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Greendale (W/ Bonus DVD)
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|10. Be The Rain|
"One of the most ambitious works of his career...a great artist once again at the peak of his game." (Chicago Tribune) "Young has rarely sounded so fresh and inspired...an uncompromising artist with the courage to follow his muse." (Chicago Sun Times) For the first time in his storied career, Neil Young has created a fictional place filled with characters and incidents and written an album about them. The album, and the place, is Greendale and the people are the Green family. The songs are among the most personal he's ever penned, ranging from the dark and biting to the light and humorous. Still surprising and still stirring it up, Young adds a stunning new album to his place in rock history with Greendale.
On paper, Greendaledoesn't sound like one of Neil Young's better ideas: a whimsical concept album-cum-community theatre piece that mixes his cosy view of small-town America--insular, sentimental, occasionally xenophobic--with well-meaning if woolly anti-corporate, pro-environment sloganeering. Such clarity of purpose rarely suits Young. Indeed, the eco-hymn "Be the Rain" makes After the Goldrushsound more gnomic than ever. But what Greendalelacks in mystique, it makes up for with love and eccentricity. Though his voice is thinner than ever, Young sounds more engaged than he has in years--certainly more so than on the sleepwalking slush of 2001's Are You Passionate--and the obvious pleasure he takes from his grand idea here is enough to carry you through the album's ropier passages.
Young's peculiar blend of control-freakery and sloppiness ensure Greendale is raw where concept albums are usually over-polished. Crazy Horse play with that bewildering naivety so typical of them, and the wrinkled spirit that they and Young bring to "Devil's Sidewalk" and the beautifully aimless "Carmichael" makes you forgive most of their self-indulgences. Even the spellbindingly crass "Be the Rain" is redeemed by Young interrupting the platitudes sung by his wife, as he bawls semi-coherently through a megaphone. There are signs, too--especially in the thoughtful "Bandit"--that he's smuggling very personal reflections on age into what initially appears to be a detached drama (much as Lou Reed, an unlikely fellow traveller, did on his underrated The Raven). Try and circumnavigate the schtick: this is the most endearing Neil Young album for some time. --John Mulvey
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Top Customer Reviews
Concept albums like "Tommy" and "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" are a rarity these days. Neil brings us songs about "Greendale" (10 tracks, 78 min.), a fictional small town of about 20,000 people. Neil is so focused on the story-telling that he seems to have forgotten about the music. I can honestly say there is not a single track that "grabbed" me, purely from the musical perspective. Not a lot of tempo changes either: all the songs are mid-tempo (at best), where's the passion? Sometimes you just wish that he'd up the tempo and blast you away, but alas. The songs go from one to another and after a while it all starts to sound the same. Not to mention that this is a long, long, long labor. With just 10 tracks in 78 min, that's averaging about 8 min. per song. "Granpa's Interview" just goes on and on and on, for 12+ min, with no changes to speak of, whew!
The bonus DVD (here the St. Vicar, Ireland gig of Neil solo, in a later reissue the "Greendale" movie Neil shot with amateur actors) is a nice touch. Too bad the music simply isn't up to par.
The album is about the Green family living in the fictional town Greendale. The songs are linked to eachother and is like a comedy book. Young shows on "Double E" his R&B influence which he had earlier in his career. That's perhaps the best conclusion of this album: Young puts all his influences in this album. The DVD which matches the album is realy outstanding and joyfull. Thanks to Greendale Neil Young is back where he belongs: at the top.
I mean, it isn't as though members of the original Woodstocker wing of Young's fan base will hear him sing "we've got to save mother Earth" on "Be The Rain," Greendale's fabulously hokey coda, and drop their jaws in astonishment, declaring "Man! Now there's something I never expected out of the guy's mouth!"
Whether it is "Grandpa," the Green family's wealthy patriarch killed by media assault, or Sun Green, his granddaughter, a bandleader with a particularly overwhelming urge to protect Alaska from environmental ruin, there is rarely any question as to whom the Green family owes its gripes and eccentricities. Nor is there much surprise that Greendale's characters, each a mouthpiece for the curmudgeon who forged them, are no more distinct from one another than one shade of gray from the next.
"There's a lot going on in Greendale that I don't know about either," Young scribbles in the liner notes, "I mean, I made it up and I don't know what the hell's going on." The man's not kidding. From the FBI to Edith to Earle to Lenore to Jed's car "full-uh-cocaine" and, oh yeah, the cop he shoots dead, the action here boasts of about as much clarity and purpose as Mary Carey's candidacy for Governor of California.Read more ›
I honestly can say that I have every recording that Neil has ever done. 95% of them I love, some I kind of push aside. I'm still waiting for a similar album to "Harvest Moon", which I think was the best album he ever did. I just know it will come eventually!!
Anyway, this recording was a surprise for me. I wasn't really sure what I was going to get, but the moment I listened to it, it brought me back to the feelings that I got from some of Neil's earlier works.
The thing that drove it all home for me was the bonus DVD of him, in Ireland of all places, doing a complete accoustic set of the entire album. Although I loved the footage, I think it would have been better to be somewhere domestic...he is so political--so be on home turf, Neil. California would have been the spot, since it is where the "story" takes place.
Regardless, I was hooked, it was fantastic. I didn't know I was getting the DVD and tried to plug it into my car stereo where it was promptly rejected. Ok, I thought, go to the DVD player. Wow! I LOVED his communications, humor, lyrics and music. When I listened to the CD after that, I was able to envision the entire wonderful story...like a great book.
Although I don't think this is one of his most profound ventures, I do love the album and play it all the time. It is definitely worth it if you love Neil. As always, he is ever-evolving. I'm a faithful and loyal listener and will always be grateful for whatever he conjures up!
Most recent customer reviews
Distancing himself from the forgettable album Are you Passionate, Neil returns with one of his most interesting & entertaining concept albums to date (tough most of his... Read morePublished on April 22 2006 by J Parker
It took me a couple of listenings to figure out that this is a thematic concept album. And then I got addicted and I listened again and again until I think I figured out the whole... Read morePublished on May 22 2004 by Toomuchnoise
First off this isn't my favorite Neil Young album. I like Everybody Knows this is Nowhere, Tonight's The Night, On The Beach, Harvest, etc. Read morePublished on May 16 2004 by Hippie Smell
I'm a Dylan fan. In Dylan's "Time Out of Mind" album he mentions Neil on the last song "Highlands. Read morePublished on May 8 2004 by James E. Duckworth
I have never been much of a fan of Neil Young, especially with Crazy Horse. Countless friends have tried to convert me over the years, but it just never happened. Read morePublished on April 29 2004 by B. Hanley
I'm a big Neil Young fan, but this one leaves me cold. The lyrics are interesting, but the music sounds like it was written in about 10 minutes. Maybe that's the idea.Published on April 29 2004
I don't understand how everyone can like this album so much. I totally respect Neil Young to actually try something new and perform all of it live instead of being one of those... Read morePublished on April 25 2004 by JohnnyT471
I have seen the Greendale show five times, and was blown away each time!!! The album is a perfect look at a slice of today's life. Read morePublished on March 24 2004 by Hudson Valley kid
at 19 i have witnessed only a fraction of neil youngs career. but with greendale it is time to admit, neil young is a genius. Read morePublished on March 23 2004 by mark
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