This is an excellent Neil Young album, which is a relief to be able to say because I didn't think much of Americana, his last one. This album, like Americana, features Crazy Horse but is a completely different piece of work and it's terrific - in places I think it comes close to his best, which makes it something really special.
The overall sound and feel is vintage Neil Young. There are the hauntingly melancholy tunes, the thoughtful, quirky lyrics and the great chord sequences which made albums like Harvest and After The Goldrush so great, combined with the controlled, distortion-driven power of the brilliant Rust Never Sleeps. (Am I showing my age here?) This album is also a reminder of what a great band Crazy Horse are. The sound is terrific, there is some great guitar work and they are tight and gutsy so even Born In Ontario, the only slightly weak song on the album, still sounds really good.
Neil Young is often meditating on experience and aging here, but he still sounds young and fresh and still has more power and guts than a lot of artists half his age. Several of the tracks are very long; Driftin' Back lasts nearly half an hour and other tracks are over 15 minutes. This, of course, is typical Neil Young - refusing to bow to convention and doing whatever makes musical sense to him at the time. He has always done this and it can be dreadful (it sometimes has been in the past) but nearly all the time here it's great. The huge Ramada Inn is a masterpiece in my view, and more conventional shorter tracks like Twisted Road may well end up in the list of Neil Young Classics.
There is little self-indulgence and a huge amount of real musical substance. Driftin' Back could perhaps do with a little trimming, but it's still a really good track. The last half of Walk Like A Giant will probably get the skip-to-next treatment from me, but its first eight minutes or so are quite brilliant.
You have to hand it to the man - he doesn't mess about and within six months of releasing the mediocre Americana he has come up with a real cracker which I think will stand among his finest albums. If you're not already familiar with Neil Young this may not be the best place to start but if you are I suspect that, like me, you will love this. Very, very warmly recommended.
on 10 January 2013
If you want to discover what AAA (Analogue tape recording, Analogue mixed, Analogue Mastered)recordings are all about then buy the vinyl copy of this superb album. The sound quality and music are fantastic. Who needs MP3 anyhow(for the car maybe!!)
on 15 June 2013
I'm a big Neil Young fan... there's no denying it, and I love all his work with Crazy Horse, live and studio. I enjoy his acoustic stuff too, but Weld is higher up my list than Harvest - just to give some context to this review. That said, I'm not the type to big up all his work, 5 stars for everything and all that. I have owned all his albums at some point (LPs of Buffalo Roam, JTTP and TFA included) and some I've gotten rid of (Hawks & Doves, Passionate etc.), I enjoyed Le Noise, I didn't enjoy Chrome Dreams 2 and Living with War. I like Re-ac-tor and Zuma, I don't so much like Stars N Bars and Freedom.
But this album... one of the few that on first listen I knew it was going to be one of his best, and it really is. I enjoyed Americana, and appreciate Crazy Horse played on that too, but this feels like the reunion. Americana was the warm up with some great tunes, but here they have found their voice with melodies on almost all the songs that range from the raw of Welfare Mothers, to the harmony of Mother Earth.
Driftin' Back - Weighs in at just short of 28 minutes, and is a wonderful transient tune and melody that you can listen to, daze to, work to, or sleep to. The lyrics aren't up to much... they reference his book and gripe with music quality here and there, but that's Neil! It's a strange choice as opener to the album, baring in mind that this song is longer than the whole of Everybody's Rockin' and won't fit on one side of an LP, but it kind of works and it doesn't feel like an effort.
Psychedelic Pill - The 21st century Cinnamon Girl. The tune is almost the identical to 'Sign of Love' from Le Noise, and put to much better use here. A really great semi-synthetic rock-out tune.
Ramada Inn - Widely described as the highlight of the album which I didn't see at first but having seen him play it live in Birmingham on Tuesday, I certainly put it right up there. I suppose, along with Driftin' Back, they have that slightly softer heavy rock that only Neil can do... think Cortez from Zuma. Lyrics of love, interpretable by each to their own, but a really excellent song that sounds wonderful live, and hopefully will appear on a live Alchemy album at some point.
Born In Ontario - Definitely the weakest song on the album for me. I'm not saying it's a bad song... but it has a corny, country feel and feels well out of context. Like it would be 'filler' on Harvest or Old Ways or something.
Twisted Road - May make a hypocrite out of myself but I love it. Neil reminiscing about days and artists gone by as he does. It still feels like it came from a separate 'Harvest/Old Ways' style session and is out of place, especially as this is start of disc 2, but the melody and lyrics really are quite pleasing.
She's Always Dancing - An amazing 8 minute jam, really quite unlike any other song that springs to mind. The lyrics teeter towards being T-Bone at some points 'She likes to burn x4' as a verse for example, but the tune, the jam and the vocals from the Horse ('she wants to live without ties that bind her down' sung so similarly to 'there's a mansion on the hill') make this a NY&CH classic.
