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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Comment of the Moment: Le Noise Sessions: Neil Young Posts New Video w/ Unseen Footage

Le Noise Sessions
via Hearse Theater | NYA

Earlier this week, a new Neil Young video from Le Noise Sessions was premiered on Hearse Theater | NYA.

And now it's gone. So onto to the next in the screening schedule in Hearse Theater on NYA.

But for those that missed this video with unseen footage, here's a recap and commentary.

With a running time of 1hr, 17min, Le Noise Sessions was produced by Daniel Lanois and filmed by CK Vollick. The newly released video contains unseen footage from Le Noise recording sessions in 2010.

The Le Noise Sessions features the eight songs of the album, plus four "Le Noise" outtakes. Daniel Lanois had already mentioned "You Never Call" and "For The Love of Man" in interviews in 2010. While "You Never Call" remains unreleased, "For The Love of Man" appears on "Psychedelic Pill" with Crazy Horse. Neil reveals in the video that he had already recorded "Twisted Road" and "Born In Ontario" with Daniel Lanois. These two songs did not make it to "Le Noise" and were also included in 2012 on "Psychedelic Pill".

The Comment of the Moment on Le Noise Sessions: Neil Young Posts New Video w/ Unseen Footage by the always insightful Scotsman:
Listening to these fascinating outtakes, with all the alternate songs, arrangements and production styles that were tried out, it's clear that Neil and Daniel Lanois had experimented with enough material to tell any number of different musical stories on Le Noise. So it's a mystery how they managed to conclude with something as dull as the finished album.

The main thing I notice is that they abandoned most of the best songs. So chilling, sparsely-produced gems like For The Love Of Man and You Never Call (a revelation on organ) are swapped out for Angry World.

And yes, Angry World has a great guitar tone. But For The Love Of Man is a great song. So there's no contest, really.

That's what Le Noise has a lack of: great songs. And the trademark Lanois production, as exciting as it is, does little to disguise that. Whereas the sparser-sounding outtakes, beautifully captured on film, come across wonderfully: emotional, unpretentious and moving.

Every cloud has a silver lining, of course. And by bypassing For The Love Of Man on Le Noise, it was free to become an integral part of Psychedelic Pill. Where it works brilliantly as a prologue to Walk Like A Giant. So the lesson I'm taking from that is not to decide too quickly whether something is a positive or negative. Or as Rick Danko said, "thank God for time". Though sometimes, of course, we'd all like it to go a bit slower, or sometimes a bit faster.

Anyway! The real cause for celebration is that Young and Co. are finally starting to upload some extra stuff to the website, some rare footage and outtake gems, rather than the same old stuff anyone using the website already owns already. That's what a proper Archive is, isn't it? The cobwebbed-covered stuff that was hidden away behind the mixing desk ("Where's the tape of LA Sports Arena 1991, or Cal Expo 1996, or Hollywood 2014? That's what I wanna hear. And I'll pay extra for it, too").

And it's also exactly the sort of thing the website needs to create a bit of a buzz, a bit of excitement and word-of-mouth. And in the internet age, it needs to happen often. I'll be arguing in favour of them adding more exciting stuff very soon, rather than retreating to the 90's strategy of releasing one album every 16 years.

And the fanbase needs to respond to their generosity by watching and listening, by enjoying and sharing. That's how the word spreads, and that's how the website finds a route to on-going success.

Thanks so much for the Comment of the Moment Scotsman.

When we were putting this up the other day while watching and listening and multi-tasking away, we were pretty floored realizing this came out way back in 2010?! Almost 10 years ago?! Seems like the day before yesterday, practically. So here's a look back at some Le Noise memories -- which were quite fond of pleased to recall. We look forward to the return of Le Noise Sessions!


Le Noise by Neil Young
(Click to Zoom Cover)
Release Date: September 28, 2010

We first heard Neil Young's batch of new songs -- what would eventually become known as "the Le Noise tracks" -- performed live in Hanover, MA, Washington, DC and Milwaukee, WI back in May 2010.

What we saw and heard over those 3 concerts in the Spring time of 2010 was truly transformative and transcendental. Others had similar reactions while many were struck with the bleak starkness of some of the 7 new songs being debuted.

Fast forward to the September 28, 2010 release of Le Noise and listeners are just now hearing the "sonics" which Producer Daniel Lanois has introduced in the post-production process. So naturally, for those of us lucky to have experienced the raw and stripped down Le Noise tracks performed live, it is quite an exhilarating experience to re-discover so quickly the song's treatments with Lanois' studio touches.

