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Thursday, December 15, 2016

LISTEN: Neil Young's "Peace Trail"

Neil Young's newest album "Peace Trail" was released last week and can be streamed above.

We did summary of opinion and commentary at Meta Reviews: Neil Young's "Peace Trail" that attempted to capture the range of opinion from "weak" to "worthy".

So stream on. Or spin on. Whatever your listening preference may be, let us know your thoughts on Neil Young's "Peace Trail".

Neil Young - Peace Trail

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At 12/16/2016 12:22:00 AM, Blogger Neil and Play said...

Huge Neil fan, but I am tired of the need for control that compromises his talents. Lanois was last outside producer and that album was brilliant. This may be one of the worst albums of his career. Tossed off. Shakey needs to pour himself into next album.

At 12/16/2016 08:35:00 AM, Blogger Joel_Grant said...

Apparently you need an app called Spotify to play the tracks.

At 12/16/2016 09:54:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ N&P - Definitely a valid point which seems to come up frequently since David Briggs passed away ... like 20 years ago.

Maybe Rick Rubin will get a Producer credit someday? Neil seems to be hanging out at Rick's Shangra La studios quite a bit these days.

@ Joel - ooops, thanks for pointing that out.

At 12/16/2016 10:12:00 AM, Blogger wardo said...

Here's my take:

Le Noise was the last album I really, really liked; this one came easier, because of the acknowledged goofy factor.

At 12/16/2016 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Old Black said...


Won't be shelling out anything for this.

At 12/16/2016 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Lloyd Walton said...

Artists sometimes show their sketches. Other times their masterworks. Peace Trail seems sketchy but I play it a lot on the highway. I find genuine moments throughout that crawl up and grab. Texas Rangers makes me cringe, but Uncle Neil has been known to enjoy driving off the road, through the ditch and into the swamp. Whadya want ? All big hits, all the way through, all the time ? Later today I'll head into town driving through a blizzard, pop it on and enjoy the ride.

At 12/16/2016 01:02:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

last good record is Broken Arrow. everything between now and then is junk. If he complains about a boot of his being sold he has every right. Boots are for personal use and to trade only.

At 12/16/2016 03:17:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

wsanjose01 is entitled to his opinion, but I must say his opinion is "wrong" and misguided!

First of all, "Broken Arrow" is a minor mediocre Neil work, and since its release, off the top of my head the following albums that came after it are better:

Silver and Gold
Prairie Wind
Living with War
Psychedelic pill

I'll leave it with that for now, but fully realize my opinions can also be deemed "wrong" but they are what they are.

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

At 12/16/2016 03:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The song Peace Trail is a good song, Show Me is ok to good, the rest is not good at all. It seems that on the 10 records there are 1 2 or 3 good songs and the rest suck. I totally wish he would take his time and craft a record, or retire. If he does not like to take the time to craft your art, then its time to get out. With that said, I like the song Peace Trail.

At 12/16/2016 03:35:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Regarding the "Peace Trail" album, I've listened several times now, and I have to admit I'm enjoying it. It strikes my ears as an earnest, sincere, loose, fun, simple and intimate invitation into Neil's immediate thoughts.

In many ways it's a companion piece to Neil's "Waging Heavy Peace" book. It's kind of complex in its simplicity, and there's very little pretense surrounding it. It's what Neil wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. Is that due to an inability to express himself more poetically or cryptically? Possibly, but it no longer matters that much to me.

For now, and certainly years down the road, I have no doubt I'll periodically return to this album and it will bring a smile to my mind.

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

PS: The song "Peace Trail" holds up fairly well in comparison to much of Neil's praised 90s moody atmospheric works, both lyrically and musically. If you'd place it in a greatest hits playlist, it wouldn't sound too out of place (if it all).

At 12/16/2016 03:51:00 PM, Blogger To Marianne said...

I'm a bit confused, I'm actually quite enjoying it. Anyone else?

At 12/16/2016 05:06:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

@To Marianne: I'm with you, I'm enjoying it more and more...

Here's a good review from Relix:

by Bill Murphy on December 16, 2016

If you’re keeping count, then this is Neil Young’s 38th studio album, and he sounds every bit as engaged—both in his craft and in current events—as he did when he wrote “Ohio” back in 1970. With that in mind, it’s too reductive to label Peace Trail as another notch in Young’s prolific protest oeuvre. While he eloquently flaunts his anger in the face of unchecked police aggression, mob mentality and environmental destruction (the pre-release track “Indian Givers,” which focuses on the Sioux standoff against theDakota access pipeline, would do Pete Seeger proud), he’s still no less a romantic when it comes to asserting his faith in humanity and his own place in it.

