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Neil Young's new album EARTH released on June 17th. The album with The Promise of the Real, is from the 2015 tour. Pre-order here
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Monday, April 18, 2016

NEW ALBUM: "Earth" by Neil Young & Promise Of The Real

Neil Young
2014-07-12, Hyde Park, London, England
Photo Paolo Brillo |Facebook
(Click photo to enlarge)

Some commentary by Neil Young on his upcoming new album with Promise Of The Real titled Earth.

Here's an update from Neil on his new EARTH album courtesy of the PONO forums (Thanks MoeTheSleaze!):
I have been listening to my new album EARTH on Audeze earphones in PONO balanced mode. The sound is amazing and i feel the music the way I love to. It is just like being in the studio but no one can hear it but me as I sit in front of the fireplace. 98 uninterrupted minutes long, EARTH flows as a collection of 13 songs from throughout my life, songs i have written about living here on our planet together. Our animal kingdom is well represented in the audience as well and the animals, insects, birds and mammals actually take over the performances of the songs at times. My listening experience in balanced mode reveals the great depth of EARTH as it was performed live with Promise of the Real. We are preparing to offer earphones and buds for listening to EARTH and your life long favorites in PONO balanced mode. These amazing products will be available in our Pono store, separately or in sets with our incredibly satisfying PonoPlayers soon. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do. PONO is alive and well, growing at the pace it needs to grow to maintain the quality you deserve. England, you are next.

Thanks for listening!


neil
Already, a fair amount of chatter on Neil's update here on TW, mainly centered on the PONO technology itself.

From the comment "a collection of 13 songs from throughout my life" it seems as if the album will be comprised of live cuts from last year's tour with Promise Of The Real.

Nonetheless, Neil remains committed and passionate regarding PONO music.

Here's a "dream track listing" by TopangaDaze on TW comments:

Mother Earth
Harvest Moon
Human Highway
Wolf Moon
After the Goldrush
Helpless
Goin' Back
Words
Here We Are in the Years
Who's Gonna Stand Up?
L.A.
Comes a Time
Rockin' in the Free World

Nice list TopangaDaze. But it seems a bit light on Monsanto Years cuts? Certainly Neil will throw a few more MY cuts on the album.

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50 Comments:

At 4/18/2016 10:48:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Thanks Thrash and again, welcome back! It's good to see new posts again and hear a little community chatter.

As a minor quibble, my list of 13 songs for the upcoming album was my prediction of the songs to be included, not necessarily my dream track listing. My prediction was based on Neil's description of "13 songs from throughout my life, songs I have written about living here on our planet together."

Regarding the lack of Monsanto cuts, my theory was that Neil said they were songs from throughout his life, so I made the assumption he wouldn't focus too much on his most recent material. I think his primary focus will be songs that reference the environment in both large and small ways and our role in the humanity we bring to it along with all life forms.

As always,

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

 
At 4/19/2016 01:09:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

98 minutes ! let's hope that Ms Hannah hasn't been a big influence here - are we allowed to mention his new lady? 98 minutes !

 
At 4/19/2016 03:22:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Welcome back from Vacation, Thrashers. You deserve a wonderful time away, and a whole lot more. I hope the new album gets a Blu Ray release as well, since Uncle Neil convinced me some years back to invest in it. I remain excited and open minded about the next release, as I have for the last 28 years… with a proven track record of way more hits than misses, and I do mean like an arrow hitting a target, not the kind of hit you would hear on Top 40. Bring it on, Neil. So glad the guy stays interested in his own art. So productive. Glad he's not doing the great american songbook circuit. Peace. Alan in Seattle

 
At 4/19/2016 04:02:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

When I first heard about this record I assumed it would be an Arc-like collage of the instrumental sections/guitar solos. Now we know it's 13 songs. There will have to be a fair few of the long songs to take up that amount of running time. I agree with Thrasher that at least some of the Monsanto material will make an appearance. Big Box, perhaps?

Say what you like about this project, but it's got me really intrigued for the first time since Psychedelic Pill. I love this description of "animals taking over the instruments".

