Neil Young meets Bon Jovi. It ain't a pretty sight
finulanu | Here, there, and everywhere | 12/09/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"It's amazing what makes it on CD, you know that? I mean, come on, this? Uh-uh. No way. It's like Young was trying to reinvent himself as an '80s superstar, complete with obnoxiously jingoistic lyrics and Big '80s production values ("Around the World"; "Mideast Vacation"; "Daddy Went Walkin'") - the lyrics are often trite ("Prisoners of Rock `n' Roll"; "Too Lonely"), and if that weren't bad enough, "Cryin' Eyes" has an intro virtually lifted from "Prisoners". The tracks that aren't overproduced '80s rock are mawkish ballads ("We Never Danced"; "When Your Lonely Heart Breaks"). The only song that I like is the one that I hear the most criticism for: "Inca Queen". Okay, so eight minutes is a bit too long, and the sound effects in the instrumental break are obnoxious, but it's got a nice melody and a decent atmosphere. I'm not about to call it Neil's definitive song, although I do like it a bit. This sucks. Stay away. Far away. It's like Neil decided to smash you over the head with his guitar repeated times."
Better than Landing on Water, but still sub-par for Neil You
Philip Bradshaw | toronto canada | 06/25/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As I listen to this CD again after about 20 years I find myself siding with those who regard this as another 1980's misstep by the great Neil Young rather than a welcome return to form (That arrived with Freedom in 1989). I'm not too fond of some of the lyrics (politically we were at opposite ends of the spectrum). However, I could live with the simplistic jingoism if the music were more to my taste. Unfortunately, many songs on Life sound too much like the over-produced drek that epitomized the 1980's. I particularly dislike the incessant in your face and pedantic drumming. Life is not a total failure (see Landing on Water). There are glimpses, here and there, of the real Neil Young, hiding beneath the surface. Inca Queen, sans the boring and intrusive drumming, has the makings of a nice song. Long Walk Home is a good song tarnished by sound affects - we just don't need them - Young's voice is all that is required. We Never Danced is another commendable effort spoiled by over-production.
Both before the eighties and thereafter Neil Young made music that distinguished him from his musical competition. He was and is a unique talent. Trans was an interesting, if not totally successful, venture into the unknown. Life is an unusual record for Neil Young. It is not in any way experimental. It isn't a reprise of the country folk of Harvest. It isn't loud driving guitar-driven rock. It is, for the most part, I'm sad to say, ordinary, bland, and generic. Fortunately, in just two years the real Neil Young returned to us with Freedom and then Ragged Glory and then Weld. It was nice to have him back!