A collection of Neil Young reviews gathered over the years. Reviews of Neil's music include album and CD reviews, concert reviews, and film reviews.
Anyone who has seen Neil perform in concert certainly appreciates how a live performance brings the recorded album to life and puts it into another dimension. The power and majesty of a live Cortez the Killer makes the recorded Zuma version pale in comparison.
While Neil Young has certainly made incredible music available on recordings, it is the live performance which the die-hard fan craves. Even Neil's live albums like Live Rust, Weld, and Year of the Horse still do not do justice to the actual concert experience.
Neil's film making craft is a whole another story. The concert film Rust Never Sleeps has been hailed as one of the best rock films of all time. On the other hand, his narrative film attempts have not been so successful. Beginning with his experimental Journey Through The Past, the film medium has not always shown the best side of Neil's talents. Even his nickname "Shakey" originates from his camera work.
Neil's video work has been ranged from silly ("Pressure") to award winning ("This Note's For You"). Certainly always interesting exercises, Neil has yet to successfully marry the musical and visual worlds on the big screen.
Possibly with the upcoming Greendale DVD film he will succeed in making a compelling narrative that incorporates his musical and lyrical brilliance.
According to Rolling Stone's Paul Nelson on the The Boarding House shows in San Francisco, CA in 1978:
"In the manner of the best of the traditional blues singers, Neil Young seems totally alone on stage in a way that almost no contemporary performer ever does. But he's not foreboding, and you don't feel shut off. Head down, chin tucked into his shoulders like a boxer, he peers out at you with those all-knowing eyes filled with humour and flashes that beatific, silly grin. Like Muhammad Ali, he may well be the greatest."
From Americana UK Reviews regarding the re-release of CD On The Beach :
"On the Beach" stands up amongst all of the great records of the Seventies, representing the dark height of the singer songwriters, and you can feel the tensions created by the passing of the Crosby generation and the rumbling dissatisfaction of the proto-punks in it's grooves. Who would have thought he would have gone on to be the "Godfather of Grunge"? Well, listening to this record, I for one would believe this man capable of anything he wanted to achieve in music. "
John Rockwell writes in the New York Times of Neil's best film effort:
'Rust Never Sleeps' offers some of his strongest songs, both new and old, in performances as fine or finer than those of his recent, partly live record of the same title. The effect here is rougher than the record, less polished with overdubbing; at one point, Mr. Young even mangles the words of one of his best songs. But the intensity of the singing and the playing of Crazy Horse, Mr. Young's longtime partners for electric-rock projects, is as moving as rock can offer. It's so good, in fact, that it almost lets one overlook Mr. Young's theatrical conceits, and almost makes the film recommendable for the general public, after all.
The New York Times article "Have You Heard the New Neil Young Novel?" by Madison Smartt Bell said:
"Mr. Young has always been remarkable for his creative resilience, and this time he really has done something new, rendering into this combination of print and audio a novel that is surprisingly sophisticated and satisfyingly complete.
He embeds the story line in musical arrangements sufficiently stripped down to recall the idea of a Homeric bard accompanying himself on his harp. The music supplies and modulates the tone of the work Mr. Young's familiar chiaroscuro palette or sometimes goes a little further to capture a lyrical feeling the words can't fully express: in the description of Mr. Young's accompanying text, "you can't tell by listening to the songs, you have to listen to the instrumentals to get this." While the songs themselves dramatize the narrative's scenes, the printed text handles exposition and summary transitions, in an idiosyncratic manner that allows Mr. Young to speak directly to the reader."
Also see more on Neil's music and sound regarding his songs, lyrics, albums and concerts.