

#102 brainstorm

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:00 PM

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Neil Young
Trans (1982)


TRACKS:

1) 'Little Thing Called Love' - Wait a minute - I thought this album was supposed to be controversial, not fun? Maybe I've got the wrong album... but anyway, I like the kick-off. Kind of like a cousin to 'Motor City' from Re-ac-tor (which is a good thing). Obviously not an underrated gem on the scale of say, 'Lookin' for a Love', and not as good a kick-off as 'Don't Cry No Tears' or 'Walk On', this still gets the job done - and then some. A groovy little track that really shouldn't be able to disappoint. 7.5

2) 'Computer Age' - That's more like it. Welcome to the weirdness. Except... it's not really that weird at all. Sure, it's got the vocoder vocals, but are they really that jarring? To me, they're not. I don't feel any discomfort at all listening to these songs, which is more than I can say about Neil's attempt at straight country (i.e the whole Old Ways album). Plus, this has got one helluva crunching riff that I'd give my right nut to see on the next edition of 'Guitar Hero'. 8.0

3) 'We R In Control' - Again with the monster groove. Another Ralph Molina drumming powerhouse. In fact, you can safely say that this song is all about the groove. On more than one occasion I've gotten strange looks as I've driven the nighttime streets with this song as my soundtrack, blaring for all the world to hear - and you know what? It fuckin' does the trick if you're driving lonely streets. Not sure if this is Neil's post-1984 song about how computers and technology will control our lives, but if it is - good foresight! 7.0

4) 'Transformer Man' - People's criticisms of this album always stem down to the vocoder songs, but they seemingly always neglect to mention how melodic and good these songs are. It shouldn't take an unbelievable rendition of this song in Neil's Unplugged performance for people to realise how good this actually is. This is a great song no matter what. Pity the poor bastard who listens and only hears a gimmick. The gimmick is only such if you let it be. 9.0

5) 'Computer Cowboy (aka Syscrusher)' - No one can say that Neil doesn't know how to bring the riff. Really, this song is all about that little riff which rears its head throughout the song. Not that the rest of the song is bad, it's just not memorable enough for me (or you) to care about that much. 5.0

6) 'Hold On to Your Love' - Weird, where'd the vocoder go? Oh, that's right, not all the songs have it. Another great little song. Not going to win Grammy awards or anything (the song would have to suck way more for it to be even considered), but that doesn't matter. Plus, the whole "Although you may break a heart, don't let it start, hold on to your love" bit is just awesome. 7.0

7) 'Sample and Hold' - Trust me when I say that this is a compliment, but this sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure'. Also... I don't care if it's the case, but Neil must've won some mega bet when he put the lyrics "Sample and hold, hair - blonde, eyes - blue, weight - 110, disposition - even, mood code - rotary adjustable" in his song. Probably cost some drunk dude down at the bar $20, but it was worth the bet. This song just pounds you for eight minutes (if you've got the cd - shorter if you've got the original LP). Fuckin' brilliant - I love this album. 8.5

8) 'Mr. Soul' - Well, isn't this one of the more unnecessary things we've ever seen (or heard)... what's next, a country version of 'Revolution Blues'? Not sure what possessed Neil to record (let alone release) this. Still not a bad song, but as it doesn't improve the original in the slightest, it can only be seen as a waste of time. Actually makes me want to go back and change the original's rating up a point or two to put some distance between itself and this. 5.0

9) 'Like an Inca' - Let's finish off with a nine-minute epic? Sure, why not. No vocoder? Well, alright then... but it better be good. Luckily for us - it is - very good in fact. One of Neil's best songs from the 80s, I don't care if it's derived from a song Jimmy McDonough thinks is better (although, to be fair - he's right... 'Hitchhiker' is utterly mesmerising), this is still brilliant in its own right. I don't know if it's just me or not, but when the chorus kicks in, I just get lifted up, and when this comes along... "I feel sad but I feel happy, as I'm coming back to home. There's a bridge to cross the river that I have to cross alone... like a skipping rolling stone"? Well, it's just about the best thing on the whole album. Great song. Tempted to pull out the masterpiece tag - but that's reserved for the truly special songs, and no matter how much I love 'Like an Inca', it's just not there. 9.0

ALBUM RATING: 8.0

VERDICT: Fuck the naysayers! This album rules. It may not have the most well-known tracks on it, but damn if it doesn't feel like an album, and that goes a long way with me. You could put eight of the very best songs on a disc and give it to me and even if they were all masterpieces, I still wouldn't give the album a 10.0 if they didn't feel like they belonged together. Trans is an album - each of these songs, no matter when they were written or recored, fits here. You may disagree with me about the vocoder songs, or the non-vocoder songs - I don't give a shit. I fuckin' love this album. Sure, there's nothing on here that will make something like 'Cowgirl in the Sand' shake in its boots, but there's character here and that means a lot. But above everything else - this album's got a lot of heart and that means a lot to me.

