Neil Young Album Reviews from FUNHOUSE#7

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FUNHOUSE!
The cyberzine of degenerate pop culture
vol. 1 - no. 5; October 20, 1994
HARVEST MOON
LUCKY THIRTEEN
UNPLUGGED

HARVEST MOON

1992 - Reprise 45057
Unknown Legend / From Hank to Hendrix / You and Me / Harvest Moon / War of
Man / One of These Days / Such a Woman / Old King / Dreaming Man / Natural
Beauty

by Uncle Dave
covey@lts.sel.alcatel.de

After the angst of his early work and the metallic thrashing of the later
albums, Harvest Moon reveals the true Neil Young. The Neil Young that was
left behind in the post-hippie trauma that was seventies rock. With Harvest
Moon, Neil finally grows up!

Ragged Glory was Young at his snarling best -
plenty of volume on the guitar and powerful lyrics to match. Arc was an
epitaph to that period, an exercise in self-indulgent exorcism. Harvest Moon is mature. This is music not from the heart or the head, but from, and for,
the soul. Neil's music is always fresh, often surprising, sometimes maudlin,
intense and perplexing, but never until this quite so (aw shucks!)
heart-warming.

Harvest Moon is the quintessential down-home-mom's-apple-pie
American folk album. It's one of the few Neil Young albums that you can share
with the one you love, along with a bottle of something nice, without having
to apologetically hit the fast forward button or move the tracking arm
forward.

The fact that it has undoubtedly won new admirers of Neil's work is
due just as much to its refusal to conform to what you might expect, as to its
undoubted wider appeal. "You and Me" could easily have been on Harvest, the
other NY album to enjoy a mass audience, while "Old King" is probably too
country for Country Music Television.

The title track is one of the most
evocative songs from the most evocative of songsmiths. It is pure beauty, one
of those songs which you live, recalling long lost summer nights and inducing
that sad nostalgia that comes from knowing you'll probably never quite get
there again. If it has a theme, Harvest Moon is about love, and love in its
many guises. That is love of nature, love for old friends, love for a
favorite pet, and yes, even the standard boy meets girl is expressed here, and
in a refreshing fashion to boot. While probably not the most favored album
among Neil's hardcore fans, this is nevertheless a masterpiece. There is not
a single weak track, and from the very first listen you get the feeling that
you're seeing the real man stripped bare for all.

Some people have found it
very easy to be cynical about Harvest Moon, but then they've probably never
been in love, and if you have then you'll know. This album would make such a
fitting epitaph for Neil Young that it's scary. Whilst hoping that it won't
be, it's difficult to see where he can go from here. But of course, this is
Neil Young we're talking about.

More on Harvest Moon album.


LUCKY THIRTEEN

1993 - Geffen GEF 24452
Sample and Hold

/ Transformer Man / Depression Blues / Get Gone /
Don't Take Your Love Away From Me / Once an Angel / Where Is the Highway
Tonight / Hippie Dream / Pressure / Around the World / Mideast Vacation /
Ain't It the Truth / This Note's for You

by Gary A. Lucero
glucero@wordperfect.com

"Excursions Into Alien Territory"

Lucky Thirteen is an eclectic collection of music made by Neil Young from 1982
through 1988. Many of Neil's fans appreciate little from these years, which
the artist spent with the David Geffen Company. The albums he released during
this segment of his career include Trans, Everybody's Rockin', Old Ways,
Landing on Water, and Life.

He also toured with the Bluenotes while with
Geffen (before releasing This Note's For You on Reprise Records in 1988).
These albums represent some of the best music Neil has ever made, though, and
Lucky Thirteen is a good sampling from them. Lucky Thirteen opens with
"Sample and Hold."

This is not the original version that appeared on the
Trans LP, though it does appear on the Trans CD that Geffen released in Europe
and Japan last year. It does not have the rock 'n' roll bite that the
original had. It is longer and slower, but is well worth listening to. Next
is "Transformer Man" from Trans, and it is a good song about Neil's youngest son Ben. "Depression Blues," "Get Gone," and "Don't Take Your Love Away From
Me" follow.

All are previously unreleased, and all are excellent.
"Depression Blues" is a slightly country number that is very pretty, and the
other two are blues songs recorded live on the Neil Young and the Shockin'
Pinks tour. Except for "Ain't It the Truth," which is a previously unreleased
Neil Young and the Bluenotes song, and "This Note's For You," which is a
tremendous, previously unreleased, live version of the song from the album of
the same name, the rest of the songs on Lucky Thirteen are the original
versions from the albums Old Ways, Landing on Water, and Life. Their order
and selection are very pleasing.

Lucky Thirteen can be considered not only as
a sampler of what Neil Young did in the eighties, but it also hints at how he
will prepare his long awaited Archives, and the Lucky Thirteen liner notes
suggest that many tracks on this album will appear on Archives when they are
finally released. While you're waiting for Neil, who is careful but slow, to
put together and finally release that boxed set, you can put Lucky Thirteen on
and understand that it's his varied styles, wonderful guitar playing, and
wondrous songwriting that sets him apart from the crowd.

UNPLUGGED

1993 - Reprise 45310
Old Laughing Lady / Mr. Soul / World on a String / Pocahontas / Stringman /
Like a Hurricane / The Needle and the Damage / Helpless / Harvest Moon /
Transformer Man / Unknown Legend / Lookout for My Love / Long May You Run /
From Hank to Hendrix

by Uncle Dave
covey@lts.sel.alcatel.de

I like to be at the office by seven, so the World Cup is not my favorite
tournament - and not just because England isn't there. I live in Germany
where they're football mad - and have a team which makes the "luck of the
Irish" look almost unfortunate. Trying to sleep when they are playing is out
of the question in my neighborhood, so I lay in the dark and listened to
Unplugged instead. It's that kind of album - crisp and clear and the digital
sound definitely enhances some of those older songs. This could be subtitled
"Greatest Hits," and it's certainly as close as you'll come to a marketing
exercise from Neil Young. It succeeds in that because it is a well-chosen,
well-performed set that spans the whole of NY's career.

I tuned in to
Unplugged on MTV the other day to remind myself what it's all about.
Aerosmith were on and sounded like, well, Aerosmith "sans electrique." They
were even more mind-numbingly boring than usual. That seems to be the way of
it, and I wonder whether, with such groups, there's a point as their music
relies on power. People like Neil Young can do it with or without the wall
sockets, and it shows. The marketing idea is enhanced by the fact that the
lyrics are printed on the insert, but then destroyed by the failure to mention
the albums that they come from. Strange, but when you're listening to someone
who can write (from "Pocahontas"):
"I wish I was a trapper, I would give a thousand pelts / To sleep with
Pocahontas and find out how she felt"
normal rules don't apply.

As a showcase for his astonishingly consistent song
writing abilities, Unplugged is ideal, and the opportunity is taken professionally and consummately. The scope for invention in an acoustic
environment is somewhat less than can be achieved electronically, but there
are still things here to send a shiver down your spine. "Harvest Moon" is so
much like the original track that it's scary, and the use of a pump organ for
a gothic start to "Like a Hurricane" is one of those moments of musical genius
rarely witnessed, which some artists go their whole lives without seeing. I
like Unplugged a great deal.

The only question mark is why, in this age of
Hi-Fi video machines and the ease with which you can feed digital sound
through your speakers while watching TV, should someone buy the record instead
of the video. It's a thoroughly good album, and if after reading some of
these reviews you'd like to try a Neil Young sampler, then this is it.


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