Monday, May 17, 2021

Math On A Monday



Excluding live albums, vault releases, and soundtracks, Neil Young, either solo or with Crazy Horse and Promise Of The Real, has released 18 proper albums since "Harvest Moon," his last great album in 1992. 

They are--
Silver & Gold
Are You Passionate?
Sleeps With Angels
Broken Arrow
Prairie Wind
Living With War
Fork In The Road
Le Noise
A Letter Home
The Monsanto Years
Peace Trail
The Visitor
Psychedelic Pill

That is all.




Thirty years of (some might say) unremarkable records from a giant talent.

Okay ... what have I done since the 1990s?

pmac said...

I'll take albums I've never had for $500, Alex.....

Joe said...

There were also a number of albums before Harvest Moon that were rather mediocre. A germ of an idea does not translate into a fully realized album.

Sal Nunziato said...

"There were also a number of albums before Harvest Moon that were rather mediocre."

Rather indeed!

paulinca said...

Sometimes more is not better. That said, the Young Shakespeare record from an early 1971 date is wonderful.


Shriner said...

"Psychadelic Pill" is pretty good. I like "Le Noise" for the experiment that it is. The quiet albums ("Silver and Gold", "A Prairie Wind", etc) are decent to put on as background music, but certainly not spectacularly memorable. The albums with the Promise of the Real aren't as terrible as they come across with his protest songs about GMOs, etc... At least (I hope) he's not an anti-vaxxer.

But, yeah, there is a lot of forgettable stuff in that run of albums. Passionate, Fork, Storytone -- are not good. The man has a muse and needs to get stuff out for better or worse. I don't know if I'd tell him he needs to stop or not... I know I'll keep listening either way!

mauijim said...

Greatest Hits Vol 2 The 2000s is needed.

bumppa said...

For some NY has raised mediocrity to pagan idolatry.
The world is full of people who peaked in the 1990s

Anonymous said...

Not that it ups the quality, there is also Chrome Dreams II from 2007. There are a few decent songs, some that would be better with editing, and some that are dull/forgettable, just like much of his output. I like the two live albums released this year (one with Crazy Horse, one solo) a lot, but those performances are pre-1992.

- Paul in DK

Sal Nunziato said...

This post wasn't about trashing NY just as the Van post last week wasn't about trashing Van. I am a fan of both.

I am just always fascinated by the unconditional love and free passes these two receive.

Yes, "the world is full of people who peaked in the 1990s." But there are so many other artists who continued to put out quality music after the 90s that consistently get trashed, while Neil (not so much Van) consistently puts out trash and still gets "Oh, it's got its moments" type reviews.

Van's output in the last 30 years is far more listenable than Neil Young's...I think.

Shriner said...

Did anybody actually give an unconditional love/pass to the latest Van record? In print somewhere? Point that to me as even my most die-hard Van friends think the new album is a dumpster fire of terrible lyrics over recycled blues numbers. (I will admit to being no more than a "just the hits pls thx" fan of Van so I don't count and have no interested in even trying it based on the song titles.)

I'm probably on the "I love Neil" bandwagon more than not because his songs were a big influence on how I learned to play guitar, so he'll get a pass. But I do know when to call out something boring when it is (or at least be indifferent to it) as I know full well there will he'll have something else new coming out 6 months down the road... or more often than that with his increasingly frequent archival releases.

Bombshelter Slim said...

Van's output in the last 30 years is far more listenable than Bob Dylan's (speaking of free passes).

Sal Nunziato said...


This is pretty close.

@Bombshelter Shelter
I don't disagree. Though I would argue, if there is only one free pass to be given, it should go to Bob.

Troy said...

I pulled up Van's discography on Wiki, and I'd argue that his 90s albums were among his best, second only to his 70s output. All of the original albums were very good or excellent (IMO) and the 2 cover albums on Verve were enjoyable listens.

In the 2000s, only Down the Road was truly excellent, while the others (espec Magic Time) had their moments of bliss and their moments of yawn-inducing mediocrity. But Sal's right, he seemed to get a pass even on the uneven albums.

In the 2010s, his blues album (Roll with the Punches) and his jazz album (Versatile) were terrific. Everything else has been ok, not great. And I have not listened to the new one yet to assess his 2020s output to date.