Much, much, much has been made of this collaboration between Young and Producer Lanois. While it seems clear that the partnership works on many levels -- as evidenced not only by the results which speak for itself -- one can not help but plainly sense the apparent comfort and palpable mutual respect on display in their numerous joint interviews.

So did Neil Young found his new David Briggs? Or was Lanois now Young's "Rick Rubin" with the magic touch?

The other fascinating aspect of Le Noise was the reaction of critics who suddenly now were waxing rhapsodic in their reviews over the latest Neil Young release.

Twitter / Greg Kot

Reading some of the latest reviews, we find ourselves shaking our heads at critics (and even some "fair weather fans" too) for re-discovering Neil Young's unique charms and peculiar fondness for turning expectations on their heads. As if, lo and behold, Young has somehow re-emerged from the shadows of creativity and returned once again to form.

As if there had ever been a "form" before. (See chronology of Young's career ending moves for details.)

Our observation at this point on Le Noise is that it usually seems to take quite some time before a Neil Young album's significance emerges. Witness the recent re-appraisals of Greendale, Living With War and the much maligned Fork in the Road in the Young canon.

So we spin the black circle....

And other Neil fans?

From Isorski's Musings: CD Review - Neil Young - Le Noise:
Le Noise is a special Neil release unlike anything he has ever given us.

And as a guitar player who also loves raw tones, gritty production and 'real' playing, there is a lot to love. From the insane overdriven electric of Walk With Me to the gorgeous acoustic tone of Peaceful Valley Boulevard, Neil hits this one so far out of the park, the ball is the next county.

Neil Young and Daniel Lanois
Photo by Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

From Steve Hoffman Music Forum by Chief:
I'm listening to the full album for the first time right now.

I'd be surprised if Le Noise wasn't listed in many critics' year-end best of lists. It's that kind of album. It takes risks and sounds ugly (depending on one's perspective). I think this was the right album for Neil to make. He could have done something familiar, but he chose not to, and that's why he's still relevant.

That said, it's a challenging album simply because the sounds aren't friendly or inviting (like Harvest Moon or Ragged Glory for instance). The lack of traditional instrumentation will prevent it from gaining wide acceptance. Neil has put out other challenging albums of course. Some have ultimately rewarded over time, others haven't so much. I won't even dare to speculate where Le Noise will fall. I think Fork In The Road is challenging as well, and I also think it's really good.

Le Noise, however, is something entirely different.
From a comment on this blog by Dan:
Beyond the sonics which add richness and verve, the songs are excellent ... somehow I keep coming back to love and war which for me feels like an enduring classic ... originally I thought he'd put out a dark album to mourn the losses of LA and Ben, ... I've come around to thinking he's left that sadness off the album and instead, both on the album and in the interviews, is expressing, among other things, themes of resiliency and continuity, and within that he seems as vibrant, relevant, and fresh as he ever has. He also seems relaxed, at peace, and comfortable with himself and his scene.

Good stuff...

And how about those critics???

From Music Vice | Album review: Neil Young – Le Noise – "The anti-pop star creates his ultimate anti-pop record" by Brian Banks:
These days fewer and fewer artists seem to actually have something to say, and of those that do, not many are saying something worth hearing. Pop has never been so pop. But what do we do than when we, the all-consuming music-buying public, want to hear something tangible? Something personal.

Something that makes a statement – and no, not a fashion statement…we have plenty enough of that already. Something real. It’s a mission to find a contemporary artist whose music really has a voice and that thing called soul – there are some of course, but most of them are hiding away in obscurity and poverty, far removed from the sales charts. Leave it to the epitomist Neil Young to come along with a new album that delivers something that is both very real and very much worth listening to.

The anti-pop star has created his ultimate anti-pop record.

But wait. Who's ever heard of Music Vice and what does a blog's opinion matter anyway?

How about the elite professional music critics (as compiled by Metacritic)?


From Chicago Tribune:
The album is full of those kind of unexpected juxtapositions, a stunning statement from an artist who shows no signs of slowing down.

Los Angeles Times:
Le Noise is not an epic -– if it were a book, you could read it in an afternoon -– but it's statement enough from a man who's already said so much.