Scotsman.

 
At 4/19/2016 06:55:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Sorry guys I can't share your excitement - the long songs on Pill didn't work for me.

Lyrically Neil is going through a bad patch - Storytone being the nadir.

As a Neil fan for 40 + years it's great so many new fans ARE enjoying his artistic if not critical resurgence - BUT WE ARE ALL KIDDING OURSELVES HERE IF WE THINK THIS IS NEIL AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME. I think we let much of his woeful songwriting in the last 10 years slip through because of his age.

P.S. what's happened to Pegi's career?

 
At 4/19/2016 10:59:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Andy: I've written a few posts and read pretty much every post written here over the last few years. We are fans and many of us have rose colored glasses on, but I'd say 90%+ here realize this isn't Neil's peak period as a recording artist.

That being said, his recent tours (Solo 2014, POTR 2015) were largely a fans dream. He delivered the goods, providing a career retrospective while still including a large dose of new material for those of us who appreciate Neil is still speakin' out and searching for what may or may not be found.

Regarding Pegi's career, the Bridge school is still thriving in helping kids and their families realize their maximum potential. A very fulfilling career indeed!!

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

 
At 4/19/2016 11:06:00 AM, Blogger rightwing said...

I'm 50 years old and I've seen Neil over 50 times. Unfortunately, you can count all of the times in the last 15 years on one hand. It's not just the ticket prices, although that is a critical issue. When Neil is at his best, his song writing is unparalleled, and there is no guitarist who captivates me more. But, I can't state how tired I am of his politics, and his perennial sales pitches. Before Y2K, his political statements were just as passionate, but succinct. Since then, he has devolved into rambling on endlessly about his politics, and his music has suffered significantly. Of course, I will buy the new album. I own everything he has done in multiple formats, but I won't buy the earbuds. I won't buy the Pono. I'll listen to "Earth" once or twice, put it away, and then pull out "On The Beach" and listen to it for the millionth time. Neil, if your there, refocus, as you have so many times before. At one time you were the voice of a generation, now you're the voice of a political party.

 
At 4/19/2016 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Pocahontas said...

Who's at the top of their game at 70? Every new song from the man is a gift wether you resonate with it or not. I like Driftin Back, Glimmer, Say Hello toChicago for ex. Others won't. Waging Heavy Peace, PP and Stortytone reveal that Neil has been going through an intense period of grief and nostalgia. This music reflects that. Pegi is reconverging from all the change as well and just got a new female bass player to replace Rick and has some new songs according to FB.

 
At 4/19/2016 12:57:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

and so it goes.....PP with the Horse will likely be the last great album Neil releases....yes that's quite cynical.....& those songs were written before the split with Pegi (mostly).....gee wonder why that is?......ever since it's been quite the mess.....

Is Neil going to be trendy & boycott North Carolina too over a law banning transgender weirdos (redundant) from bathrooms?

fight so-called climate change....take a private jet & fly to Europe......lol....

 
At 4/19/2016 05:48:00 PM, Blogger M.Winston Young said...

I don't see this being as a collection of live cuts. If these aren't new songs he's recording, then it's more likely that these are re-recorded versions of older songs, perhaps some previously unreleased. With Promise Of The Real he could take a song like 'Birds' and give it a compete makeover, with birds singing in the background.

 
At 4/19/2016 06:31:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

M. Winston Young: Interesting take, but according to Neil it looks like the songs are culled from the live POTR tour:

"reveals the great depth of EARTH as it was performed live with Promise of the Real"

Based on Neil's descriptions of the upcoming album, it's certainly difficult to figure out what this collection may sound like.

I think Scotsman was on to something when he mentioned there would need to be several long songs on the album, because we know it's 13 songs and 98 minutes. By my rough math, that's 7.5 minutes per song! Scotsman also mentioned an Arc-like collage of instrumentals, and I can't help but feel there will be some similarities.

