Classic Rock Review

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Neil Young This Note’s For You (1988)

zap_young9From donignacio.com

Neil Young might have quit the Geffen label, but that doesn’t mean he knew when to quit! This Note’s For You marked yet another instance of Young extreme genre leaps. This time he found himself in the territory of ’80s cheese-blues.

That’s right. We have the ultra-polished, swinging rhythm sections, the blaring horn sections and about zero-percent originality. Yucky! But let’s be fair. While this album isn’t particularly good, it’s not particularly bad, either. At least the instrumentation sounds good, which is what keeps it a fair distance away from so many similar albums of the era.

Well, my job reviewing this album is easy, because most of you already knows what this album sounds like without hearing it! Other than switching to a new label, it’s not even an important one for Neil Young since it’s pretty clear that he’s just treading water … again. There are a few candidates for “best song” in this album, but I went along with “Sunny Inside” partly because it’s one of the few tracks here that couldn’t be described as ’80s cheese-blues.

Rather, that’s a cheesy ’80s version of ’60s sunshine pop! It’s nothing too special, but at least Young forced himself to gravitate away from those predictable chord progressions. Although the back-up band pretty much plays the same sort of thing in that track as the others, so you might not even notice that he switched genres! Very, very sneaky…

Funnily, the only other song on the album that isn’t blues turns out to be a total piece of garbage. “Twilight” seems to be an attempt at trying on Dire Straits’ atmospheric cosmic-rock underpants… except instead of Mark Knopfer’s light-fingered twinkles, we get these clumsy clomps. It’s pretty obvious the band didn’t plan anything before going to the studio with it… The track is long, boring, long and boring … and even the atmosphere is non-developed, which might have helped matters. Come to think of it, I didn’t even care for Dire Strait’s atmospheric stuff, so what was Neil Young thinking?

The title track is a fun song even though it’s a little too short. The lyrics seem to be a message to his new label that he doesn’t want to be forced into doing things. I guess they complied, which could explain why Young would soon begin to start seriously writing his sort of music.

I also enjoy the generic blues-rocker “Hey Hey” a little more than usual because it has an especially enjoyable horn section, the rhythm section swings as mightily as it ever has, and he brings in a few awesome, wobbly electric guitar licks here and there!

The album opener “Ten Men Workin’” is an OK for an opener — it’s upbeat and it also has a swing to it. Though that particular one has a disadvantage, because any listener hearing this album for the first time is bound to be disturbed at that first instance when they hear Neil Young doing this sort of music. So, I gave it a B-. Maybe it would have been a B in the middle of the album? Well, that’s not a big deal anyway.

The closing song, “One Thing,” is a massive, massive bore, though. It’s six minutes long and not interesting for even one second. Although that seems like small potatoes compared to the eighth track, “Can’t Believe Your Lyin’,” which is about as interesting as Bill Clinton giving a speech not about sex. And it’s semi-embarrassing hearing Young trying to do slow jazz like he was some sort of female sex siren. To say the least, that’s slightly disturbing since he was already getting pretty old and wrinkly.

While this album has some merits and is not as bad as it could have been, there’s really no reason for anyone to hear it. This didn’t inspire any of his disgruntled ex-fans to return to him nor did he attract a new audience. About all this album is good for is existing.

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March 6, 2013 - Posted by | Neil Young This Note's For You |

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