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Neil Young
Last Post 21 Aug 2007 03:16 AM by JamesT. 19 Replies.
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PeejayUser is Offline
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Peter Teehan

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01 Aug 2007 12:37 AM
    Hot on the heels of a recent Neil Young album in the reviews section, I thought a wee chat about Neils stuff might be worth starting. I'm wondering what your favourite Neil album is? He's one of those guys you can't really pin one classic album on. There's Harvest, the commercial breakthrough, but arguably not his finest effort. I like this album well enough but the sickly sweet side gets a little too much. Heart of Gold, Old Man…stuff like that. No surprise that James Taylor is on the album (bleauch!)

    You can't really fault the guy for his 70's output though, its really something else and its been great delving into this stuff over the past few years. Him and Bowie had the decade tied up and he had a brief reprise in the early 90's with some great albums too - Freedom, Sleeps With Angels etc. Personally, I think he's going through a dry patch again, though some would disagree. Prarie Wind was lacking and I wasn't bowled over by the anti-Bush album. Its sort of a step up from John Lennons Sometime in New York, all heart and urgency, little in the way of good music. It does have its fans though and I won't count him out, he's not the type to tread water for too long.

    So, favourite album?
    How does the Buffalo Springfeild Neil compare?
    What to look out for (if any) in the murky 80's period? I have little to nothing from those early 80's years.
    The impending Archives project. Do you care?

    Your thoughts are welcome
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    Binokular

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    01 Aug 2007 01:52 AM
    I really need to buy more of his stuff, I only have two of his albums, one of which is "after the Gold Rush" - so far so good, a classic album which I really like.

    The other one in my collection is er... "Mirrorball" (the one with Pearl Jam), weird choice I know, don't even like Pearl Jam, but I absolutely love this album. Just the way it sounds a bit rough and the amps are turned up to 11. "I'm the Ocean" is my favourite song on it and one of my fave Young songs too.

    "Powderfinger" is also a fave song, it shows how the emotion in a song is often in the music as much as the lyrics. The lyrics are kinda strange and I don't think anyone has totally figured out what that song is about, but it's just the atmosphere, especially when it gets to that guitar solo.

    The first time I ever heard "Only love can break your heart" was the Saint Etienne cover...
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    Peter Teehan

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    01 Aug 2007 02:38 AM
    Trying to decode his lyrics, or at least thinking there's something there to decode is a fairly pointless exercise. The man himself has said as much. I'm not really a word man anyway, so I don't really bother thinking too much about the lyrics but if you can find some meaning in them, then great, but I don't think he himself gives away a whole lot in his lyrics. Though just thinking, you can probably say that about alot of songwriters anyway.

    But there is some great examples of how his lyrics can go slightly askew. 'Pocahontas' is probably one of the most linear storyline lyrics he's ever written, but then in the final verse, a curveball:

    maybe Marlon Brando, would be there by the fire
    we'd sit and talk about Hollywood
    and the good things there for hire
    like the Astrodome
    and the first tee-pee
    Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and me


    love that.

    The first time I ever heard "Only love can break your heart" was the Saint Etienne cover...


    That songs a beaut. He really knew how to get the best out of CSN. Those harmonies in the back are just superb.
    stephenUser is Offline
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    Stephen McNulty

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    01 Aug 2007 05:19 AM
    Welll you've hit my sweetspot here... I've been a huge Neil fan for as long as I remember. There are so many Neil eras...

    Let's start at the beginning. Buy any of the myriad of Buffalo Springfield compilations. You can't really go wrong. Where it gets interesting is Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere - his first real electric record with Crazy Horse. Opening with the lovely Cinnamon Girl, the album is chock full of classic riffs that, in a Dylanesque way, removed him from his folky beginnings.

    Harvest and After The Goldrush have been dealt with already here. Both are a regression to Young's country rock beginnings (albeit the rocker Words is a standout on Harvest).

