"Probably few people thought that at fifty years old, Neil Young would record the greatest rock album of his career. Well, here it is, the Grammy award winning "Mirror Ball," Young's triumphant collaboration with a very tight, sizzling Pearl Jam, who accompany Young's poetic rambling's so effortlessly that it seems as if they've played together for years. Unlike most of his efforts with Crazy Horse, Young offers a collection of stunning singles worthy of radio. "Downtown," "Peace and Love," "Song X" and "Act of Love" approach the explosiveness of the scathing classic, "Hey Hey My My(into the black)" from 1979's "Rust Never Sleeps." Other songs, such as "I'm the Ocean" and 'Truth Be Known" are drenched in ethereal galaxies of poetry mixed with layers of buzzing guitars. As expected, Neil delivers quite a handsome number of his trademark guitar solos. This is undeniably one of the greatest rock albums of the 90's, and the closest Neil Young ever came to invoking the ghost of Jimi Hendrix. This record is an obligatory purchase for any fan of raw, bare bones Rock N' Roll."
Young at heart
Sal Nudo | Champaign, Illinois | 09/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Neil Young and Pearl Jam's impressive musical collaboration has a live sound, with thick, unpolished guitars, heavy drums and crashing drums everywhere, as if in rehearsal mode. Though these songs completely rock out, there's an old-fashioned sense to them, a sort of archaic vibe for the respect of rock and roll music. The comraderie and naturalness between Pearl Jam and Young is unmistakable -- the combination fits like well-worn slippers. The heavy guitar chops on such songs as "Song X," "Act of Love" and the epic "I'm the Ocean" are all as intense and rocking as any Pearl Jam or Neil Young album out there.
The bold repetativeness of "I'm the Ocean" -- one of the best songs on the album -- is proof that none of these guys need to prop up their songs with hokey, unneeded sonic effects from the studio. It's one of those songs that could go on forever without getting old, and it practically does. The drum beat alone is mesmerizing, but Young's observational lyrics are also impressive. The fact that it sounds like a raw rehersal take in the studio makes it even better. "Big Green Country" is a rolling, high-energy song that clicks on all cylinders, a countryman's version of mosh. Only at "Truth Be Told" does the pace and volume on "Mirror Ball" come down considerably. The raunchier "Downtown" was released as a single, and with its references to Led Zeppelin, hippies and a huge Jimmy Page-like riff, it delivered the goods.
Two portions of "Mirror Ball" -- the middle and very end -- feature a hymnallike organ, the heartwrenching backdrop for Young's short lyrical spot that is aching in its tenderness.
Both Pearl Jam and Neil Young share the same integrity and ideals, lyrically and musically, especially on such classic rock-sounding monsters like "Peace and Love" and "Throw Your Hatred Down." Eddie Vedder's lone vocal contribution on "Peace and Love" is hearfelt and well-placed, an unforgettable moment, like a star in the gloriously murky haze of guitars.
And listen for Young's own beautiful closer, "Fallen Angel," perhaps one of the sweetest, most emotional endings to any album ever. "Mirror Ball" may be a somewhat obscure release now, but it was one of the best albums made in the 1990s, and a dynamite collaboration of sounds.
One of Young's hardest rocking CD's.
Marc Axelrod | Potter, Wi USA | 12/23/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the album that Neil Young does with Pearl Jam. Not only is this one of Neil's better records, it is also Pearl Jam's best record. Yet it is true that not everyone gave this album the positive props that it deserved when it first came out. Even allmusic.com gave it an average review. But not only does this CD rock from front to back, it is catchy as all heck. From the weaving "Song X" to the overtures of "Throw Your Hatred Down," the album is an enjoyable listen. And as with Ragged Glory, this album's crunchiness in no way stamps out the melody, either. Buy it, dude."
4 and 1/2 Stars - Excellent collaboration
Bill R. Moore | Oklahoma, USA | 08/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a long-time admirer of Neil Young and a casual fan of Pearl Jam, I always fancied this album would be a worthwhile and memorable project. I was not disappointed. Mirror Ball is similar to some of Neil Young's other "jam" albums - Ragged Glory, Broken Arrow - in essence, but is quite a bit wider in scope. While the "incompetent yet brilliant" musicians of Crazy Horse have always personified the Garage Band That Made It Really Big and are the adequate and ideal band for backing Neil Young's rawer, less lyrically ambitious, more jam-heavy songs, you usually know just what to expect from the Neil Young & Crazy Horse albums - and that's just what you get. Rarely do they challenge their bandleader. Pearl Jam, while not featuring Yes-level musicianship, are nonetheless a tighter and more focused (not to mention more famous - hence, the automatic higher expectations) band - and they do push Young at points on this recording. Here he has written far more ambitious songs than he usually does in the context of this type of album: his lyrics here are some of his best ever - vivid, imagistic, startling, and captivating. The album also pushes the envelope musically. In addition to Neil, one of rock music's best and most distinctive guitar players, we have Pearl Jam's two fine players - Mike McCready and Stone Gossard - as well. They create, together, some truly great musical interplay on this record. Although still raw in essence, these songs move beyond the musical (and lyrical) level that you would expect from this type of Neil Young album: it's another level of sophistication. Neil has also written some truly great songs for this record - Song X, Peace and Love, Downtown, Scenery, and, especially, I'm The Ocean. An essential record for Young fans; Pearl Jam fans should take the dive as well."
David Cohen | Winnipeg | 07/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been listening to Neil's music for twenty years, and this colloboration with Pearl Jam ranks up there with Tonight's the Night, Rust Never Sleeps,Harvest MoonI and Ragged Glory. Lyrically, Neil continues to confront America with all of its ugliness. "Need distraction. Need romance and candlelight. Need random violence. Need Entertainment Tonight" he sings on I'm the Ocean. Truth be Known is a rueful dirge that reminds me of "Lookout Joe" on the (hard to believe) 25 year old Tonight's the Night. Is Neil singing about a burnt out drug victim like Bruce Berry?Pearl Jam rocks just as convincingly as Crazy Horse, and give many of the songs a nervous edge, especially on Big Green Country and Song X. It would of been fascinating to hear this group revitalize the sour "Time Fades Away" on this album, but that is sheer nitpicking. A must for Neil Young listeners, ancient and new."