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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

EARLY REACTION: "Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse


"Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
#1 on Amazon Top 100 List

Today, after much anticipation, "Psychedelic Pill" -- the new album by Neil Young & Crazy Horse is being released.

After spending over a month in the Amazon Top 100 List, the album is now sitting at #1, with Taylor Swift and Rod Stewart following?!

Past, present and future, for sure.

Lots of interesting reviews have been dropping for the last few weeks falling into the usual range of opinions. From "improbable and brilliant" (SPIN Magazine) to "loose and indulgent" (Telegraph).

From Neil Young album review; Psychedelic Pill reviewed - chicagotribune.com by Greg Kot:
Like the blues, the albums Young makes with Crazy Horse have almost become a genre unto themselves.


This review captures the essence of " Psychedelic Pill" on American Songwriter By Jim Beviglia:
It doesn’t take a math major to figure out that several songs have to be extremely long to fill out that space; indeed, three tracks combined take up an hour’s worth of listening time. That bit of knowledge will probably send certain Crazy Horse fans into fits of joy at the free-form, rocking possibilities, while fans of Young’s more efficient songwriting are probably smelling the fumes of indulgence in the air.
And, our favorite review snippet, Album: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill (Reprise) - Reviews - Music - The Independent by Simmy Richman:
"moments of sublime majesty" making it "the best non-essential album Neil Young has ever made".

From review on Rolling Stone by David Fricke:

In "Twisted Road," one of eight new songs sprawled across this turbulent two-CD set, Young recalls, in a brilliantly mixed metaphor, the first time he heard Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone": "Poetry rolling off his tongue/Like Hank Williams chewing bubble gum." And Young tells you what he did with the impact. "I felt that magic and took it home/Gave it a twist and made it mine," he sings over Crazy Horse's rough-country swagger, as if the marvel of that time and his dreams are still close enough to touch.

So are the mess and his dismay.


NEW VIDEO: "Ramada Inn" - Neil Young & Crazy Horse

From Blogcritics.org by Glen Boyd:

But because Neil Young – at least when he is hitting on all four cylinders, and despite all of his hits and misses over the years – has established such a high artistic standard, his fans just as often place equally lofty demands on the man. Taken on that level, Psychedelic Pill delivers the goods and then some.

From Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Psychedelic Pill :: Music :: Reviews :: Paste by Douglas Heselgrave:
One of the first things that becomes apparent while reading Waging Heavy Peace and listening to Psychedelic Pill at the same time is that they are deeply interwoven and operate together.
Most of the songs on the two-disc set refer to episodes, issues or emotions expressed in his book, as MP3 sound quality, drugs, old friends and the passage of time are all contemplated in what must certainly be the most unassuming and artless collection of lyrics that Young has ever recorded. It may strike one as ironic that Young’s autobiography runs at nearly 500 pages long, while the words he sings on his new record are perfunctory at best. The good news is that it doesn’t matter one bit. Young has obviously said all he has to say for the time being in his book. Psychedelic Pill is a flat-out guitar record, and it’s one of the best ones you’ll ever hear.

The music on Psychedelic Pill has its own groove and tempo that—despite the often harsh and raw timbre of the songs—encourages the listener to relax, wait and feel all of the communicated emotions in an unhurried manner. The record’s sonics are grounded in the language of rock music, but there’s something truly unique in the thick stew that Neil and Crazy Horse have brewed here. Miles Davis in 1970, Jimi Hendrix’s “Moon, Turn the Tides” from Electric Ladyland, Grateful Dead live “Dark Star” from around 1973; it’s hard to think of better comparisons.


