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Neil Young Time Fades away (1974)

download (7)From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Neil Young collectors speak about the live album Time Fades Away in almost reverential tones. Since it has never been released on compact disc and is not currently available, it is referred to as a “holy grail.” When it was released in October 1973 critics lavished praise for its sheer naked emotion and the gall that precedes it. Most live albums serve as catalogue filler, something to sell while waiting for new product, and usual contain live duplicates of the hits.

This album breaks that mould. It features all new material with a new band (The Stray Gators) just starting to jell. Young’s voice is weak leading him to enlist David Crosby and Graham Nash to lend backing vocals. And the context of the tour, following the overdose death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, was the impetus for frayed nerves and songs dripping with depression and cynicism.

Young has said, “My least favorite record is Time Fades Away. I think it’s the worst record I ever made – but as a documentary of what was happening to me, it was a great record. I was onstage and I was playing all these songs that nobody had heard before, recording them, and I didn’t have the right band. It was just an uncomfortable tour. It was supposed to be this big deal – I just had Harvest out, and they booked me into ninety cities.”

In 1996 Reprise planned on finally giving an official release on HDCD and some copies of the compact disc were actually pressed and promo copies were distributed to select radio stations before it is pulled for reasons unexplained. There are currently no plans to release it and even a two and a half year, ten-thousand signature online petition hasn’t swayed either Young or Reprise to budge from their position.

The dislike of the album is such that these songs have been ignored on greatest hit collections like Decade and only two, “Journey Through The Past” and “Don’t Be Denied,” were ever played after 1973. It is this considerable void this new no-label release fills.

A previous release is Time Fades Away / Chrome Dreams (CD XY207), but the new release use one of the HDCD discs as it source and the sound quality is simply phenomenal. It contains all of the songs and also includes “Last Trip To Tulsa,” the B-side to the single “Time Fades Away” (Reprise 1184). The bonus is copied from a vinyl copy and the sound quality isn’t up to the standards of the rest.

Most of the songs were recorded during the sixty three date, three month tour in early 1973 Harvest tour except for “Love In Mind,” which comes from the January 30th, 1971 show at UCLA in Los Angeles on the Journey Through The Past tour.

The Stray Gators, who effectively replaced Crazy Horse on the tour, consisted of Ben Keith (steel and slide guitars), Tim Drummund (bass) and Jack Nitzsche (piano). Drummer Kenny Buttrey played from the beginning of the tour through the February 15th show in Louisville. Johnny Barbata replaced Buttrey when he asked for more money! Barbata’s first show was on February 18th Baton Rouge, which is also the date of the recording for “Last Trip To Tulsa.”

The first song “Time Fades Away” comes from the March 1st show at The Myriad in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This ballad of drug addiction has a vague narrative with “fourteen junkies / too weak to work” being reduced in the final verse to “thirteen junkies.” Did the one escape, or did he die?

“Journey Through The Past” comes from the February 11th, 1973 show in Cleveland. The performance features Young alone at the piano and was played on the solo tour two years before. “Yonder Stands The Sinner” was recorded on March 17th, 1973 in Seattle and features Crosby and Nash on backing vocals. The band punctuates the self-accusatory lyrics with howls and Young himself shouts out “SINNER!!” in the songs final verse.

“L.A.” is taken from the same show as the title track on the album. “Don’t Be Denied” was recorded on March 28 in Phoenix and again features Crosby and Nash on background vocals. This cynical autobiography was also a regular inclusion on the Trans tour in 1983. “The Bridge” is a pretty piano based ballad written about the same time as “Journey Through The Past.” The song, which gave the name to Young’s school in California, was played only three times. The first was on February 27th, 1971 and the final is this one on April 1st, 1973 in Sacramento. It is a rare upbeat song and serves as an uplifting prelude to the finale song on the album.