To Neil, a "song" can be defined in several ways, so among his cryptic comments, the only thing I think we know at this juncture is that the "Earth" album is 98 minutes long. The 13 songs may be snippets of songs, they may be hybrid versions of songs, they may be wordless, they may be augmented by various sound effects and mood collages.

Well, at the very least, Neil has us guessing. What do you say Thrash, how about a contest to see who can most accurately predict the songs/style of the album? Maybe a free t-shirt or album to the winner?

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

 
At 4/19/2016 07:44:00 PM, Blogger timothy fontenot said...

I agree with most of you guys on everything whether it is negative or positive about NY but rightwing wrote everything as I would have except the only difference he's ten years younger than me. Thanks rightwing.

 
At 4/19/2016 08:54:00 PM, Blogger astrololee said...

"Our animal kingdom is well represented in the audience as well and the animals, insects, birds and mammals actually take over the performances of the songs at times".

Hahaha, I had to laugh at this statement, maybe he was "tongue in cheek" referring to us, the audience as being the animals...lol and as for the insects, birds and mammals actually taking over the performance at times, WOW is the Earth album going to be a bit like "Caravanseraiesque", if so, well in my opinion that was one hell of an album!

Anyway, what ever Neil & Promise Of The Real, give us, I am happy to receive. Neil has been playing very enthusiastically with these youngsters and I am glad they have all had another opportunity to record another album, together.

As we all know with Neil, he quickly moves on from the last project to the next but the important thing is, he remains relevant, whether you like the style of his current muse or not, he still remains prolific, working tirelessly for the causes he believes in!

So yes, I guess some fans are not gonna like it, some will love it, I will evaluate it, after I hear it and will not assume anything in advance. If the album contains some of the last tour's songs on it, I would be exceedingly happy with that, as their was some excellent collaborations between Lukas, Micah & Neil on some very tried and true songs, which I felt were delivered with renewed vigour and enthusiasm!

Neil, Long May You Run and keep up the productivity, as I love surprises in life and no matter what you choose to do, you will always remain true to yourself, whether we like it or not! I do not expect you to conform to what others would like you to do!

I am, therefore, very much looking forward to this record!

 
At 4/19/2016 11:22:00 PM, Blogger Chris Familton said...

Performed live doesn't necessarily mean live in concert. It is quite possible these were all live in the studio recordings - to capture the vibe the band had built up on tour.

 
At 4/19/2016 11:31:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Chris: I applaud your plausible interpretation, but if I'm not mistaken, in an interview Lukas said that the POTR wasn't working in the studio with Neil.

Of course that doesn't mean Neil won't invite them in tomorrow to work on a completely new concept with them. When's the next full moon?

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

 
At 4/20/2016 12:33:00 AM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

From the Lukas interview in Paste magazine:

Q: (Neil) told Cameron Crowe that he was recording another album with you and your band and that the experience was effortless and like nothing he’d ever done before.

A: I think he must have been talking about the live recordings from the shows we did together. He’s putting something together for release.

 
At 4/20/2016 11:07:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Thanks Babbo, I think that's the quoute I was referring to.

 
At 4/20/2016 03:29:00 PM, Blogger Joel Grant said...

re: Jonathan

Who wrote:

"Is Neil going to be trendy & boycott North Carolina too over a law banning transgender weirdos (redundant) from bathrooms?"

Reading down I see no one has taken this bigoted, ignorant statement to task. Someone has to do it.

Let us first note that even North Carolina (and Mississippi) does not ban transgender people from bathrooms. Jonathan's confusion begins at the beginning.

The law in question boils down to requiring that all people use only those gender-specific public bathrooms that correspond to the sexual organs they were born with.

Were this law to be implemented, the following scenario would be likely, and keep this in mind if you don't want little kids freaking out:

A person born with a vagina is now all grown up and is legally and genitally a man. His birth name was Norma. Now he goes by Norm.

He looks like a man and is dressed like a man because, at this point, like it or not, the former she is now a present he.

But no matter to Jonathan.

This man-looking and acting adult is going to walk into the Ladies room and go into a stall (no urinals in the ladies room). And what is a little girl going to think about that?

