Thursday, July 16, 2009

Album of the Day #159: ON THE BEACH - Neil Young

Sorry for the delay...

Artist: Neil Young
Title: On The Beach
Label: Reprise
Year: 1974
Songs: Walk On*/See The Sky About To Rain**/Revolution Blues**/For The Turnstiles*/Vampire Blues**/On The Beach+/Motion Pictures+/Ambulance Blues+
Written by: Neil Young
Produced by: Neil Young and *David Briggs, **Mark Harman & +Al Schmitt
Thoughts: As the final part (although released second, of course) of the "Ditch Trilogy", On The Beach, is easily the best. The proceedings kick off with the most upbeat number on the disc, "Walk On" and it's pretty clear from the start that Neil is getting ready to put all the built-up angst that dominated the first two "Ditch" albums behind him. "Walk On" is as close to rock as you get on this album as the rest is pretty slow, but it truly works to the advantage of the lyrics. "For The Turnstiles", a virtual duet with Ben Keith, is my personal favorite and features some fantastic lyrics about how you can learn so much by dealing with the worst of people.
The blues trilogy is interesting in that none of them are alike, meaning that they all have their own characteristics. "Revolution Blues" is one of your standard "I'm Neil Young And I'm Pissed Off At Somebody!" protest songs with this hard rock bent only heard on "Walk On". "Vampire Blues" is a slow, rolling blues that is probably the worst song on the record, because it doesn't have much meaning. Although, you could see it as anti-oil companies, because they suck the blood out of the earth.
The last track on the album (and the longest) is "Ambulance Blues", which is easily the best of the three songs. Again, like the rest of the album, it might be slow, but it's more of a lyrical peice than a "Cowgirl In The Sand" guitar explosion. Here's Neil telling us that we have to move on from "the old folky days" and that you can't always expect to be saved because an ambulance can only go so far. It's not that optomistic an ending, but at least we know Neil followed his own advice and walked on.
...Oh, and the rest of the record is good, too.

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