Thursday, August 28, 2008

"I'm a barrel of laughs with my carbine on"

I finally decided to plop down my $11 to purchase a compact disc of one of my all-time favorite Neil Young albums, ON THE BEACH (1974). This album was, in fact, the subject of my 3rd ever HH post (way back in January 2006). This is what I originally wrote:

The 3rd installment of the "I heard Mr. Young sing about her" files. Current selection: ON THE BEACH (1974)

It turns out, Neil can play some blues and blues-influenced rock.

Brief tune-by-tune recap:

"Walk On" - Genuine Neil Young classic! Great rock 'n roll tune. "I hear some people/Been talkin' me down/Bring up my name/Pass it round/They don't mention/The happy times/They do their thing/I do mine"...possibly Neil responding somewhat amicably to"Sweet Home Alabama"?

"See the Sky About to Rain" - Slower tune in which Neil reverts a bit to his country influences

"Revolution Blues" - Neil does some rockin' while singing of gunning people down. David Crosby credited on rhythm guitar, not that anyone would notice (or care)

"For the Turnstiles" - GREAT bluesy acoustic jam. Some darn fine banjo pickin' and angry vocals, both by Neil

"Vampire Blues" - Sounds like some solid 60s/70s electric blues. Neil plays a little lead guitar that highlights just how underrated his guitar work is.

"On the Beach" - 7+ minute title track is slow & bluesy. Once again, Neil plays him some guitar, if I do say so my damn self. Graham Nash credited on the"Wurlitzer Piano" (again, far from the highlight; as always, Neil towers above Crosby, Stills & Nash)

"Motion Pictures" - Slow & soft, but with incredible slide guitar work by guest Rusty Kershaw. Neil sings, strums acoustic guitar, and plays harmonica. Damned fine song in my humble opinion.

"Ambulance Blues" - Nearly 9 minutes, acoustic, and very interesting lyrically..."You're all just pissin'in the wind..."

Bottom line: If you don't have it, you should get it. If you have it, you should keep it!!!

Man, I left out a TON of things! Not a single mention of Ben Keith!!! HOLY CRAP! Failing to mention his slide work on "For The Turnstiles" is an unforgivable sin.

How about the fact that the lyrics to "Revolution Blues" were inspired by Charles Manson?

Of course, there are also things I didn't know at the time. Like "Walk On" and "For The Turnstiles" were on the original acetate pressing of TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT in 1973. (Of course, that album wasn't released until 1975, at which time these 2 tunes had already been released on O.T.B.)

And, "See The Sky About To Rain" was performed on his solo tour of can now be heard on the LIVE AT MASSEY HALL 1971 release (from March 2007 as an installment of the 'Neil Young Archives Performance Series').

Hearing the recordings of Neil's North American Tour from last fall, with the great solo-acoustic versions of "Ambulance Blues" reminds me of what a great, great song that is.

This album is in my Neil Top 5.