Neil Young: Neil Young

Rating: 85%

Neil_Young_(album)_cover.jpgIn 1969, Neil Young fresh out of Buffalo Springfield, went into his own direction releasing his debut solo record. So, I purchased this record for .25 thinking that I was getting the “After the Gold Rush” vinyl. I was surprised to see that this was in it when I got home. Nonetheless, it was a Neil vinyl that I didn’t have.

Musically, this album sees Neil Young learning how to fly. It’s rooted in Folk and Country Rock influences with a touch of the Psychedelic sound to this guitar. It’s an extension of the former Buffalo Springfield sound. Highlights include the “I’ve Been Waiting for You”, “The Old Laughing Lady”, “The Last Trip to Tulsa”, and “What Did You Do to My Life?”.

This album was a flop upon it’s release, but Neil Young a few months later, would release one of the all-time greatest albums with his new backing band Crazy Horse. Although, a flop, this album is very important as it marked the beginning for Neil Young’s career, and very long career at that.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “The Emperor of Wyoming” 2:14
2. “The Loner” 3:55
3. “If I Could Have Her Tonight” 2:15
4. “I’ve Been Waiting for You” 2:30
5. “The Old Laughing Lady” 5:58
Side two
6. “String Quartet from Whiskey Boot Hill” (Jack Nitzsche) 1:04
7. “Here We Are in the Years” 3:27
8. “What Did You Do to My Life?” 2:28
9. “I’ve Loved Her So Long” 2:40
10. “The Last Trip to Tulsa” 9:25

Bad to the Bone: George Thorogood & The Destroyers

Rating: 95%

George_Thorogood_&_The_Destroyers_-_Bad_To_The_BoneSo, George T. only wrote three of the songs on this 1982 “Bad To The Bone” record. Who cares, right? Not when the other songs are done up in George Thorogood fashion and style. So grab a few beers and get ready for a party down memory lane.

So, it’s Blues mixed with dash of Country and Rock n’ Roll. Great mixture of genres for George Thorogood’s style of slide guitar. The way George adopts these songs from other artists and creates arrangements to suit his band is amazing. It’s got soul, it’s got talent, and it’s got swing. It’ll leave you thirsty for more.

The musicianship is very tight.  Billy Blough’s bass lines are very good. The drumming of Jeff Simon is good and the added saxophone by Hank Carter makes the music even more energized. You add that along with the whiskey drench vocals and the beer soaked style of the guitar, you have a true sound unlike any other. To this day, I still think that Thorogood is under rated and unappreciated by Rock n’ Roll. 

Track listing:

“Back to Wentzville” (George Thorogood) – 3:30
“Blue Highway” (Nick Gravenites, David Getz) – 4:44
“Nobody but Me” (The Isley Brothers) – 3:28
“It’s a Sin” (Jimmy Reed) – 3:32
“New Boogie Chillun” (John Lee Hooker) – 5:03
“Bad to the Bone” (George Thorogood) – 4:52
“Miss Luann” (George Thorogood) – 4:13
“As the Years Go Passing By” (Deadric Malone) – 5:03
“No Particular Place to Go” (Chuck Berry) – 4:00
“Wanted Man” (Bob Dylan) – 3:12

Move It On Over: George Thorogood Delaware Destroyers

Rating: 90%

220px-moveitonoverSo, I recently picked up George Thorogood’s second record, “Move It On Over” on vinyl released in 1978. I had forgotten how good this record was, even though, none of the songs were written by George himself. But, then again, the song arrangements are done in Thorogood fashion and are among some of his most popular hits. It was this record that made George Thorogood into what he became and what he is today.

The entire record flows so good and for me, at some points, I wish the album would just keep going. It just keeps on rocking! I love George Thorogood’s style of guitar picking and slide work which I think is becoming a lost art in today’s music word. I love his whiskey drenched vocal style as well. It’s raw, powerful and one of a kind. When you hear a George Thorogood song, you know it’s him.

The other musicians are great too. The musicianship is super tight. You can tell they are having fun while playing. Hammering along on the bass guitar is Billy Blough. Pounding on those drums is Jeff Simon. Then how can one go wrong with the name of Uncle Meat Pennington? Well he’s an added bonus as he plays the tambourine and maracas.