And how are you going to enforce a law like this anyway? Suppose I, born without a vagina, say: Hey, I always wanted to go into the ladies bathroom and spy on them. Now I can! I will just say I am transgendered, that's why I look like a man, and waltz right in.

And so on.

In addition to laws like this being mean-spirited and utterly bigoted, they are just plain stupid.

 
At 4/20/2016 04:22:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Thanks Joel for providing me some much needed humor today....

'The law in question boils down to requiring that all people use only those gender-specific public bathrooms that correspond to the sexual organs they were born with.'

wow....imagine that......what a bigoted concept.....

If you want to support the 0.0001% of freakazoids who mutilate their genitalia in the name of freedom or choice or whatever, be my guest.....

I make zero apologies to you or anyone else for declaring transgender people as seriously mentally ill.

You have your opinions & I have mine.

Call me names - whatever.

I respect your right to have your own opinion. Obviously you only respect the opinions of those whom you agree with.....

Take care.

 
At 4/20/2016 05:27:00 PM, Blogger Genghis Kon said...

Jonathan, I believe what Joel, myself, and most other people here (I'd reckon) want is for you to treat everyone with respect. It is completely your right to harbor any personal opinions towards these people. However, at least treat them as you would like to be treated yourself: likely with respect. You may feel a certain way, but transgendered individuals are human too, and deserve to advance in life without anybody holding them back or presenting limitations. No need for that. Hold your own beliefs, but always be fair to those around you, for they possess a conscience just as you do. Hey, if you lower your preconceptions, you may be surprised, but you might even make a few new friends (not being patronizing, just being honest).

-Genghis

 
At 4/20/2016 05:43:00 PM, Blogger Minke Toer said...

Wait here. We are mistaking opinions for facts. I am not even talking about beliefs, just the plain fact that if somebody could call transgenders mentally ill, and legitimize this stark judgement by saying it is an opinion like any other. Come on; nobody in his or her senses is going to buy this. An illness is a verifiable fact, and not a prejudice. So whatever your OPINIONS are, get real when it comes to facts, even if you are not entirely at ease with the FACT that sex and gender are not fixed categories.
So without judging anybody's person, shove off with your sloppy thinking and filth from this beautiful site.
To get back to business:
Transformer man, transformer man
Unlock the secrets
Let us throw off the chains that
Hold you down

 
At 4/20/2016 08:05:00 PM, Blogger Joel Grant said...

re: Jonathan again

So yes, you are in fact a bigot.

But over and above that, you seem unable to process the basic stupidity of such a law - its counter-productiveness - by considering the effects upon (say) little girls who encounter adults who look and talk and are dressed as a man, while in a Ladies Room.

Do you not see that, regardless of whether or not you recognize transgender people as worthy of human respect, this law, if actually followed, will predictably lead to some nasty and potentially (for the transgendered) dangerous situations?

I would suggest you hadn't thought this out, but that might over-optimistically estimate your potential.

 
At 4/20/2016 10:22:00 PM, Blogger John EH Connelly said...

Hmmmm , interesting , a new album called Earth , the fumes of his globetrotting jet engines don't quite jive with the vibe of the Earth movement that live in log cabins Eh . Keep those kale plants a growin , and the cotton fields a blowin !
I'd be real intrigued ta read the fuel tag of Mr Earth's summer tour in Europe .
How about the facts , less the opinion , how refreshing that would be ... Truth

 
At 4/21/2016 12:10:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

EARTH

Home to us all:

hypocrites, politics, heretics, rhetorics
optimists, pessimists, centrists, trollists
bigots, spigots, despots, zealots
theorists, realists, atheists, marxists
dreamers, schemers, seekers, speakers
painters, fainters, sainters, tainters
haters, baters, raters, creators
takers, makers, shakers, fakers
criers, liers, occupiers, testifiers
singers, wingers, bringers, ringers
writers, fighters, lighters, plighters
agitators, imaginators, gladiators, mediators

together, we are one; apart, we are none
smile when you can; try to be better than
your lesser self

Judge yourself; improve yourself
What lies within you--surrounds you

Take my Advice
Please take my advice
Live to love & love to live

 
At 4/21/2016 04:39:00 AM, Blogger Robert Bennie said...

