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Friday, December 13, 2019

Neil Young's Album of the Week: 'Are You Passionate?' + Defending AYP?

'Are You Passionate?' by Neil Young w/ Booker T & M.G.’s
NYA Album of the Week

Neil Young's NYA Album of the Week is 'Are You Passionate?'

Along with featuring 'Are You Passionate?' as the NYA AoW, Neil makes a few insightful comments on the album referring to Booker T & M.G.’s as "one of the high points of my musical life to have played with these guys.” Also, referring to earlier Crazy Horse Toast sessions, "The Toast sessions now stand up."

But what about 'Are You Passionate?' with Booker T & M.G.’s? Recorded in the aftermath of 9/11, does the album still stand up 20 years on?

Neil apparently recorded extensively with Crazy Horse (Toast sessions) prior to Booker T & M.G.’s "Are You Passionate?" sessions, resulting in the track "Goin' Home".

Are You Passionate? by Neil Young
(Click photo to enlarge)

From a Comment of the Moment in 2016 that posits the case for defending 'Are You Passionate?' (from the post Neil Young's "Ditch Quadrilogy" Re-Re-Release Coming) by Ian:
On the Beach is my favorite "ditch" record, particularly side 2, and particularly the title song and Motion Pictures).

Also, See the Sky About to Rain is incredibly overlooked in my opinion. Even so, Time Fades Away, which I have a good second hand vinyl LP of, has definite moments for me: Journey Through the Past, The Bridge, and Love in Mind are beautiful acoustic tracks. I've always liked the urgency and attitude of Yonder Stands the Sinner. I do think TFA has attained a mythical/legendary status partly due to its lack of consistent availability over the years, and it's possible that the reputation would be impossible for any album to live up to for some people. Nonetheless I'm glad to hear it's being made more widely available. I love vinyl myself and in any event, I think a petition to release anything on CD is a little out of date. Indeed, Neil may be choosing now to rerelease TFA on formats other than CD because CDs are finally becoming obsolete and he feels that the current formats, including both his Pono system and the resurgent vinyl, are the best showcase for the album.

@Joseph Werefelman: Good point about Le Noise. I'd have thought Fork in the Road would be a much likelier target, recalling the virtual rioting that took shape on this very blog back in 2009.

For most of the less-loved albums, I could point out at least a couple of worthy tracks. I'll probably go to my grave defending Are You Passionate?, which I find a really interesting experiment with soul and Motown sounds. A while ago, I called She's a Healer as soul-grunge, a description I still adhere to, and could point out a handful of others: the title number, Two Old Friends, Mr. Disappointment, Differently, and course, the Crazy Horse interlude Goin' Home, complete with Ralph Molina's impression of Native American battle drums. Add in a couple of highly textured numbers that seem tailor-made for lovemaking (When I Hold You in My Arms, Quit) and Be With You, a shot of soul almost straight out of Sam & Dave territory, with just the right seasoning of gospel to fit an album that I'm sure is partly Neil's ode to the legacy of African American musicians on popular music of the last century, and there's an album that covers an impressive breadth of feelings and themes.

I admit, I wish APY? weren't so overshadowed by Let's Roll. The song was likely an instantaneous response to events (particularly the tragedy of Flight 93) at the time, but understandably leaves mixed impressions years later in a world that is not only post-9/11, but also post-Iraq invasion and still deeply entangled in the Mideast. However, NY's performance of "Imagine" at a 9/11 benefit show, not to mention Greendale and the 2006 CSN+Y Freedom of Speech US tour, should reaffirm that our Neil's heart is in the right place. I like to think that the anguish of Are You Passionate? (the song) and the earnest peace-seeking of Two Old Friends are more nuanced, temperate counterpoints to the bombast and bellicosity of Let's Roll. It could even be that the specter of 9/11, as presented directly through Let's Roll, is part of what gives AYP? (the album) emotional thrust. It shows how harrowing things can get "in a world that never stops turning on you", and lends deep credence to the central, urgent insistence that "We've got hold onto something in this life".

