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A Letter Home
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A Letter Home

26 May 2014 | Format: MP3

9.99 (VAT included if applicable)
Buy the CD album for 4.96 and get the MP3 version for FREE. Does not apply to gift orders.
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Song Title
Digital Booklet: A Letter Home
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 19 May 2014
  • Release Date: 26 May 2014
  • Label: Reprise
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 39:25
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B00JY37EVC
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,824 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 9 May 2014
Format: Vinyl
I have loved much of Neil Young's music for four and a half decades now, and I admire him enormously as a musician and songwriter. But - oh Lord! - he can be a real cross-grained cuss sometimes. It's part of what makes his great stuff great, but it also means we get things like this, which is a frankly infuriating album.

What's so annoying is that it's a good idea, and, as far as I can tell, I like Neil's performances of this mix of covers of very good songs. But...he's had a whim to record the whole lot in a refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph recording booth, which is effectively a poor quality microphone in a phone booth with extremely crude means of recording. The result sounds like a badly recorded 78, pressed off-centre and then used for generations of kids to eat their lunch off. It's awful. I can just about cope with the hiss, the scratches and the fades but the variable speed making the pitch wander is almost unbearably painful at times, as is the ear-piercing treble distortion on some of the harmonica.

I suppose after the brilliant Psychedelic Pill and the joy of hearing the great early performances on At The Cellar Door we were just about due for something pretty grim, and we've got it. The thing is, Neil himself won't give a hoot about what we all think of this. It's what he felt like doing so he did it. We can take it or leave it - it's behind him now and he's on to the next thing he feels like doing, whatever that is. I've got to admire him for it, even if I don't always like the results.

"I sing the song because I love the man, I know that some of you don't understand..." Well, I love the man, but this time I don't understand.
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Format: Audio CD
Like others, I knew the premise going in, but this is pretty awful. We've been used to getting the odd bum track or even the not quite so good album over the last few years, but don't forget we shelled out for this indulgence. For someone who is championing sound and the so called excellence of the PONO, the sound on this is (deliberately I know) awful. The songs are classics, and the spoken letter to the past makes its point I guess. But it sounds worse than a really bad bootleg. Imagine Neil sitting in his kitchen playing acoustic guitar and warbling through some quite good songs. This would be ok if you were there. Intimate, raw, live. Now imagine that you are on the other side of the closed kitchen door and recording this on your phone. And then you fork out a tenner for the recording. One star for being Neil Young, another for the good songs. But you could have made this so much better.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
Neil Young has been a recording artist for 51 years and has established a reputation for doing things his way, sometimes baffling his audience (and record company) with whatever he decides to release.

A Letter Home is an album of cover versions recorded on a refurbished 1947 Voice -o-Graph recording booth which offered users a primitive form of recording personal messages or songs that people might use to send messages to their families. The album was rush released on April 19th (Record Store Day) but was not a typical RSD release as no participating shops were provided with copies to sell on the day. When news broke that the album was available through Third Man Records the initial pressing sold out in a day leading to at least one copy selling on eBay for over 100.

A few weeks later came news of a standard CD release and a vinyl boxed set – news that surely could have been shared earlier to avoid Young’s fans from panic buying that first “vinyl-only” release.

This review is of the vinyl box set, which is currently selling for a hefty 144 to UK buyers but was available (briefly) on Amazon for around 84 on pre-order. Fortunately, this reviewer paid the lower price.

The box set boasts 11 discs, a download code and a book that provides the purchaser with 6 copies of the largely the same material in various formats and in at least 2 grades of quality. I’ll come to the formats later while covering the music.
Neil Young’s musical roots lay in the folk music of North America and on A Letter Home he is effectively paying tribute to the song writers that provided him with those roots, including Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bert Jansch, Gordon Lightfoot, Willie Nelson, Don Everly and Ivory Joe Hunter, plus the modern day troubadour that is Bruce Springsteen.
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Format: Vinyl
What is the point?, commercially released '78s from the 20's & 30's never sounded this bad. Even the budget depression era releases from the notoriously shoddy Paramount label didn't sound this bad hot off the press. When we hear a really bad transfer, of say an old Son House 78', it sounds awful because it's taken from the only known (and well used) copy. Jack White's Voice-o-Graph booth is nothing more than a fairground attraction and not indicative of professional recording standards at any point in the 20th century.

Clearly then, this is album not intended replicate the golden era sound of pre-war recordings (odd considering Jack White's interests and Neil's analogue evangelism) . So what are we left with? Neil decides it might be a nice idea to spend the afternoon knocking out a few acoustic covers and then uses some novelty technology to add spooky attenuation to the sound. He could equally have decided to record the album through a tin can walkie talkie and come up with similar results. I have to say that anyone who has shelled out the big bucks for the box set has been had.
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