Deep Forbidden Lake would be nice

 
At 4/21/2016 07:04:00 PM, Blogger John Tewks said...

I sure hope this album is good. I wasn't too keen on the last one for a long time but I listened to it the other day and I loved it. It's really grown on me. To those who listen a few times and put it away, get it out again and give it another spin. Speaking of spin, how is this album supposed to be released on vinyl if it's one long song? That will be very distracting.

 
At 4/21/2016 08:24:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

John,

By Neil's comments, this "sounds" like it will be one of his strangest releases ever. That could be good or bad, but at a minimum, it should be a unique "uninterrupted 98 minutes" of music/sound collages/animal instrumentation and participation, etc...

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

 
At 4/22/2016 06:04:00 PM, Blogger onthebeach said...

Its a shame Neil didn't take advantage of Earth Day today and release "Earth". When's this coming out?

 
At 4/23/2016 01:50:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

I think it's targeted for a June release, but we'll see...

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

 
At 4/24/2016 05:32:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

On the subject of Mother Earth, I suggest you all take a moment to read this pdf:

http://environmentamerica.org/sites/environment/files/reports/Env_Am_Tyson_v4.pdf

The report indicates that "Tyson Foods, one of the largest meat producers in the world, dumped 104 million pounds of pollutants—including animal manure and fertilizer—into U.S. waterways between 2010 and 2014".

It also talks about how Tyson has a long history of paying fines to break the law, which of course brings to mind certain lyrics from Big Box, one of the most enjoyable songs on The Monsanto Years.

You'd think Neil would have long-since declared war on this villainous corporation, comsidering they are one of the worst offenders on the planet, when it comes to environmental matters. They make Monsanto look like a charity.

And yet both Neil and Willie Nelson remain "good buddies" with the boss of Tyson Foods, a man who once pleaded guilty for "illegal gifts" (attempts at bribery). Meanwhile Neil hilariously claims Tyson is a man who "likes to do good things for people". And Farm Aid's credibility as a charity was destroyed by revelations that Willie Nelson (in a truly bonkers move) allowed Tyson to bankroll and cater for the event for 3 years, a shrewd move for them of course: promoting their brand and effectively insulating themselves from future attack. Kind of like a weapons dealer offering to sponsor a world peace event. The fox hiding in the hen house from the very start.

Wake up, Neil. Realise that people's motives are not always as they seem. Especially those who have a history of manipulation going back several decades. You can't save the Earth until you realise who the enemy is.

Scotsman.

 
At 4/24/2016 06:03:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

...And yes, since the revelations about Tyson's early involvement in Farm Aid became public, Farm Aid have worked hard to finally distance themselves from Tyson.

When I spoke to Farm Aid about this in 2011, they made it clear that the views and actions of their celebrity "board of directors" were not to be confused with the views of the people actually running the organisation.

Scotsman

 
At 4/24/2016 09:00:00 PM, Blogger John EH Connelly said...

Earth
Words or opinion
The study of Earth by man , has been both
The study of Earth is a science of fact ,less opinion .
Mr Earth , that where's the t-shirt , show us the facts , the legitimate science , show us your fuel tag , and then maybe we will listen and follow as they did with Ghandi , until then , just another self promoting snake oil salesmen hawking his latest pitch .
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning !

 
At 4/26/2016 02:55:00 PM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

From Lukas today on Facebook:

I just listened to our new record "Earth" with @neilyoung .. One of the single greatest audio experiences I've ever had. Smoke some @williesreserve, sit back and listen to it. It's as if After The Gold Rush was a piece of just one long song that is this "Earth".. The quality of the live recordings mixed with the studio layer is exceptional.. And the band... With Micah.. It just explodes..

It's like listening/watching a Ridley Scott movie in your head.. Or Like when I watched the original ‪#‎starwars‬ or ‪#‎bladerunner‬ for the first time... If you like music you will love this record!