    The mid seventies was a nadir for young in terms of his personal life. Danny Whitten died - you can see how hard this hit Young in the Year of the Horse documentary made a few years back. Young's music became more cathartic, reminiscent of Sister Lovers by Big Star. Whilst Tonight's the Night is the more famous record of this period, his 1974 effort On The Beach is, for me, the seminal record of his entire career. It is a joy from beginning to end. Scandalously, it was only released on CD a few years back. I urge you all to buy it IMMEDIATELY... :-)

    His tours with Crazy Horse were, by now, legendary. Rust Never Sleeps documented one such tour and is a mixture of acoustic and electric. But I think he best live document is Weld released in the early nineties. It just sounds huge. One of the great records to play air guitar to.

    The 80s were pretty ropey. He fought with his record company a lot. I have a soft spot for his country album, Old Ways. Young's star started to rise again with the release of Freedom towards the end of the decade. It's ok, kicking off with the mighty Rockin in the Free World but the following year's Ragged Glory was a real blast. Loud and proud, Young confidently taught his guitar a few more lessons and Crazy Horse just did their thing. It was great to have them back.

    Young's been on a spiral downward since then, though last year's Living With War was spirited enough. The releases of live records from his famed archives are an exciting development. But I'll return to On The Beach. It is that good.
    PeejayUser is Offline
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    Peter Teehan

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    01 Aug 2007 07:25 AM
    Nice post.

    'On the Beach' has some brilliant songs. It definitely has some career highlights on that album, but its short. I never really felt See the Sky About to Rain (silver fiddle broken down the middle...horrible lyric) and Vampire Blues were up to scratch. That just leaves six songs. Six brilliant songs, but essentially just a great EP. Ambulance Blues is an incredible song and the guitar solo on the title track is about as good as guitar playing gets, in my opinion. In fact the whole thing is about as emotional as rock & roll gets. It really is an incredibly sad, angry, mournful collection of songs. I might put this on tonight.

    I think 'After the Goldrush' brings it all together better though. You've got the acoustic side, the piano ballads, the let loose Crazy Horse(ish) songs, the more refined CSN song, the sketches and the nostalgic cover version, and it all works together. It's the first rate Neil Young package.
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    Binokular

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    01 Aug 2007 08:16 AM
    "Vampire Blues" lyrics seems incredibly relevant in this era of energy crisis and Oil wars:


    I'm a vampire, babe,
    suckin' blood
    from the earth
    I'm a vampire, baby,
    suckin' blood
    from the earth.
    Well, I'm a vampire, babe,
    sell you
    twenty barrels worth.

    I'm a black bat, babe,
    bangin' on
    your window pane
    I'm a black bat, baby,
    bangin' on
    your window pane.
    Well, I'm a black bat, babe,
    I need my high octane.

    Good times are comin',
    I hear it everywhere I go
    Good times are comin',
    I hear it everywhere I go.
    Good times are comin',
    but they sure comin' slow.

    I'm a vampire, babe,
    suckin' blood
    from the earth
    I'm a vampire, baby,
    suckin' blood
    from the earth.
    Well, I'm a vampire, babe,
    sell you
    twenty barrels worth.

    Good times are comin'.
    stephenUser is Offline
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    Stephen McNulty

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    01 Aug 2007 03:34 PM
    Peejay!

    Vampire Blues is just a great song... After The Goldrush has songs on there that, to me, sound like sketches rather than fully formed pieces of music. It's an album that doesn't seem complete to me. But On The Beach, I can listen to and wallow in from beginning to end.
    PeejayUser is Offline
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    Peter Teehan

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    01 Aug 2007 10:25 PM
    Nah. I don't know what he was smoking but he needed to ease up on it. He was in danger of nodding off at any point in Vampire Blues. The stucture is just a lazy standard blues chord progression and the lyrics, well, there's been oil wars at least somewhere for every decade since the 70's so they're not that relevant.