From Review: Neil Young, 'Psychedelic Pill' : NPR by Tom Moon:
It's almost impossible to not be cynical about rock stars working the myth one more time; it's what they do when they reach a certain age. The thing is, even when Young deploys a chord sequence we've heard from him before, or sings a melody that echoes something he wrote in the '80s, the jagged, relentlessly fierce Crazy Horse is there to inject new backbone and spirit into the mix. The band doesn't just redeem Young's mawkish moments — it transforms them. They won't let this guy phone anything in, or rest on any laurels. He might prattle on like an old crank about the sound quality of digital files, as he does in one tune here. But it hardly matters, because when the singing stops and Young falls into step with the Crazy Horse ethos, the music positively erupts.

From Album Of The Week: Neil Young & Crazy Horse Psychedelic Pill - Stereogum by
If you’ve ingested enough psychedelic pills yourself, you’re well aware of the phenomenon of the flashback, that brief and disorienting instant when you have no idea if you’re five or 25. And Psychedelic Pill is flashback city, Young lyrically calling back to nuggets of thought from decades ago, sounding vaguely amazed by how vivid they still feel. The album has lyrics about hearing “Like A Rolling Stone” for the first time, about playing the same venue where he once saw Roy Orbison, about the province where he was born. And when he and Crazy Horse launch off on one of their extended instrumental journeys, which they do often, there’s an air of sense-memory about it all.
Young’s generous solos here don’t blaze or soar or shiver. His guitars and those of Frank “Poncho” Sampedro murmur back and forth, having quiet conversations that they’re not sure they want us to overhear. The vocal harmonies bring a sighing, comfortable awe that’s not quite as expected. Even on “Driftin’ Back,” that 27-minute opener, where Young occasionally steps to the mic and issues another old-man complaint, the complaints aren’t the real point of the song. The real point is in the stretching-into-infinity instrumental passages, and in the quieter bits where Young and his friends just repeat the song’s title softly to themselves. And I’ve found that the best way to listen to the album is to unstick myself from time, to let all those currents of guitar and voice carry me to a place deeper inside my own head.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Psychedelic Pill | Album Reviews | Pitchfork by
Bob Mitchum:
Thankfully, the album's final epic, "Walk Like a Giant", scrawls a jagged line through that cuddly history with a single chord change, coming immediately after an immensely dopey verse about how Neil and his friends were gonna save the world. In fact, "Walk Like a Giant", is easily the best studio Crazy Horse performance since Ragged Glory. Once again, the formula is unchanged-- it even swipes pretty heavily from the "Hey Hey My My" riff-- but between the verses the Horse is whipped until it foams at the mouth. Everything great about Neil Young, electric guitarist, is on full display, his singular tone veering from feral growls and feedback to blistering fury while the other three egg him on with subtle, perennially underrated counterpoint.
Despite the patience required to get there, the track underlines the greatest trick of Neil Young's long career: that his most self-indulgent mode can also be his most crowd-pleasing. At this point, the "these old guys still know how to rock!" angle for Crazy Horse is itself old enough to collect Social Security. But there's enough life and fuck-you attitude left in Psychedelic Pill to remind a listener that "it's better to burn out than to fade away" wasn't necessarily about dying young, so long as you avoided phoning it in. If circling the wagons is what it takes to keep Neil Young's fire raging, then just be happy he lets us pay to watch.

Bring on the self indulgence and revel in its ragged glory!

 
  
And while Pill probably isn't destined to be held in the same regard as such stone ‘70s classics as Zuma or Rust Never Sleeps (and its concert counterpart Live Rust), it's easily as tunefully unhinged as 1990's Ragged Glory and as sonically immediate as 1994's Sleeps With Angels; it's as pure a distillation of the band as one could hope for in 2012.


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50 Comments:

At 10/30/2012 10:10:00 AM, Blogger tuned4life said...

