Neil Young - Freedom
Neil wasn't the only legend who had a difficult 80s. Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell And, many others. Some would re-enter the 90s with a renewed vigour. Neil was one of those, but in a way, he led the way. The opening song is/was an anthem and one of the best things he'd ever written. Recorded live, played on acoustic guitar. Neil's acoustic playing rocks harder than many guys electric playing! Now, that's something! Still, this album isn't all about one song. Two versions of 'Rockin In The Free World' bookend the album, the second version being the noisy electric version. Memories of 'Rust Never Sleeps' spring to mind. Where was I? Oh, yeah. 'Crime In The City' continues with acoustic guitars, among other instruments too. It's a fine song. 'Don't Cry' confirms that here is an album. The burst of electric noise shortly after the one minute mark confirmed that Neil was well and truly back. Neither 'Eldorado' nor 'Hangin On A Limb' get my vote, the album sags a little towards the middle. 'The Ways Of Love' and 'Someday' are ballads and not exactly thrilling or essential, although Neil sounds in fine voice and sounds in fine sentiment. 'Someday' is actually quite pretty if we're being fair. 'On Broadway' returns Neil and his friends to a rough and ready sound, a loose and natural sound that sounds as if everything is about to collapse at any moment. The drums just about hold the beat, but only barely. The bass is plodding, Neil sails over this backing with guitar that sounds as if it doesn't know where its going at all. That's Neil Young music, proper Neil Young music. It works.
The piano led 'Wrecking Ball' sees Neil sing in that weary 'i've been through it all and might die' voice, that voice he uses so well. A 'Tired Eyes' kind of voice, as if the world is about to end. It's such a beautiful song, so very lovely. "We'll go dancin' tonight" sings Neil, sounding as if he can barely move from his bed, let alone dance. I like that sound, that feel. That weary, genuine seeming Neil Young emotion. More acoustic guitar for 'Too Far Gone', 'No More' is kind of perky sounding and everything is wrapped up with a storming electric version of the song that opened the album. A good record this, it works. It works.
Rockin In The Free World / Crime In The City / Don't Cry / Hangin' On A Limb / Eldorado / The Ways Of Love / Someday / On Broadway / Wrecking Ball / No More / Too Far Gone / Rockin' In The Free World