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on 22 August 2015
'A concept album about electric cars' conjures up images and sounds as un-rock'n'roll as you can get, perhaps something slick and futuristic, an Eno ambient album maybe? But Young makes Fork In The Road into his most garage rock album yet, and aptly, it is not short of invention. Cough Up The Bucks uses repetition as effectively as a hip hop track, When Worlds Collide injects passion into the theme with the old (car) vs new paradox, Just Singing A Song and Fork In The Road show admirably how you can protest and still be engaging, self-deprecating and witty. All the songs are memorable, there's a couple of nice ballads too, and it's unquestionably a return to form, only bettered in recent years by Monsanto Years, with its grander artistic vision. So what's not to like? Well, I'd have docked half a star for some of the boy/girl backing vocals, which sound a bit bar room sing-a-long on occasion and the production, which wisely emphasises Young's industrial-strength guitar, could have gone for a more garage psych feel, the songs are strong enough to carry such an ambitious sound. But all considered, I wish I'd seen him playing this live instead of Are You Passionate? or any number of his more recent albums, the same brush with which this album and Monsanto Years appear to have been tarred.
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on 26 June 2009
A mediocre Neil Young?

Was this to be a mediocre Neil Young album? That is what a review or two led me to believe, as well as hearing the title track myself - a pleasant, funny rocker of fleeting charm. I bought the album + DVD in preparation for attending his 2009 concert in Rotterdam, thinking he would concentrate on this new album. I can only say I was pleasantly surprised and played it 6 times in a row (easy, because the album is short at 38 mins.) The man is quirky, but never mad. His spirit and energy remains exemplary; he is no 60s dinosaur. What I found was a fairly varied collection. The production suggests Neil's trademark lo-fi sound (Ragged Glory - my favourite, Living with War etc etc), but there are a sophiscated spatial quality and elements of refinement - the Buffalo Springfield guitar in Just Singing this Song, a true rock anthem, and the 60s harmonies in When World Collide, Cough up the Bucks. Most songs are upbeat, with the exceptions of Off the Road with its interesting chord progression and Light a Candle for those that need a dose of Harvest on occasion. There are great guitar riffs underlying When Worlds Collide, Fuel Line, Hit the Road. Easy rockers like Johnny Magic, reminiscent of Status Quo. I am not a lyrics man, but Neil is. Is there anyone so with the signs of the times as he? Living with War is a monument, but this one is up there - the environment, the credit crunch and the government's responses and his lovely mix of the bad old American guzzler and electric propulsion - the LincVolt. No mediocre Young album, in short, but a minor classic in my book. Disappointed that he only played the title track during the Rotterdam show (but three off Ragged Glory!) The extra DVD surprised me with his respectful rendition of the Beatles' Day in the Life, but fortunately his quirkiness did not leave him when he butchers his great black Les Paul at the end.
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on 13 May 2009
No, not the greatest Neil young album but it has some absolute gems on it. The title track is pure Old Buzzard Neil and the DVD clip is one of the funniest things you're going to see about the recession - hey, even Neil couldn't keep a smile away - who else would loon around with i-pod earphones plugged into an apple? The lyrics are a model of understated vitriol on behalf of Joe USA who just has to take all the crap that comes around...like the rest of us really. In fact, the DVD clips are all good and Light A Candle is beautifully haunting. There are only two filler tracks that I find jar on the ears a bit [3 & 4] but the refrain of 'cough up the bucks' certainly stays in the brain. Sure its all about Neil's ambivalent love of cars but that goes the same for an awful lot of people - hear the lyrics as a metaphor for where we're going and why we find it so hard to take our eyes off the road.
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on 30 July 2016
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on 15 August 2014
great value for cd and dvd
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on 16 April 2009
I read some savagings of this album in the press before I owned it. It's Neil so I'd have bought it anyway, but I think a lot of those playing it once over have missed the point. Sure, this is Neil on another flight of fancy, driven (no pun intended) this time by the project to convert his Lincoln Contintental to an eco-friendly beacon for motoring of the future. And sure, his brainstorms can lead him well away from the mainstream and into work others struggle to understand. But we're nowhere near the confusion of Greendale which is more like a novel, or the indulgence of Everybody's Rockin which must have been fun to make, but did little to advance his reputation.

