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3.6 out of 5 stars24
3.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 18 June 2002
There has been no shortage of books on Neil Young in recent years, some of which have been very good, some of which have been lazy cut and paste jobs. What makes this one different is that, for the first time, a biographer has had some measure of co-operation from Young himself - not that he made it easy.
There is also a good deal of candid comment by members of Crazy Horse, manager Elliot Roberts and several others past and present from Young's circle, which I would guess will tell you as much as Young & Co will give away as long as Neil is with us (long may he run).
In many ways this is an extraordinary book. A study about an unusual person, the music world (or at least that part of the music world that Young has inhabited) and a host of extraordinary (or "innaresting") characters and casualties along the way.
At this point I should confess to be being a Neil fan - in as much as I've got all of his official recordings (yes, even the terrible ones) and, ahem, 1 or 2 unofficial ones - without, I hope, quite becoming the sort of obsessive no-life that posts inanities to some of the many Young-related web-sites. So even allowing for some potential bias, I feel, ultimately, Young emerges from this book with a good deal of credit, even though his extremely driven nature must sometimes test the patience of those who are nearest and dearest to him. Not everyone gets let off lightly and the book does provide some considerable insight into the unpleasant side of some musos, their management and their hangers-on.
There is, as one would expect from a study of someone with such an idiosyncratic sense of humour, some alarming, hilarious and tragic anecdotes too - real beyond Spinal Tap stuff.
There is the occasional factual stumble (such as mistaking BBC2 early 70s "In Concert" series for "The Old Grey Whistle Test") but that hardly distracts from the overall quality this biography -which is often presented in an unusally frank style. Like other Young fans who read this, I thought of questions about the music I would have like to have asked if I had been McDonough's position - and I think I have as much info as I really want, or have a right, to know about Neil's family - but that's probably inevitable for an artist that has released (and not released!) so much.
In short, a must-have for Neil fans, even those who are very familiar with key events in Young's musical odyssey. There is a lot of added value here. A major book on a major artist.
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on 9 May 2005
This in a way is an excellent account of Neil Young, but it is spoiled at times by the authors opinions on certain albums,certain concerts and certain people around the subject. I do detect a hint of jealousy insofar as he is not part of the inner circle.
Apart from this it is a great book about Neil Young ,meticolously put together and recalling the major things that happened in his life.
If you are a Neil Young fan you will love this book and some of the more obscure recordings to me, seem to make sense now .
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on 13 August 2003
I really enjoyed this book. The author is frank about many things, and i dont agree with all his views but i like his bluntness. He even speaks bluntly to Young, its good and refreshing.
It's not some author being a sycophant just telling the reader how great Neil Young is, he gives his view on things both complimentry and critical of Young.
I found this book difficult to put down at times, it's given me a far greater insight, not only into Young's music but into Young himself, what makes him tick, where he get's his ideas and inspiration, what situations it takes for him to musically thrive, what situations it takes for him to flop.
This book has been a great parallel to me buying Young's albums. I get the full story behind the various albums and appreciate that when i listen to them.
This is a great read for Neil Young fans. As a relative newcomer (10 months) to his work this provided me with really good information on the man himself, helping me to get a greater understanding of the whole picture.
I loved, it great book, reccomended.
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on 5 September 2009
Okay, first up - I'm a huge Neil Young fan. Got every album and CD, concert T shirts (never worn) going back to the Trans tour and a few books on the man to boot. So maybe this review ain't exactly unbiased, but in my view this is a mega piece of work considering Neil wouldn't talk to McDonagh for long spells (years!!) But, in a way I also agree with Jason Parkes (an earlier 2 star review) as Neil's early life is covered to overkill and a trifle boring (but essential I think if this biography is meant to be a 'catch all.') Some great moments for me were the red haired guy and the lost Mr. Soul tape story, the doom ridden Tonights the Night tour (still my favourite album - I'd love to hear Brigg's original tape) and the money spinning rip-off CSNY tour. Neil's disasterous marrige to Carrie Snodgrass was well covered as well.
I have the earlier Neil Young books, ie Johnny Rogan - but this knocks all the others into the waste bin. I doubt this IS the last word on Neil Young, and maybe the next few chapters are already underway for another book - meanwhile, I'll keep going back, and back.. to this one.
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on 29 October 2003
If you've got this far you must be a Neil Young fan and this book is a good 'un. I'm surprised by it's detractors to be honest. Yes it is long but I found myself staying up late to read this book. Rock biographies aren't always the most well written books so I read 'em quick but this is the exception I found myself going back to this one over and over again. The only thing that must go with this book is Young's key albums. The author describes the events surrounding the making of each album as well as looking into the songs. I hadn't read any of the other books on Young so I found a lot of the information here cast his work into a new, more revealing light. Great book but you might be spending a few quid completing your Neil Young collection of CDs.
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on 10 April 2011
First a caveat. I was just itching to give this book a 2-star review simply because the author's style irritates
me so much. Another reviewer more charitably describes it as "unusually frank". My personal sense is that of
someone hitching himself up at the start of every sentence to come across as gruff and cool: "look at me ma, I'm a rock journo".
But common sense prevailed. Only a 5-star review is justified for this remarkable book. The only comparable book
in this genre that I can think of is Nick Tosches's brilliant biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, which reads like Faulkner on
amphetamines. Somehow -- despite my irritation at the prevailing coarseness -- Jimmy McDonough conjures up the Neil Young
we all know and love from the music, warts (=humanity) and all. Other reviewers have made even more uncharitable
ad hominem remarks on the author than mine, but no one should be put off. If Neil Young means anything to you at
all, or if you're just curious to find out whether he might, don't hesitate for a moment to buy this book.
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on 7 February 2014
Neil Young was never going to reveal himself to the author. The result is a silly mish mash of other peoples opinions. Confused and unreadable.
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on 18 January 2010
I'm a big Neil Young fan but I found the book Shakey fairly dull. Quite a bit of the material is written in the present tense with the author recounting, often fairly tame, anecdotes about the people he's met in trying to piece together 'the neil young story', which never really comes to life. If you've read about Neil Young before then you might find some interesting bits you wouldn't otherwise come across and perhaps of a more 'personal' (read mundane) nature. But if you're just after the legend and the best bits from the 70's I'd just look for a long magazine article on his life and work...
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on 19 September 2003
No its Bernard Shakey, Neil youngs alter ego. an excellent read, one of the best rock biographies i've read and much better than other Neil Young bios
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on 12 September 2014
Great service and it turned out to be a first edition too. Very happy old hippy here in wildest West Wales, thanks.
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