NEXT: "Well, I don't want Fop, goddamn it! I'm a Dapper Dan man!"


Bless you - couldn't agree more. Love this record. I think most of the backlash is simply that even rock crits and for sure a big chunk of his audience decided they'd mapped out everything he was ever gonna be about, and then he just tossed 'em the bird and did what he wanted. Fuck 'em - they're missing out.
"So?" - Dick Cheney

#103 vurt

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:14 PM

I've never bothered listening to Trans because "Neilyo Does The Eighties" sounded like such a weird, awkward concept. That review's done a bang-up job of changing my mind.

#104 torrance

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:23 PM

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.....and i really love that cover in some deeply depraved way.

and it came out the year i was born, it must be great

#105 theminimumcircus

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:26 PM

All that matters in rock songs is the riff, and Syscrusher's riff is balls-deep lodged in my brain. Awesome out of 10.
Wtf @ theminimuncircus retardly interjecting.

#106 Campaigner

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 07:54 AM

Interlude #2

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Neil Young in Berlin


TRACKS: Cinnamon Girl - Computer Age - Little Thing Called Love - Old Man - The Needle & the Damage Done - After the Gold Rush - Transformer Man - Sample & Hold - Like a Hurricane - Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) - Berlin

VERDICT:

Man, did I pounce on this as soon as the DVD came out. Partly because I need anything and everything the man has ever done, partly because I'm a sucker for the Trans material, but also because of the unreleased track (on record anyway) that closes the set out. Sure, I'd heard it before having had it on CD for a while, but when there's video out there, you've gotta have it.

This thing, I don't know - it's weird. Not in the sense that "oooh, there's vocoder shit on there - get it away from me!" because as my Trans review stated, the vocoder stuff is only a gimmick if you refuse to see (or hear) it otherwise. No, this is weird because it's at times awesome, but at other times it's just plain uninspired. It's weird because Nils Lofgren cracks me up. The guy knows his shit and is about as giddy as getting to play on the same stage as Neil Young as I would be - but he pounces and bounces around the stage like he's got an Energizer bunny up his ass. Bruce Palmer (ex-Buffalo Springfield) just acts as though he has no idea what the fuck is going on (and proves this when he has no idea what the hell the song they learned earlier that day is or how to play it), and Ralph Molina gets paired with a bongo player. And Neil wears a really thin tie. As I said... weird.

Brilliant though! And 'Berlin'? Good song (if rating it, I'd go somewhere around 7.5 or 8.0)

(Interlude over)

#107 brainstorm

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 08:06 AM

Interlude #2

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Neil Young in Berlin


TRACKS: Cinnamon Girl - Computer Age - Little Thing Called Love - Old Man - The Needle & the Damage Done - After the Gold Rush - Transformer Man - Sample & Hold - Like a Hurricane - Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) - Berlin

VERDICT:

Man, did I pounce on this as soon as the DVD came out. Partly because I need anything and everything the man has ever done, partly because I'm a sucker for the Trans material, but also because of the unreleased track (on record anyway) that closes the set out. Sure, I'd heard it before having had it on CD for a while, but when there's video out there, you've gotta have it.

This thing, I don't know - it's weird. Not in the sense that "oooh, there's vocoder shit on there - get it away from me!" because as my Trans review stated, the vocoder stuff is only a gimmick if you refuse to see (or hear) it otherwise. No, this is weird because it's at times awesome, but at other times it's just plain uninspired. It's weird because Nils Lofgren cracks me up. The guy knows his shit and is about as giddy as getting to play on the same stage as Neil Young as I would be - but he pounces and bounces around the stage like he's got an Energizer bunny up his ass. Bruce Palmer (ex-Buffalo Springfield) just acts as though he has no idea what the fuck is going on (and proves this when he has no idea what the hell the song they learned earlier that day is or how to play it), and Ralph Molina gets paired with a bongo player. And Neil wears a really thin tie. As I said... weird.

Brilliant though! And 'Berlin'? Good song (if rating it, I'd go somewhere around 7.5 or 8.0)

(Interlude over)


Does Lofgren have his trampoline with him? That was his gimmick for awhile, esp. in the '80s, remember? He did a video where he bounced on it while playing, took it on tour...
"So?" - Dick Cheney

#108 elcorazon

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 09:19 AM

I played Rust Never Sleeps again and damn, if it ain't the greatest Neil Young record ever. Just amazing. I figured, I'd add my 2 cents to this thread with my Rust comments.

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Rust Never Sleeps (1979)


I'll rate the tracks and just make a few comments below:

1) 'My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)' - 10.0

2) 'Thrasher' - 10.0

3) 'Ride My Llama' - 8.2

4) 'Pocahontas' -10.0

5) 'Sail Away' - 10.0

6) 'Powderfinger' - 10.0

7) 'Welfare Mothers' - 6.7

8) 'Sedan Delivery' -. 8.0

9) 'Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)' - 10.0

ALBUM RATING: 10.0


6/9 songs are 10's. I really think both the opening and closing tracks are deserving classics. Riffs that really stand the test of time and obvious passion for what they are doing. The opener really sets the tone and the closer totally rocks the joint. Total agreement with Campaigner on Thrasher and Pocahantas and Sail Away and Powderfinger. Seriously, what a quartet of tracks. I think my current listen puts Pocahantas at the top of the heap. last time I played it Thrasher was my fav. Next time it'll probably be Powderfinger. You never can tell.