It's really a shame that AYP? is often dismissed as A) Another simple genre exercise and B) A series of repetitive, sappy love songs interrupted by a brief outburst of uncharacteristic flag-waving, when it may actually be one of Neil Young's most emotionally honest and unrestrained albums since the psychological depths of the Ditch era this thread is celebration, while still managing to be a (mostly) entertaining and even fun tribute to the sounds of '60s soul.
Thanks for the memories Ian. Yes, you are passionate.

We recall on the 10th Anniversary of the release of Neil Young’s Are You Passionate? album Ian mentioned the alternate track listing on the post-it notes on back cover. Ian found that this re-ordering of tracks makes the album darker and heavier.

In the critics' game of "Hits & Misses", Are You Passionate? often falls into the category of "Misses". But is it finally time for a re-evaluation, like much of Young's back catalog that is classified as "Misses"?

Over at Ultimate Classic Rock Matthew Wilkening thinks so with the article "Neil Young’s ‘Are You Passionate?’ Turns 10 Years Old".
As the camouflage, rose and romantic portrait on the cover art indicates, the lyrics on many of this album’s 11 songs deal with familiar themes of love and war.

Young had toured with the famous instrumental R&B group [Booker T & the M.G.’s] as his backing band way back in the early ’90s, but it was nearly a decade before they released a record together.

Just in case you’re not clear who he’s working with, Young works musical quotes from the band’s 1969 hit ‘Time is Tight‘ into two tracks on the record — ‘Be With You’ and album opener ‘You’re My Girl.’

The Memphis Soul legends’ tight grooves and inherent professionalism provide an interesting contrast to Young’s untamed guitar on many of the songs, even if his vocals seem oddly polished on a couple of tracks.
More of Ultimate Classic Rock | "Neil Young’s ‘Are You Passionate?’ Turns 10 Years Old" by Matthew Wilkening. Also, see 10th Anniversary of the release of Neil Young’s Are You Passionate? album and Are You Passionate? by Neil Young: Albums In Order Review Series by Mike "Expecting 2 Fly" Cordova.

As for trivia, the album's title is a homage to The Jimi Hendrix Experience 1967 album "Are You Experienced?". Also, the back cover lists song titles, all of which appear on CD except for "Gateway of Love". Go figure.

Neil Young

Speaking of passion, see The (Dis)-Passion of A Neil Young Fan.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

INTERVIEW - Nils Lofgren: Back on the Horse | Premier Guitar

Nils Lofgren
Photo by Carl Schultz | Premier Guitar

In a recent interview, Nils Lofgren says he pre-ordered his own new album, Colorado, even though he knew that management would send a copy, saying: "Just the excitement of being a kid, getting it sent in the mail… you open it up, it’s a new Neil Young record with Crazy Horse.”

From Nils Lofgren: Back on the Horse | Premier Guitar by Nick Millevoii:
Premier Guitar: How did working on a new album together follow the shows you did with Crazy Horse?

Nils Lofgren: Neil got excited and started writing for Crazy Horse. He sent a demo and said, “Hey, I know you’ve got your record coming out and your tour, but I keep writing and they’re coming pretty fast. Any chance we could all get together in Colorado and start recording a new record before you hit the road?” My wife Amy and I—we just lost our 15-year-old dogs Rain and Groucho a year before—we were really kind of hunkered down for a couple of weeks with our remaining two dogs to grieve. Amy gave me the thumbs up and said, “I’ll drive you up there.” So we had a good time then, just reminiscing and realizing, despite life’s ups and downs, in particular all the great musicians we’ve lost that I’ve gotten to play with over the years. To have the four of us, after 50 years, have a chance to show up in a beautiful place and create something new, there’s a deep gratitude that comes with it.

After 50 years, that’s really rare.

Billy and Ralphie and I knew that we had the songs, because at this point Neil sent us 11 demos. Neil said, “Don’t work out parts, just get familiar with the chords on the demos,” which is reminiscent of all my work with Neil, and it turned out to be a beautiful experience. We knew whatever obstacles were in front of us, either way, we were going to do something special and, as always, we kept it raw and raggedy.

