Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
running_man | Chesterfield Twp., MI | 04/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Neil Young has offered a mountain of reasons why the completely live 'Time Fades Away', released on vinyl on 10-15-73, remains his only official work not available on CD. These reasons vary from not being particularly impressed by the work, to not wanting to be reminded of the tensions among the Stray Gators during the tour, to technical problems with reassembling the recordings, which were fed into a computer along with overdubs to press the original vinyl version. Yet 'Time Fades Away' may well be Neil's most affecting collection of songs, and is widely regarded by many die-hard fans as his finest production. Personally, I don't think Neil has offered all the reasons why TFA remains unreleased on CD. Over the years I've come to appreciate Neil as an astoundingly astute businessman (check out how he's marketing the 2006 CSNY summer tour through his web site to avoid the surcharge of ticket vendors), and I have a sneaking suspicion that he enjoys the mystique of keeping this masterpiece in short supply. After all, the Mona Lisa wouldn't have near its current value or prestige had da Vinci printed 200,000 copies and destroyed the original.
As for the music on the disc... well, what does it say when so many regard it as Neil's best? Most of those people wouldn't be from the part of Neil's fan base that proclaims 'Harvest' or 'Comes a Time' as other favorites from the Young catalog, however. This disc heralds instead from Neil's 'dark period', dealing with the death of Crazy Horse member Danny Whitten, his divorce from Carrie Snodgress, and the culmination of the hippie era which had spawned Neil's career. The depressing nature of the disc as a whole is loudly pronounced in songs such as the loping blues-rock closer, 'Last Dance' (which at nearly nine minutes stands as the longest track in the set). What's more depressing to your average Joe than the first lyric, "Wake up, it's a Monday morning...", and "It's time to go, time to go to work..."? Neil doesn't abandon the listener helpless, however, proclaiming "You can live your own life... laid back and laughin" in the chorus. Similar nuggets of light can be found in tracks such as 'The Bridge', a solo piano number focused on romantic gratitude, and 'Don't Be Denied', easily one of Neil's finest compositions, proclaiming an undeniable drive to secure whatever one needs from life, despite life's hard, and sometimes uncompromising blows. Some of the tunes, such as 'Yonder Stands the Sinner', sound especially raw and ragged due to Neil's voice being strained by the rigors of this 90 city tour, and the discontent within the band (prompting Neil to replace drummer Kenny Buttrey with Johnny Barbata, and adding David Crosby and Graham Nash on vocals and guitar). Another track of note is 'L.A.', whose verses are couched in a melody reminicent of Gordon Lightfoot's 'Edmund Fitzgerald', and the beautiful chorus culminating in "...don't you wish that you could be here, too...". 'Love In Mind' (actually recorded in 1971 on the same tour that Neil selected the live version of 'Needle and the Damage Done' from for 'Harvest') is the shortest track at 1:57, another solo piano performance, with notes that rain like tear drops, while 'Journey Through the Past' is a nostalgic piano ballad. The title track opens the disc, an upbeat country-rocker with 'World On a String' overtones.
I'd like to thank Mark Lomas (see his 3-15-06 review below) for advertising the availability of this disc for download on buddyhead.com. I owned 'Time Fades Away' on vinyl in the early 1970's, and it was one of my favorite listens while attending college at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. The recording is crisp and clean, and for a live disc from 1973, the original master tapes were exceptionally well done. The audience noice is very distant, even on the solo piano cuts. 'Time Fades Away' stands as a milestone on the road of rock and roll history (especially since all of the tracks are unavailable in studio versions), and is essential for even casual fans of Neil Young's music. Download it while you can, and hope Neil decides someday to give the people every little thing they want!"
The album that just HAD to be mastered straight to computer!
John | 05/04/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"So, is this thing out on CD yet or do I still have to listen to my uncle's 8-track to hear it? I guess we can thank whoever had the bright idea of mastering this album "straight to a computer" (gee, I didn't even know they had those in 1973!) for there being no original master tapes for this album. No master tapes to work with. Hmm. What if the Beatles had decided to master the White Album straight to a computer? Well, I guess we'd have no CD of that today either! Anyway, if there had to be one album that Neil Young mastered straight to a computer with no chance of it ever being preseved on "master tape" I guess we should all be thankful it wasn't Harvest or Everybody Knows this is Nowhere! But still, wouldn't we all love to have Time Fades Away on a digitally remastered CD with that great punchy full sound? I mean, why did it have to be Time Fades Away? Couldn't he have waited until Landing on Water to master an album straight to computer without ever taking the time to make a master tape? I still think they could push the newest A&R flunkie at Reprise down the stairs of the dark vault library and go through all those dozens of Neil Young tape boxes that say "recorded live in 1973" and figure out just where the recordings are once and for all and get mixing this sucker! I don't care if he has to go through 1,689 hours of tape just to find the 37 minutes of music that ended up on Time Fades Away. Aren't we the fans worth it? The completists that have to have every NOTE ever released even if it is the artist's worse work ever? And who says this is Neil's worst? Who has the right? Uh, well, umm, I guess Neil did kind of mention that this kind of is like his, well, um, least favorite album he ever made. But, still, we want it on CD anyway, just because it's the missing link, right? Right! I want to hear "Journey Through the Past," "Love in Mind" and "The Bridge" at least once in my lifetime on some other format than my uncle's "straight to computer", scratched-up, water damaged, snap, crackled and popped plastic waffle!"