Whatever the stakes, Young’s fiery passion—some might even call it his irascibility—fuels the music, as always. It’s front-and center-in the opening title cut, which kicks off with Young taking what might be his most moving turn on electric guitar since “Powderfinger,” and escalates with lines like “Don’t think I’ll cash it in yet…because something new is growin.’” His indelible voice, still as clear and supple as it’s been for more than 50 years, drives the sentiment home with conviction.

And then there’s the small band behind him. With rock legend Jim Keltner on drums and session ace Paul Bushnell on bass, Young has a go-to rhythm section that adjusts seamlessly to the mood of every song, whether it’s the soul-searching “Can’t Stop Workin’” (duly punctuated with Young’s teeth-grating, hyper-distorted harmonica solo), the intimate and bluesy “Show Me,” or the ironic admonition “Terrorist Suicide Hang-Gliders”—a spot-on indictment of Islamophobia and its diseased by-products. It’s also worth noting that Peace Trail was recorded at Rick Rubin’s Malibu-based Shangri La studio; Young and the band sound so laid-back and relaxed, it’s easy to imagine most of the album being comprised of first takes.

In the end, there’s an obvious reason that Young remains a key influence for so many up-and-coming songwriters. There was a time when the “Godfather of Grunge” label might have been sufficient to explain it, but it goes well beyond that now; put simply, he’s still making vital, timely and interesting music, with a finger-on-the-pulse quality that rivals Dylan (the Nobel Prize winner!) in its ability to capture the thoughts, feelings, concerns and triumphs of multiple generations. And if his rowdy set and glowing reception at the recent Desert Trip festival were any hint of what’s to come, he’s not even close to done yet.

Read more:

At 12/16/2016 07:20:00 PM, Blogger mrtew said...

I agree that Broken Arrow was NY's last truly great album: in fact it's definitely my favourite album of his entire discography along with Sleeps w/Angels and I also agree that PsychedelicPill and Silver&Gold and Greendale are really really really good. I like the new album about as much as Prairie Wind or Harvest Moon etc which is quite a lot! Very pretty and cool album and not so slick and poppy as those. Almost reminds me of old Iron & Wine or something.

At 12/16/2016 09:28:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ wardo - thanks as always for your take.

You've done a remarkable job over the years of providing a comprehensive review of every Neil release and are to be commended.

We'll either add to the meta review or a separate blog post.

fyi, we love the "goofy factor".

@ Lloyd - Interesting because that sort of defines Neil's work as both sketches and masterworks.

We always recall the story of Nicollete Larsen finding a scrap of paper on the floor of Neil's car that he had tossed. Turns out it was lyrics for Love is a Rose. enjoy the ride.

@ wsanjose01 - c'mon. seriously? Broken Arrow is great definitely. But that there have been great one since which we've blogged extensively here over the years. Or check Wardo's blog above. He's built some definitive analysis. Check it out and drop a comment with any counter arguments.

@ TopangaD - Nice list. Wardo would approve.

@ LJB - we see this argument quite a bit. But, we go back to Micah Nelson's comment on Monsanto Years: "It's too late in the game for subtle lyrics":

Also, see Neil's comment:
“I gave up a lot of disciplines on this record,” he said. “There are several technical things about the poetry of writing this that are pretty sloppy. But it didn’t matter. So I feel good about that. I didn’t feel the need to go back and correct things.

“I don’t have spell-check,” he said with a sideways smile. “I don’t make [spelling] mistakes that are totally stupid mistakes like spell-check does. But I make my own kind of mistakes — typing errors. “

These are not excuses for "weak lyrics". These are the facts as to why.

As for us? We're on same page as Micah. F the subtle poetry. There's a job to be done.

@ Marianne - right. Neil fans can be confusing. Just seems to be the way we're wired.

@ TopangaDaze - thanks for Relix review. This part is spot on: "he’s not even close to done yet."

@ mrtew - all very solid mid and late career albums.

@All - As mentioned on another thread, we tracked down the song that references Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr and John Kennedy. It is by Dion from 1968.

The song also references Robert Kennedy, as well. 4 men fallen in the prime of life... the dream never dies.