Sorry I'm not really a NY fan, so cannot comment there.

Matty Gee said...
Sack o Monkeys...

Fabio D. said...

Shrined is right about "Psychedelic Pill" not a bad album at all!
Le Noise too have something to tell me (if and when I'm in the mood).

Dr Wu said...

‘Sleeps with Angels’ I liked at the time, but don’t recall listening to it since. Nothing else captured my attention. But the archival releases ‘Hitchhiker’ and ‘Homegrown’ are certainly worthy - perhaps it’s time he focuses even more on releasing that period’s odds and sods.

Dr Wu said...

And thank you for the Ian Hunter ‘Overnight Angels’: first time hearing and I love it! So much fun! Ian is absolutely an artist who’s enjoyed a remarkably brilliant and consistent career - largely unheard and unheralded, save for BW. An aspect I greatly value and appreciate about your site: Champion of the ignored and neglected. Thank you! And a shout out to Earl Slick!

kevin m said...

In approximately the same time span, Paul Weller has released 16 albums (including Fat Pop). Safe to say that Weller's output has been far more satisfying then Neil's.

EW said...

What might be nice is a compilation that gathers the best bits from Neil's last 30 years. But I think that even that would reveal the weakness of his more recent songs. Some time ago I recall Crosby saying that what Neil needs is a good editor, and at one time he had that in form of David Briggs. Interesting that most of Neil's post-Briggs work ain't that great. Or good, even.

A Walk In The Woods said...

Well you sho' won't catch me defending Neil (and I'm a Neil fan for sure) junk like:

Prairie Wind
Fork In The Road
A Letter Home

Some of the other ones have a few tunes I'd put in a Neil mixtape, but not much more - other than Silver & Gold, which I love.

I'm that unusual human who really likes Greendale.

I think Living With War is actually really good.

And The Monsanto Years is wayyyyy better than a record with that title got a right to be. That's probably my favorite of all in this period, after Silver & Gold.

But yeah, it's a rough 3 decades for Neil in terms of new music, very much so.

As for Van - same thing. He needs a good editor !!!!!!

Both of them are geniuses when they're on. But those two - more so than any other 60s superstars I can think of except maybe Clapton and - do we bring the Stones into this? - have put out absolute dreck that should have been corked back in the bottle by another strong personality on the team.

Again, I say this as someone who loves much of Neil's music, and for me Van is third only to Dylan and Paul Simon.

heartsofstone said...

I want to reiterate the Paul Weller comment. It is very hard to stay interesting and produce compelling music over that long a period. Paul Weller is close to the top of that list for me. Nick Cave probably is worth discussing. Tom Waits probably would but he has not released enough music.

daudder said...

I'd rather have the music, and choice to listen/relisten, than not. Neil has always gone hs own way, and his greatness has not diminished one iota.

Anonymous said...

Does American count?

I jumped off the Neil new album merry-go-round about the time of The Monsanto Years. The albums were becoming screeds set to music (uninspiring music at that). I admire his need to continue to put out the music the way he wants to, but the results have been less than satisfying. The latest Archives release has reawakened some interest, and I've been enjoying the live reissues.

He's a complicated cat.


Michael Giltz said...

I prefer Harvest Moon to Harvest! That's how much I like it (and think the second side of Harvest is weak, though it's not worth arguing over -- what's good on it is SO good). Since Harvest Moon, unquestionably a masterpiece, I've included

Silver & Gold (2000) -- I love pastoral Neil best of all
Prairie Wind (2005) -- see?
Americana/Psychedelic Pill (2012) -- which I thought taken together was enough to show he was alive and kicking

Plus Homegrown (1975) and Archives II reissues. So four out of 20 releases. 16 rejected! I think I can keep my "I love Neil and will listen to new albums still but not cut him slack just cause." Whew! Dylan is another story. I really dig the standards albums, so I'm an outlier on that fella. As Sal said, if anyone deserves a pass, it's Bob.

I did roll my eyes every time a new album by the Rolling Stones or R.E.M. or [fill in beloved but past-prime legend) had their new album praised as a masterpiece with at least four out of five stars. But i understand the desire to get excited when an act you love puts out an album and it doesn't suck.