One of Neil's best. Great songs, a varied approach. Shows his "passionate" side.
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Neil's 10 year itch
running_man | Chesterfield Twp., MI | 04/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Every 9 or 10 years its seems Neil Young reinvents himself. In 1969 Young released his first great album, `Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere', his first with Crazy Horse and delivering timeless tunes such as `Cinnamon Girl', `Down By the River', and `Cowgirl In the Sand'. It was, in retrospect, a monster album. Nine years down the road, with every aging 60's rocker's future perilized/paralyzed by disco fever, Young infused rock and roll with new life via `Rust Never Sleeps' and its `Hey Hey My My' anthem.Fast forward ten more years through the sleepy 1980's, and here is Young announcing his return once again with the album `Freedom'. His newfound relevance would differ from the continued relevance of other 1960's superstars such as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton: Young would not only be revitalized among his long-standing cadre of followers, but would find a new body of listeners among the youth coming of age in the early 1990's. It was a remarkable resurgence.Interestingly, `Freedom' borrows a bit from the success of `My My Hey Hey'/'Hey Hey My My' by taking the albums centerpiece, `Rockin' In the Free World', and using a live acoustic version to open the disc, and closing with a rousing electric studio version of the same song. The electric version is clearly superior as the acoustic version is marred by audience noise, and lacks the final verse, as well as the sheer power the lyrics demand. The same is true of the second song on the disc `Crime In the City', which is presented in an acoustic version. The live electric version from the `Weld' disc blows this one away.I always thought it would be great fun to be able to generate a setlist for an artist like Young prior to a concert. While most people expect to be hearing `Rockin' In the Free World' from this disc, I would love to hear a live rendition of Neil's cover of The Drifter's 1963 number 9 hit, `On Broadway'. As on `Rust Never Sleeps', Neil is doing things with Old Black on this song, and others such as `Don't Cry', that are literally unheard of... and that's a good thing.Other excellent offerings include `Someday', with lyrics and background recordings sure to make you tune into the great mystery of life, its meaning and purpose. There are two beautiful love duets with Linda Ronstadt, `Hangin' On a Limb' and `The Ways Of Love', and `No More' is a solid rocker, with a sound reminiscent of Dire Straits. Coincidentally Neil's band features Joe Walsh bandmates Rick Rosas on bass and Chad Cromwell on drums. Cromwell would go on in the `90's to play with Dire Straits founder Mark Knopfler. Some more familiar faces are flanking Neil on this production as well. From Crazy Horse, Frank Sampedro contributes guitars, keyboards, mandolin, vocals and even serves as "computer scribe" (hmmmm....). Another familiar Youngian, Ben Keith, contributes his familiar steel guitar, as well as alto sax, keyboards and vocals. On three songs recorded at The Hit Factory in New York, we have a stripped down version of the band, offering killer guitar/bass/drum jams ala The Jimi Hendrix Experience.While `Freedom' isn't the groundbreaking work `Everybody Knows...' or `Rust Never Sleeps' proved to be, it did serve the purpose of positioning Neil square in the mainstream of popular music for another decade. He would maintain that rejuvenated status through releases such as `Harvest Moon', `Weld', and `Ragged Glory' in the years to follow. But it all began, all over again, with `Freedom'."
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 05/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After spending most of the 80's changing musical styles from album to album, Neil Young closed out the decade with his best album in ten years and a truly inspired released. Just as he did on Rust Never Sleeps, Freedom opens and closes with acoustic and electric versions of the same song. That song is "Rockin' In The Free World", which is one of the most powerful and thought-provoking songs of his career. In the acoustic version, the song takes on a stark and harrowing feeling that conveys a pleading tone. In its electric version, the song becomes a full frontal assault in which Mr. Young spews out the lyrics in a venomous tone. "Crime In The City" is a lengthy tale that contains some vivid writing. "Eldorado" is a powerful song that has some fine backup vocal from old friend Linda Ronstadt. "Wrecking Ball" is a fiery number and his cover of "On Broadway" is drenched in fuzz toned guitars. Freedom is a ringing declaration, a call to arms and a classic."
Best of both worlds
guka | Berlin, Germany | 12/12/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think, Freedom is maybe not Young's finest record, but it's the record wich shows his diverse talents the best. Freedom is not a country-rock album like Harvest, or a guitar-rock album like Everybody knows this is nowhere. Freedoms shows the most famous two sides of Neil Youngs: the Dylanesque singer-songwriter, a loner from Canada (a song like 'Too far gone' on this album is a good example),the second is the (electric) guitar player, godfather for bands like Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam. The two studio-albums after Freedom where Ragged Glory (electric with Crazy Horse) and Harvest Moon (acoustic with the Stray Gators). Freedom has all of this.On this album you can see these 2 Neil Youngs the best on the first and the twelfth song on this album wich is the same song: Keep on rockin'in the free world. The first version is an acoustic one, the second an electric one. But both versions have what the whole album has: a special atmosphere about (personal) freedom. Produced very well by Niko Bolas and Neil Young, the album is also recorded very well, it sounds very good.Best songs are Crime in the City -a kind of 'In the Ghetto' but than not in a crooner's way- Eldorado and Someday. The last songs shows Neil Young a his best, close to kitsch but never over the top... The album came out in 1989, when we now look back the time was right for this album: the Berlin Wall fell etc etc. I remember I bought this album the day before Christmas '89 when there were rumours about thousands of people dying in Romania. For me this album was the soundtrack of those things happen in Easter-Europe. It got a big influence on my personal ideas of freedom. I still use it everyday... thank you mr. Young."
The Zenith of Neil Young's Career!!!!
D. Hawkins | Denver, CO United States | 09/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Neil Young has more classic albums than most people have fingers. That said, this album to me stands above all the rest as the strongest of his career. Whereas other classics had the occasional weak track, this one hums from start to finish without a dip in interest anywhere. Having spent his career veering between Crazy Horse feedback and acoustic mellowness, this album actually serves up the best of both worlds. I still remember Neil and his band shredding "Rocking in the Free World" on SNL and had to go out and get the album the following day. Other feedback high points are "Don't Cry" and "On Broadway" ('Gimme some of that crack' is priceless!). Acoustic-wise, there are two masterful duets with Linda Ronstadt that are among his best ballads. Mixed in are the delicate piano driven "Wrecking Ball" (odd title for a ballad), "Someday," and the trippy "Crime in the City." This album got a richly deserved 5 stars from Rolling Stone when first released and time has not diminished it one iota. Do thyself a favor and hear what you've been missing!!!!!"
I'd give it 5 stars
Mark R. De Yoe | San Diego, California United States | 01/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd give this CD 5 stars. "Rocking in the Free World", is a hit, but more importantly, listen closely to the entire lyrics... There is a big message from an artist who has held on to his values. "Eldorado" is a great song; "Wrecking Ball" is a great song; "On Broadway" I really like, and "No More" has some great guitar licks. This is real Neil, and for him to have released this when he did - and still be the same guy - is remarkable."