    Apart from Cripple Creek and Til The Morning Comes (incidental music for a film that never happened), all songs are developed on After the Goldrush. I take your point though.
    hostUser is Offline
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    Host Account

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    01 Aug 2007 10:49 PM
    Reading down through this thread reminded of the first time the very existence of "Southern Man" ever came to my attention. It was the week the Joshua Tree was released and U2 did a cover of it on The Whistle Test (in front of an audience in a TV studio up in Belfast). At the time I remember being totally bowled over by this (to my ears) new song and U2's delivery of it. So when the memory came back this week I chanced my arm with YouTube to see if it was up there and indeed it is. But - uh oh - what was I thinking back then? We're talking very poor cover territory here: lame and sloppy. Make up your own mind though (and maybe your toes will also curl during the first minute of the clip which sees Bono doing a Bono...). eoghan.

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    Ken Fallon

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    02 Aug 2007 12:35 AM
    I know it's a compilation but 'Decade' holds a lot of good memories, I was listening to it constantly around the time of the Vicar St gigs.
    'On The Beach', 'Greendale', 'Rust Never Sleeps', 'Tonight's The Night' all great...remember seeing him and his crew in the Mermaid Cafe on Dame Street after his Vicar street gig, we were just standing at the window looking in at him, really sad!
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    diego_maradona

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    03 Aug 2007 08:54 AM
    Ah. A long overdue thread on a true musical giant.

    I would name On The Beach as my favourite but go through phases of preferring any from Tonights The Night, Time Fades Away, Zuma, Freedom and Everybody Knows.. Time Fades Away must be one of the greatest Rock N Roll releases not to have a CD release - apart from the long lost Shakin Stevens sings Slayer album. This is, with Tonights the Night & On The Beach, part of the Doom or Ditch Trilogy from the 70s which is his finest period. The short and sweet Love In Mind on piano is Young at his simplistic best, whereas the title track is one of the best Crazy Horse tracks on record. I recommend that anyone who hasn't heard this, try track down a bootleg through one of the fansites. You can probably pick up a vinyl copy online at Amazon or eBay for 25eu, but the price can be higher.

    One of the highlights of my life so far was being lucky enough to get backstage at the Point in 2001 - was working for HMV then and my manager arranged it all, the legend. I will always remember walking down the corridor and seeing two doors - one marked Neil Young & the other marked Crazy Horse. That was enough of a thrill but getting to meet the great man and the Horse in a tiny dressing room and having my picture taken with them was absolutely mind-blowing for me as I was much more obsessed back then than I am now. He just came across as a nice old man really. Shook my hand and said 'pleased to meet you' which I could barely respond to.

    That was a great gig too, but my favourite live moment was when he played Ambulance Blues at the Greendale Vicar St. gigs. Wow! Probably his greatest song played perfectly just a few metres away from me.

    Anyone got any particular favourite songs? I'd have to agree with Binokular and say 'I'm The Ocean' is one of my top picks, from an underrated album. Others would be;

    Pardon My Heart/ Through My Sails - Zuma (Amazing CSN harmonies)
    Motion Pictures - On The Beach (perhaps even better than Ambulance Blues)
    Crime In The City(sixty to zero pt1) - Everybody Knows (have a great live version on tape somewhere with about another 50 verses)
    Albuquerque - Tonights The Night (wait maybe this is my favourite..!)

    I could go on, but I won't. I have been a huge fan for a long time now. Even going so far as buying his Shocking Pinks album which was shocking. I stopped my policy of buying everything of his which meant I avoided 'Are you Passionate' like the plague and still view it as his worst album. Any ideas on worst album of his?

    I still haven't seen the recent Praerie Wind movie, I must get around to that...
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    Stephen McNulty

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    03 Aug 2007 07:28 PM
    I have the Heart of Gold DVD and it's lovely. Mark Kermode, movie reviewer on BBC TV and radio, reviewed the movie live on Radio 5 live. Here's the link - http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive/entertainment/kermode_archive_n.shtml

    I adore this review because Kermode admits that, prior to seeing the movie, he hated Neil Young. Simon Mayo tries to educate him. Kermode then says he slunk into the movie thinking he was faced with a few hours of purgatory but but but... something happened and he found him crying when Young started to play his classics.