Weakest track for me is Welfare Mothers. Probably the only one I really can't get into. I suppose it fits in to the mood on Side 2 (I originally had this on album so I still view it as having sides) and was necessary to Neil's vision of this "album" but as a song, it's really not all that compelling.
Sail Away: The Songs of Randy Newman -7.5/10
Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis 8.5/10
Buddy & Julie Miller - Written in Chalk wow, first listen, but great great record! 9.3/10
Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Moviessurprisingly great, never picked up his past releases, but this one's knocking my socks off right away, 8.7/10
M. Ward - Hold Time 8.0/10
Neko Case -Middle Cyclone her best I've heard is my initial impression, but too soon to rate, haven't had a really good listen yet 7.8/10

#109 Campaigner

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 04:12 AM

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Neil Young & the Shocking Pinks
Everybody's Rockin' (1983)


TRACKS:

1) 'Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes' - First time I heard this album I was dreading it. After all - it seemed like Neil was completely taking the piss. "You want rock and roll? Well here the fuck it is!" But you know what? This start isn't terrible. Sure, it's slight and in no way can you tell that the guy who sings this is the same guy that came up with 'Winterlong' and 'Expecting to Fly', but they've got the sound down cold and it gives you exactly what the cover offers - old school rock and roll. Not the worst song in history. 5.5

2) 'Rainin' in My Heart' - This is where we get in trouble. Not that there's anything wrong with the song, but Neil's delivery is so second-rate, so mediocre that it makes Neil seem a parody of himself. It's performances like this that give the junction of Neil Young and the 1980s a bad name. Horrid. 1.5

3) 'Payola Blues' - Wow - good save. This is more like it - Neil actually sounds like he's interested... and the fact that it's a great song is a bonus too. Not sure about the insistent backing vocals, but somehow I like this more than a lot of songs I should be more interested in. I can't see myself listening to this over and over again, but it's not a song that calls out for that. 7.5

4) 'Wonderin'' - Resurrected from the early days of Crazy Horse, part of me thinks "great song", other parts think "should've stayed hidden". It's not that the song isn't good - it's just that it doesn't sound like it's being presented in the greatest forum. I mean honestly, compare this with the live Crazy Horse version from the Live at the Fillmore East release and it's like comparing a bluegrass tribute to The Beatles to Abbey Road. But I can only score what's here, not what isn't. 6.0

5) 'Kinda Fonda Wanda' - Back to ordinary. There's nothing in this song that makes you twitch (in a good way). You know the feeling that you get when 'Like a Hurricane' is blaring? The feeling that the only thing you can really do is get up out of your chair and rock the fuck out with the guitars, wishing that it was you on that stage being able to do the same thing? Yeah, this song is the exact opposite of that feeling. 2.5

6) 'Jellyroll Man' - There's something here - not sure what, but there's something that separates it from the other sub-par songs. Not much though, and not much that I can give it a pass score. Sorry if my review of the song is slight, it's just that I'm not inspired at all to talk about something so bland. 4.5

7) 'Bright Lights, Big City' - I'm not against covers. Not at all. But when you've got a 25 minute album and it's padded with cover versions, it suggests that perhaps you didn't have enough of a reason to record the album. Here's a cover, and it's not a bad song, it's just that Neil Young turns in a bad performance. Cool guitar work though. 3.0

8) 'Cry, Cry, Cry' - Again with the cool guitar. But that's not enough... I'm sorry if it's selfish, but I need more. I need something that makes my breathing stop. Something that makes my pants tighten, and I'm not getting that anywhere here. I doubt I'd be a Neil Young fan if this was my first exposure to the guy. 3.0

9) 'Mystery Train' - Wow - way to ruin a classic. Surely this is the most sterile cover of the song ever? Something that should be joyous and righteous is turned into something so bland and lifeless. Congratulations 'There's a World', you're no longer on your own as the worst thing Neil Young's ever done. 1.0

10) 'Everybody's Rockin'' - It's always a good thing to redeem yourself. Although, if you're trying to come back from an awful cover of 'Mystery Train', there's only one way to go and that's up. It really is depressing to hear something so bad coming from the same guy who could seemingly do no wrong in the seventies. Here's hoping he gets better! 4.0

ALBUM RATING: 4.0

VERDICT: The problem with this album isn't the playing, isn't really the songs, isn't the production. The problem with this album is that, unlike the rock and roll it parodies/pays homage to is that it has no soul whatsoever. Sure, I'll defend Trans until the cows come home and slap across the head any bitch who tries to tell me it's a gimmick, but if they say the same thing about Everybody's Rockin' I'll probably just sit down alongside them and lament that they're telling the honest-to-Neil truth... and damn to hell if that isn't a shame. His worst album to this point. Don't know how bad this would've been if 'Payola Blues' hadn't been around to save it's ass (well, save it a little bit).