The above line in comes after another line about 3 rock stars in a plane crash. Of course, Buddy Holly, Big Bopper, & Ritchie Valens. Now that's some american pie.

At 12/16/2016 09:42:00 PM, Blogger wardo said...

With a guy with as many albums as Neil, people will have different opinions. Thanks for the shoutout to mine!

At 12/16/2016 11:55:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Call me nuts, but I actually think "Texas Rangers" is a good set of lyrics. I take it that for others, the repetitive melody and wobbly vocals are too distracting for other people, but I think the arrangement kinda works with the angry guitars making for a nice acoustic/electric mix.

Terrorist Suicide Hang Gliders is, as I interpret, sung at least partially from the viewpoint of a US soldier ("I never knew till yesterday my life would end tomorrow"). It could possibly have benefited from further development, but it's an arresting song I'll certainly be coming back to. A nice surprise that since initial previews, Show Me has grown on me greatly. It has a slow, growling groove I hadn't fully noticed before and I think, as a whole, it hangs together better than Indian Givers thanks to tighter lyrics.

Other points of interest: Can't Stop Workin', Glass Accident, and My New Robot. I know the Robot song will probably get some flack for its seemingly meandering ending with voice synthesizer ramblings. Lord knows Neil got enough crap last time he did this (Trans), but it's fresh and has caught my interest. It starts off like a standard acoustic Neil song: nice lyrics, laid back, mellow sound, and then veers into what I think is a neat, worthwhile concept. Plus the "" name drop is delicious, as far as I'm concerned. It may be an imperfect experiment but, like the album as a whole, My New Robot shows a spark of life that has captured my eye. The album feels a little fragmentary at times, without definite beginnings and endings, but I find there's a very cohesive soundscape overall, melding acoustic and electric sounds to create something that flows but nonetheless is just chaotic enough to capture a sense of the mind drifting through the messy, confused world we find ourselves in today. It's like a musical stream of consciousness; it's all one song, right? And there's even a flesh of "Don't Let it Bring You Down" here, a flicker of "Turnstiles" there. This is certainly a multi-textured album, leaving me with much to digest.

Incidentally, nice to hear from Jim Keltner (on drums) again. I think it's for the best that Neil shakes up his band line up from time to time. This way, we get new sounds and fresh blood.

At 12/17/2016 02:58:00 AM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

I'm more partial to Micah's interpretation of Hang Gliders in that infamous YouTube discussion: "The song is calling out the hypocrisy of the prejudiced people here in our country, mainly Trump supporters who can't tell the difference between an innocent Muslim man and a terrorist. ... Neil is playing a character in the song, representing the racism and fear-based thinking that exists in America today."

At 12/17/2016 04:51:00 AM, Blogger Glenn said...

It's just sad. It's like he's afraid to actually commit to making good record. Instead, he just throws everything at the wall and hope something sticks. Unfortunately, nothing has stuck for years.

At 12/17/2016 04:58:00 AM, Blogger Glenn said...

People who justify this tossed-off crap by saying, "Oh, Neil has always worked quickly," forget that Neil is so much older now. Dylan used to work quickly, too -- sometimes 2 or 3 albums in one year. But whereas Dylan realized those days were over and adjusted to making an album every 3 or 4 years -- with great results -- Neil still thinks the quality of his thoughts are as they were 40 years ago. Well, they ain't. The quality of his thoughts and, therefore his lyrics, have declined exponentially. He has become lazy and undisciplined, arrogant and slipshod.

At 12/17/2016 05:32:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Some nice comments from folks on this album on this thread, so I'm happy to add my two cents. I'm absolutely loving this album! I've listened to it for four straight nights, and I've enjoyed it more each time. I think it's his best overall work since Greendale, and his best non-Horse studio music since Mirror Ball. Neil just seems so engaged and alive on every tune, something that really can't be said about much of his stuff in the 2000's.

Recording this with just skilled musicians like Bushnell and Keltner was a genius move. I love POTR, but this material benefits from less clutter. And Neil's vocals are as good as I've heard in a LONG time. I swear, even though the songs are very modern lyrically, the music and vocals on some of these tunes sound like they're from 1977.

It starts off strong with "Peace Trail" and the great "Can't Stop Working". When Neil sings of forgiveness, is he asking for it, or wondering if he has the strength for it? The album dips for me during "Indian Givers" and "Texas Rangers", not bad by any means, just could have used some lyrical tightening. "Show Me" has a nice feel, reminding me of Freedom-era Neil. "TSHG" sounds better on the album than it did for me at the Bridge, Neil's vocals really shine.

