Thursday, October 25, 2007

No. 208: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Band: Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Album: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Young's second solo album is solid throughout, mostly on the strength of "Cinnamon Girl" and the record's meandering side-enders ("Down By The River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand"). It's folksy but hard, almost like an extended jam session.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It's not as tight as some of Young's better albums, specifically the marvelous "Harvest" or the somber "After The Gold Rush." Still, it fits at 208.
Best song: "Cinnamon Girl" stands out as one of Young's best songs, not just on this album. Its lightweight Sabbath riff is nearly as hard as the Canadian rocks.
Worst song: "Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets)" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: It's up and down, but it's an excellent record.

What's so amazing to me about Neil Young is that he continues to make records at a solid clip. He's released four records since 2005's "Prairie Wind," which is pretty impressive.

"Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" is Young's second solo album and was made during his most productive time (he was also making Buffalo Springfield and CSNY records during this period). It was the first with Crazy Horse, so the record's sond has a jam-quality to it.

In fact, the album's centerpiece, "Down By The River" is known as Young's jam song. Just over nine minutes long on the record, Young has been known to play versions normally going over 20 minutes long. In fact, at the 1998 Farm Aid concert, he teamed up with Phish to do just that: Jam for 20-plus minutes on the song:

On the record, the band is loose and fun and Young's guitar solo goes nowhere, as the album title indicates. I love Neil Young, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who finds him to be a great guitar player. His solos on this album are not good, from poorly fingered one on "Down By The River" to the one-note (seriously) piece on "Cinnamon Girl."


Again, the band isn't particularly tight, but Young's songwriting finally comes into its own on this record. "Cowgirl In The Sand" is long,but pretty, the title track is desperate and "Cinnamon Girl" is one of Young's best riffs.

It's one of Young's better records, though because of it being an early Young record, he doesn't explore his sound as much. He was developing what a Neil Young song sounds like -- we'd later find out that "Cinnamon Girl" was an early prototype -- so, experimentation (like on "Hawks & Doves") isn't there. Still, a fine record.


kellydwyer said...

When I was 12, I used to play along to "Down By the River" and "Cowgirl and the Sand" by fading the speaker over to the left for the entire song (if I recall correctly, Danny Whitten), and then in a second go-round, the right (Neil Young).

Consequently, I haven't tanned very well since.

kellydwyer said...

Oh, and for the "not a great guitar player thing" ...

"4-Way Street," by CSNY. If you can handle the hippie pablum and Nash-isms, find your way toward his back-and-forths with Toothless Stills.