Le Noise CD
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Digital Booklet: Le Noise
Digital Booklet: Le Noise
32nd studio album by the influential Canadian singer-songwriter. The album has been described by Young's old bandmate, David Crosby, as one of his most heartfelt and special records. The title is a pun of the producer's name, Daniel Lanois.
Neil Young now belongs to that rare stratum of artists whose work is no longer judged purely on its merits but on the basis of its status within their catalogue. As with Dylan and Bowie, interest lies not only in whether the latest record stands up to repeated listening, but what it says about them within the context of their career. So when Le Noise was announced, most stories focussed on the fact that it sees the veteran collaborate with Grammy-winning producer Daniel Lanois, previously responsible for records from Dylan (of course), Peter Gabriel and Emmylou Harris, and who here has reduced Young’s backing to (mainly) electric guitar and Lanois’ own "sonics". It sounded like one for the musos.
But what this means is that when Walk With Me opens the album with one crunching, distorted chord, it sounds like Crazy Horse, his sometime backing band, are about to unleash hell’s fury. Instead, Young’s trademark impassioned whine insists "I’ll never let you down no matter what you do if you just walk me", while he chops out chords that decay like thunder, Lanois adding a few restrained vocal loops and guitar treatments. There are no drums, no hurricane solos and, it has to be said, no great signs of a melody. In fact this at first sounds as though Young is merely demoing new songs, feeling his way through them, trying to decide whether they would work better if they rocked with a band or instead reached back to the tender acoustics of Harvest. His research appears to have been inconclusive.
This being a Neil Young album, however, it’s worth returning to, and what initially appeared indecisive reveals itself as an experiment in the rejection of standard rock arrangements. Le Noise therefore remains reasonably accessible, Young’s lyrics still as appealingly forthright as his playing, his melodies slowly rising through the unsettling, growling dirge. Hitchhiker sees Young look back over his life atop a bare and formidable landscape; Rumbling is plaintive yet full of an urgent energy, Young’s voice vulnerable but resolute, while Lanois’ greatest contribution is arguably his general absence.
It’s not an easy listen, obviously, but acclimatisation to the unfamiliar, monochromatic sound of such raw electric guitar brings with it the ability to recognise that Young’s songwriting skills haven’t dulled with age. Examined as a part of his overall body of work, furthermore, it’s amongst the more fascinating left turns he’s made, and once again confirms the evergreen restlessness of this gnarly and frequently inspiring Canadian. Once again, he’s not let us down.--Wyndham Wallace
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Top Customer Reviews
Daniel Lanois's production signature is far less evident that might have been expected (or feared), but whatever his role in the delivery of this album, his touch has been just enough to breathe new life into Young's 'Old Black'. Songs like 'Love And War' with its echoes of 'Eldorado' from 1989's Freedom, 'Sign Of Love' and 'Angry World' are the best things that he has written since.... well, since some of the previous best things he has written. There is no band accompaniment; just Young spitting brooding and distorted soundscapes from his electric guitar. Sometimes, this sounds almost like the precursor to a full-on band sound that is about to rush in and thrash a song in true Crazy Horse style, but the restraint is in many ways the album's strength. Here is something entirely familiar, but new.
Most welcome of all is one of a number of 'Holy Grail' songs from Neil Young's archives, 'Hitchhiker', which finally appears on an album 36 years after it first surfaced. Unlike 'Ordinary People' on Chrome Dreams II, 'Hitchhiker' is surrounded by a set of songs that are almost of equal stature. It blends in beautifully with the album's mood, a journey through the past of Young's back pages in the spirit of 'Don't Be Denied', or even 'Helpless'. There is relief in the beautiful 'Love And War' and 'Peaceful Valley Boulevard'. These electric and acoustic bedfellows recall one of Young's previous career highs, the glorious Rust Never Sleeps whose sonic assault saw Young tipping his hat to punk. 32 years later, Le Noise is an album that will sit high up in the canon as one of the best things he has done.
Let me tell you; I'm a Neil Young devotee. But that doesn't mean I think this is a 5 star record. I don't. I too read some of the hype about this record before it's release, claiming it was an instant classic, and that this was Neil's best writing since the 70s. I don't think it is. I'm not disappointed though. But you know; I don't like all Neil's albums. I would give quite a few of them 5 stars, but I bet they aren't the same records every other "Neil Young devotee" or casual Neil Young fan would give 5 stars to. So let's just dispense with all the sniping at people who enjoy certain records more than you do. Can we? Unless those people are actually employed by the record company to get a few good reviews on Amazon...
So that's pretty much all I have to say that hasn't been said already. I agree with most that "Love and War" and "Peaceful Valley Boulevard" are the best songs, and that they are of a high enough quality on their own right. Elsewhere, I don't really think this is representative of the great guitar playing that Neil is capable of, but to me it's obvious that he hasn't gone for virtuosity this time. The songs are low-key and simple - that's just the kind of record he's decided to make. I actually like the idea of it more than I like the execution. I'm certainly not a fan of Lanois. All he seems to have done here is make the guitar sound like Metallica, and added tons of delay to Neil's vocal. It just doesn't sit well with me.Read more ›
However, despite what the critics might have you believe, the last decade was certainly a strong one for Neil. `Chrome Dreams II' (a sequel to an album that was never made), `Living with War', `Greendale' and `road rock Vol 1' (a live album) were all hugely enjoyable while `Silver and Gold' and `prairie wind' were strong acoustic outings that lacked the punch of `Freedom' but which still had their moments of classic Young beauty. `Le Noise' thus closes out the decade in fine style and sees Neil doing what he does best, namely confounding his fans (and his detractors) expectations to do things his way and it works all too well.
At 39 minutes `Le noise' is a brief affair, but given the densely sounds contained within that's probably a good thing. On offer are eight tracks of varying vintage (much like `Chrome dreams II'.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not a bad album, but not a sensational one either. I would not recommend this as a starting point for those coming new to NeilPublished on 31 Mar. 2014 by Marky Mark
le noise was as its title! a noise, however this is typical niel young and if you like his music you are goung to get down and go with this. enjoyed and will play many timesPublished on 24 July 2013 by sally brofos
ok that title may be a bit harsh but for me i just couldn't get into it and i love Neil Young.This opinion is only about this album and admiration in spades for following your... Read morePublished on 3 Nov. 2012 by Vlad the emailer
As most people seem to agree, the best track on the album is probably Peaceful Valley Boulevard, one of the few acoustic tracks on Le Noise. Read morePublished on 15 Jun. 2012 by Mr. Tobias A. Richards
Neil Young has still got what it takes to make a good song. Le Noise is different but just grows on the listener (This one anyway)? Well worth buying.Published on 26 April 2012 by Keiran McAllister
Neil Young has released a ton of albums. Most of them are incredible. I did not think twice about buying this record, and no reviews could help or dissuade me. It's Neil Young!!! Read morePublished on 17 Feb. 2012 by Annie J.
More than any other artist, Neil Young`s albums deserve to be seen as one massive work-in-progress. Of course, such a view embraces a multitude of sins. Read morePublished on 21 Jan. 2012 by KaleHawkwood