NEXT: Are you ready for the country? No? Too bad, 'cos it's on its way.

#110 Campaigner

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 05:03 AM

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Neil Young
Old Ways (1985)


TRACKS:

1) 'The Wayward Wind' - This really isn't a good start. Terrible, actually. As you may have gathered by a few little hints thrown in here and there throughout the thread - I don't like Neil-doing-straight county, and I don't like this album. Hopefully I won't resort to cheap "this sucks" reasoning to explain my distaste, but needless to say everything that's bad about this album is in this song. The too sincere twang vocals, the awful duet singing. Just plain bad. 3.5

2) 'Get Back to the Country' - There's a damn mouth harp in this song. Man, that just sucks. How am I supposed to like this song now? Sure, it rocks along and has at least got more enthusiasm in the song than the whole of the Everybody's Rockin' album, but that fuckin' mouth harp just makes me want to commit a crime, and not one of the good ones. I'm glad I'm sick at the moment, because if I wasn't then I'd be inclined to vomit. 4.0

3) 'Are There Any More Real Cowboys?' - Hey, Willie Nelson's here! Not a bad song. A bit clichéd (to say the least), but there's a bit of heart here - and that goes a long way. Not sure what Neil Young knows about being a Cowboy, and the Neil/Willie harmonising isn't fantastic, but despite the flaws, there remains something endearing here. 6.0

4) 'Once an Angel' - This isn't terrible. Great singing by Neil that doesn't lay the 'country' on as much as other songs. Really good melody (which is always a plus). Still not a fan of the hokey production - it seems as though they didn't accomplish with 20 players what they could've done with just a piano, a guitar and Young's voice, but this is a step in the right direction. 6.5

5) 'Misfits' - Ever heard of the song 'Dakota' (no, not the Stereophonics one)? It was played by Neil when he toured here in 1985. It was a 'new' song and damn it rocked the fuck out - which is what you get when you tour with both Crazy Horse and the International Harvesters (his country band). Anyway, 'Dakota' is now 'Misfits' and it's been stripped of nearly all that was good about it. Same lyrics, same melody - except Neil (in all his wisdom) decided to record it as though Robert Altman were making a sequel to 'Nashville' and wanted some more songs. Seriously, this is the kind of song that you'd expect Haven Hamilton to record. So disappointing... 5.0

6) 'California Sunset' - This has some good swing to it - maybe because Neil used his common sense and used a live cut of the track (taken from his appearance on 'Austin City Limits' in September 1984). Ol' Rufus is burning it up on the fiddle, and even though he's a got a large-ish band, they don't swamp the song and weigh it down. 6.0

7) 'Old Ways' - Going through the motions. "I'm set in my ways, old ways", Neil sings. And that's just bullshit. Sure, he may be set in his ways, but the Neil of old would've had his tongue firmly in cheek when singing something this ordinary. Now, it seems as though he thinks it's the only thing he should doing. In some closet somewhere, Old Black was sitting, unused, burning a hole in its guitar case like the Ark did to the Nazi symbol in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', screaming to get let out. 4.5

8) 'My Boy' - Wow - very unexpected. Call me schmaltzy, call me sentimental - but this is the best song on the album. You know why? Because Neil Young's singing from the heart, and although it may not be 'soulful' in the traditional sense, there's a lot of soul. In the "write songs about his kids" stakes, Neil's now two for two (after 'Transformer Man'), and even if this isn't on the scale of that mini-miracle, this is the kind of song that I just seem to love. 7.5

9) 'Bound For Glory' - Back to Suckville. "Out on the Trans-Canada highway there was a girl hitch-hikin' with her dog". Ugh. Where's the Masterpieces? Where's the near masterpieces? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be "nowhere near here". 3.0

10) 'Where Is the Highway Tonight?' - Where is it? Out the door, down the street. Get in your bus and drive away, Neil - never to return. Please, for our sake. 3.5

ALBUM RATING: 5.0

VERDICT: My least favourite Neil Young album. It may not get the lowest score, but there isn't another Neil Young album that deflates me so much. There isn't another album that makes me question his greatness or makes me think that everyone who bags Neil's 80s output is telling at least some part of the truth. Sure, there's some songs here, but the album is so insincere (for the most part) and so hokey that it can barely be taken seriously. Quite depressing actually.

NEXT: Anywhere but here, please.