For The Love Of Man - A heartfelt solo effort from Neil. A nice song, nice lyrics, and has a Needle and the Damage feels to it but kind of kills the mood of the album in between two really quite heavy songs.
Walk Like A Giant - Love it. Favourite Neil Young track right now, and has been since I first heard it. The first song he's released since Ragged Glory that feels like a full on overdriven, grunge assault of feedback. Probably only comparable to 'Shots' from Re-ac-tor in terms of the feedback solos. It showcases Crazy Horse at their very best, harmonising in a way we haven't heard since Ragged Glory/Weld and providing backing vocals bordering doo-wap at times that date back to the original, Everybody Knows this is Nowhere. The lyrics are also fantastic, especially if you've read his autobiography - feelings of regret, mistakes, loss but an overwhelming sense of energy and drive to keep going. The only complaint is the ending... a good 5 minutes of feedback, a 'giant stomp' sequence. This would be a fine way to end an album, and it's poignant and fits the tone.
Psychedelic Pill (Alternate Mix) - It's always nice to have a bonus track. But as mentioned above, the album, as a piece of art, feels like it should finish at the end of Walk Like a Giant. This is simply the same as track 2 but without the Le Noise style effect... I don't like it as much, but I suspect many will like it more.
All in all a wonderful album. The only negative I have is the continuity throughout. The sheer length of the first song is impractical for LP, the ordering of songs is not what you'd expect given the length of some tracks and the bonus track feels very much tagged on at the end. But, whether Neil likes it or not, we're in an MP3 era. Many will download this, and many will buy the CD to rip onto an MP3 player - from there, none of this is an issue. Many, myself included, will pick out their favourite songs and create a different album every day made up of all his great work. And that's what it's about, the music, and the music is fantastic.
on 27 November 2012
This is a great album if you love Neil's guitar playing. His voice still sounds just like it did over 40 years ago. 3 of the songs clock in over a quarter of an hour long each, but they are all great. You lose track of the time. In fact there's no dead weight on the whole double album. Crazy Horse sound better than ever. Buy the album, do not download it - Neil hates the poor quality from MP3s: You only get 5% of what he puts in. If you buy it, you get it all.
Only one problem: the print in the lyric booklet is so tiny that I need perfect light to read it. Most people I know would need reading glasses.
on 29 October 2012
First ao all,the moan,when this was first advertised as being priced at£22.29 why do Reprise keep doing this ,the same happened with Donald Fagens new album,they charge the earth for the first few weeks,then hey presto the prices fall,and the final result?many fans left out of pocket.
This album has been availiable in parts on various websites for the last few weeks or so,and in consequence the tracks are familiar.
This according to the advertising on the front cover,is the first recording of original material in over a decade by neil young and crazy horse.
Finally before the review starts,track one lasts longer than the entire Jeff lynne album!
1.....Driftin' back......Starts of with an acoustic guitar and clear vocals,than the electric guitar solo comes ,this could have been on any of Youngs classic albums ,it is that good,it has not got the drive that propelled "like a hurricane"into the stratosphere,but that doesn't matter,it is still strong.
"things that bother you drift away,to maybe return as a shadow not so big" twenty seven minutes snd thirty seven minutes long.
2.....Psychedelic pill....."Age has nothing to fo wwith having a good time,some girls are a lot older than you,but they are still girls,and carry the spirit and he torch,the dark night exists that they cannot bring light to" is a very phase heavy rock song.
3.....Ramada inn......"remembering the long grade,you tke the time to count your friend" Starts like "Hurricane" with thumping guitars and drums,this sounded great when i first heard it,it sounds even better now,long and rambling,but enthralling at the same time.
4......Born in Ontario....."When where you ar from keeps returning to you maybe its time to go back" A good old country rock song((Neil Young style to bring this Astonishing first Cd to an end,this has hilarious lyrics
5......Twisted road....."Somewhere ahead your friends reach out with thier own memories.to me this has a slight resemblance to "Cowgirl in the sand2 and is a tribute to Bob Dylan.
6.....She's always dancing....."even now,though dhe's away her music fills the air,her kindness toward others lingers,she's always there she is with you". a perfect summer festival type of vibe,you could even dance to it!!
7.....For the love of man....."some things can never be understood,these are the things that keep returning making you wonder". a slower song to calm things down.
8.....Walk like a giant....."In the face of failure,when there is love,there is always hope,you might ask yourself "Why would i walk like a giant"We return to the more rockier theme,this shows Neils excellent whistling technique.
9.....Psychedelic pill......Brings the whole album to a glorious end.