There was no rehearsal, no practice.

We didn’t want to use headphones. Neil was singing through a PA in the room, so it was kind of like a little live club setting and we went after an immediate discovery of the song. We took the arrangements off the demo and just followed them. Of course, if Neil was playing a solo and kept playing, we wouldn’t go back to the verse until he got back to the verse. It was very organic, stream of consciousness, and it was just a brilliant chapter. You don’t get many chapters like that after 50 years … and to have a new album come out of it was really exciting.

I’ve already ordered mine.
Full interview at Nils Lofgren: Back on the Horse | Premier Guitar by Nick Millevoii.

More on Nils Lofgren and Neil Young.

Also, see Nils Lofgren's comments on working with both Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and Neil Young's Crazy Horse.

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Neil Young Archives | Letter to Editor | Berlin

Letter to Editor | Berlin
via Times Contrarian | NYA

Last month, Neil Young's film "Berlin" (1983) streamed in Hearse Theater.

The film so thrilled us that we were motivated to write a Letter to Editor to The Archivist on NYA. As luck would have it, our letter was published on Times Contrarian | NYA, along with a reply from Neil himself.

So after us asking Neil, "Won't you help me, help me, help me, help me", we do have an answer back. While we are not exactly getting our hopes up that the full film from Berlin will emerge someday, it gives us hope -- and we are satisfied with nothing more. That said, we do see a recurring theme of LTE's asking about unreleased material with a response that "Archives Crawlers" are looking.

So keep on crawlin' in the free world ... or something like that ...

Also, we would be remiss not to add that a whole bunch of other new letters with great questions are posted along with answers by Neil Young on Letters to Editor | Times Contrarian | NYA.

In the meantime, we'll just continue to enjoy Movie Night on NYA.

We've got our popcorn ready!

thrashers @ TW HQ Waiting on a Steam
LIVESTREAM TODAY: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, Ireland - 14 July 2019
Photo by TW Tour Manager Hounds That Howell

"All in a stream, all in a stream
The down loading had begun"

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Monday, December 09, 2019

Neil Young Archives: HEARSE THEATER SCHEDULE - UPDATED, Dec 9, 2019


via Times-Contrarian | NYA

Neil Young has updated the HEARSE THEATER SCHEDULE on via Times-Contrarian | NYA.

We really enjoyed this past weekend's Neil Young Solo Concert - London 2008 | Hearse Theater | NYA. Always a treat to get a full concert experience.

So get your popcorn ready!

Eddie Vedder and Neil Young
Toronto Premiere of "Neil Young Journeys"

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Friday, December 06, 2019

THIS WEEKEND: Neil Young Solo Concert - London 2008 | Hearse Theater | NYA

This weekend, Neil Young solo in concert at Hammersmith Odeon Theater (aka the Carling Apollo), London in 2008 will be showing in the Hearse Theater on NYA. (See full Hearse Theater Schedule.)

The concert film is directed by Tim Pope and the acoustic set premiered in September 2019. Recorded during the final 2 nights (of a 6 gig run) in London, England, in March 2008, the multi-camera film is stunningly intimate and features the "mic cam" for ultra close-ups. (see here for reviews of March 5 & 6, 2008 and March 8 & 9, 2008, March 14 & 15, 2008)

Neil Young - Hammersmith Theater, March 2008

Presumably, the Saturday film focuses on the acoustic portion of set and the Sunday film focuses on the electric portion of the set. Both the acoustic and the electric sets are being presented entirely in the 2 hour and 25 minute concert film now streaming.