#111 Campaigner

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 02:55 AM

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Neil Young
Landing on Water (1986)


TRACKS:

1) 'Weight of the World' - OK... so here we go with more country. No? Good. This is about as far from country as possible and (not that I don't like country music) thank fuck for that. I thought this album was supposed to be bad? Because I'm not getting that from here - this is a kickass song. Steve Jordan is killing it on the drums, and as an announcement that "this is how the album will sound", I'm not disheartened. 7.0

2) 'Violent Side' - Well, if it works for Pink Floyd, it'll work for Neil Young. Cue the boy's choir!! This sounds like a good Police Song (well the music does anyway), it's got a great melody and the choir only comes in at the chorus, which is OK by me. Not sure about some of the sound effects, but I'll let that slip for now. Great to hear Old Black blaring out of the speakers. 6.5

3) 'Hippie Dream' - Gloomy. I like. There's those razorblade guitars that I've been missing for a few albums. As a "fuck you" to your friends, things don't really get better than "the wooden ships are a hippie dream, capsized in excess if you know what I mean". Only Neil Young can slag on his mates so often yet have the same mates come back to him so often so that they can work with him. 7.5

4) 'Bad News Beat' - If someone ever asked me what the difference between Landing on Water and most of Neil's earlier albums from the 80s (i.e everything except Trans) were, I'd tell them that he seems interested in what he's doing. The songs themselves may not be the same quality, but he at least seems to give a shit. Take this song for instance. Is it a good song? No, not at all. But when there's some effort seemingly involved, it elevates itself up from the true rubbish that riddled his two previous albums. 5.0

5) 'Touch the Night' - When this song was originally performed by Crazy Horse in 1984, many thought it to be a poor cousin of 'Like a Hurricane'. On the album, the comparison should be non-existent. This is its own song, and is very good. Sure, it sounds a little too much like a 1986 rock song should, but there's still a few little things only Neil Young can do that help make the song his own... such as the guitar solos - surely some of the most underrated of his career. Count me as a fan of this song. 7.0

6) 'People on the Street' - Anyone else think this could be straight out of a 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie? Great beat, but unfortunately there's not too much else here to write home about. Probably the 'worst' song on the album. 4.5

7) 'Hard Luck Stories' - This maybe my favourite song on the album. Great melody, great beat and groove. Love the three note synth line. Could easily fit (with different production) on some of Neil's more lauded albums. Not too much else to say about this gem. 8.0

8) 'I Got a Problem' - Now that's a kickass groove, right there. You know, people (myself included), hold this album up as Neil's "80s" album. But have a listen to this song and tell me that you couldn't take this exact performance off this album and include it on one of his latter day efforts (maybe not Prairie Wind), and there's no way it would seem out of place. 7.0

9) 'Pressure' - Not a fan of the chorus, love the verses. Steve Jordan makes his case (again) for the album's MVP. His drumming drives this song, one of the (despite the chours) best on the whole album. Seriously, why does everyone hate on this album? How can anyone not like this stuff? This shit is unreal. 7.0

10) 'Drifter' - 'What about you, what about me?" I'm a sucker for backing vocals like this. Again, Old Black gets unleashed and has a ball. Great lyrics that give you an interesting insight into Neil's frame of mind at the time. Awesome way to finish off what is quickly becoming a non-guilty pleasure around these parts. Too many years went past where I wouldn't give the album the time of day - what with its reputation in the gutter. Now I know I was just a fool. 7.5

ALBUM RATING: 7.0

VERDICT: How can I be getting things so wrong? After all, this is the most derided album of Neil Young's career and not only do I find myself not hating it - I actually enjoy it. Just goes to show the measure of the man that he can polarise so many. Or maybe it's just that I'm deluded... I can't be too sure. Sure, the production screams "1986!!", but I'll take this any day of the week over Old Ways. Obviously, that's not saying too much, but I'll argue with anyone, Neil Young included, who want to talk to me about how bad this album supposedly is. I've got the boxing gloves in the cupboard and I'm ready to strap them on and get into an old-fashioned throwdown. I don't expect you to agree with me, only to understand that rational thought is not necessary when it comes to choosing the Neil Young albums you love.

NEXT: Back in the saddle.

#112 Gluehead

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 03:29 AM

4) 'Transformer Man' - People's criticisms of this album always stem down to the vocoder songs, but they seemingly always neglect to mention how melodic and good these songs are. It shouldn't take an unbelievable rendition of this song in Neil's Unplugged performance for people to realise how good this actually is. This is a great song no matter what. Pity the poor bastard who listens and only hears a gimmick. The gimmick is only such if you let it be. 9.0


I'd probably give this a 10, it's a brilliant song and for me this is the definitive version of it. He could've went the easy way and simply recorded it as a sparse accoustic ballad, which I suppose he did later, but here instead he turns into a strange electropop ballad and I think it works absolutely perfectly. And those 'doot-doot-diddy-doot-doot' noises he makes in the background are probably the best things he did in the 80's.