Psychedelic Pill blew in last night on a hurricane wind under a full moon. My friend at the House of Guitars in Rochester N.Y. said it would be alright if I drove in last night to pick it up a day early. 110 mile round trip through horizontal rain driven by 50-60 mph wind. I wanted to finish reading "Waging Heavy Peace" but I'm only 300 plus pages in. I'm a slow reader. I have read only 4 books in 40 years, Alcoholics Anonymous, Shakey, The Shack, and Waging Heavy Peace. I have been "Driftin Back" alot Myself lately. My Lady Friend and I danced to "Driftin Back" in the moon light last night until the Power went out. A big thanks to Neil for yet another special memory. And My Heart goes out to those suffering in the aftermath of "Sandy". Doug S. Warsaw N.Y.

 
At 10/30/2012 10:53:00 AM, Blogger dean farinha said...

I guess Neil, like us, is NOT a fan of the feed on the site?

I'm reading the book slowly for another reason... I just don't want it to end. I'm fighting the urge to buy PP on CD. I want to wait for the Blu-ray. I went out and bought a Blu-ray player for Americana and surround sound for Journeys. Don't know what to do for PP?

 
At 10/30/2012 11:14:00 AM, Blogger SONY said...

That is dedication Doug! Next time up let me know, I'll get together with ya!

 
At 10/30/2012 01:20:00 PM, Blogger Old Black said...

Just picked it up (CD) and listened in my car...so far - A+! The muddy mix issues and too much mid-lows on Americana are not a problem here. And Neil can still sing!

 
At 10/30/2012 06:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Dean,
Wait it out!
I'm holding out for the vinyl myself.
No need for you to receive only 15% of the experience.

Neil should release vinyl/blue rays first, don't you think. He promotes good sound but then he crams all these mp3 video things down on us before we even get a chance.
Anyway, poor me won't hear any of it til the 19th or whenever.


Syscrusher

 
At 10/30/2012 07:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh muma neil is doin nasty things with his guitar again!

 
At 10/30/2012 08:21:00 PM, Anonymous Ferryman said...

Number ONE on Amazon right now! Can't wait to pick up my copy tomorrow. And I'm only half way through Waging. Happy days.

Neil, get those Europe dates announced!

 
At 10/30/2012 08:27:00 PM, Blogger TonyACT said...

Just picked it up and can't wait to listen - Neil has done no wrong to me since the 60s - I even like Landing on Water and Fork in the Road - so yeah! Anyway, one nitpick, and Archives Guy - if you read this - can you ask whoever does the booklets to make the lyrics a tad bigger. A lot of us are old farts now and this and Americana have booklets which I just can't quite manage to read.

 
At 10/30/2012 08:29:00 PM, Anonymous ferryman said...

Sorry, I should have introduced myself! Been on this great blog every day for years, just checking out NY news. Not much of a poster until now (where are the smilies).

 
At 10/30/2012 08:47:00 PM, Blogger dean farinha said...

Couldn't agree more Syscrusher.
Put out the better quality stuff first.

 
At 10/30/2012 09:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1st track on PP "Driftin Back" Are you kidding me, 27 1/2mins long.....this is an awesome track

 
At 10/30/2012 10:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrasher, you need to get an updated screen shot from Amazon! At least for today, Psychedelic Pill is #1, beating out Taylor Swift. That's pretty fuckin' amazing if you ask me!

 
At 10/30/2012 10:49:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Updated screen shot with #1 rank. thanks.
congrats NY &CH!
we smell the oats!

 
At 10/30/2012 11:11:00 PM, Anonymous Skipthrows said...

Just finished my first run through of PP. Wow. Been waiting for this since I saw him unveil the new songs in ABQ. Not let down at all. Love how live the album feels

 
At 10/31/2012 08:57:00 AM, Blogger dean farinha said...

The cream rises to the top.
Beating Taylor Swift is huge. The air time she has been getting is insane! She has been on EVERY show out there. Everyone has a Taylor Swift, "Exclusive", how that's possible I don't know? Thank god music and the artist still means something in this pop/lip sync, viral video culture. Perhaps there is still hope for humanity...

 
At 10/31/2012 09:59:00 AM, Blogger Old Black said...

Thank you, Neil. Thank you!