    I agree that it is a lovely movie. Sentimental, heartfelt.

    This is a brilliant blog dedicated to getting Time Fades Away a CD release - http://www.thrasherswheat.org/tnfy/tfa-petition.php. I haven't even heard it myself. But I am now intrigued...
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    Peter Teehan

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    04 Aug 2007 09:30 AM
    Time Fades Away is a fine album alright. Its ragged, but its got some great songs that never saw the light of day on any albums since then (though I'm sure the studio versions are gathering dust). He really was haemmoraging great songs during this period. One of my favourites is L.A., a song about his love/hate relationship with the "city in the smog". Time Fades Away features the beefed up band version but I have a bootleg of a lone acoustic version thats really something. Definitely one of my favourites, that one.

    I wasn't that enamoured with Heart of Gold. I went to see it in the Screen cinema last year. I should probably watch it again though. The Prarie Wind songs do sound better live compared to the the plasticy studio versions but a good live performance still can't resusitate some of these songs. It has its moments, but I found it a bit boring overall. Actually I think the Unplugged is much better. The new songs (at the time) were stronger and he put more thought into the back catalogue (Mr Soul, brilliant!). Though with Unplugged you get the hyper-active Mtv audience, a small price to pay.

    diego that was a good story about you meeting him. I remember Ambulance Blues being a highlight of that Vicar St show alright, couldn't believe it when he started playing it. I don't think anyone thought of shouting for it either. I wish he'd come back now, its been a few years.



    stephen, if you're interested:
    http://www.the-grotto.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=1&thread=5075&message=17837
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    Binokular

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    06 Aug 2007 11:11 PM
    Weird bit of Neil Young trivia I read recently - Greendale is to be made into a comic book, sorry "graphic novel" for the nerds. How many rock stars have their own comic based on them or their music? Off the top of my head, I can only think of KISS and I think the Beatles, but I'm not sure.
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    Peter Teehan

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    06 Aug 2007 11:52 PM

    I think the Ramones did one too, for a boxset or something.
    Then there's the infamous "Spiderman vs. Shane MacGowan"
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    Binokular

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    06 Aug 2007 11:59 PM
    Posted By Peejay on 07 Aug 2007 1:52 AM

    "Spiderman vs. Shane MacGowan"




    If that's not real, it oughta be, someone get Stan Lee on the phone

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    Peter Teehan

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    07 Aug 2007 12:37 AM
    Nah, I can't see it working. They've already done the green goblin
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    Peter Teehan

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    21 Aug 2007 03:06 AM
    Continuing a tradition that goes back to 1969, Neil Young played his latest recording for Reprise yesterday. The recording was played for about 100 people in Burbank. Produced by "The Volume Dealers," NY and Niko Bolas, the recording runs 60+ minutes and includes two giant songs that time in at 18:30 and 13:00, respectively.
    Drawing from three songs written previously, and 7 new songs, the latest Neil Young is a very diverse recording. A release date is unknown at this time. The title is Chrome Dreams II.
    Chrome Dreams is a legendary NY album from 1977 that had originally been scheduled for release but was shelved. The original cover for Chrome Dreams was created by Neil's long-time producer and friend, the late David Briggs. Unfortunately, all original documentation and art for this album was lost in a fire that destroyed Neil's Malibu home in early 1978.



    www.neilyoung.com/news
    JamesTUser is Offline
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    JamesT

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    21 Aug 2007 03:13 AM
    (and maybe your toes will also curl during the first minute of the clip which sees Bono doing a Bono...). eoghan.


    LOL - I love his pikey jacket though and the fact that the teenage audience all have that 80s look that makes them look like middle aged housewives!
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    JamesT

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    21 Aug 2007 03:16 AM
    Might be a cliche, but my all time favourite Young song is " Needle And The Damage Done" - it always gets the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. I'd a good mate who died of an O.D. on smack, so it feels really personal.
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