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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Chrome Dreams II: Album's In Order Review


Over the years, longtime Neil Young fan Mike "Expecting To Fly" has periodically gone back into his collection and conducted a chronologically review of Neil Young's entire body of work. The result has been the Neil Young Album's In Order series which we proudly host here on Thrasher's Wheat.

So here's the latest installment with 2007's Chrome Dreams II while we're on the cusp of yet another Neil release of "Fork In The Road" on Tuesday.
One of the fortunate privileges I've had over my years as a fan of Neil Young is to be present at the inaugural live performances of new songs never heard by a paying audience. The latest experience like this was in Boise, Idaho (review) which is just a few miles down the road from where I first discovered Neil Young. The four new songs were Dirty Old Man, Spirit Road, The Believer, and the epic No Hidden Path. The concert was fantastic for many reasons but I'm thankful to be present when new songs are played in public for the first time.

Chrome Dreams II came out just a few days after that show. It was comprised of seven new songs, a couple of old unreleased songs re-recorded with the current band and one bona fide museum piece. I thought that the two re-recorded tunes Beautiful Bluebird and Boxcar fit in well with the remainder of the new songs. There are some really wonderful moments in the album too. The lead guitar part in Shining Light takes me back to 1967 Buffalo Springfield; it sounds as if it came right out of those sessions. Spirit Road is spirited. I heard Ever After playing at a Starbucks I was walking past and it sounded so great to hear it in this unexpected setting. The Way features a boys choir; the song reminds me of something Brian Wilson might come up with.

The item that discomforts me in the album is the inclusion of a 19 year old recording of Ordinary People in the album. It doesn't fit for me. Perhaps if he had rerecorded this one with perhaps a new verse or two and left this track for the Archives...oh well. Neil Young of course can do whatever he wants with his own music but I can't shake the feeling this was a mistake. Had he not included it, the album would have been left with 9 songs and 48 minutes, plenty long.

Thankfully, he did include a new classic, No Hidden Path. I remember reading some sort of quote I think in Thrasher's Wheat in which Neil said in an article that he thinks he has another "Hurricane" in him. This could be it, it's that good in my opinion. And wow, I was there the first time he played it in public.

I very much enjoyed listening to Chrome Dreams II today.

Expecting To Fly

More of Mike "Expecting To Fly"'s Album's In Order Neil Young reviews.

Thanks, as always, e2f!


At 4/05/2009 09:57:00 PM, Blogger Columella said...

I've always been a bit perplexed about the negative reaction to Chrome Dreams II. It's not Neil's best album, but it's far from his worst. I particularly like "Ordinary People" actually, and am glad he put it on.

I spent 3 months in New Zealand early last year, and picked up three Neil discs while I was there: CDII, Re-Ac-Tor, and Landing on Water. The latter two I had on vinyl but never listened to them much. So for three months, I had these three on heavy rotation. And to tell the truth, they all are pretty good. At least half of LoW is excellent, actually, the other half disposable, maybe; Re-Ac-Tor is outstanding - it's only real flaw is that it's so uniformly loud and ass-kicking - and CDII, well it shows off many sides of Neil quite well.

I'm glad to have had all three, and to have essentially been forced to listen to them, having nothing else around. I gained a deeper appreciation of them and maybe of what Neil was going for. Maybe FITR will similarly surprise me....


At 4/06/2009 04:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a grammatical quibble: there should not be an apostrophe in "albums". You've got it wrong a few times up there.

Thanks for the review.


At 4/09/2009 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Ronald said...

I think Neil put "Ordinary people" on the album, 'cause he didn't want to have more than 30 minutes of one song on the archives.
I think "This note's for you too/two" will be on the archives (vol. 3?), including the live version of "Ordinary people".



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