So far so good, but from here on in the album reaches a major new level for me. I LOVE "John Oaks". I can see where some wouldn't, but it sounds so unique to me, even though it's a nasty tale. I don't ever yell out songs to Neil, but if I'm at a solo acoustic show and Neil looks like he's wondering what to play, I'm gonna yell out "John Oaks" and see if he'll play it.

"Glass Accident" is incredible. Sounding like something off of Stars-n-Bars, the lyrics to this are chilling. I would never claim to know, but if Neil is singing about his personal life here, these are some real cold lyrics. I've seen some who say these are political lyrics, but I think it's far more personal. Very interesting.

"My Pledge" speaks for itself. This is high quality Neil Young. To me, this is the "I'm The Ocean" of this album, the "Ambulance Blues". Just a wonderful song with seriously dreamy Neil lyrics, I love the layered vocals, sounds like two Neils are singing. Best song on the album.

"My New Robot" is the weirdest closing song of any Neil album, but so much fun. Neil's singing about a cold cup of coffee, or was it a cold bowl of chilli? Then when things get mechanical, listen closely to how great the band is jamming. People laughed at Neil when Trans happened, now the world is like that album, and I think Neil is subtlety giving the finger back.

Sorry about the long ramble, but I love this one. Not everything works of course. The loud harmonica thing does get old, and I am in the camp that wishes Neil spent just a bit more time on the lyrics, but those are minor quibbles. I really dig this one, at the very least, it's a pretty cool thing for a 71 year old man to be doing with his time.

God bless ya, Neil!

At 12/17/2016 09:09:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to commend all who said positive things and thank Thrasher for giving us all a great gift.

The new record is fun; NY is on a roll and a national treasure; it's all one song.

At 12/17/2016 09:15:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


At 12/17/2016 02:25:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12/18/2016 12:38:00 PM, Blogger Neil and Play said...

I wish Paul would remind his friend that the Beatles would have been a shell of themselves w/o George Martin. I feel that the live success of Neil in any setting hinders his potential in the studio. Imagine Lanois producing Crazy Horse on Pill? Ramada Inn, Walk Like A Giant, and Pill are up there with the best of his works. What if T-Bone produced CSNY? Jeff Tweety got his hands on Monsanto? I will say that this idea that he can't write great songs is not correct. Bandit, Be The Rain, When God Made Me, Prairie Wind, Shock and Awe, Restless Consumer, Light A Candle, Just Singing A Song, Razor Love, Out of Control, Plastic Flowers, Tumbleweed, Going Home, Disappointment, Peace Trail, Glass Accident, If I Don't Know, Big Box, Spirit Road, No Hidden Path. Not a bad compilation. Think about Dylan and the fact Tempest stands as one of his best albums. It is mind boggling what would be unleashed with a new colaboratory presence in the studio.

Open up the tired eyes and take it down to Miami Beach again!

At 12/19/2016 04:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glenn, I am agreement with you brother. When Neil actually takes his time and works in the studio he has some great sounding records. Pocahontas and Sail away from Rust Never Sleeps (and Comes a Time) are good examples.

Or, maybe record the album after the tour so everyone playing the song has their parts worked out.

I know Neil wants the first or second take because something magical happens. But I say this, when I see him in concert after the record has been recorded and out (Greendale for example) the concert versions of the songs were 1000 times better than the studio version. This is backwards to me. If Greendale were recorded later in the tour, it would have rocked. In stead, the songs sound like they were castrated.

Just my take on it. I will still see him when he passes within 100 miles of me. And I have seen him 38 times.

At 12/19/2016 04:35:00 PM, Blogger bob g said...

Peace Trail makes the No Depression Top 50...

At 12/20/2016 11:07:00 AM, Blogger andrea1bianco said...

These days Neil Young is a legacy act, but he's selling just few copies of his works. We can't wait anymore for big budgets for his recording projects. Now he can't not even use his traditional home studios at the Broken Arrow Ranch for recording his albums. Unless he doesn't want to use his own money, the days of spending unlimited money and time for recording are over for him and other artists of his generation. Also the next album with POTR are going to be recorded in few sessions probably. Live concerts is where the business and money are.
So Tired.


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