The Voice of Impending Doom
John | Cleveland, OH | 08/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a hard core Neil Young fan for more than 2 years (I'm only 22) and I first heard about this album from reading the biography `Shakey'. Like most fans, I loved the other two albums in the "Doom Trilogy",(more like practically wore them out) so instead of sitting around waiting for Neil to release this on CD (that could be next year, next decade, or never), I finally decided to search the internet for it and when I finally got it all together in the original running order and listened to it....wow. `Time Fades Away' embodies that sense of impending doom - as if Neil had somehow subconsciously knew that everything was about to go from bad to worse.
The first lyrics of the album really tell you what you're in for. "Time Fades Away" starts off with a bar-room barrelhouse piano, rollicking guitar, and Neil shouting "Fourteen junkies too weak to work, one sells diamonds for what they're worth, down on pain street disappointment lurks". Ben Keith adds some amazing lead slide guitar, and the song definitely has that Tonight's the Night, everyone's had several shots of tequila feel to it, with Neil and Ben kind of haphazardly singing the chorus "Son don't be home too late, try to get back by eight, son don't wait till the break of day, cause you know how time fades away".
Next up is "Journey Through the Past". This is one of three amazing solo piano songs on the album, and depending on my mood, the best. It could definitely be a song about how fame can leave as quick as it came and Neil is most likely talking straight to the fans with the line "When the winter rains come pouring down on that new home of mine, will I still be in your eyes and on your mind?" But it's also a song that proves that Carrie Snodgrass (the Oscar-nominated actress who Neil lived with) was Neil's Courtney Love. The lyrics throughout "Journey" are brilliant and are sang with a very sincere, drunken emotion. Neil's piano playing here also ranks right at the top.
"Yonder Stands the Sinner" is kind of weird. Right before the song starts I believe it's David Crosby's voice you hear say "This is kind of experimental, but I think it'd be good to be in on." Musically it's a pretty rocking jam, but what the hell is it about? Some lyrics are talking about "the Great Pretender" and how Neil "went to see him but he's not the same." The chorus is just "yonder stands the sinner, he calls my name without a sound..." and is shouted in such a sneering fashion it makes you wonder who it`s directed at in real life and why. All in all, it's a cool, funky song but I've never known what it was about and it's the lowest point of the album.
"Don't you wish that you could be here too?" Neil sings, voice dripping in sarcasm, in "L.A." a song about the "uptight city in the smog." "L.A." is a mellow rocker recorded live with most of CSN. It's one of the catchiest songs here and deep down it's about people who don't listen to advice and need to always learn things the hard way.
"Love in Mind" is Neil solo on piano again, singing about things like how he's got "nothing to lose, but can't go back again" and how "man made rules been holding back my love/churches long preach sex is wrong/Jesus where has nature gone/what am I doing here?" Throughout the slightly less than two minute song, Neil uses his signature soft banging/loud banging piano playing style that must mean he was pretty buzzed, but it works to great effect. Still, out of the three this is the worst of the solo piano songs.
"Don't Be Denied" has to be the most well-known song off this still unreleased album, it being the only one to still be performed live with any semblance of regularity. Lyrically Neil tells a story about his evolution as a professional songwriter, from moving to Winnipeg and getting beat up in school, to dropping out and forming his first band, to cruising the Sunset Strip in limousines with Buffalo Springfield. He somehow also manages to reference the just released at the time "Stairway to Heaven" ("well all that glitters isn't gold/I know you've heard that story told"). The lazy guitar riff throughout the song is very catchy.
"The Bridge" is solo piano ballad numero tre. Neil accompanies himself nicely here with some of his usual harp playing, in a song which is almost definitely about making up with Carrie after a particularly big fight.
"Last Dance" is the loudest, rawest, and longest track of the whole album. It's the only track on which Neil let's Old Black loose in the style of `Everybody Knows' except it's harder, riffier, more emotional, and much drunker than anything on that CD. It's also the masterpiece of the album. "Woke up, it was a Monday morning, no time left to say goodbye..." the first lyrics of the song introduce it as what it really is: a raucous eulogy for Crazy Horse guitarist and close friend Danny Whitten. Throughout the song, it sounds at times as if Neil is playing and singing for his own soul, trying to live with the regret and guilt of feeling he possibly was a little responsible for his friends death. After the song and album's end, it's no wonder Neil hates this CD and hasn't reissued it. Why bring back the memories of undeniably the most painful part of his life?
To sum up `Time Fades Away,' it's much more than a drunken eulogy, more than a live album, more than a CD to throw on when you're drunk and feeling down, more than a masterpiece: it's a piece of album veritae - the brother of cinema veritae - that needs to be heard to be believed. It's a classic that deserves a place beside any of Neil's other classics. It's a record that needs to be released and a CD that you must buy whenever Neil decides to release it. More than that, it's an album that deserves to be sought out and listened to. So do so."