Sunday, August 16, 2009

CD Odyssey Disc 20: Neil Young

Sometimes the randomness of the Disc Odyssey has me land at shores that I have not visited in many years. Other times, it takes me back to an island I only recently discovered. The latter is the case with this entry.

Disc 20 is...Sleeps With Angels

Artist: Neil Young with Crazy Horse

Year of Release: 1994

How I Came To Know It: I first began listening to Neil Young in university - probably around 1989. However, I've only recently been seriously drilling through Young's ample material. Sleeps With Angels is my newest addition, and I bought it earlier this year because it has the great anti-consumer anthem, "Piece of Crap".

How It Stacks Up: I have 12 Neil Young albums, including both solo work and with Crazy Horse. Neil Young is an incredible artist and songwriter, so the competition is tough. I really like Sleeps With Angels, but I've got to put it in the bottom half of the albums I have by him.

Rating: 3 stars.

This album came out near the end of Neil Young's big resurgence in the 1990s. He is really in the middle of angry, middle-aged man territory here, but Sleeps With Angels has a dreamy quality that naturally leads into his more relaxed sound in more recent years.

The influences of the grunge bands he was hanging out with (Pearl Jam, Nirvana) definitely come out here. Big ambient hard rock sound with a lyrical undercurrent.

It is said the first track "My Heart" is about Kurt Cobain's suicide, but I have no idea if that is true or not. It is a great track.

Just as Black Mountain's "In the Future" is kind of defined by one huge track, so too is this album defined by "Change Your Mind."

"Change Your Mind" clocks in at about fourteen and a half minutes. It is one part a simple beautiful song that opens you up to the possibility of letting new ideas in. The other part features long interludes of blues-rock guitar laid over an ambient sound that is equally good for driving or dreaming.

Other great tracks feature a shopping cart and a Trans Am. Naturally - the Trans Am is long overdue for an ode, and frankly the shopping cart comes off pretty good in the end too, although not as sweet a ride.

If you are just getting into Neil Young, don't start here. However, if you are a completionist, it is worth a listen. You might not like it at first, but give it three listens right through - I think it'll change your mind...

Best tracks: Western Hero, Change Your Mind, Trans Am, Peice of Crap

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