“Last Dance” dates from the March 29th show in San Diego recalls the daily hassles of repetitive jobs answered by a coda that contains repetitive “no’s” chanted over a constant back riff. With Crosby and Nash on backing vocals, it is a tour-de-force reaching almost nine minutes long. This is packaged in a simple jewel case with a reproduction of the Joel Bernstein photo on the front with no indication of any label. The bottom line is that this is one of the most raw, brutal, and honest albums in the Neil Young catalogue and until it is officially released, this version is very much worth having.

February 20, 2013 Posted by | Neil Young Time Fades Away | | Leave a comment

Neil Young Time Fades Away (1974)

download (7)From Rolling Stone

This album may do for Neil Young’s declining image what Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid did for Dylan’s. But like Dylan’s much-maligned movie soundtrack LP, Time Fades Away has its virtues when taken on its own terms and not as the latest major work of a major artist. Here, Young seems to have consciously avoided the sober sense of importance that accompanied After the Gold Rush and Harvest by recording his new material live and rough. Mistakes and fluffs dot these performances, and Young has made no attempt to correct them. For whatever reason, he’s made a startlingly unorthodox album.

If Time Fades Away isn’t the standard big statement we’ve come to expect from such performers, neither is it the standard live album of the successful artist. There are no hits, no familiar tunes; for that matter, there’s hardly any audience response — it’s quickly faded out at each song’s end. More than any of his earlier works, this record shows Young’s reticence about being a public figure.

Young’s privateness has always been at the heart of his writing and performing, right alongside his staunch moral sense. These two elements have been both his prime virtues and his main flaws. Both elements are evident in this new material, with uneven but sometimes positive results.

There is an overbearing sense of self-righteousness in the title song, with its images of nervous junkies strung out on the street. But it’s saved by a sharply ironic chorus, in which the junkie’s weak parent whines: “Son, don’t be home too late/Try to get back by eight/Son, don’t wait ’til the break of day/’Cause you know how time fades away….” The lyric is energized by hard, jerking instrumental work from the Stray Gators and by Young’s jagged, piercing vocal: He’s still the best whiner in rock & roll. And he expresses anguish like no one else.

Young’s is a pain-dominated, rather Old Testament sensibility, and nowhere is all this more obvious than in “L.A.” Young’s self-righteousness becomes absolute, and he depicts himself as some neo-Israelite prophet warning the unhearing masses of the inevitable apocalypse. Young’s blanket condemnations, “Southern Man” and “Alabama” included, are as simplistic as they are venomous, but their fire makes them compelling nonetheless. That “L.A.” is reflectively sung while the two earlier songs sounded impetuous makes this one’s content and tone that much more ugly.

It’s hard to believe that the same person who conceived “L.A.” could write and sing the delicate “Journey Through the Past,” “The Bridge,” and “Love In Mind.” These are small-scope, understated songs, and they’re performed convincingly by Young, with only his own simple piano.

The best song on the album is “Don’t Be Denied,” which continues the tone but expands the scope of his quiet, personal songs. It is a complete autobiography in four verses, and the most effective part deals with his childhood. In this section, Young cuts rapidly through scenes that depict the private trials of a rather delicate kid in a rugged land. This song seems an explicit re-expression of the emotional content of Young’s moving but impenetrably private “Broken Arrow.” The latter part of “Denied,” in which Young deals with the problems of being a celebrity, forgoes universality for the writer’s personal complaints but is no less credible for it. A lack of honesty in his work has never been one of Young’s problems; if anything, he’s gone too far in the other direction, saying what would have better been left unsaid and looking bigoted or just plain foolish in the process.

He comes off rather silly in “Last Dance,” a long, ponderous song that sounds like Young’s parody of his own After the Gold Rush hard-rock style. And he’s out of control on “Yonder Stands the Sinner,” which is self-deprecating in what seems to be a more intentional way. His voice breaks when he squeal-shouts the word, “sinner!,” as if he were disclaiming the moralistic fury of “L.A.”

If Young appears foolish and arrogant at various points on the album, he seems to be allowing us a glimpse of these flaws, rather than letting them slip through and spoil his big moments without his consent, as happened on Harvest. Time Fades Away is an idiosyncrasy from one of rock’s most idiosyncratic artists. If it isn’t a resounding success, the album is still a revealing self-portrait by an always fascinating man.