#113 Campaigner

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 08:18 AM

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Life (1987)


TRACKS:

1) 'Mideast Vacation' - Awesome. Great kickoff to another underrated album. This is one of those great 'visual' songs where you can picture Neil, bouncing along with the beat - M16 in hand while carrying out the song. Neil's delivery is fantastic also - what I wouldn't give for him to have half this conviction in anything he did these days. So yeah, great song and I think tongue is firmly in cheek when he sings it, but that doesn't lessen its impact. 8.0

2) 'Long Walk Home'- You see, if this song were on Old Ways, it would've had 20 sessioners all doing their part and the song would've been ruined. Here, it's left to settle and stand on its own (for the most part), unlike 'Once an Angel' was on Old Ways. Not sure I buy what's being said, but as always with this 'problem', that's the fault of the listener, not the song. My lack of real knowledge about US problems in the mid-to-late 80s means I can't really relate to this song too much. But it doesn't mean I don't like it. 6.5

3) 'Around the World' - For songs that were mostly recorded live with Crazy Horse and then taken into the studio for tweaking - there's not too much Crazy Horse-ness to be found. Apparently the guys were a bit dumbfounded when they found themselves playing this material in concert, but they don't do a bad job. So what have we got here... big beat? Hell yes. Old black? Check. Anyone expecting a standard Crazy Horse album will be disappointed, but I'm not one of them. I dig this stuff. Sure it's not 'Powderfinger', but then again - what is? 7.0

4) 'Inca Queen' - Much has probably been made of the 'Inca' aspect of this song, and how it's a cousin to 'Cortez the Killer' and 'Like an Inca', but if expect something along those lines - you might be disappointed. Sure, this is a fine song - one of the best of the album in fact. But I don't really see it as a cousin (or sibling) to the other songs, as much as I don't think the other two are really related to each other. But dig the song for what it is, a great ballad with some awesome Willie Nelson-esque acoustic guitar and production that could've been too much, but ends up being just enough (perhaps that's the David Briggs influence coming through?). 7.5

5) 'Too Lonely' - What makes Neil Young so good? Well, to me it's how unlike anyone else he is. Why do I mention this? I mention it because 'Too Lonely' doesn't sound like a Neil Young song at all - it sounds like something someone else wrote when trying to write a 'Neil Young' song and as a result I just can't love it as much as I should. Sorry about that. 5.0

6) 'Prisoners of Rock and Roll' - "That's why we don't wanna be good". Hell yeah. Almost masterpiece. Best song on the album? Could well be. Should be the closing song to every single NY & Crazy Horse concert ever, a manifesto to their being, a mission statement for anyone wanting to know anything about the band. Sure it's slight, stupid and goofy - that's the fucking point. A fuck you from every band struggling to break free from an overbearing label, run by people who understand figures, not music. Why isn't this more well known?? 9.0

7) 'Cryin' Eyes' - Suffers from the same syndrome as 'Too Lonely'. This sounds like someone else trying to do Neil Young. It's not a bad song, but there's none of the little idiosyncrasies that pepper themselves throughout Young's music, nothing that when you listen to it, you sit and say that it can't be anyone else playing that song. Sure, there's the voice - but in this case... it's not enough. 4.5

8) 'When Your Lonely Heart Breaks' - Bingo. And with one song he redeems himself (yet again). This song is masterful. Some of the best singing of Young's career, and the sparse accompaniment is the only necessary course to take. Strike my "best song" quip about 'Prisoners of Rock and Roll', this one takes the cake. I could listen to this song forever. Not sure what's needed to elevate up to a masterpiece, but if I heard it I wouldn't have to dock it half a point. 9.5

9) 'We Never Danced' - I know I should say something about this being the return of Jack Nitszche to the fold and how good the song is, but I don't see what some others are talking about when they profess their love for this song. To me, it sounds like the love theme to the 'Masters of the Universe' film with Dolph Lundgren. Good melody, just not enough else to make me jump up and down, or run down the street and grab the nearest person to tell them how good it is. 5.5

ALBUM RATING: 7.0

VERDICT: More of the same goodness from Neil. Not a step up or a step back from Landing on Water, but an album which is just as good. I like this album a lot, I just don't think it's the second coming. Montana, I'd love to know what makes you put this in your top 5 Neil albums of all time, because I'm sure beat as to what makes this better than any of the masterpieces that would have to miss out from that list. But anyway - there's a few absolute gems here, and that bodes well for those who think he was in a slump.

NEXT: If you don't know him by now, you'll never know him.

#114 hinsey21

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 06:33 PM

this is the best thread going on somb

#115 theminimumcircus

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 06:56 PM

this is the best thread going on somb


Between this one and the Mould one, I've been droppin' loads--copious loads.
Wtf @ theminimuncircus retardly interjecting.

