Monday, May 08, 2006

Neil Young - Living With War: Review

Neil Young's anti-Iraq/ anti-Bush CD Living With War was first made available on the internet. It's an interesting idea releasing a CD as streaming audio. It is, in a way, like releasing a whole album to radio. You can't save it, can't skip through the tracks. What you can do is listen to it in order. It is a nice way to offer fans and potential fans a listen to your CD, without giving it to them. The only complaint I have about the system, and it's a brand new idea so it's fair that something won't work that well, is you can't forward or rewind. Especially forwarding through tracks I don't particularly like would be a nice option. Rewind would be a treat, especially to us amateur reviewers who may want to re-hear something

1 After The Garden - Like this song a lot. It's typical Neil the Grungemaster.
2. Living With War - Another piece that's not bad, typical Neil sounding. Has a drone sound to it that I know Neil likes, me less so. Not bad, not a classic.
3. Restless Consumer - Yawn! The first song I flat out don't like, the basic sound of the album hasn't changed.
4. Shock and Awe - Hey, I can understand the lyrics. Ohh, biting satire:

Our chief was landing on the deck
The sun was setting on a golden photo op
Back in the days of "mission accomplished"
Thousands of bodies in the ground
Brought home in a boxes to a trumpet's sound

Lyrics available here, to those who want to read them.

The plan was to song by song review this, but I'm having a hard time saying much except, sounds like the last song. Thus, I'm going to stop here and give more general impressions. Every song reminds me of an older Neil Young song but I can't quite place it. It's in the dirty guitar sound and tempo, which is the same for each song.

It ends, however, with a nice, acappella, gospel version of America The Beautiful. Unfortunately it is song ten before a gear change happens, too late to salvage the work as a whole.

Bottom line is if you are a big enough Neil Young fan, you will probably love this. If you are a marginal fan, but are strongly anti-Iraq/anti-Bush, this CD is probably for you. The rest would, I think, want to leave it alone. It's not that it's bad, it's that it is tiresomely repetitive.

For that, God Bless Neil Young. I am an avid complainer of celebrities and their political rants, a charter member of the shut up and sing club. But Young, by releasing such a highly political and controversial album, has put his money where his mouth is. I have a lot more patience for that than celebrities who speak where and when it's safe to do so, then do work that is also safe from backlash.

Track list:

1 After The Garden
2. Living With War
3. Restless Consumer
4. Shock and Awe
5. Families
6. Flags of Freedom
7. Let's Impeach the President
8. Lookin' For A Leader
9. Roger and Out
10. America The Beautiful

The hardcopy CD will be available in stores " soon as they can be manufactured with a retail release estimated to be sometime between May 5th and May 15th." Possibly it is in stores near you now, if not wait a week and it will be.

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