Friday, November 9, 2007

Neil Young & the Bluenotes - This Note's For You

Neil Young was released from his Geffen contract after five albums. The experience could only have been described as a disappointment for both sides. He signed once again with Reprise, his original label, and announced his return to form with... another genre exercise. Credited to Neil Young & the Bluenotes, 1988's This Note's For You is Neil Goes R&B, complete with old fashioned song structures and a full horn section. As with Everybody's Rockin' and Old Ways, all the details are in place.

The difference? This Note is excellent. Seriously! Surprisingly enough, the style fits Young like a glove, raising the question as to why he hadn't tried this sooner.

The album actually gets off to a slow start; the first two songs seem a bit awkward, as though Young is grappling with how exactly to approach his newly-chosen whim, and don't bode well for what follows. Then suddenly, after a pleasantly jazzy ballad, the album really starts to swing. "Life In the City" sounds like the real deal: a swingin' big-band jump blues. The rhythm section stomps, the horns blare, the song is terrific.

The album proceeds to alternate between ballads and rave-ups, and both are equally effective. "Hey Hey" is in the same vein as "Life In the City", but with more elaborate showcase moments for the guitar and the horns, as well as funnier lyrics. "Twilight" is quiet but hardly subdued; the menacing horns and drums threaten to erupt at any moment, but never do. Lucky Thirteen closes with this album's title track (for obvious reasons) and includes a live rarity with the same band, but otherwise ignores the album.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Neil Young and the Bluenotes - "Twilight" and "Hey Hey"

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