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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Comment of the Moment: More Thoughts on "Peace Trail", Neil Young's Latest Album

"Terrorist Suicide Hang Gliders"
Neil Young + Promise of the Real
Telluride, Colorado - 10/1/16

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2017 continues to be off to a promising start.

We only say that because of one of the first comments that was posted this year to Thrasher's Wheat was an in depth listen to "Peace Trail", Neil Young's latest album.

Here is the Comment of the Moment posted to Comment of the Moment: Thoughts on "Peace Trail", Neil Young's Latest Album by Eric:
Enjoyed all the comments and the Scotsman review.

I have been with Neil's music for nearly 50 years.

Like most of us long timers, his output, although prolific, has been, save some notable exceptions, less than inspiring and absorbing over the last 20 years or so. I have not played a new Neil Young record this many times in this short of a space of time since "Sleeps With Angels.

This album is brilliant in so many ways. Things I like. The Songs: Peace Trail, Show Me, Glass Accident, My Pledge, and My Robot are exceptional. The others are very good, Indian Givers excepted.

Accessibility: How many times of late have you said about a Neil song, "I wish that would have lasted longer"?

These songs hit quick and are gone, and I keep going back for more. The Performances: Keltner's drumming is a marvel. He enriches every song with his off beats and drum choices.

I have heard some criticisms here and it's absolutely ridiculous. Neil's vocals are as good as they have ever been. I'm mostly referring to intonation and inflection. He is spot on. Neil's choice of guitars and his playing. (the electric guitars in Glass Accident and Peace Trail!)

And finally, The Computer Finale: Neil takes us back 30 years, (Trans) and brings us back again to remind us of the artificial world we have created and perhaps what it has done to our humanity, individually and collectively.

I love this album. Thank you Neil.
Thanks Eric. We appreciate the passion, as always.

And we agree with another sentiment posted here on "Peace Trail", observing that definitely something is happening on this one. The fact that it's selling poorly and receiving mixed reviews probably means Neil is on the right track, once again. There's a distinct connection to a long ago Neil that resonates and echos in the PT songs.

Our opinion is that in these times of war and greed, peace and love just don't to sell. It would seem today's society is buying the hate and war -- the marketing of which seems to be a much easier sell.
But -- as everyone knows -- peace and love never really goes out of style...

Labels: ,


At 1/09/2017 12:35:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

No ones buying it so it must be good and interesting concept.

At 1/09/2017 09:54:00 AM, Blogger Acoustic FeedBack said...

It is not selling because Neil refuses to clean it up. A little more spit and polish will go a long way. But still there are some good songs here.

At 1/09/2017 10:33:00 AM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

I'm happy with this album. It's different for Neil (as usual) yet surprisingly comfortable. Elements of past albums (Greendale, Trans, LWW, Silver & Gold and a bit of Le Noise come to mind right away) combine and make something new. Good stuff. And as we know, mixed reviews mean little.
And people can't complain about the vinyl price either (as is usually the case with Neil's records): $16-$17 brand new, that is cheaper than most new LPs which now average about $20-$25.

At 1/09/2017 10:39:00 AM, Blogger Lloyd Walton said...

The computer finale reminds me of a mini Day in the Life.

At 1/09/2017 01:03:00 PM, Blogger downbutnotout said...

Absolutely agree,It's Neil at his best stark and raw, even down to the distorted harp.
Songs/lyrics straight to the point-a treasure indeed!

At 1/09/2017 01:04:00 PM, Blogger downbutnotout said...

Absolutely agree,It's Neil at his best stark and raw, even down to the distorted harp.
Songs/lyrics straight to the point-a treasure indeed!

At 1/09/2017 01:04:00 PM, Blogger downbutnotout said...

Absolutely agree,It's Neil at his best stark and raw, even down to the distorted harp.
Songs/lyrics straight to the point-a treasure indeed!

