The Monsanto Years: Going Where No Musician Has Gone Before
A very extensive and in depth track by track analysis of Neil Young and The Promise Of The Real "The Monsanto Years" (2015) | Alan's Album Archives:
I would hate to get on the wrong side of Neil Young.This is a very detailed review of The Monsanto Years and we urge all to give it a full reading. (Thanks Alan!)
Though it takes a lot to make him angry, once Neil's passion is roused it seems to be very hard for him to put that fire out. Where most singer-songwriters would turn a problem into a single song and forget about it the minute the studio lights go out, Neil can and does spend whole albums exploring what's on his mind and on his heart. Neil chooses his targets with care too: in the past only Richard Nixon and George Bush have felt the full force of his wrath but here it is again, this time aimed squarely at a company most famous for producing genetically modified crops. As far as I know no musician has ever had a go at a single company before - except the odd record label perhaps - but suddenly it all makes sense as Neil uses Monsanto as both a specific case of corruption and scandal everyone can relate to and as a wider metaphor for what has gone wrong with the world in the past few years (Starbucks gets quite a kicking too). 'Too rich for jail' Neil sighs, before sarcastically cackling 'Corporations have 'feelings', they're just like people - just harder to control!'
Even more than 'Living With War, the anti-Iraq and Afghanistan war album from 2005, this sounds like the album it felt like Neil and his colleagues should be making in the wake of 'Ohio', standing up for those who don't have a voice and trying to add his own views to run alongside what gets reported in the media as the 'truth'. The biggest problem with this record is that its not the CSNY album it should be and that Neil's ability to get mad means that he's still mad at his old buddies who could have shaped this record from another promising-but-not-quite-there record into the comeback album of all time: this album seems built for burning Stills-Young guitar duels and angelic mocking harmonies and would have benefited greatly from having a couple of songs by each of CSN to compare and contrast with. As with so many Neil albums recently, 'Monsanto' would have made a bigger impact still if it hadn't quite so much the same all the way through.
A couple of quick points just on this brief opening: 1) It is important to note how unique it is what Neil Young has done here in terms of nearly single handedly taking on one the biggest, baddest corporate actors out there, and 2) while it may have been even more compelling with CSNY or SY, it seems that the youthful vigor of POTR is the real deal.
The Monsanto Years - Neil Young + Promise Of The Real
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Also, see Corporate Food, Will It Make You Fat and Sick?