Probably a record to change my life, this one. I got it way back in 95 when it came out, cos I heard Pearl Jam were on it. I was a massive Pearl Jam fan at the time. I can barely bring myself to listen to them now. Nevertheless, this record introduced me to Neil Young and inspired my musical tastes, my guitar playing and songwriting in so many ways.
I don't think I've heard chord changes as big as the ones on these songs since. The guitars sound HUGE, and the songs are so smple, yet as with most of Neil Young's work, they are highly emotional.
Now, I always assumed that the lead guitar on this record was played by Mike McCready, until that is I got the Merkinball EP which was released by Pearl Jam as a companion piece to this. One track from that, "I Got Id" (still my favourite Pearl Jam song) featured Neil Young on lead guitar... and the lead guitar sounded exactly like the lead guitar on Mirror Ball, and was just as good. Really, Young's playing was (and still is) amazing to me. It's so expressive, and has unique tone. And the fact that he's not trying to play fast really at all was very encouraging to me when I was just learning to play guitar. "Song X", "Big Green Country" and "Throw Your Hatred Down" all feature AWESOME guitar solos; equal to if not better than many of his other amazing solos: "Southern Man", "Like A Hurricane" etc, etc, etc...
I know this record isn't considered among Shakey's greatest by many purists, and I can understand why but I think it's brilliant. I love all the same Neil Young albums as everyone else, and I think this is as good as any of them.