So in 1986, after an out of court settlement with Geffen Records, Neil Young released his fifteenth record, “Landing on Water.” During the early 1980’s Neil Young was dropped from label and picked up by Geffen Records. After a series of what Geffen Records classified as “non-Neil Young” records, he was sued by the record company. After an out of court settlement, Neil Young went to work on this record. Well, to me this was another non-Neil Young record.
“Landing on Water” is a heavily based Pop record where Neil Young heavily uses synthesizers. The guitar rhythm is very light throughout the record. The drums are mixed to the far front of the album almost drowning out the guitar work and is overwhelming when trying to hear Neil’s vocals. The drum machine was something I thought that I would never hear on a Neil Young record and is used on a few tracks. The bass is also heavily mixed to the front of the Neil’s new sound. Between the synth, drums, and bass, it seems as if the three are battling for first place. There are some strong choir work on the chorus lines on certain songs. It is almost as if Neil Young is taking all of the sounds of the early 1980’s and is mashing it together to make a new much busier sound. The entire album is way too busy sounding…too much going on at once.
Now, with all of the cons, there are a few highlights on this record. The guitar work matches his classic style of playing. There is a lot of great Neil Young guitar leads throughout the entire record. There are some good songs on the album that do have a nice melody and there is some harmony. The production could have been a bit better bringing the guitars more to the front for a balance. You can tell that Neil is trying to keep to his true self with the lyrics. “Hippie Dream” and “People on the Street” are two of the songs that come to mind as he raises awareness.
Bottom line, you have another experimental record where Neil Young is trying to find his new sound and his new style to fit into the 1980’s. If you can imagine what Micheal Jackson would sound like with Neil Young playing the guitar mixed with a little Cindy Lauper and Neil still on vocals, then you pretty much have what “Landing on Water” sounds like.
The positive. Within three years of this record, Neil Young will release “Freedom” which can be attributed to Neil’s Geffen days. This record here seems to guide Neil Young back to discovering his true self and that is when “Rocking in the Free World” is born.
1. “Weight of the World” 3:40
2. “Violent Side” 4:22
3. “Hippie Dream” 4:11
4. “Bad News Beat” 3:18
5. “Touch the Night” 4:30
6. “People on the Street” 4:33
7. “Hard Luck Stories” 4:06
8. “I Got a Problem” 3:16
9. “Pressure” 2:46
10. “Drifter” 5:05