Rolling Stone:
Le Noise is also the most intimate and natural-sounding album Young has made in a long time: just a songwriter making his way through a vividly rendered chaos of memoir, affection and fear.

Boston Globe:
It builds a rich sonic arch around Young's voice and guitar, bottling the essence of what makes him such a compelling singer-songwriter at 64.

The Guardian:
Le Noise demands more effort than some listeners might be willing to put in, but at its best, it repays that effort pretty handsomely. In that sense at least, it pretty much sums up Neil Young's entire career.

(See Le Noise Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic for all links above. Also, see - Neil Young links for more capsule reviews).

Illustration by Tim O'Brien - Rolling Stone Magazine

From Rolling Stone Music | Music Reviews by David Fricke:
But the most personal thing about Le Noise is the sense of a restless master caught in the pursuit of ideas, shaping their expression. 'Peaceful Valley Boulevard,' one of two acoustic-guitar songs, is a detailed American history lesson from Indian wars to electric cars. Yet in one line ('A mother screamed, and every soul was lost'), Young's voice cracks on the peak note — an impulsive, moving flaw.

And in 'Love and War,' Young — his creaky whisper and acoustic guitar buoyed by Lanois' watery treatments — confesses an uncertainty hard to believe in one of rock's most driven stars: 'When I sing about love and war/I don't really know what I'm saying.' But then the conviction comes back. He only has that one way forward, through the music: 'I sang in anger, hit another bad chord/But I still try to sing about love and war.' Le Noise is, ultimately, an extreme simplicity: the sound of a man who won't give up.

Producer Daniel Lanois, on making of the track "Walk With Me"

From BBC - Music - Review of Neil Young - Le Noise by Wyndham Wallace:
It’s not an easy listen, obviously, but acclimatisation to the unfamiliar, monochromatic sound of such raw electric guitar brings with it the ability to recognise that Young’s songwriting skills haven’t dulled with age. Examined as a part of his overall body of work, furthermore, it’s amongst the more fascinating left turns he’s made, and once again confirms the evergreen restlessness of this gnarly and frequently inspiring Canadian.

Once again, he’s not let us down.

And the bloggers?

From Consequence of Sound by By Evan Minsker:
In a way, Le Noise should feel like a cheap attempt to reach out to young people.

The album was promoted on Facebook, Young debuted videos on Pitchfork and Stereogum, and the record is being released as an iPad and iPhone app. It sounds like a cheap marketing ploy. Apps? Social media? Hip music sites? He’s a Twitter account away from covering all the buzzword bases. But, in reality, this is one of Young’s best albums in years, so the Internet-wide promotion is well worth the effort. With just a guitar and some fine studio work by Lanois, the soundscape here is huge and mystifying.

Not since he first recorded “Cortez the Killer” has a Young album been so full of mystique.

From PopMatters by David Gassmann :
But then comes “Hitchhiker”, and it’s incredible.

It’s as nakedly personal as anything Young has written since the Ditch Trilogy. The first several verses are straight autobiography, a laundry list of drugs, infidelities, and other transgressions. About four minutes in, it takes a turn for the surreal: “I thought I was an Aztec / Or a runner in Peru.” Young has previously said that his songs often don’t have literal meanings, so much as connotative meanings arising from words and dreamlike images. But coming after verses with such clear autobiographical content, and relying on such well-worn Young tropes as time travel and indigenous peoples, it’s hard not to see this as some sort of commentary on Young’s songwriting, perhaps as a vehicle for escape. After that verse, the song ends abruptly on a more direct and sobering note:

I tried to leave my past behind
But it’s catching up with me …
I don’t know how I’m standing here
Living in my life
I’m thankful for my children
And my faithful wife

The juxtaposition of the Incan fantasy and this conclusion seems to present an intriguing dilemma: disappear into art and fiction (and drugs), or take a chance on real-world redemption, which carries with it the inescapable fact of past mistakes? “Hitchhiker” also casts some previous songs in a new light, perhaps revealing the source of some of the frustration in “Angry World”, and amplifying the reflective tone of “Love and War”. In short, it’s exactly the sort of song you’d hope to hear from an elder statesman of rock and roll: mature, with wisdom and perspective, but still vital and rebellious.

Producer Daniel Lanois
Photo by Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

And of course not all are impressed by Young's latest.

