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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Comment of the Moment: The Logic of Neil Young Critics


"Love and Only Love"
Neil Young + Promise of the Real

Camden, NJ - July 16, 2015
Photo by TW
(Note the back bending solo by Micah on right!
Click photo to enlarge)

The Comment of the Moment is from Camden, NJ Concert Reports - Neil Young + Promise of the Real, July 16, 2015 and questions the logic of Neil Young critics. We're highlighting this here because it so well encapsulates the back and forth debates that we've had over the years regarding Neil Young's "Message Albums" such as the latest The Monsanto Years.

From commenter Keith B.:
The Philadelphia Inquirer review was positive and that's good.

But a curious thing from critics, professional and otherwise: They say, as this man does, that Neil Young is a force of nature in concert; that Promise of the Real is the real deal and in some ways like a young Crazy Horse, and in other ways maybe better; that the new songs rock in concert; that young audiences like them and get them. BUT the new record, The Monsanto Years, is tiresome and mediocre.

Think about that logic.

Is it not possible that the critics are wrong in their assumption that political songs cannot be good music? And that there is a line from Mother Nature being on the run in the 1970s, to "Mother Earth," to "Working Man" ? And a line from old fans to young? And the musician and the citizen are one guy? The poet and the angry prophet are one guy? It's clear he cares deeply about these new songs. Look at how he sings them. Monsanto Years is about saving the earth, wrapped in jaunty tunes. it's a damn good record. A brave one.

And, folks, it's all one song.


Philly review by Dan DeLuca, Inquirer Music Critic:

What would it take for Neil Young to not be great?

For his show Thursday night at the Susquehanna Bank Center, the 69-year-old rock legend stacked the odds against himself. His new album, The Monsanto Years, is an unrelenting salvo against factory farming, genetically modified organisms, and corporate greed, one of those full-length rants the cranky Canadian can get away with without completely alienating his fan base, because - well, because he's Neil Young.

Even loyalists in Young's aging fan base are justifiably skeptical: Will he come out and play the mediocre-at-best new album in its entirety, punctuated by angry diatribes? Will he even reward us, in the end, with "Cortez the Killer" or "Cinnamon Girl"?

At the Susq, the mystery was compounded as the lights dimmed and the show began with trademark Young theatrical weirdness. Straw-hatted crew members dressed as farmers moved about, pretending to plant seeds on the stage.

Eventually, Young emerged and sat stage left at the piano, fedora down over his brow as he opened with the timeless 1970 eco-anthem "After the Gold Rush." Maybe everything was going to be OK after all. That was part of a mini-acoustic set that found him in fine, keening voice, reedy harmonica notes hanging in the air on an idyllic summer night. It went "Heart of Gold," "Long May You Run," "Old Man," and "Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)," the latter at the pump organ, as Young pleaded: "Respect Mother Earth and her giving ways/ Don't trade away our children's days."

In the next bit of kooky stagecraft - before the entrance of Young's backing band, Promise of the Real, featuring Willie Nelson's sons Lucas and Micah - a team of hazmat-suited roadies came on, acting as if they were poisoning all those precious seedlings by spraying them with pesticides. It seemed like the hectoring was about to begin. But no. Instead, it was the next stage of a shambling show that would stretch over three hours, eventually finding time for most of the bluntly artless Monsanto songs, but also taking a winning tour through Young's vast catalog.

Starting out with "Hold Back the Tears" (from 1977's American Stars 'n Bars) and "Out on the Weekend" (from 1972's Harvest), the show started out folkie and familial and grew in electric intensity and volume as the evening proceeded.

(Review continues at Philadelphia Inquirer.)
Thanks Keith B.! Well, we know what Neil would say about critics' logic... walk on, we presume.

Keep on keeping it all REAL.

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2 Comments:

At 7/19/2015 03:20:00 PM, Blogger Art Carey said...

Political Songs can be good music. The songs on Monsanto Years just happen to ahve pedestrian lyrics and (mostly) unenjoyable vocals.

 
At 7/19/2015 08:46:00 PM, Blogger John Tewks said...

Yeah I like the new album a lot! It sounds like Greendale part two to me or Mirror Ball which are some of my favourite modern NY albums. I hardly notice the ranting and raving any more with him and I know his heart is in the right place, and the song "People Just Want to Hear about Love" is genius. As is Wolf Moon; That song sounds like something off Harvest or On the Beach. Definite future classics. PS Where's the vinyl?

 

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