I saw young folks fighting to save Mother Nature....
Released on the 25th October 2019
Running time 50.21
Whenever artists like Neil Young, Van Morrison, Santana or indeed anyone over fifty releases a new piece of work they are met with the usual comparisons with work they produced thirty, forty, fifty years ago and they face numerous calls for them to give it up and retire. Why should they? Neil Young is certainly an artist who has something to say, and this is one of his most overtly political albums, so more power to him. That power is reiterated by the beautiful crash of Crazy Horse's backing. They haven't lost anything over the years, that's for sure.
1. Think Of Me
2. She Showed Me Love
3. Olden Days
4. Help Me Lose My Mind
5. Green Is Blue
6. Shut It Down
7. Milky Way
9. Rainbow Of Colours
10. I Do
"When you see those geese in the sky think of me..." sings Young on this appealing, harmonica-driven, beautifully bassy mid-pace rocker, Think Of Me, that opens the album. Quite why songs like this are considered by some to be sub-standard is beyond me. I find it quite disarming, thoughtful and evocative. Yes, Young is older and his voice is older, but, let's be honest his voice delivery was always a bleat as opposed to a growl, wasn't it?
She Showed Me Love is a diatribe against "old white guys trying to kill Mother Nature...", Young realises that he is an "old white guy" too and rails belligerently against many of his own generation as he sees "young folks fighting to save Mother Nature...". This is one of the first Extinction Rebellion anthems. Fair play to old Neil, telling it like it is at 73 and spitting out the invective over a typical Crazy Horse grungy, scratchy guitar backing. May his song always be heard. The song lasts thirteen minutes, however, as the Horse get into a groove like it is the Weld era again. Initially, I thought, God, this is going on a bit, but after a few listens it gets into your bloodstream and you get hooked. Well I did anyway. The sheer power of Nils Lofgren and Young cranking up their industrial-sounding guitars is stunning, the same goes for Ralph Molina's sledgehammer drumming and Billy Talbot's deep, throbbing bass. There aren't too many more visceral basic rock outfits around. They crackle like a faulty plug socket. Incidentally, the guitar riff has slight strains of Argent's Hold Your Head Up in it.
A trademark Crazy Horse buzzy riff introduces the catchy Olden Days. Young's voice falters a bit on this but does it matter? Actually, no. There is an attractiveness in his vulnerable delivery and the backing is solidly reassuring too. Help Me Lose My Mind is a big, chunky piece of walking pace grungy thump. Young's ranting vocal sounds at one point like David Byrne when he sings "I gotta get a new television...". For me, this is as strong as anything Young and Crazy Horse did back in the day, there is no discernible diminishing of power here.
Green Is Blue is a plaintive vocal and piano reflection on contemporary political corruption, divisiveness and ecological decay. People need to be singing stuff like this, now more than ever, and thankfully Young is doing just that.
Shut It Down has an absolute killer of a riff that would cause the national grid serious problems if it was played simultaneously up and down the country. "Shut the whole system down..." rails Young as Crazy Horse power away, like an out of control piece of factory machinery. Milky Way is a slow, infectious number with a fetching staccato drum rhythm and a gently emotive vocal. There is some great guitar half way through as well.
Eternity is a a pleasantly laid-back, sad-sounding number that sort of washes over you as many of Young's quite numbers do. Rainbow Of Colours is a magnificently buzzy, guitar-driven condemnation of current American governmental policy. It is refreshing to hear true protest songs like this making an appearance again. Good God, we need them. There is something of Dylan's With God On Our Side about the melody. I Do is a gently-delivered, moving song that questions whether much of the natural world we know will actually always be there. Maybe it truly won't.
All this album is thought-provoking and there are many times these days when I feel isolated and feel that nobody else really gives a damn about many issues (I know, of course, that this isn't true) but when I listen to this I know that Neil Young does.