#116 hinsey21

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 07:32 PM

this is the best thread going on somb


Between this one and the Mould one, I've been droppin' loads--copious loads.


when do we get more

what's next, this notes for you?

i'm looking forward to ragged glory and i am curious to see how mirror ball will be rated

#117 Campaigner

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 08:06 PM

this is the best thread going on somb


Between this one and the Mould one, I've been droppin' loads--copious loads.


when do we get more

what's next, this notes for you?

i'm looking forward to ragged glory and i am curious to see how mirror ball will be rated


This is the path for the next few days;

This Note's For You
American Dream
Eldorado [EP]

Freedom
Ragged Glory

(maybe a little interlude)
Weld
Arc


If I can get these done in the next few days I'll be happy. How will Mirrorball be rated? Not too sure myself - haven't listened to it in a long while. You'll just have to wait and see!

Oh yeah, looking forward to Ragged Glory as well. God I love that fuckin' album. At this stage I don't see what's going to stop me from making it the longest review of the whole thread.

#118 Campaigner

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 06:16 AM

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Neil Young & the Bluenotes
This Note's For You (1988)


TRACKS:

1) 'Ten Men Workin'' - Yeah... it's not bad. A bit too much like what you'd expect from a "Neil Young with a horn section" song. But having said that - the playing's good but not too great (which is a plus), and Neil seems to be having fun, playing some very different guitar licks to what we're used to. So, weighing that up against the somewhat familiarity of the song... this one gets a 6.5

2) 'This Note's For You' - Everyone probably knows the video, but the song itself isn't too memorable. Of course, there's the memorable (if not over-quoted) "ain't singing for Pepsi, ain't singing for coke, don't sing for nobody, makes me look like a joke, This note's for you" opening line(s), but there's not much to elevate this above the slight curio status that it holds in my eyes (and ears). Cool video though. 6.5

3) 'Coupe de Ville' - This is more like it. Just the kind of potential that you'd hope Young would reach. That distant, muted trumpet (eerily reminiscent of 'Meeting Across the River') is the stuff of dreams, and Young's completely understated use of Old Black (I think) is just what the song ordered. Damn, we're only three songs in and we've already got the album's best song. 8.5

4) 'Life in the City' - Starts out sounding like the theme song to Monday Night Football - and that's not something to be happy about. Ends up sounding like something you'd find on the soundtrack to 'Lethal Weapon 2', which is only slightly better. Lucky for the something that the song is utterly redeemed by the second half of each verse, when it kicks into gear and suggests to you that this isn't another excursion in ordinary. 6.0

5) 'Twilight' - Sounds like a Sting song. And not one of the ones he wrote when in The Police - one of his solo songs. And that's never a good thing. "Don't be lonely, don't be sad, 'cos you're the best thing that I ever had" may be his worst lyric ever. Old Black saves the song from disaster, but even then it's only barely saved. 3.0

6) 'Married Man' - See 'Ten Men Workin'' and dock a point and a half. 5.0

7) 'Sunny Inside' - Well, hang on a little minute there. How's that for a 'In the Midnight Hour' intro? Sweet. Now this is more like it. Not exactly what I'd expect from this album - but I'm not turned off by it, in fact I might have to listen to this puppy again. Can't talk now... listening. 7.5

8) 'Can't Believe Your Lyin'' - Back to the normal-ness then? More than that, back to the sub-par. Not Neil's finest hour, not even his finest three minutes. I feel so bad about not writing much about some of these songs, but they're so deflating, I honestly can't bear to bring myself to say anything. 4.0

9) 'Hey Hey' - Kinda like 'Welfare Mothers' for the Bluenotes age. Not saying that it's as good as 'Welfare Mothers', but it's just got that same trashy quality to it. Again, great guitar playing (surely Old Black is the album's MVP?), but the horns are just a bit un-adventurous aren't they?? There's not excitement or zap! to them at all. 6.0

10) 'One Thing' - Perfect end to the album. Again, it's the guitar that brings it home. If nothing else, this album gave Neil another avenue by which to explore his axework. And if I have nothing else to thank this album for, thanking Neil for his guitar playing is more than enough. The sax work is probably a little too '1988', but that's OK since the album came out in 1988. Up there with 'Coupe de Ville' for the best song on the album. 8.0

ALBUM RATING: 6.0

VERDICT: Neil makes it back onto Reprise with nothing to write home about. Compared to what the Bluenotes and Neil were doing live at the time, this album's a disappointment, and a step back from his final two Geffen records. Lucky for us, we have the benefit of hindsight and we can see what corners his solo career would take next (after a brief little sojourn), so we can't be too upset. However I can imagine that if I were a Neil Young fan back in the day, I'd be a little disheartened and feeling that years of support were being ignored. Not saying the album's a disaster (far from it), but it's no Rust Never Sleeps, although you already knew that.

NEXT: Neil makes good on a promise... one we all wish he hadn't.