It's also the most relevant thing I have ever heard musically ... What a journey... It's coming out soon.. Watch for it ..

 
At 4/26/2016 07:16:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Well, looks like I got at least one of my "picks" correct for what songs would be on the album. "After the Goldrush" just seemed logical based on the great "Mother nature on the run" lyric.

Boy, Lukas is setting the bar quite high, isn't he? If it's half as good as he describes, it will be a landmark album! It does sound like it's largely one uninterrupted song soundscape, which if done well should be interesting (if not too popular).

Maybe we'll see or hear a little more about the album at Neil's upcoming shows.

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

 
At 4/26/2016 08:02:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Thanks Babbo for the good news.
We're looking forward to this.
The more REAL, the better.

 
At 4/27/2016 09:05:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

The problem I forsee with Earth is that the performances from the last tour simply haven't been anywhere near powerful enough to turn into a paticularly exciting live album. Not without some heavy editing, that is. Perhaps Neil can work his magic in the studio, overdubbing sound effects and editing out the relentless pointless noodling from DBTR and Cortez whilst leaving the occasional exciting bit intact.

That's not to say there haven't been some good performances with POTR. There have, but they typically have been the shorter/folkier songs, rather than the guitar epics that a good proportion of this album must be made up of.

Earlier today I made the mistake of watching a few clips from 2015 immediately after watching an audience video of Frankfurt 1996. The 2015 versions of the guitar epics sounded almost comical in comparison. And Frankfurt 1996 wasn't even a particularly good show.

Scotsman.

 
At 4/27/2016 12:04:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Scots,

About the Earth album, I'm starting to think there may not be any extended songs/jams on it. The more I think about Neil's description of "98 uninterrupted minutes" I'm imagining one long song with all sorts of additional sonic layers of sound effects, using snippets of 13 songs as a loose framework. Of course, I'm likely totally wrong.

Okay, now for your "relative disdain" for the POTR. Here are two DBTR versions, one from 1994 with Crazy Horse and one from the 2015 POTR tour. Personally, I like them both, though neither are among the best versions I've heard.

Based on your musicality, please tell me what makes the CH version so much better. I'm not being snarky, I do appreciate your opinions and respect your technical knowledge (of which I have none).

To my "tone deaf" ears, the major differences I hear are that the 1994 version has more "space" in it and it has more of a bluesy slow burn to it. If I didn't see it, I wouldn't believe there were two guitar players--I don't hear anything from Poncho.

The 2015 version is "busier" with competing lead guitars and more flourishes of bursting sound.

I don't hear a major difference in the vocals, which is amazing considering the 21 year age difference. Neil still sounds good to me at 70..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiX8Rz5C3LY (1994)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEmTAOyafwA (2015)

Also, I love Neil's acoustic guitar playing, as I feel that's where his melodic abilities really shine through. Do you prefer his electric or acoustic, and why?

I look forward to your analysis.

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

 
At 4/27/2016 03:26:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

TopangaDaze: you've picked two interesting versions of DBTR to compare. The 2015 version is relatively concise compared to many from last year (some are at least twice as long), which works in its favour, and Lukas takes the lead for much of the instrumental sections on this particular version, making it more energetic than some I have heard. But Neil's own presence as a guitarist is largely lost compared to the 1994 version, where he is clearly the star of the show throughout.

I do find Lukas's blues-rock style playing to be largely unflattering to Neil's. Last Saturday I went down my local pub and heard a cover band guitarist with a very similar playing style. The week before yielded similar results. His playing is perfectly fine but lacks Neil's individuality and melodic mastery. Lukas is a good musician in his own right, but paired with Neil, his playing is overly busy and often just gets in the way. What's his job description? Filling in gaps that don't need filling, I'd say.