PP is an amazing experience. There such joy, even in the sadder songs (Ramada Inn). Such joy comes through my speakers. The joy of a life together, with the horse and with the world. I haven't felt this way with a NY album since 1991 when I dropped the needle on Ragged Glory.

No disappointment. I want to walk like a giant on the land.

 
At 10/31/2012 01:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This CD has too many really good songs to say too much negative. I would hope that twisted road gets some radio play given its radio-friendly length, structure, and sound. In my commute to and from work (1 hr each way), I keep going to disk 2, as I just love the way that TR starts - the riff, the vocal mix is perfect. In the end, drift'n back is a hard listen: not because of the length, but those lyrics... Please head straight back in the studio as if it was 1974 and there was a lot of money to be made selling records :)

 
At 10/31/2012 01:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've listened to the album twice through since I picked it up last night and so far the track that stands out the most is "She's Always Dancing". Of course I love the tracks I knew from seeing them live in London, Ontario - but the opening with CH hitting those vocal chords on the lyric which slowly fades away to allow the guitar to feature on top of the vocals is awesome. I'm sure they achieve the effect simply by keeping the vocal volume steady and winding up the volume knob on the guitar, but it sounds so cool and has the listner doing a bit of interactive work when you find yourself straining to hear the words at the begining of the verse.
Overall the song makes really great use of the CH vocal dynamic and the guitar rises that come and go in their songs and we've come to expect in their work.
It's cool that there aren't many words in the song, but that vocally it's probably the most interesting on the record.
Great job NY&CH - really innovative sound!

 
At 10/31/2012 01:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this record is fabulous...!...and "she's always dancing"is such a surprise..! I think it's my favorite song on this album.. would be great to hear it live

 
At 10/31/2012 02:35:00 PM, Blogger Matthew L. said...

I picked up my copy yesterday.

During the 1/2 hour ride back with my friend, I asked her if we could throw in disc 1. She agreed.

Driftin' Back started playing, and after a couple minutes we started talking about something else and driving and blah blah blah, and the volume ended up getting turned down a few notches...

...and then we finally arrived home, and I turned the volume back up...

and Driftin' Back was still on.

Amazing. One song for nearly 30 minutes. The entire drive back from the music store.


 
At 10/31/2012 05:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2013 which is most likely-
Archives Vol. 2: 1973-1982
An Archive Performance Series release
An Archive Special Series release
Archive Original Series releases
Live Alchemy
New solo album
New crazy horse album
Trunk Show Blu-ray
Waging Heavy Peace 2
Early Daze
B-D Live releases

 
At 10/31/2012 05:24:00 PM, Anonymous TheRealDOD said...

I like the pump organ (sounds like it anyways) at the middle and onwards on Ontario.The whole album is just great.Excellent road music on Hwy.41.Thanks Neil and Co.

 
At 10/31/2012 06:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've Been Waiting For You ... Drives me crazy that my TW amazon pre-order got delayed (sandy?) ... It is what it is. Hi res feed was problematic but heard just enough of "Dancing" to know that's a good 'un. Love the way Ramada is blossuming live. Lyrics to Drifting' ... Hmmm...great groove tho' ....Also pre ordered the BluRay ...20 days more for that.... Then Live at the "Gahden" in Boston a few more days after that. It will be worth it. But It's so Hard To Wait....

 
At 10/31/2012 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Quotes from AllMusic.com by the same critic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, who outright panned "Americana."

"Fortunately, the band is sounding much more limber than they did on Americana, where it seemed like the group were picking up their instruments for the first time in a decade,..."

"Unlike Dylan -- or many other of his Baby Boomer peers -- Young sounds like a defiant old coot pining for his past, which makes Psychedelic Pill yet another oddity in a catalog filled with them: it's noise rock as comfort food."

I like the "noise rock as comfort food" line and I love this album. If you get the chance to see them live, just go. Smell the Horse!