#119 Campaigner

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 07:55 AM

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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
American Dream (1988)


TRACKS (Neil or co-write only):

1) 'American Dream' - Where's Bobby McFerrin when you need him? This is sub-Phil Collins stuff right here. And that's a shame because on Neil's 1987 European Tour with Crazy Horse, this song wasn't bad at all, in fact it was much better than what we've got here. And what the hell is this stuff? Because it's barely recognisable when compared to the CH versions. As George Harrison put it... "isn't it a pity?" 3.0

2) 'Got it Made' - Neil co-write with Stills. A better song, but not much better. This one sounds like it should've been part of the 'Cocktail' soundtrack (there's a few 80s songs that fall into the "sounds like they should be in [insert movie here]" category. Neil's contribution seems miniscule, so I won't spend too much time on this one. 5.0

3) 'Name of Love' - I actually don't mind this song. Neil gets to be Neil, CSN do the backing harmonies to great (i.e not overbearing) effect and the song doesn't suffer the same fate as many of the others on the album. Should actually get some more live plays than it has. I'm actually surprised how much I enjoy this song. 6.5

5) 'This Old House' - Well, there you go - another really good song. Simple, yet effective. You can tell this is an Old Ways-era song, but you can't tell why the hell it was never released back then. Honestly, compared to the shit that came out, this is like the second coming of 'I Believe in You'. Again, CSN don't overdo it on the harmonies. Sure, they lay them on thick, but for some reason... they work. 7.0

8) 'Drivin' Thunder' - Another co-write, this one nowhere near as good as the last - which is saying something. Almost like Stills was trying to outdo Stevie Ray Vaughan. Not a good song - again, not to sure what Neil's contribution was. 3.0

13) 'Feel Your Love' - Well, here goes. I fuckin' LOVE this song. It's no masterpiece - but it's beautiful. Take this and put it on Freedom, and it would've fit as well as 'Sail Away' did on Rust Never Sleeps. And if it doesn't reach those heights, then that's OK. Put this puppy on Harvest Moon and you've got the second best song on the album, no contest (it's still a fair way behind the best song - which you'll have to wait and see what it is). Too good to be on this shitty album. Too good for any of Neil's previous 5 albums. 9.0

VERDICT: One gem, another good song, and a couple that could've been good. The less said about the co-writes, the better. OK, enough of this... I've got a feeling that Neil's ready to let rip...

NEXT: We resume 'normal' programming. Sort of...

#120 Campaigner

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 09:02 AM

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Neil Young
Eldorado [EP] (1989)


TRACKS:

1) 'Cocaine Eyes' - Hell yeah - listen to that guitar! Hear the drums pound. This shit is raw and awesome. Great echo on the vocals. Great fuckin' song. How awesome is it that this came out in 1989 and yet if it had come out in 2008 it would've sounded just as awesome and it wouldn't have dated a second. Great to hear Neil letting rip. Been waiting a long while for that treat. 9.0

2) 'Don't Cry' - Masterpiece #23. What the fuck is this? This just burrows its way into your soul and sits there ready to twist and wrangle your body when it's played. Sure, it's got some hokey sound effects, but listen to the way Neil sings!! This is a revelation, and I don't mean that lightly. Neil matches his great, impassioned delivery with some guitar work that's out of this world. I first heard this song so many years ago, and I can safely say that I've never not been knocked right out by it. I know some will disagree, but this is the first masterpiece since 'Powderfinger' (but it won't be the last). 10.0

3) 'Heavy Love' - Keep giving me more. C'mon! Feed that shit this way. What we have hear is another great song on the great, lost Neil Young release. Sure, three of these songs are on Freedom, but this is where they belong - this is their home. It's like Neil had been shackled for so long (yet still managed some great music such is the measure of the man), that when the chains were broken he decided to go as hard as he could, not stopping to survey the wreckage. 'Heavy Love' is brilliant. Great melody and again, the guitar playing is first-rate in the Neil Young world. Short, sharp bursts that leave you breathless. Unbelievably brilliant. 9.5

4) 'On Broadway' - "Gimme that crack!!". Not normally a fan of 'Neil does someone else's song' , but I'm willing to make an exception here. Neil kills it on this song - finding the perfect song that he can cover, turning the song into more of an indictment on the city lights and how they mask the true nature of the beast. Not up to the standard of the rest of the EP, but then again - what is?!? 8.0

5) 'Eldorado' - Masterpiece #24. No one writes stuff like this. No one. Love how Neil just raises the intensity with each verse. Love how he drops this bomb on his guitar, and then goes and drops another that makes Hiroshima seem like a firecracker. Love this - "in Eldorado town there lives a great bullfighter. His eyes are screaming blue, his hair is red as blood and when the gate goes up the crowd gets so excited. And he comes dancing out, dressed in gold lami. He kills the bull and lives another day!". Love it, love it, love it. Couldn't be anything but a 10.0

EP RATING: 10.0

VERDICT: At 25 minutes in length, this is actually longer than Everybody's Rockin'. What a difference 20 seconds makes. This is, as I said before, the single great lost Neil Young release. Fuck Time Fades Away (as much as I love it), that people don't know this is a travesty. So here goes - download it yourself and enjoy (not my link, so here's hoping it's still working);

http://rapidshare.com/files/F26912568/nye.rar

NEXT: It's that Paul McCartney song!