This year has seen three major releases by Young,the previous two were excellent,but this astonishing five star album is even better!!!.
NIEL YOUNG.....GUITARS,VOCALS,PUMP ORGAN,STRINGMAN,WHISTLING
DAN GRECO.....TAMBOURINE BELL
VALUE FOR MONEY.....£££££
PRODUCTION.......CLEAR AND CRISP
BEST TRACKS.....DRIFTIN' BACK,RAMADA INN,BORN IN ONTARIO,SHE'S ALWAYS DANCING,
PACKAGING.....LARGE HARD CARD GATEFOLD SLEEVE WITH BOOKLET.
on 10 January 2014
Neil Young triumphantly returns to the style of music from his best period of the likes of Zuma, American Stars 'n Bars and Rust Never Sleeps. The whole experience is a delight and a bit of a surprise. Don't let the length of some of the tracks put you off, it is wonderful. The stories are vintage Young and the guitar work is exemplary. Check out the variety in pace and length but I promise you will not be bored. This album was produced at the same sessions as Americana apparently and it shows. The Horse have seldom been tighter, bass lines so strong and the harmonies are striking. Buy it, especially if you are a Neil fan.
What a great surprise.The Godfather of Grunge and dirtbag C&W knocking out a classic album at a time when most of his contemporaries are going through the motions and treading water. This to me is one of Neil's best albums. Certainly...for me anyway...in his all time top five. From the opening 27 minute track..TWENTY SEVEN minutes!...It's instantly engaging and driving in it's fusion of soaring,jangling guitars and Ralph Molina's tight skins.
Think Cortez the Killer..Powderfinger..Like a Hurricane..Sweeping and epic in it's imagination and execution. 80 minutes long and classed as a double album, Psychedelic Pill opens up the senses and takes the listener to the heights of aural pleasure. Strong medicine indeed!
on 9 February 2013
Oh, this is just so damn good. NY and CH may be well into their sixties now, but you wouldn't know it, as there is every bit as much energy jumping from the speakers as you'll find in work like Ragged Glory, which goes back a couple of decades. Some of the tracks are very long, but you don't really notice while Neil delivers some of his finest extended solos, on his beloved Old Black. A real surpise (to me) is that there are some really lovely harmonies going on here that I can't recall before. All in all a tremendous return to form by one of the true giants. If you are considering a purchase then don't hesitate!
From the delicate, poignant songs and harmonies of Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young hit us with 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' with the classic ferocity of 'Cowgirl In the Sand', 'Down By The River' and 'Cinnamon Girl'. Versatile and honest, he has always been true to himself and, I believe his fans. This is a tremendous double CD. Sure, some of the songs are lengthy but I don't feel overindulgent. He presumably has a statement to make. As any media (film, poetry, plays, novels) the content could be pruned or edited but these cut-backs would surely denigrate the artist's intention. If he so wished, I am sure he would have revised the release.
Personally after 45 years of listening to this talent, I am more then willing to indulge myself in his latest offering. The delicate songs 'For The Love of Man' are interspersed with the 'heavier' numbers. I love the 'Hurricane' and 'Cortez' comparisons. 'Driftin' Back' and 'Ramada Inn' are a pleasure. His material and output are still first rate. I wouldn't knock him for his commitment nor the quality of his work. His vocals and guitar work remain perennial. Crazy Horse are the perfect foil. I look forward to his next venture and the awaited blue ray of the CD's. His life story is well-documented and his ups and downs musically and emotionally. I find this a gem amongst a lot of dross on the market. Cannot say more than total endorsement.
on 29 October 2012
Two of my favourite Neil Young tracks are Slip Away from Broken Arrow and Carmichael from Greendale; both of them, coincidentally, played with Crazy Horse. Psychedelic Pill has the feel of these two tracks, and takes them further.
I love this album. All of it. Ramada Inn is the track I'm playing most at the moment though. Everything comes together on it. Gorgeous guitar work, beautiful melody, affecting lyrics - and sung with a voice that could be Neil 30, 40, 50 years ago!
Some reviewers who have liked this hated Americana. I love both, though it's difficult to compare them. Americana was a romping feel-good set of familiar songs by a band who were happy to be playing together again. Psychedelic Pill is altogether deeper, with the original Neil Young songs more heartfelt and structured. He sings about Picasso, paintings versus wallpaper. Running with the analogy, perhaps ridiculously, if the two albums were painters, it's the difference between Rolf Harris and Rembrandt...
It's hard to come to terms with the fact that, at 67, the man is producing some of the best music of his career. Surely he should have lost his voice, or burned out, or been reduced to rehashing old ideas. Instead he has produced songs with the depth of Driftin' Back, or the fragile beauty of For the Love of Man... Psychedlic Pill - both the long and the short tracks - is just wonderful.