Poster: Neil Young - Hammersmith Theater, March 2008
(See reviews on March 5 & 6, 2008 and March 8 & 9, 2008)

Ticket Stub
Via Sugar Mountain Setlists

Via Sugar Mountain Setlists:
Hammersmith Apollo, London, England
w/ Ben Keith, Rick Rosas, Ralph Molina, Anthony Crawford and Pegi Young

1. From Hank To Hendrix
2. Ambulance Blues
3. Kansas
4. Sad Movies
5. Mexico
6. A Man Needs A Maid
7. Harvest
8. Love In Mind
9. Journey Through The Past
10. Homegrown
11. Love/Art Blues
12. Love Is A Rose
13. Out On The Weekend
14. Old Man

15. The Loner
16. Dirty Old Man
17. Spirit Road
18. Powderfinger
19. Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)
20. Too Far Gone
21. Oh, Lonesome Me
22. Winterlong
23. No Hidden Path
24. F*!#in' Up
25. Tonight's The Night
26. The Sultan
Tape Exists:

2008 Chrome Dreams Continental Tour - Europe
The Chrome Dreams Band
Neil Young - guitar, banjo, harmonica, piano, vocals
Ben Keith - pedal steel, lap steel, guitar, organ, background vocals
Rick Rosas - bass, background vocals
Ralph Molina - drums, background vocals
Pegi Young - background vocals, vibraphone
Anthony Crawford - background vocals, piano, mandolin, electric guitar
Cary Kemp - gong

2008-03-15, Hammersmith Apollo, London, England
(Reviews of March 14 & 15, 2008 concerts)
Photo courtesy of Mario van Sabben

Filming Notice
Via Sugar Mountain Setlists

So get your popcorn ready!

Tim Pope is the director of numerous highly acclaimed 1980's Neil Young music videos such as "Wonderin'", "Touch the Night", "People On The Street"and "Weight Of The World".

"People On The Street" ‏Music Video by Neil Young
Director - Tim Pope

Frames from Neil Young music video "Wonderin'", 1983
Director Tim Pope

More on Tim Pope: Making "Wonderin'" Video with Neil Young.

Frames from "Touch the Night" -
Neil Young Music Video directed by Tim Pope

Also, see Making of "Touch the Night" Music Video by Tim Pope.

Also, see Tim Pope: Neil Young Music Video Director | PODCAST by Adam Buxton.

Neil Young
Frame from "Weight Of The World" Music Video

Also, see MUSIC VIDEO: "Weight Of The World" by Neil Young, Directed by Tim Pope.

Excerpt removed per author request (see disclaimer).

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Thursday, December 05, 2019

VIDEO: Merry Clayton's Southern Soul Cover of Neil Young's "Southern Man"

Over Thanksgiving holday, we re-watched the film "20 Feet From Stardom" and were reminded of Merry Clayton.

And you say who is Merry Clayton???

Clayton sang back up vocals on Neil Young's "Old Laughing Lady". Above, watch Merry Clayton covering Neil Young's "Southern Man" around 1972/3 (@~14:30).

Also, Clayton was the intensely female backup vocal on the Rolling Stones original version of "Gimme Shelter". And, she was one of the original Rayettes (Ray Charles female backup singers).

Merry Clayton's was brilliant on The Who's "Tommy" soundtrack on "The Acid Queen" with symphony orchestra backing.

And, she sang backup on Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama", that song that some think"put Ol' Neil down".

Southern soul for a southern man from a southern woman.

1969 - Merry Clayton recorded The Old Laughing Lady and I Loved Her So Long with Neil Young

1971 - Merry Clayton recorded Southern Man as a solo artist

1974 - Merry Clayton recorded Sweet Home Alabama with Lynyrd Skynyrd

And, so why exactly might a southern black woman cover a white Canadian man's ode to racism in the Confederate south again, now anyhow

From the film "20 Feet From Stardom", Merry Clayton discusses her backup vocal on The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter". Note Mick Jagger's reaction when Clayton's voice breaks on lyrics "Rape, Murder".

Also, see Northern Man, Southern Man and The Un-Civil Wars of Donald Trump & Neil Young and Southern Man and Northern Man: Ronnie and Neil, The Un-Civil Wars & Rebels with Causes.

We hope you remember that a Southern Man needs Neil Young around anyhow. Now, more than ever.

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