 
At 11/01/2012 03:37:00 AM, Blogger TonyACT said...

OK - listened to it now - with a break of about an hour between the 2 CDs. All I can say is - blown away - best album for me since Ragged Glory, and I have liked a lot of Neil's recent material unlike some so-called 'fans'. For mine the last 10 years have been the best since the period from '69-'79. It was interesting to hear the new arrangement on 'For the Love of Man' (aka 'I Wonder Why'), I loved 'Walk Like a Giant' as the closer, though the last few minutes of Arc-like sounds will take some getting used to :)

 
At 11/01/2012 05:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FUCKING AWESOME ALBUM FROM THE GUYS. LONG RIDE TO THE HORSE

 
At 11/01/2012 07:51:00 AM, Blogger MARIAN M. said...

Thrasher:

I'm yet another person waiting for my Amazon purchased NYCH CD.

Something about Hurricane Sandy....

I was told that I'd receive it tomorrow (Friday). I'm endeavoring to stay calm, knowing that once it gets here, it's all mine!!!

I'm also enjoing reading reactions from others, anticipating the joy. While I wait and wait and wait, I've been enjoying NY Journeys" a whole lot.

I love all Neil's stuff, but it's interesting to note that the albums I find myself listening to the most are always the ones with Crazy Horse. There's just something about them together that's.....

Glad to hear you're safe and sound, Thrasher, and I wish only the best for everyone here.

Marian M.

 
At 11/01/2012 07:53:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

hmmmm...

I genuinely LOVE 'Driftin' Back'...I get what Neil is conveying...it's all in his delivery of the lame lyrics...

'Psychedelic Pill' - not doing it for me at all...st least not yet...

'Born in Ontario' - same as PP...not there with it yet...

'Ramada Inn' - wow and wow again...Billy Talbot brings this song home big time with his walk-down bass lines during the chorus...Neil crafted this one and it comes through...an epic with Neil's guitar carrying the emotion of the heartache and the struggle...

How does Neil take an A-E progression and make it interesting for twenty seven minutes on Driftin' Back'? ok there's the C change 'bridge' if you wanna call it that...geez...

Disc 2 tomorrow...maybe...and I agree with something I read here recently...PP and WHP dovetail nicely. I waited to begin reading the book until I had the new record...

 
At 11/01/2012 07:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Ramada Inn' reminds me of many Greendale songs in the way Neil is delivering the story...

 
At 11/01/2012 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Matthew L. said...

I can't get past Driftin' Back. I keep putting on disc 1 and replaying the same track. I dig it so.

Can't wait to get to track 2!

 
At 11/01/2012 12:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She's Always Dancing" has a heavy Greendale vibe to it. I wonder if the she who's always dancing is Sun Green?! Don't get me wrong. I love the new album and I love Greendale. Just that one song, the chorus and everything, sounds like "Be The Rain". Digging it. I think Neil should have listened to Poncho and recorded 3 albums!! More please...

 
At 11/01/2012 03:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of similarities to previous NY albums, I hear a distinct similarity between Shes always dancing (which is a great song in its own right) and throw your hatred down from Mirror Ball - specifically, the end of each version followed by the downward progression of three chords (I'm a novice guitarist, but the pros will know what I am talking about). I have not listend to MB in a few years (why??), and PP has me looking to buy a replacement copy of that CD.

 
At 11/02/2012 01:18:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

My preorder arrived the day of release and I linked off Thrasher's Wheat. What a fantastic album! Want Blu Ray PP but don't have the player yet. Got CD and am very thrilled with Neil's modern art, again, and again. Reading the book now, too. Very interesting. The new album is like a companion to the book. Thanks, Neil!

 
At 11/02/2012 11:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

where do you folks think this will reach in the charts? I think Americana was the highest the Horse had ever been in the charts, but where will the excellent PP peak? #2?

 
At 11/02/2012 12:16:00 PM, Blogger The Loner said...

