Thursday, June 25, 2009

Album of the Day #157: TIME FADES AWAY - Neil Young

Artist: Neil Young

Title: Time Fades Away
Label: Reprise
Year: 1973
Songs: Time Fades Away/Journey Through The Past/Yonder Stands The Sinner/L.A./Love In Mind/Don't Be Denied/The Bridge/Last Dance
Written by: Neil Young
Produced by: Neil Young & Elliot Mazner
Thoughts: In 1973, Neil Young found himself in a position he apparently really hated. He had become a 'popular singer' with his 1972 hit album Harvest, a collection of typical Young songs, but it also happened to have "Heart Of Gold". This song, which was so un-like anything Neil had done by himself, became his only #1 single. This, of course, was the Neil Young everyone was expecting to see when he went on tour the following year. Thankfully, for us music fans some 30 years later, that Neil Young did not go on tour. Instead, the one we all know and love did - the one that yells and screams barely audible lyrics behind a fury of guitars and piano.
Time Fades Away was the result of the tour and is probably one of the first live records released by a major artist that is made up of only new songs. Most of the songs were written in response to guitarist and friend Danny Whitten's death and that anger and disgust is apparent throughout the record. He would go into the studio and record a bunch of different songs that would result in Tonight's The Night, where the songs are much more focused on how someone has to deal with a friend's death. However, on the eight songs on Time Fades Away, Neil makes it obvious that he's pretty mad at the world. From the heated "Yonder Stands The Sinner" to the apocalyptic "L.A." (where Neil revels in the possibility of the city's destruction), Neil Young is obviously really pissed.
Some of the more intense stuff sits in the three songs on the second side, particularly the raucous eight minute closer, "Last Dance". Before rolling into the song, Neil yells "LAST DANCE!!!!" and then we get blazing guitars and drums (fantastically played on the rest of the album by Johnny Barbata). The song's lyrics, at least when you read them, appear to just be about a person getting up and going to work, but under the title of "Last Dance", we are given the sense that we should feel bad that on this person's last day, he still goes to work. Add in Neil's wrenching vocal, and we feel the pain and even suffering that this person must feel. He yells "LAST DANCE!" again and the crowd starts clapping (you can almost feel them saying to themselves "what the hell?!?") just before the album fades and closes.
Time Fades Away is truly one of the most intense and breathtaking live albums that you will ever hear...and you must hear it in order to believe it. I had read so much about it and considered waiting for the apocalypse - in other words, the day this album gets an official release on CD. However, I finally just got it off a blog that had uploaded a bootlegged copy of it and if you just do a Google search of it, you'll probably find hundreds of uploads of it.
Now, I really need to get a vinyl copy...
Next: I'll continue working on the "Ditch Trilogy" with Part II: "Tonight's The Night"!

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