Neil's greatest ability as a lead guitar player is to take the listener on a journey, to build a guitar solo up from a tiny thread into an epic, sprawling, complex masterpiece. It takes you from one emotion to another, often multiple times in the same song, one note flowing perfectly into the next. And at the end, you feel like you've really experienced something profound. His electric guitar playing ability is commonly criticised for being overly simplistic; the truth is (at his best) he is one of the most sophisticated electric players I know (his acoustic playing is equally good, perhaps more workman-like). He is able to blend together sheets of electric sound into a full, awe-inspiring soundscape with an elegance not unlike what you experience in classical music.

So yes, that 2015 version of DBTR is okay; but is there really the sense of the guitars taking you on this dream-like journey? It just sounds like noodling around to me; the same thing any competent high school band could demonstrate for you. On the rare occasion that Neil really takes the lead, the playing seems somewhat stilted, crude and heavy-handed compared to more exciting examples from 1976, 1991, 1996, 2001 and yes, 1994. It's the same man playing, the same basic style, but the refinement is gone, the depth and sophistication and eloquence.

About 1994, it's true that Poncho's playing is more restrained than Lukas's. I think Poncho realises that, when Neil Young is on stage with you, you really don't need to fill in the gaps. That said, his playing is very clearly audible on that 1994 version of Down By The River, though you do have to know what you are listening for. He flatters Neil's solos, rather than competes with them. As Niko Bolas says, "Poncho is the glue", and I do think his playing remains criminally underrated.

Overall I agree absolutely that the 1994 version is more spacey, more slow-burning. And it's not the best version ever. But I feel that the guitar playing is just more sophisicated, showing a greater level of mastery than anything you will hear with PoTR. It's hard to put a finger on it anymore precisely than that. There was an elegance to Neil's playing from 1976-1996(ish), a blend of beauty and explosive noise that almost made his solos seem like a force of nature. This is something that has largely been lost in recent years, despite the fact (or perhaps because) he now has a second lead guitarist to fill out the sound for him.

And yes, I agree that Neil's voice remains remarkably good.

Thanks for your thoughts, no disrespect intended if any of the above collides aggressively with your own experience.

Scotsman.

 
At 4/27/2016 03:32:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

...And obviously, none of this applies to his acoustic playing, which is quite different and remains very powerful.

Scotsman

 
At 4/27/2016 05:38:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

PPS

At the risk of writing a whole book on the subject in one evening, its interesting to note how DBTR (and the Old Black set as a whole) has evolved over the last year. I just listened to a bit of last night's version of DBTR and, sure enough, Neil guitar is once again back to the forefront of the mix.

The song's arrangement is still overly busy, the band habitually over-play, and (symptomatic of this) Neil's guitar solos still lazily noodle around without taking us very far. You don't get the impression his heart is really in it. But overall, this version feels like a small step in the right direction, and it will be interesting to hear if the song continues to improve over the upcoming tour.

Great versions of Down By The River? Concord 1993 remains one of my favourites. I also like New Orleans 1991. The popular Germany 2002 rendition fully deserves its reputation. And The Restless conjured up some particularly vicious versions in January 1989.

Scotsman

 
At 4/27/2016 06:30:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Good thoughts Scots, thanks.

Yes, I intentionally chose a "concise" version from the 2015 tour. Regardless of the era, I think the best versions of the song clock in right around the 10 minute mark (though there are perhaps a few exceptions).

I haven't heard it yet, but I'm glad you said that Neil's guitar seems to be at the forefront of the mix--let's hope it continues to evolve. Clearly he's still finding his way with the POTR, but for me, it's fresher than anything he's done in years, evidenced primarily through the more "spontaneous" set-lists. With the POTR, there's usually an extra nugget or two thrown in to keep some obsessed fans happy!!

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

 
At 4/28/2016 08:02:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

Hello Thrasher long time since I've been on the wheat and notice its the same great format with great reviews Facebook has taken up a lot of my time in recent years as I use it to write my poetry. I took your advice 5 years ago to find a more suitable forum to write my poetry and I thankyou for that
Starting to get into writing song lyrics I'm writing this listening to rust radio 24/7 neil concerts which I have discovered.
So in conclusion I sorta owe you for encouraging tofind a more appropriate format some 3000 poems later

sincerely doc

 
At 4/28/2016 02:17:00 PM, Blogger terryfunku said...