I am here just to say this is a great album, especally all of the long tracks and For the Love of Man. I am not a fan of the title track - it is fun for one listening and then disturbing - but the bonus track is much better.
Hope to see him in Europe soon. Looking forward for my ninth Neil Young, this time I hope with two of my children.

 
At 11/02/2012 03:26:00 PM, Blogger Dominic Holdem said...

no way this charts in the top 30. the only reason americana charted is because they were giving them away with ticket purchases...i have 3 cds of americana, which is 3 too many.

pp is ok. just ok. a lot of the lyrics are just not good. hip hop haircut? really? i wish neil would take a little more time with his craft, but i'm not holding my breath. the guitar playing is top notch though.

 
At 11/02/2012 04:35:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

@Dominic - yes the lyrics to 'Driftin' Back' are awful, but only when viewed through a "traditional" singer/songwriter prism...

I really believe that the message Neil is conveying with Driftin' is in the long guitar passages and the chorus...AND in his delivery of the verses...

He's delivering the verses in a very matter-of-fact way, but the chorus of Driftin' Back is glorious CH harmony!!

Think about it...listen again...

 
At 11/02/2012 06:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have the album for a week now and really enjoying it. She's Always Dancin' may be the best track on it, kind of reminds me off Hurricane. Twisted Road is a great slice of country rock could have come from Zuma. Think the three epics are brilliant esp. Ramada Inn whic is extraordinary.
Young is on his best run of albums (Living With War, Chrome Dreams II, Fork In The Road, Le Noise, Psychedelic Pill (not counting Americana)) since 1989-1995 (Freedom, Ragged Glory, Harvest Moon, Sleeps With Angels, Mirror Ball). Hope this run continues for some time (though we know this might change with the next one!)

 
At 11/02/2012 07:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Driftin' Back" is just a jam with tossed-off lyrics, the Horse getting back in the groove. Like Poncho told OffBeat magazine in New Orleans: "We ended 'Americana' and Neil said, 'Well I don’t have anything else to record now.' We were getting together every full moon to record and I said, 'Neil, we’re kind of famous for jamming, we don’t have a jam here.' Neil said, 'Yeah, you’re right, maybe we should have a jam song on this record, but I don’t really have one.' The next time we got together he was playing these two chords and singing into the mic but we couldn’t really hear the words; I guess he was still working on them. We played for 26 minutes and it ends up being 'Drifting Back.' "

 
At 11/02/2012 08:36:00 PM, Blogger Dominic Holdem said...

hey now now now, hey now now, i like driftin' back! just wish the old fart would put a little more value in the lyrics, that's all. we've all seen the original lyrics to "cinnamon girl", right? do you prefer those to the final cut?

 
At 11/03/2012 09:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone know if there is any difference on the "limited" vinyl version from neilyoung.com and amazon. Also, the Cleveland show was killer.

 
At 11/03/2012 09:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

delayed pre-order arrived and worth the waiting - as i was listening, I played around with the google maps and found there is a ramada inn near the grapevine. (screenshot on its way)

I'm thinking Ramada could be one of the most beautiful country songs ever - subject, tone, even a bottle - don't get me wrong it sounds great with Crazy Horse - Dancin'is a good as I thought it would be when I heard a snippet earlier - looking forward to getting that blu-ray and turning them speakers up full blast - enjoy y'all

 
At 11/03/2012 10:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I broke my car stereo speakers listening to WLAG full blast last night. Funny thing is, I knew the speaker blew, but it was the right speaker, which is the side that Neil's guitar is on, and somehow it only made the song better!!! YUP. that's the definition of a a good Neil Young song: when a blown speaker only makes the song better. LOL.

I want more NY&CH. BUT, if this is the swang song, then it is only fitting that WLAG is the last song on the last NY&CH album - should they go out on top? Should they pull a Jordan? (at least the first retirement).

