Neil Young Album Review

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Neil Young and the Restless: Eldorado

By Allan Jones (retyped here without permission)

The simple fact is that 'Eldorado" is probably the greatest guitar rock album ever. Parts of it are like nothing you've ever heard, holocaustal, post -apocalypse ruptures and manglings, great bloody swathes of feedback, random distortions, and gashes of sound, the reckless weather of psychotic abandon. It's almost as if Young listened to the rather docile, reverential cover of his songs on the "Bridge" tribute album, listened to The Pixies and Soul Train and Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. and thought to himself, "Hey, kids - THIS is how you do it..."At which point, he plugs in his guitar, cranks the volume up to max and begins to roar.

The album opens with a stomach-churning squeal of feedback. "That's Loud," says a voice in the control romm. "Yeah, " Neil laughs, tearing off another howling riff. "Sounds good, though. lets= try one like that..." What follows is like a grenade going off in your lap or having your head shaved from the inside with a house brick. The cut is called "Cocaine Eyes", and it is four minutes of sheer carnage and hysteria. "Ain't a day goes by I don't burn a little bit of my soul," Young screams above an avalanche of drums and bass and his disfigured slaughterhouse guitar, and it is so intense you feel like you're choking on your own blood. This is the heaviest music I've heard in years-infernal, brutal, massive, almost unbelievable in its sheer crunching power.

There's more epic guitar thuggery on "Don't Cry", where ringing death-knell tolls echo cavernously and Young stares hollow-eyed into a seething mess of conflicting emotions-does he love the girl, does he want to kill her...is that her blood on his hands...? This is some sick F***of a track, slow, churning, a maelstrom o coagulating feedback, amplified explosions, relentless bass detonations. (neesah comments....I don't see the murder he refers to in the words neil sings...can someone help me there?? I have always thought he cheated on her, and has now asked her to leave him...."my big lies...") The atmosphere is full of malevolent dread, spite, jealousy and homicidal fury, an abbatoir of noise and catastrophe-"Down By the River", 20 years on, fed through hell's own blender and spewed out in raw, maggoty chinks. The long, chilling coda is the stuff of nightmares, Young's high-pitched whine hanging torn and forlorn in the strafed, abysmal air and one final guitar hemorrhage.

"Heavy Love" is a similar mutilation, with the most eyeball-scalding guitar riff since the Stones' "Undercover Of The Night". Listening to this is like being beaten up by stormtroopers. Its exhilarating, teeth-bared madness and blood-boiling urgency reminds me of Dylan's manic recent performance at Wembley. The feverish energy of these tracks is even carried over into what initially seemed like an unpromising version of "On Broadway". But the old chestnut is stripped to the bone, bent out of shape, its spine rearranged and finally snapped in a turmoil of excruciating guitar explosions and a rhythm attack that leaves the listener is a cold, mangled sweat. "Give me that crack, " Young hollers, deranged. "Where's the crack????"

Only the closing title track offers and relief from this sordid extravaganza of noise and terror, this unstoppable aural blitz. "Eldorado" is full of sweet, mocking Spanish guitar signatures, a leering sense of oppression. The lyric is full of obscure references to crystal balls, gypsies, riders on a hill, fires in the fields, random shootings, drug deals, political corruption, women crying against the walls of an adobe mission, assassinations. The last verse is about a bullfighter, and I have no explanation for it. All I can say is that the song is caught somewhere between Robert Stone's " A Flag For Sunrise" and Dylan's "Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)" and set to the music of disaster-squalid, intense, murderous.

An that's it. Neil's still right out there.

Who will they send against him now?

More on Eldorado from the FUNHOUSE! reviews.

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