|1. Betty Lou's Got A New Pair Of Shoes|
|2. Rainin' In My Heart|
|3. Payola Blues|
|5. Kinda Fonda Wanda|
|6. Jellyroll Man|
|7. Bright Lights Big City|
|8. Cry Cry Cry|
|9. Mystery Train|
|10. Evrybody's Rockin'|
The album opens with two covers. The first is the familiar Bobby Freeman #20 hit from 1958, 'Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes', and the second James Moore's (aka Slim Harpo) #34 country-blues hit from 1961, 'Rainin' In My Heart'. Both are faithful renditions, the former sounding a bit lackluster, especially for an album opener, but Neil builds on it, so perhaps that's the idea (or it could be that it is just lackluster). Neil's delivery is particularly well-suited to the crying-out-loud overtones of the latter Harpo tune, however.
The heart of the album follows, with Neil penning four great tunes that sound as if they had been born and raised in the late 1950's. 'Payola Blues' is a hilarious take on jumping through hoops to get your record on the radio, featuring a "Cash-a-wad-a-wad-a" background vocal from Larry Byrom, Anthony Crawford, and Rick Palombi that is just great schtick. The fifth track, 'Kinda Fonda Wanda' is similarly tongue-in-cheek, blowing us past the Sue's (Peggy and Runaround) to hail the 'virtues' of Wanda, who always "wanta, wanta, wanta". Sandwiched between is the best number on the disc, Neil's 'Wonderin'. The quartet is rounded out with 'Jellyroll Man'. All four songs are based in a similar tempo that is guaranteed to have you looking to lead your honey by the hand to the dance floor (right after your run your comb through your pomp...).
The remaining four songs are a bit less appealing than the middle four, with Neil's cover of Sam Phillip's 'Mystery Train', a number one hit for Elvis on the country charts in 1955 (and the last single Elvis recorded for Phillips before his contract was sold to RCA) being the best of the bunch. 'Bright Lights, Big City' was a number 58 hit for Jimmy Reed in 1961, while 'Cry, Cry, Cry' and 'Everybody's Rockin'' are Young compostions.
This is probably the most unusual of all Neil Young albums, save 'Arc' (and perhaps 'Trans', which oddly enough preceded 'Everybody's Rockin'). While the album was reportedly a source of contention between Young and David Geffen, and posed a mystery to many of Neil's longtime fans, it represents yet another dimension of Neil's talent. His ability to capture the resonant sounds of a by-gone era is sorely underappreciated. While the covers are good, it is Neil's own writings that give this brief work breadth and depth. And Neil plays up the retro-act to great effect with two-tone shoes and a greasy pompadour, and a low-amp backing band called 'The Shocking Pinks' (featuring Tim Drummond on an UPRIGHT bass, and Karl Himmel on snare).
Isn't it odd how people so often criticize Young for being excessively dour, yet when he does lighten up, it is the critics who play the sour notes? There is a lot of good fun here, quite different from the hard-rocking good fun found on discs such as 're.ac.tor', but good fun nonetheless. And don't worry about the short running time, 30 minutes is right for this. Four stars is right, too.
... let's talk about this record's real gems. Read more
You know I love you, man. I bought this on vinyl, then as an import CD, basically 'cuz I'm a completist. I like to have the full Neil Young oevure. Read more