At 1/09/2017 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

I also love the new album. I just got my vinyl copy after first seeing the material live and then buying the CD. I LOVE the blistering harp attacks in the most searing Don Grungio style. Guitars work, Neo Native Drumming by Keltner, amazing stuff. As far as quality in the last 20 years, everyone has their own opinion. I love all of the old stuff. There were a few duds in the 80s maybe but even those had a few eventual classic songs on them. I agree with much of the complimentary stuff Scotsman said but I differ in my assessment of Neil's output in the last 2 decades. There are many classic albums in there: Psychedelic Pill, Le Noise, and many others. Greendale was pretty cool. The Monsanto Years material live is excellent and I have come to love the studio album, though I prefer the live album. I was SO happy to catch Neil with Promise of the Real twice on the last tour, at shows a year apart. Absolute bliss. I saw the new material on Peace Trail played by the band twice that day (once during sound check rehearsal). It was so good Live! And its great in the studio too. Its all one song. I love almost all of Neil's stuff from the last 2 decades. When he wasn't making great albums, he instead was uttering prophesies which foretold troubled times ahead (which we are now about to get on with living in). I again must say that I am SO PROUD of Neil Young's Environmental Warrior agenda and I am grateful he cares about Standing Rock and stopping Oil Pipelines. I can't wait for what Neil is working on next. Archives 2? Now that I have Time Fades Away on vinyl, I am ready to accept his choice to leave it out of Archives 2 and instead giving us "Time Fades Away 2." I want Blu Ray Discs and I sure hope Neil allows it to be so. I am so glad there are tour films in the Can, readying for release! And Neil has already finished his NEXT album (after Peace Trail) as well! Alan in Seattle.

At 1/09/2017 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1/09/2017 05:02:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

As I said on a previous post....

"Sales numbers and great art have nothing to do with each other. Most of Neil's most brilliant albums sold poorly when released, and years later were dubbed masterpieces. Frankly, I feel these last several releases by Neil as inspired works by an artist that marches to his own drum. From "Le Noise" to "Peace Trail" every album has been rich with honesty, skill, and integrity. Peace Trail is yet another example of what exemplifies great art...."

I admire his willingness to explore different territory throughout his career. Peace Trail feels like the "Neil" of this week, and I would guess his next album will take an about face and challenge his fan base yet again. With the exception of "Road Rock Vol.1", and "Fork in the Road", I have resonated with everything Neil has released throughout his long and winding recording career; and even those two albums have their moments.

I suspect that places me in the minority here, but I really have enjoyed Neil's trip as much I have The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Grateful Dead, Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix, to name just a few. Every artist I've listed was always pushing forward with varying degrees of success, yet they are all respected names in the musical universe. Regardless of sales or awards I feel Neil Young has earned the right to follow his own unique trip, and I for one have really enjoyed the ride up to now..... Here's to many more of "Not" the same from Neil for years to come.

At 1/09/2017 05:08:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

....And hats off to Alan from Seattle for your last post... I agree.

At 1/09/2017 06:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alan: Just to point out that my assessment of the "last 2 decades" is pretty positive, as well. I think Neil's output in recent decades has been a very mixed bag (sometimes let down by mediocre songwriting and an over-reliance on the "first take" method), and I'm not hesitant about commenting on that.

But that's only one side of the story.

I've also been enthusiastic about each of his albums since 2012, with some (such as Americana, parts of Psychedelic Pill, Earth) really exciting me.

The records between 2005-2011 generally weren't bad, either, they just felt a little watered-down compared to what came before. Chrome Dreams 2 is probably the most substantial and most enjoyable from that period, though even that one has more than it's fair share of lightweight material.

And as for Greendale, regular readers here will know I consider it to be up there with his very best work. If I had to choose 5 albums, Greendale would be in there, no question.

So I'm not all bad, really! :-)


At 1/09/2017 07:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for declining sales, most of Neil's recent records have been even weirder and less commercial than what he was doing in the mid-eighties.

On top of that, consistent over-exposure to the media in recent years has seriously damaged his mystique: a new Neil Young record is no longer eagerly anticipated or an exciting talking point; it's taken for granted. Contrast that with artists like Dylan or Tom Waits, who've generally managed to avoid the media spotlight (when was the last time Dylan spoke on TV?) and have therefore retained a powerful sense of mystery; the end result is that everything they do seems powerful and significant, and they are never taken for granted. Take note, Neil.

And lastly, he's also getting older, which shouldn't be an embarrasing thing to mention: there's no shame in a 71-year-old selling less albums than he did forty years ago. There's no necessary correlation between sales and quality.

The journey continues.


At 1/10/2017 12:19:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

@ Flyingscotsman always read what you write here and much of it makes sense but on Peace Trail I can't agree. Lyrically it's as bad as FITR.

It's as if we have to persuade ourselves it's great but in private we know it's a stinker -nobody buys it so it's a classic? I think it's great that he's still out there but let's not kid ourselves as we all know this isn't classic Neil.

I'll probaly be banned now so over and out.

