Comment of the Moment: POTR & CSNY
Camden, NJ - July 16, 2015
Photo Gallery by TW
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Regarding our latest Comment of the Moment, a couple of quick points.
First, it's comments like these that keep us going here at TW. It really is inspiring to know and be part of such a dynamic community. Neil fans/rusties are simply the best folks on earth.
Second, we still find it somewhat mind boggling that with Neil Young -- after 45+ years of making music with awesome musicians -- we could possibly be debating whether his newest and latest band The Promise Of The Real is one of his best ever. But, hey, welcome to Neil World!
So, on to our Comment of the Moment on the post The Monsanto Years: Going Where No Musician Has Gone Before where we highlighted an in-depth review and analysis of Neil Young and The Promise Of The Real's album "The Monsanto Years" (2015) from Alan's Album Archives. In the review, Alan makes the observation that maybe CSNY would have been a better choice for the material than POTR.
Naturally, there was some disagreement with that premise. :)
And, graciously, the reviewer Alan Pattinson took the time to drop by and politely explain and elaborate.
Hello! I'm the original reviewer over at Alan's Album Archives and have just discovered Thrasher's Wheat has very kindly linked to my post!Thanks again Alan, TopangaDaze, and everyone else for engaging on the topic and keeping it REAL!
Thank you for all the comments.
I must admit that no I haven't seen Promise Of The Real live and yes I could well believe that they would change my mind, the way that so many other Neil Young live bands have in the past - goodness knows enough have done that over the years! Until they release a record of the tour though (and goodness knows if they ever will or not - I can never guess which tours Neil will choose to turn into live albums!) I'm trying to limit my reviews to just the records, as those are what we all have access to as a document of each Neil Young era - I've seen Neil in concert far less than most of you probably have (He doesn't tour the UK that often for a start!) so my comparing tours would be a bit unfair, simply because there's so many I haven't heard (or have only heard on muffled bootlegs!) At least the records are an even playing field that everyone who reads my site in any era will get to know.
If you've come to my site straight to this review you might not know that I am, first and foremost, a CSN/Y fan rather than a purist Neil Young fan. I respect all sides of Neil's art and love almost all of it (though Greendale is a struggle!) but CSNY are a natural reference point to me as a sign of what a great band ought to be, truthful and righteous and courageous. I have always felt that this band have so much more to give the world, even if they haven't given it for a while, and I long for a last great CSNY record that I fear might not come now given recent rifts between Neil and Crosby, so that's more what I was trying to say. It does make perfect sense for Neil to record an album about modern problems with a modern band, but as a CSNY fan I think quite a few Neil Young albums would be better as CSNY ones! While clearly CSN had their best days behind them a long time ago, they still make some wonderful music together and apart to my ears: I loved 'After The Storm' and the CPR albums and Nash's 'Songs For Survivors' even more than some of the Neil Young albums of the past twenty years. Though I'm closer in age to 'Promise Of The Real' (I'm 33!) for me their songs are still relevant to my times too, of all eras.
No disrespect meant to The Promise of The Real - of all Neil's bands they have the most potential to be the 'next' CSNY and if Neil won't go back to the mothership I hope he stays with them as I agree, they are the sound of the future and what Neil needs now. But why have a second CSNY when the first is still there, with all the original members still alive and still making (occasionally) great music? I know to many fans they're an anachronism and their standing has undoubtedly slipped, but to me we need CSNY more than we ever have and even a diluted CSNY still have more power than most bands I think, even Promise Of The Real for me (though again if they ever do a live album I reserve the right to change my mind!)
And yes Paul - 'bemusement' is a better word than 'angry' now I think about it. I might go back and change that now! I meant 'angry' compared to the even mellower Neil Young albums of recent years ('Storytone' and 'A Letter Home' are the definition of mellow!) rather than 'Ohio' or even 'Rockin' In The Free World'. Neil sounds more resigned to doing his duty by making these points now than thinking that a song 'can change the world'.
Anyway, I love nothing more than discussing points with fellow fans - thankyou for taking the time to read my work and thankyou to Thresher's Wheat for including it! A peaceful Neil Young-filled day to you all! 8>)
At 9/09/2015 01:19:00 PM, Blogger The Zuma Band said...
Thanks for providing context for your perspective. I'm totally in the NY camp. Though I do appreciate what CSN, and later &Y, brought to music, I've always felt that in many ways they (CSN) sat on and squandered their own musical legacy and talents, while Neil Young continued his impulsive, erratic, and always determined explorations. I think they peaked in the early 70s and just coasted down hill since. There is no way they can physically reach the peaks that their wonderful harmonies could then. I wouldn't expect that of any musician 40 years later, and after all the years of drugs and drink even less so. Crosby is just lucky to be alive, thanks to Neil Young. I see why you would like them to do the Monsanto material with NY, but, aside from the brouhaha with Crosby, NY has to feel he's "been there, done that" with the LWW material, and so he has moved on. In doing so he is being completely true to form.
"Greendale", btw, is one of my favorite albums, but for very personal reasons. We all hear and experience through our own subjective filters.
At 9/09/2015 07:17:00 PM, Blogger Alan Pattinson said...