February 20, 2013 Posted by | Neil Young Time Fades Away | | Leave a comment

Neil Young Time Fades Away (1974)

From Rollingstone.com

This album may do for Neil Young’s declining image what Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid did for Dylan’s. But like Dylan’s much-maligned movie soundtrack LP, Time Fades Away has its virtues when taken on its own terms and not as the latest major work of a major artist. Here, Young seems to have consciously avoided the sober sense of importance that accompanied After the Gold Rush and Harvest by recording his new material live and rough. Mistakes and fluffs dot these performances, and Young has made no attempt to correct them. For whatever reason, he’s made a startlingly unorthodox album.

If Time Fades Away isn’t the standard big statement we’ve come to expect from such performers, neither is it the standard live album of the successful artist. There are no hits, no familiar tunes; for that matter, there’s hardly any audience response — it’s quickly faded out at each song’s end. More than any of his earlier works, this record shows Young’s reticence about being a public figure.

Young’s privateness has always been at the heart of his writing and performing, right alongside his staunch moral sense. These two elements have been both his prime virtues and his main flaws. Both elements are evident in this new material, with uneven but sometimes positive results.

There is an overbearing sense of self-righteousness in the title song, with its images of nervous junkies strung out on the street. But it’s saved by a sharply ironic chorus, in which the junkie’s weak parent whines: “Son, don’t be home too late/Try to get back by eight/Son, don’t wait ’til the break of day/’Cause you know how time fades away….” The lyric is energized by hard, jerking instrumental work from the Stray Gators and by Young’s jagged, piercing vocal: He’s still the best whiner in rock & roll. And he expresses anguish like no one else.

Young’s is a pain-dominated, rather Old Testament sensibility, and nowhere is all this more obvious than in “L.A.” Young’s self-righteousness becomes absolute, and he depicts himself as some neo-Israelite prophet warning the unhearing masses of the inevitable apocalypse. Young’s blanket condemnations, “Southern Man” and “Alabama” included, are as simplistic as they are venomous, but their fire makes them compelling nonetheless. That “L.A.” is reflectively sung while the two earlier songs sounded impetuous makes this one’s content and tone that much more ugly.

It’s hard to believe that the same person who conceived “L.A.” could write and sing the delicate “Journey Through the Past,” “The Bridge,” and “Love In Mind.” These are small-scope, understated songs, and they’re performed convincingly by Young, with only his own simple piano.

The best song on the album is “Don’t Be Denied,” which continues the tone but expands the scope of his quiet, personal songs. It is a complete autobiography in four verses, and the most effective part deals with his childhood. In this section, Young cuts rapidly through scenes that depict the private trials of a rather delicate kid in a rugged land. This song seems an explicit re-expression of the emotional content of Young’s moving but impenetrably private “Broken Arrow.” The latter part of “Denied,” in which Young deals with the problems of being a celebrity, forgoes universality for the writer’s personal complaints but is no less credible for it. A lack of honesty in his work has never been one of Young’s problems; if anything, he’s gone too far in the other direction, saying what would have better been left unsaid and looking bigoted or just plain foolish in the process.

He comes off rather silly in “Last Dance,” a long, ponderous song that sounds like Young’s parody of his own After the Gold Rush hard-rock style. And he’s out of control on “Yonder Stands the Sinner,” which is self-deprecating in what seems to be a more intentional way. His voice breaks when he squeal-shouts the word, “sinner!,” as if he were disclaiming the moralistic fury of “L.A.”

If Young appears foolish and arrogant at various points on the album, he seems to be allowing us a glimpse of these flaws, rather than letting them slip through and spoil his big moments without his consent, as happened on Harvest. Time Fades Away is an idiosyncrasy from one of rock’s most idiosyncratic artists. If it isn’t a resounding success, the album is still a revealing self-portrait by an always fascinating man.

February 25, 2011 Posted by | Neil Young Time Fades Away | | Leave a comment