From The A.V. Club by Steven Hyden:
Neil Young’s bulletproof status as the other ’60s rock icon you can still depend on—take a bow, Bob Dylan—has become increasingly reliant on albums boasting catchier concepts than songwriting. It’s easy to praise Young for getting fired up about the environment (Greendale), the war in Iraq (Living With War), and electric cars (Fork In The Road), but when it comes to songs, he’s been penning iffy lyrics and recycling the same by-the-numbers guitar-rumble for years. Young’s cultural engagement makes him impervious to charges of coasting, but with Le Noise, he’s once again made an album that sounds better on paper than through speakers.

But to wrap things up quietly on Le Noise (incidentally the albums name is a pun on the producer's last name which we'd be re-miss to point out since every review does as well), from Culture Belly by Chris DeLine:
Young, yourself, all of us: who knows how long any of us are meant for this world?

In all honesty, we’re all just a fluke aneurysm away from calling it a day. I can’t speak for the man, but I imagine that Neil Young doesn’t want to die—I know that I most certainly don’t want to die—and it’s my hope that you don’t want to die. And if there’s one thing that I know I can rely on while I’m still on this side of the grave it’s the perspective I gained in part from “Ordinary People”. This is why I think the song is important when thinking about Le Noise: Even if you’re riding a series of thoughts and emotions that touch on the darkest parts of the human experience, you have to do your damnedest to keep that positive outlook and sense of humanity in mind, and remind yourself of what exactly it is you’re still thankful for.

Like Young, if you have children and a wife, I hope you’re thankful for them. If you have a husband, I hope you’re thankful for him. If you have parents or friends or siblings or an annoying little bijon shih tzu that refuses to stop barking at all hours of the morning: I hope you’re thankful for each and every one of ‘em. That’s what I’m taking away from Le Noise.

Neil Young and Producer Daniel Lanois with Le Noise crew

More on Neil Young's New Album 'Le Noise'. Also, see:

- Critics Go GaGa Over New Neil Young Album Le Noise
- Comment of the Moment: Le Noise
- "Walk With Me": New Video by Neil Young
- Neil Young's Le Noise "Weaving sonic tapestries"
- CBC Interview With Neil Young and Daniel Lanois
- Vinyl Review of Le Noise: TONEAudio MAGAZINE
- NEW LE NOISE VIDEO: Neil Young's "Love And War" on YouTube
-Le Noise: "It's a keeper" Tweets Critic Greg Kot
-Neil Young and Daniel Lanois click on 'Le Noise' -
-NEW LE NOISE VIDEO: "Hitchhiker"
-Comment of the Moment: Le Noise's "Sonics"
-Neil Young Interview on Le Noise: "It sounded like God"
- Producer Daniel Lanois Discusses Making of "Walk With Me" + UNCUT Review (UPDATED)
- Video of Neil Young's "Angry World" from Le Noise
- Neil Young's Le Noise: "Just a man on a stool"
- "Imagination never sleeps": Neil Young's Le Noise
- NPR Previews Neil Young's Le Noise's "Walk With Me"
- Dead Man Soundtrack: Preview of Le Noise?
- Anticipating Neil Young's album Le Noise
-Stream Neil Young's Entire Album Le Noise on NPR

Also, see all of Neil Young's Solo Electric Concert Tour Dates and Reviews.

And, FWIW, Le Noise by Neil Young is ranked at #3 #2 on Bestseller listing.

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At 8/25/2019 01:32:00 AM, Blogger the rider said...

I really enjoyed watching this video. I do see why "You never call" was not released on the album. At one point during the song he missed a chord change. But in classic Neil style, he did not allow himself to do another take with the guitar. For me, the definitive version of this song is featured in the movie Journeys.

At 8/25/2019 04:26:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Yeah. I think the performances of the outtakes sound sketchy, but they give an interesting glimpse at the alternate routes the album could have gone down. We see Neil experimenting in the studio, which is always fun. I found the experiment of using the organ on You Never Call to be particularly powerful, giving the song an emotional gutsiness and resonance that wasn't really there in the guitar version.

Whereas the album performances sound slicker, more finished and produced: but several of the songs themselves sound unfinished, undercooked.

I think Neil's most exciting work is when he takes that glimmer of inspiration and is persistent enough to alchemise it into something great. It's a artful balancing act of going far enough but not too far; far enough that the song is actually born, not so far that the spark is lost. And on this album (the released version) I think the electric songs are mostly underwritten, with the extra production doing little to disguise that.


At 8/25/2019 12:13:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ the rider - good point on definitive version in Journeys.

maybe we'll see Journeys in Hearse Th. sometime?