At 1/10/2017 06:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy: the first thing to say is that Peace Trail has some great sounds on it. So lyrics aside, it's still fun to listen to. Care and attention has been put into the song arrangements, with creative and artful use of harmonica, auto-tune, drums etc. The performances and arrangements are loose, but purposefully so, and this time it works. Neil has taken this record seriously, tried to do it justice, and the end result is a recording full of character and colour and personality.

As for the lyrics, I think it's true that's he's lost much of his instinctive poetic ability, where imagery-packed songs like After The Goldrush or Cortez would seem to write themselves. The songs now do lack that unconscious sparkle, and there's a flatness and artlessness to a lot of his modern writing that really struggles to excite the listener's imagination. The first FOUR LINES of "Prime Of Life" on Sleeps With Angels feature more captivating imagery than the entire albums Le Noise or Fork In The Road, for instance. Quite simply, it's a different class of writing.

I get the impression that Neil feels a door has closed on that "old" style of writing and it's not possible for him to get it back. End of story. But I think he should try giving the songwriting muscle a proper workout again (avoiding the temptation to settle on the first line that pops into his head). Try writing verse after verse, even if the first 3 are "good enough". Push that little bit longer and harder. Go deeper. Yes, it's easier and quicker to just go with the flow and settle for idea #1. But what is easy is not always what is good for you, as we all know from our own experiences. Muscles need to be streched, or else they lose their strength. Once the songwriting muscle has been built back up, THEN go back to trusting the first idea it comes up with.

But despite this limitation, he makes it work on Peace Trail. I think it is because he accepts his limitations and finds a creative way to bypass them. And there are glimpses of the old songwriting genius from time to time, as well - more so than on any other album in recent memory. It's not at all easy keeping that songwriting edge for so many years, so credit to him for still finding a way.

I don't think his hard-earned instincts let him down on this record. On the contrary, they allow him to walk off the cliff and somehow make it over to the other side, unscathed.

Give Peace Trail a chance, you may still not like it, but if you approach it with an open mind, it's more likely to reveal itself to you. It might not be the modern masterpiece we all secretly hope is still waiting to be recorded, but I think there is at least some treasure waiting there be discovered. This album is low-key, but from me (all things considered) it gets a largely positive review. For what it's worth!


At 1/10/2017 09:21:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks folks. Lots of perceptive thoughts.

Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout
album sales, lyric quality, cover art, aging,
This-ism, that-ism, ism ism ism
All we are saying is give peace *trail* a chance
All we are saying is give peace *trail* a chance

At 1/10/2017 11:21:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Andy Walters: You have strong opinions and you are sharing your truth here, and just because some disagree is no reason to be banned. You have every right to your feelings on how you listen to Neil, and although I my not always agree, you continue to offer a perspective that allows me to see things clearer. So stick around...

@ Scotsman: You also show much passion here and your perspective is always welcome. Again, I may not always agree but like Andy you always make me stop and ponder a different perspective. We all have our own connection with Neil and that is why I enjoy this site. We all just need to celebrate our differences of opinion.

After all, if we didn't all connect to Neil's music in some deep way we wouldn't all be here, so keep speaking your truth. It's not a matter of right or wrong, it's just your opinion.

Peace... until next time.

At 1/10/2017 03:17:00 PM, Blogger Acoustic FeedBack said...

Don't get me wrong on the "talking Neil down", I am a fan of 40 years, joined the trip on the Hawks and Doves LP. Seen him in concert every tour that has come through St. Louis, as well as traveling to Indianapolis and Cleveland and Tampa for shows. He is my idol. Playing Live, there is no one better at the "one with the song" player as he always gives his all. His guitar solos are masterful and different every time.

Just one complaint. Don't insist on the first take. Sometimes you play it better as you go.

Rock on Neil, for sure.

At 1/10/2017 05:23:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

@ Dan thanks I'll hang in there waiting in vain for a gem of a record and then I'll join all of you in singing its praises.

@ Acoustic Feedback 'playing live there's no one better' - have you seen Dave Alvin?

At 1/11/2017 09:22:00 AM, Blogger Acoustic FeedBack said...

@ Acoustic Feedback 'playing live there's no one better' - have you seen Dave Alvin?

No, but I will check him out on your word.

At 1/11/2017 05:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Dan Swan

At 1/11/2017 09:27:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Keith - We're with Dan and most others here as well. We really do want folks to keep speaking their truth. He's on target with opinions being neither right or wrong. It's just a matter of how the case is made.

Thanks for hiking that peace trail today. Hike on.

At 1/12/2017 09:52:00 AM, Blogger José from Paris said...


AIE AIR AIE !!!!! Vinyl super I love !! J'aime ces sons de Neil young


José (PARIS)


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