PS. I listened to Mirror Ball for the first time in two years. Holy crap: I forgot just how amazing that album was.

 
At 11/03/2012 10:59:00 PM, Blogger D. I. Kertis said...

Interesting story: I finally got 'Psychedelic Pill' today. Thing is, it was considerably more difficult than I thought. I was planning a weekend trip to Barnes and Noble (I'm still very attached to the physical product, rather than mp3s) , but when I was searching online through the "Find in Store" feature earlier today, 'Psychedelic Pill' was listed as not in stock at any Barnes and Noble with a 100 mile radius of my postal code. Either it sold *really* well, there are some retails delivery problems going (possibly due to the hurricane--which was crappy timing for the album's release), or perhaps some of both. I know the album's been pretty well-recived by the critics and the fans so far, and it looks like it is selling well.

Anyway, 'Psychedelic Pill' is interesting so far, although I've yet to listen fully. As such, I've me some more time before expecting any great reflections. When the first track is twenty-seven minutes long, it takes time to work through things. "Driftin' Back" is a little nuts, it has to be said. I like it musically, especially the introduction--which I thought was a clever, engaging switch-up for Neil. It sounds cool and has its groove. The lyrics are on the bizarre side, although some of the earlier comments had me worried that they would be worse than they are. The form and structure are simple if not simplistic, but to be honest, I find it hard to take issue with "Hey, hey, now, now" without also taking issue with "Hey, hey, my, my."

"Driftin' Back" is evidently meant to drift a little, or at least, I doubt that the title is any coincidence knowing Neil. I get the impression it's also meant to sound like a mantra: "Blocking out my anger". It seems to be about the search for something soulful or spiritually genuine in a world where many things are commercialized, superficial, phony, and purely profit-driven, whether the issue is mp3s or organized religion.
"Driftin' Back" seems to be an experiment, lyrically in particular, and I'm glad he did it even though it may have its strengths and weaknesses. By the way, I'm not one of those who finds a twenty-seven minute piece to be especially "self-indulgent" or arrogant. Not when Neil is asking us to devote time to an 85-minute album in the first place.

'Psychedelic Pill', the title track, is remarkable just because of how well it evokes the sound and feeling of rock music circa 1970. (I"m talking about the first version here, not the bonus alternate mix, which I have yet to give the attention it's due). 'Ramada Inn' also has its appeal.

Overall, I love the musical sound of the album and it seems to have a groove, but based even on the partial impressions I've been able to gather so far, I'm hesitating to call it five stars yet. Four might be fair, but I really have to give the second disc more attention before I'm in any position to judge. So far, I will say it's not making the same immediate impression that on me that 'Le Noise' did. Then again, my tastes may be odd. I prefer 'Sleeps with Angels' over 'Ragged Glory', can actually bear to play 'Are You Passionate?' all the way through now and then, and I'm not one of those who's spent the last ten years saying Neil needed to get back together with Crazy Horse.

 
At 11/03/2012 11:20:00 PM, Blogger D. I. Kertis said...

Marian M--

I ended up getting my copy from a local book and music store. I was trying to get it through Barnes and Noble. They had it available for order online, but when I tried to find it in-store by entering my postal (zip) code, it was listed as "out of stock" at all stores with a 100 hundred mile radius! (Of course, I wasn't going to drive 100 miles even for Neil Young, but I extended my search that far just out of curiosity.) And all of this happened to me just today, so it sounds like there are definitely some problems with retail delivery for this item at the moment. The street date was right when Hurricane Sandy hit, so that was crappy timing for sure. Although with online shopping these days, it doesn't seem to be getting in the way of sales, interestingly enough. I just wonder how long before some of the poor people in New York get to hear it. The last I heard, there were people out there still without power. Without iTunes and online stores, I suspect this album wouldn't sell as well. Say what you will about mp3s, but it means that people can buy the album without ever having to leave their house or relying on any kind of courier service.

