I mentioned in my first blog that one of my all time favorite
bands/artists is Led Zeppelin. OK, my top four of all time (could
never rank beyond 4) also consist of Steely Dan, The Clash and
yes...Neil Young. Since Neil has something new out (and is only one of
two on that list who has the potential to have anything new out), and
since Deuce has talked about U2's latest in our music blog...I thought
I'd bring a little attention to Neil. Actually, his new "Fork In The Road"
CD is nothing really new or groundbreaking, it's partially a
platform to draw attention to his latest environmental/political
crusade: the preservation of the American car industry. You see, Neil
got ahold of a 1959 Lincoln "Heavy Metal Continental," a 5,000 pound
"whale" at least as big as any Chrysler the B-52's ever sang about, and
is converting it to a hybrid with an ultimate goal of 100 miles per
gallon (I think they have it just over 80 MPG at this point). Once the
goal is reached, Neil will drive it from Witchita, Kansas (where it's
being modified) to Washington, DC to show everyone that American
know-how is still very much alive...and if it can make this "whale"
that efficient, Detroit can do it too...and, as he feels, without a lot
of physical retooling to get it done.
Good 'ol Neil, that is one of the reasons I have always admired him...you never know what part
of left field he is going to walk out of...just that he eventually
will. From rock to country to an album based on an ad slogan for a
spray paint, to techno, back to country, over to grunge, etc. etc ...a
true nightmare for any record company's marketing department. Yet his
music has influenced artists as diverse as James Taylor (who played
banjo on the original studio recording of "Old Man"), Devo, Lynyrd
Skynyrd, Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Sonic Youth and Radiohead, just to
name a few. The kid from Canada, who suffered through Polio, Diabetes,
Epilepsy (he sometimes refers to himself as Bernard Shakey), and a
recent brain aneurysm which almost did him in for good, has done pretty
well for himself.
I first saw him live on a solo tour he did in
the mid-80's, then with Crosby, Stills and Nash in 2003 and 2007, but
regret never getting to see him with Crazy Horse.
A good friend of mine dated a girl many years ago who once toured with
her brother as an acoustic act which did a lot of Neil's songs. One
night in the late 70's, while playing in a small bar in upstate New
York, they noticed Neil sitting at the bar. He introduced himself,
then when their gig was done that evening, flew them to his farm in
Canada. She told me she couldn't believe it...there were chickens
running through his farmhouse, which also doubled as the left speaker
of a GIANT stereo system with his barn as the right speaker. I think
this is another reason he's been one of my hero's..he's always into the experience
of music, and for Neil that experience is, many times, loud and clear.
His latest endeavor is offering up collections of his music on Blu-ray
disc because of that formats ability to reproduce audio in a lossless
format...loud and clear.
Anyway, back to his latest CD...it's a
fun, country/rock group of songs that poke at today's economic issues,
which has been the topic of several of Neil's past works, but this time
with an enthusiastic outlook that "we'll get through this." Maybe it's
his older age or maybe it's his latest brush with death, but his
tone seems less angry and more optimistic this time
around. Nonetheless, if you're already a fan you'll like it and, if
not, it probably will not win you over. I think the best chance of
winning new fans over is his recent movie release on DVD, Jonathan
Demme's "Heart of Gold"
which is a concert he performed at the famed Ryman Auditorium in
Nashville shortly after his recovery from the aneurysm and after the
death of his father. It really shows the emotional side of Neil,
with some truly heart-rendering music, and the recording quality is
Either way, with Neil Young, I have found, you either love him or....you usually tolerate the ones like me who do!
Hi Readers, Deuce here
If we ever meet, it won't be long before I make you and everyone in ear shot aware that I'm a U2 fan. If you express any interest I will then assault you with additional details, like how I've met Bono and The Edge, or how I've managed to see U2 in concert 34 times (and counting). After you tell me I'm crazy, I will smile as I recall each show as a unique, moving experience. My fellow Music blogger Phil Hatch had never seen U2, and after finding out he was going to Ireland on vacation at the exact same time U2 would be playing in Dublin, I gladly gave him my tickets. Phil has been to more concerts than most bands have played. He has a phenomenal collection of stories and experiences detailing his experiences at live shows because Phil gets it - there's nothing like live music, and nothing like great live music. It delivers a visceral experience which is hard for any other type of entertainment to match. I was eager to hear his feedback from the show, which was a lot, but what stuck in my mind was this: "I have never seen a band in all my life connect with an audience like they do...It's one of the greatest concerts I have ever seen.”
Even if you aren’t a U2 fan I recommend going to one of their shows. I wasn’t a fan until I did. They can only truly be appreciated live because they embody what a live concert experience can be, and no one does it better.
Now on to the latest album. U2 has set out to stay relevant, move forward and keep things exciting for everyone - themselves included.
The new album is titled No Line on the Horizon. Bono has stated the title and associated picture on the new album is meant to convey "The Future." No Line on the Horizon isn't the last two U2 albums. It is the future of U2, and the direction they are heading may not appeal to the casual U2 fan. The new album has a lyrical depth and passion that gets under your skin; it almost feels like a collection of modern hymns. You may not initially expect to remember some of the hooks or lyrics as every song travels at a unique yet familiar pace, but with time it sticks with you (I recommend 5-6 listens). If you love the first single "Get on your boots," you may initially question the rest of the album, but with time I suspect you will skip over the first single as you begin to connect and almost experience the deeply layered tracks the album has to offer.
Let's look at the album cover:
No line on the horizon? I see 2
What's cool I guess is that once you open the CD, the two silver lines get pulled off the horizon, kind of clever.
I encourage you to listen to the album a few times, then take out the CD liner or find the lyrics on line and read along during another listening, it will only make the album better. No Line on the Horizon is a masterful work that is haunting, powerful and surprisingly unique for a band 30 years into their career. Every song has a familiar hook with the Edge’s guitar, but it is a welcome one. The rhythm section has never been more prominent and engaging, the power of the Larry Mullen’s drums and Adam Clayton’s Bass have never been more melodic. Like most of U2’s past albums, Bono handles nearly all of the lyrical duties passionately while conveying stories of Soldiers, Sex, GOD, Love, Religion and Singing.
This is one of U2’s finest accomplishments blending old with an unexpected new, U2 may have a lead singer with a Messianic complex but they are no where near being Played out... and who gives a sh#t is they come across Pretentious, They are the greatest band of all time...I can only hope that the U2 360 Tour kicking off in the U.S. on September 12th in Chicago will live up to the album.