@ Scotsman - "alchemise". nice. wee see what you did there. well played.

(golf clap)

it's a valid point to get all over LN for it's "production". Altho why in the world you would not hire Lanois and not have "production" is beyond us. The Sessions allowed us to hear and see the songs in pre-prod/rough draft.

there's been a real tendency overr the recent decade to have these alternate versions floating about, like LWW orchestral, EARTH w/ SFX, etc

At 8/26/2019 04:26:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Thrasher: absolutely - the truth is that Lanois's production is an art form in itself. When you hire him, you know what you are getting.

I thought the production on Le Noise had some great sounds, and overall it's an album that should be commended for its experimentation. But the overall finished experience left me cold. A Neil Young album is built on the solid foundation of great songwriting, and that's also where Le Noise is lacking.

There were some gems in there too, for sure: the acoustic songs that Neil originally brought to the sessions sound more substantial and more soulful than most of the electric songs that came later.

Now, I think there may be have been a great song lurking within the spark of inspiration that created Angry World or Sign Of Love or Someone's Gonna To Rescue You, but I'm not sure Neil stuck with the process long enough to attract them out. I think those songs escaped during the writing process, and what's left is sort of a shell, a hint of what might have been.

...Thanks for sharing this page of varied reviews, thoughts, observatioms and rambles (the latter, in my case) on Le Noise.


At 8/27/2019 07:19:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I think Le Noise has excellent songs. Period.

At 8/27/2019 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

I think it has some excellent songs, and now a couple more with these "new" outtakes. But the electric tracks from the original album to me were very underwhelming, especially given Lanois's reputation. I thought the songwriting was very unimaginative, and none of the electric songs give me chills in the way Neil's best work routinely does.

That's not to say I dislike Lanois' work, per se. I think he did a good job with Dylan's records, and some of the sounds on Le Noise too are very evocative (particularly on the sparser tracks). But for all of the bells and whistles, even Hitchhiker has none of the haunting spook of the supreme 1992 live version. And I think most of the other electric tracks are even more a case of style over content, the heavy-handed production mainly being used to paper over a lack of real substance in the songs and performances.

Producer David Briggs would try to get the best song and performance out of Neil, and then endeavour to capture it as straightforwardly as possible. Le Noise demonstrates Neil and Daniel Lanois experimenting with the opposite approach.


At 8/29/2019 05:31:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Never a dull moment in Neil's life,neither in mine,though sometimes numbed...Cees Mostert-the Netherlands.

At 8/30/2019 12:10:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, Thrasher, for the cruise along recall avenue. I wish I hadn't missed the video, but them's the breaks.

I find myself still wondering, after nearly ten years, if "You Never Call" will materialize on a studio album--having been haunted by the solo electric arrangement introduced for the 2010-11 Le Noise shows. I saw NY live in Philly on April 30th, 2011, along with my elder brother and our since dearly departed father. This was, many will recall, days ahead of the Massey Hall performances documented in Jonathan Demme's movie "Neil Young Journeys". That DVD remains my primary souvenir of what I can only describe as a seminal event for a younger generation NY fan. So these songs and period of NY's career hold special significance indeed for me. I well remember the initial music video-documentary online, too.

I'll agree with Scotzman that the album itself, upon reflection, is a beautifully bold (and boldly beautiful) experiment but comes with rough edges. "Angry World", although it holds some clever features, is probably one of the lesser tracks. NY himself mentioned in an interview, probably from the 2010 Le Noise doc, bringing that song to the studio unfinished and being perhaps a little insecure about that. Amid all of the critical and fan response at the time, the one thing that did confuse me a bit was how and why "Angry World", out of all the things on the album, got the Grammy nod. C'est la vie, however.

"Love and War" was my dad's favorite of the (then) new songs. Really can't argue with that, although of the electric numbers, I think "Walk with Me" and "Rumblin'" have aged most interestingly. ("Hitchhiker", of course, lives within its own category that we could--and have--devoted entire posts and threads to dissecting.)

"You Never Call", though, is heavy... in spite of the surface-level humor black humor... my father frequently used to call (Skype, actually) when I was living away at college for the first time. Substitute baseball for hockey and the Phillies for the Red Wings, and the parallels are uncanny.

"You're in Heaven with nothing to do... the ultimate vacation, with no back pain... all we do is work, work, work."


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