Zuma Band - thanks for your reply!
There's a part of me that agrees with you: CSN have never fulfilled their potential and yes I absolutely see why Neil might not want to work with them again and isn't 'going back to Woodstock for a while'. (Rust Never Sleeps, and all that). I totally get where you're coming from and might even be tempted to dig out 'Greendale' again to see what I missed! But I still think the old machine just needs a bit of wd40 and a service and it can still deliver. I can still hear so much potential for CSN, maybe even CSN/Y if Neil's in the right mood at the right time. Perhaps I've been blinded by half-returns to form too much or a bit of hippie hope, but I still think that they're proven geniuses - flawed and diluted geniuses maybe but still geniuses. The Promise of the real are only a promise so far after one album maybe? Anyway, you've hit the nail on the head - we are all looking for our own things. I write my reviews so fans can see another perspective - I'd never claim to be 'right' on something as subjective as music. Neil will do what he wants anyway, no matter what any of us want! Anyway good fun talking to you!
As for Stills his voice has certainly gone but the guitar playing is still there. That together with Crosby and Nash's voices are still a winning combination for me - but hey I'll probably be saying the same thing about Promise Of The Real if they last long enough! I do hear a lot of fans moaning about Nash's smugness which I've never really seen, but all I can say is if I still sounded that good I'd be pretty smug too! 8>)
At 9/09/2015 07:34:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...
Thanks for sharing your views re: CSN/Y, etc. I think most of us here tend to have a Neil "arrogance" and look down slightly on CSN. In our world, Neil's the seeker, the doubter, the nitroglycerin laced restless ball of energy that needs to bounce from star to star. Sure he's wildly erratic, but he's almost always curiously interesting whether we like what he's doing or not.
CSN on the other hand have always seemed fairly content within their musical family tree and don't really try to challenge themselves or their audience in too many ways. At times I've wished Neil was a little more like CSN in that desire to please fans, but overall, Neil's boundary pushing has kept us engaged as a fan base, though regrettably we're getting smaller in numbers.
CSN doesn't seem to foster as many fanatical fans, but they probably have many more casual fans than Neil does. They still have the overall name recognition, and most of the world still primarily knows Neil through CSN, so their legacies will always be linked. Also, I still think they'll do something together again down the road when Neil realizes a few things, though I'm not sure what those "things" are...
"Leave us Helpless, Helpless, Helpless"
At 9/09/2015 07:49:00 PM, Blogger Alan Pattinson said...
Topanga - Well said! I do wish CSN were a little more like Neil sometimes too, as well as vice versa, although they do still surprise me more than some other bands of their generation (Stills' rap song on 'Looking Forward' for instance, or the CPR albums, or Nash's 'Liar's Nightmare' in recent years); there just hasn't been enough for a full album of their stuff and they need their stuff to appeal to so many people whereas Neil sells enough copies not to care. There's just something about those harmonies and having three voices going in three directions but all saying the same thing in harmony that works so well for me, trebling the impact a 'normal' writer would have when they all get together and are on it at the same time. Even Neil only seems to explore each of his characters one by one these days which is a shame - I long for him to do another 'Freedom' so we can hear so many sides of him all at once. I do hope they do something together again one day - I'd hate for their legacy to end with 'Looking Forward', although I could live with the 'CSNY '74' box as a postscript! Thanks for chatting! 8>)
At 9/09/2015 10:58:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...
All well balanced comments.
CSN legacy? So that's as below:
Wind On The Water (CN)
The cupboard is bare.I hear Nash promoting his song writing - where's the evidence?
In 30 years 3-4 songs!
Neil will never record again with them (not only because of the Hannah stance) but because he doesn't need them - only needed them around 1970. 4 Way Street was their prime.
At 9/10/2015 12:38:00 AM, Blogger Alan Pattinson said...
Andy - I'm beginning to get the feeling I'm a lone voice on this site but I do have to stick up for some of the CSN canon! The run of records Stills had from his debut record through to the Manassas debut right up to 'Stills' in 1975 is unbeaten for me as a writer and performer. Crosby and Nash have been patchier but their early solo and joint work is impressive too (agree with you re Wind On The Water), and even more recently the trio album 'After The Storm' and the CPR albums could hold their own with Neil's from the same period I thought. Or maybe that's just me.
The problem is that Neil has always released so much quality material that you can overlook the odd bad song that doesn't quite work and appreciate it as breaking new ground. CSN release so little that they don't have that same luxury and do seem more afraid to stretch themselves, which is a problem when you have less showcases to prove what you can really do. I do wish they'd done more, together or apart, though Stills' 'Man Alive' record was the only one I thought was really bad. Neil got lucky with Reprise sticking by him and giving him more freedom - I wonder what might have happened if he'd stuck with Atlantic and been sacked before the end of the doom trilogy?! I would have been very interested to see where CSN's legacy might have gone if they'd ever finished their 'covers' album with Rick Rubin too, but sadly we will probably never know! Anyway, always interesting to speculate and debate these things! 8>)
"It's a bad day to do nothin'!" or "Right side of left - right side of wrong!"