For Neil watchers better signposts this time might be Broken Arrow or Re-ac.tor, seemingly effortless rock-outs, chock full of flying riffs, fleeting solos and instantly memorable melodies. For all the criticism of the focus on the 'Linkvolt' car project Fork in the Road does look outwards and deliver some deep thinking and Neil's usual dry humour. Just Singing a Song is a statement of principle that it's okay to talk about issues but getting out and doing something is what counts. The beautiful and sparing Light a Candle is a ballad to compare with his best, and a deeply-felt statement of optimism. The title track has Neil cussing, pointing fingers at washed up bankers and getting down to what matters with a combination of rightious fury and dark mischief.

It doesn't pay to pour over the lyric sheet and put your life on hold too many times when listening to Fork in the Road, but it's a perfect companion in the car or at home because it has those flashes to suggest the man is still on fire. When it grinds along and sputters into those fiery guitar licks, for all that it might have been recorded with his usual haste, it still has that full-on/full of life feel.
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VINE VOICEon 22 April 2009
Neil Youngs take on the state of the US automobile industry, starts of heavy handed with `When worlds collide' taking on the auto industry and mega conglomerates.
`Fuel line' rock n roll almost in the `shocking pinks' style, and `cough up the bucks' Neil's take on the car industry bail outs.
`Light a candle' is reflective Neil Young but would have benefited from a more acoustic arrangement
Most of the rest of the album straight ahead rock of the Greendale variety but without the extended guitar solos
If you buy the CD/DVD package you also get the whole album in hi rez stereo and 4 bonus videos. A comment on one of the videos Neil he sat in front of a camera on his laptop, played the song in one take, then told Reprise 'there's your first music video.' To both their horror and amusement. Funny in the fact that its fuzzy he plays air guitar and does not always appear in frame.
The best of the videos and making this package worth buying is the take of the Beatles `Day in the life' , this live take shreds the original making it sound like a Neil original, ending in a squall of feedback.
Not Neils best album but better than a lot of what is around at the moment. Maybe he will get round to releasing archives but I would rather he delay that project for more new albums.
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on 19 May 2009
like the blurb above says - how can you attempt to be critical about a man like neil young? a man who has consistently done his own thing for 40 years and to hell with what anyone thinks! hes given the world lots of music of un-paralled quality over those 40 years. hes also given us a lot of sub-standard filler - but hes been consistent in his in-consistency!

this album finds neil going back to zuma days. everything is cranked up distorted guitar and rocking out. for my personal tastes, neil is very hit and miss when he rocks out, and i do personally prefer him when he sits back a bit a la 'harvest' and 'on the beach' - on this album there is one stand out track where he gets it spot on, and that is on the track 'johnny magic, - a great little song with a truly infectious lyric and melody. the rest leaves me a bit cold. but then, neils albums have always done that! this is not his best album by a long way but hes still out there doing it in his own way and for that we should all be eternally thankful. rock on neil!

ps - one complaint though - the dvd. i was expecting a video or something, or at least some still pictures. instead we just look at a screen with name and title on it. whats the point?
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on 27 July 2009
Didn't get to see him (boo hoo) but this is the next best thing. Some great new songs from a man whose voice never seems to change. Loved it!
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on 30 April 2009
I doubt this album will convert unbelievers to a life of Neil, but for the fan of his looser, noisier, less produced work Fork in the Road won't disappoint. You don't have to "get" the message in this album although he seems very sincere in his attempts to reduce his carbon footprint - the music works anyway in my opinion.

Sound-wise I would say this album is closer to Mirrorball or Broken Arrow than more recent stuff, although you could draw parallels with Living With War. The first track "When Worlds Collide" certainly sounds to me like a track that was missed off Mirrorball.

"Johnny Magic" - does he get away with it? Yes - he's Neil and only he could sing this without it sounding like some terrible second rate country cover (ok - a very heavy country cover).

"Cough up the Bucks" has a catchy hook - something there that you can't help moving to.

All in all - it's one for a night-time drive, a drunken evening - can't wait to hear these tracks live. This is a "studio" album but as always with his electric stuff, that doesn't mean it's much different from a live album - just no applause to get in the way.

"Just singing a song won't change the world" - but NY has done just that in a small way.
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