Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Neil's finest moment!
Neil Young - Landing On Water
Released in 1986 on Geffen Records, Neil was a little pissed off at the time, taking a lot of heat for trying some different artistic directions. He was actually in the process of being sued by the head of his record company, David Geffen for making, "unrepresentative, uncommercial music". Which was true, he'd done 2 experimental synth albums, a rockabilly album and a country album just before this one. They were all commercial and critical failures. But in my mind, it was the time of Neil's greatest work and if the critics and public don't like it, who's to say it's a failure. When it comes to great music, it usually takes most a few years to catch up anyway. He'd been experimenting with synths since 1981's "Re-ac-tor" when he started using the synclavier. This album would be the climax of that experiment. There's no bass player credited on the album, the sync takes that role. This only adds to the overall sound of the album. And it features easily one of my favourite performances from a drummer...
Steve Jordan is the man on the kit and the combination of the 'whap' of the acoustic drums along with synths and Neil's crunchy, sloppy guitar gives it a great sound. He doesn't get too fancy with fills or anything, keeps it nice and simple. The production is great too, especially for the time. Alot of music recorded in the 80's sounds very dated, especially 1986! And especially the drums, everything was about electronic drums for most of the 80's, this album has the exact opposite. There's such a great sound to the drums, crisp and loud, but not too overbearing. And simply, some of his coolest songs too. I actually had the CD first, in the late 80's when I first came upon this album. Lost that along the way and picked up a copy on vinyl, tres cool!
Some hilarious videos for this one too, Neil most have been in a silly mood. I've seen clips for, Weight Of The World, People On The Street, Touch The Night and Pressure. Watching Neil Young tap dance through the streets of San Fransisco in white tux and tails is classic! The lyrics are fantastic on this record too.
I play this record for anybody and everybody! Great for anytime of the day, any event, any guest. It's not an album alot of Neil Young fans like, gets a pretty bad rap on the web. But if you can imagine the Killers 20 years earlier, only not as flashy and with Neil Young singing, you would be listening to "Landing On Water". Easily one of my most listened to and never get tired of records, number one desert island pick. Track by track....
Weight Of The World - Remember seeing the video for this. He's a rich rockstar, who jumps in his pool with his clothes on and lip synchs the song, under water. Haven't been able to find it on youtube though, it seems to have dissappeared. The drums and synclavier sync up beautifully here.
Violent Side - Not so much on the synth for this one. More guitars, although a laid back tune. Sounds like a very touching song, but the subject matter is anything but. I love the conflict, "You got to fight to control your violent side". Great backing vocals.
Hippie Dream - More great lyrics, "Take my advice, don't listen to me"......."The wooden ships were just a hippie dream" into a nice feedback guitar solo. Appears to be a shot at C, S & N and the 60's idealism.
Bad News Beat - Groovy little mid-tempo number. No guitar riffs, cool staccato things to punctuate the synths.
Touch The Night - One of my favourite songs, ever. Dark and mysterious and loud! Story of an accident on the highway. Great video of Neil as a news reporter on the scene of the accident, with his backing vocalists in tow. Another highlight on an album of great drums. Lot of real good punch in this song, especially at the end of the last chorus, you have to hear it to know what I'm talking about. Then the backing vocals and guitar soar to the fade out. Simply awesome!
People On The Street - Did I mention the drums on this album. This song is killer, Steve Jordan is the master here. Great lyrics too, a subject he would also visit later and have much more success with "Rockin In The Free World".
Hard Luck Stories - This one makes it hard for me to believe there's no bass. That's some funky synth. Good solid foundation on this one from Mr Jordan.
I Got A Problem - Kick ass little rock tune, real simple. Mainly guitar and drums. The scream at the beginning is classic. Great guitar, one of Neil's finer moments. Simple and dirty. Love the lyrics to this one too, "Everytime we talk about it, I break out in a cold sweat". And I can relate, I got a problem too man.
Pressure - Back to the synclavier on a relatively short song, less than 3 minutes. Good funky/rocker song. The scream beginning, "I Got A Problem" ends this song. More great lyrics, "Too much pressure for peace on earth, too much trying to get your money's worth" Hilarious video!
Drifter - For me, this is the one. If there's any song I relate too, it's "Drifter". "I'm just a drifter, I'll stay until you try to tie me down"...."Don't try to tell me what I gotta do to fit". The synclavier is pretty heavy here, but barely noticeable at the same time. Thanks to a cool guitar lick, and did I mention Steve Jordan on the drums?
Watch this video!