 
At 11/03/2012 11:37:00 PM, Blogger D. I. Kertis said...

Has anyone else noted that the alternate 'Psychedelic Pill' art ended up on the cover of the lyric booklet? Has anyone else also noted that it's near impossible to read the lyrics without holding the paper against your nose? I like the booklet it self (the shape and art design, etc.), but why is the print *so* small? Is it designed for the vinyl release? Is this somehow more eco-friendly?

By the way, never read the lyrics before hearing the songs. You could read through the entire booklet easily well before the first track ends, but don't. I made the mistake of flipping through it. 'Psychedelic Pill', the title track, didn't seem like it would be too impressive based on the lyrics, but when I heard the music and the overall sound and concept they were going for, my mind was changed entirely. I get that song now and I like what they're doing with it. Don't do what I did and prejudice yourself by reading the lyrics without the context of the music and the album. It seems obvious now that just the lyrics on paper present an incomplete piece of art and not a song or a piece of music at all, but I wasn't thinking at the time.

 
At 11/03/2012 11:58:00 PM, Blogger D. I. Kertis said...

Jonathan--

I'm not going to give up on Driftin' Back like some others have, either. Whatever Poncho or anyone else was aware of at the time, I don't think Neil wrote the lyrics like that by accident. Just like he wrote 'Fork in the Road' (the song) that way on purpose. Driftin' Back sounds like part mantra and, sometimes, part send-up of rap and other overly simplistic popular music. In the latter regard, it vaguely reminds of Cough up the Bucks. It's a little nuts (not least of all on account of its being twenty-seven minutes long), but it has potential. Neil openly states in the lyric that he's blocking out thoughts and letting feelings through, so it's not going to be one of his most prosaic or lyrically ornate numbers.

About the title track, I would hang on if I were you. I made the mistake of leafing through the booklet while Driftin' Back was playing, and in the process saw a bunch of lyrics without the music, some of which didn't seem very impressive on their own. So I wasn't sure 'Psychedelic Pill', the song, was going to be that great based on lyrics alone, but when I heard the song, it clicked. It was all in what they did with it--the music and concept/arrangement. I love the sound. It reminds me a little of 'Opera Star', but at the same time, I think it's one of the most effective psychedelic throwback songs Neil and the Horse have ever done, which is saying something considering the amount of nostalgia for old times that the relatively recent albums ('Ragged Glory' onwards) have displayed. So, stupid me: I prejudiced myself by looking at lyrics I should have known didn't represent a complete piece of music. Thanks, Neil, for reminding this book worm that there's sometimes more to it than words.

 
At 11/04/2012 06:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have listened a few times through. Some observations, much of it concurs with what others have said:

Great album, classic NY&CH sound. Looking forward to seeing live at MSG.

The album will be defined by Driftin' Back, Ramada Inn, and WLAG. Ramada Inn and WLAG are just all time great songs. I know I will still want to listen to these decades from now. Driftin' Back is noteworthy for its length, but the sound gets in me. I don't think he necessarily sets out to make a song this long. I think he just goes for as long as it feels right. That's just who he is.

Of the other songs, She's Always Dancing also just really works for me. Completely agree with the comparison to Be The Rain. Mostly for the background vocals, but also the drums in some strange way. The song Psychedelic Pill is working it's way in for me, so we'll see.

Really looking forward to seeing him. This will be my third time. First was solo Harvest Moon pre-release. Obviously great show, and probably your best opportunity to hear morons repeatedly shout "Sugar Mountain" in a desperate plea. Then Chrome Dreams tour, which was just plain awesome. Now for the first time with CH. It's a gift. Kind of my own trilogy.

 
At 11/04/2012 06:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright, need to amend my post above. This actually will be my 4th time seeing Neil. Forgot to include Farm Aid I in 1985.

 
At 11/06/2012 09:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The album has debuted at #14 in the UK Charts and inside top 20 in several countries around the world including #9 in Ireland.

 

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