Neil Young, ‘Earth’ Track Listing
“People Want to Hear About Love” (originally from The Monsanto Years)
“Big Box” (from The Monsanto Years)
“Mother Earth” (from Ragged Glory)
“The Monsanto Years” (from The Monsanto Years)
“I Won’t Quit” (previously unreleased)
“Western Hero” (from Sleeps With Angels)
“Vampire Blues” (from On the Beach)
“Hippie Dream” (from Landing on Water)
“After The Gold Rush” (from After the Gold Rush)
“Wolf Moon” (from The Monsanto Years)
“Love & Only Love” (from Ragged Glory)

VIA http://ultimateclassicrock.com/neil-young-earth/

 
At 4/28/2016 02:53:00 PM, Blogger Static111 said...

1. Mother Earth (originally from Ragged Glory)
2. Seed Justice (I think this is the new title for the unreleased “I Won’t Quit” )
3. My Country Home (Ragged Glory)
4. The Monsanto Years (The Monsanto Years)
5. Western Hero (Sleeps With Angels)
6. Vampire Blues (On The Beach)
7. Hippie Dream (Landing On Water)
8. After The Gold Rush (ATGR)
9. Human Highway (Comes A Time)
10. Big Box (The Monsanto Years)
11. People Want to Hear About Love (The Monsanto Years)
12. Wolf Moon (The Monsanto Years)
13. Love & Only Love (Ragged Glory)

 
At 4/28/2016 03:40:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

This remains an intriguing project, but that's not exactly an awe-inspiring tracklist. I don't think POTR have done a single good version of Love And Only Love. Their version of Western Hero is dull compared to the magnificent original Sleeps With Angels version. I Won't Quit is a poor song, full stop. Mother Earth, Goldrush and Country Home are superb songs, but recent live versions aren't particularly notable.

What's left? Largely a re-run of last year's The Monsanto Years and a couple of obscurities. Quite how these 13 songs can be padded out to 98 minutes remains to be seen.

Scotsman.

 
At 4/28/2016 04:12:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

(....That wasn't intended to be derisory about The Monsanto Years songs; they will probably be among the most interesting songs on this new record, but I don't feel that the live versions have notably improved on the original studio takes).

From Classic Rock magazine:

"(Earth) combines new concert readings with the Promise of the Real band along with ambient elements like car horns, insects and animal sounds".

There is a precedent for this, of course. The unfinished Meadow Dusk album in the late eighties was going to be, to quote Poncho, "an album of crickets farting". And Neil used ambient ovedubs on a live take of Natural Beauty back in 1992. Whether it would have been a better recording without the overdubs is another matter.

Scotsman.

 
At 4/28/2016 05:11:00 PM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

"Quite how these 13 songs can be padded out to 98 minutes remains to be seen."

A 28-minute LAOL helps: https://www.ponomusic.com/album/neil-young-promise-of-the-real-earth/of:b760e34773114cb3a79d82510bc8913e

 
At 4/28/2016 05:53:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

...."helps" is perhaps the wrong word!

Scotsman.

 
At 4/28/2016 05:57:00 PM, Blogger barrooman said...

"Quite how these 13 songs can be padded out to 98 minutes remains to be seen."

A 28-minute LAOL helps: https://www.ponomusic.com/album/neil-young-promise-of-the-real-earth/of:b760e34773114cb3a79d82510bc891

i'll take that!! seriously just a straight concert to disc production would suffice. i hear enough noises in my head already

 
At 4/28/2016 06:04:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

To clarify my thoughts about the track list. I like most of those songs a lot, and you can definitely see how they fit together thematically. I just don't think Promise Of The Real have done very good versions of them.

An Archives-type release that combined the same songs taken from live performances through the years would be for me a more interesting prospect. I like the concept, but the versions from last year simply aren't good enough, not without extensive editing and overdubbing. Which is perhaps where the insect sounds and car horns come in.

Scotsman.

 

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