This album pays tribute to many of George Thorogood’s influences from Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon to Elmore James. The songs themselves are not written by George Thorogood as stated, but they are structured very well. His adoption and style as I mentioned, makes them his. George may not be good looking, but damn, he sure can play that guitar. He can adopt Country, Bluegrass,Blues and Rock n Roll and produce a style that is so unique. I personally can’t think of another guitarist who can do what George Thorogood does. The music that is produced on this record are raw and emotional. This record is just plain good ol’ Blues done in good ol’ Rock n’ Roll fashion. In fact, I think I’ll end up picking up my guitar and try to play along.

Track listing:

“Move It On Over” (Hank Williams) – 4:16
“Who Do You Love?” (Ellas McDaniel) – 4:15
“The Sky Is Crying” (Elmore James, Morgan Robinson) – 5:09
“Cocaine Blues” (T.J. Arnall) – 2:48
“It Wasn’t Me” (Chuck Berry) – 3:54
“That Same Thing” (Willie Dixon) – 3:05
“So Much Trouble” (Brownie McGhee) – 3:15
“I’m Just Your Good Thing” (James Moore) – 3:29
“Baby Please Set a Date” (Homesick James Williamson) – 4:42
“New Hawaiian Boogie” (Elmore James) – 4:34

Shades of Deep Purple:Deep Purple

Rating: 85%

DP-Shades_of_Deep_Purple_-_USThe year was 1968 and the music scene was changing. In the midst of the Prog Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Acid Rock and just rock music in general, a brand new style of Hard Rock music was about to be born. It took some time for the seeds to be planted, but during the late 1960’s, those seeds were about to give birth to Heavy Metal. It would take bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin to get the formula just right by taking the sounds of the mid 1960’s and begin merging them into a new and metallic sound.

But Deep Purple, didn’t begin as a Heavy Metal right away. It took a few years for the band to find their direction. “Shades of Deep Purple” is a very important step for the band to begin moving into that direction. You had lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, vocalist Rod Evans, organist Jon Lord, drummer Ian Paice and bassist Nick Simper. Together, this marks the beginning of Mark I of the band’s line up. It was Mark II of Deep Purple that ultimately perfected the sound of Heavy Metal in 1970.

This album has much to offer, but, it does disappoint. Aside from three covers and one traditional song, that leaves this record with a total of five songs written by the actual band. However, two of them are short instrumentals that are preludes leading into a major song. Do the math, that leaves you with three real Deep Purple songs for their debut in 1968. So, you see, Deep Purple is waiting for someone to step up and take a lead and point the band into a direction.

Let’s talk about the song arrangements. Lot’s of good stuff going on. Ritchie’s guitar playing is killer. He’s got talent, he’s got riffs and damn he shreds those strings on that electric guitar. You have the heaviness of Jon Lord’s organ thrown in with the pounding of Paice’s drumming and Simper’s bass. Rod Evans, even though many people prefer Ian Gillian as the vocalist, is pretty decent. His voice is good for what Deep Purple is doing during this time.

“Shades of Deep Purple” rides heavily upon the Prog Rock and Psychedelic Rock style of music with some blues thrown in. It jams good record.  The musicianship and song structures for the record being thrown together in a matter of days is great. Looking back on Mark I, it was good for what it was at the time. I’m glad to see that Blackmore took hold of the band and quickly rebuilt it into Mark II. But, before all of those classic songs, you need a little of Mark I as that is where the band started out as. They’ve come a long way and achieved much, but mostly in part of this record.

Track Listing:

Side one
1. “And the Address” (instrumental)
2. “Hush” Joe South
3. “One More Rainy Day”
4. “Prelude: Happiness (instrumental)

5. “I’m So Glad” Skip James

Side two
1. “Mandrake Root”
2. “Help!” John Lennon, Paul McCartney
3. “Love Help Me”
4. “Hey Joe” Billy Roberts

Salisbury: Uriah Heep

Rating: 80%

MI0002771958.jpgFor their second release in 1971, Uriah Heep’s “Salisbury” is a bit different than their first record and those three that would follow. To me, the first five records by Uriah Heep are the best. followed by the live album. After these records, I never got into the band. The musical style just changed like more bands did in the mid 1970’s.

  1. … Very ‘Eavy … Very ‘Umble
  2. Salisbury
  3. Look at Yourself
  4. Demons and Wizards
  5. The Magician’s Birthday
  6. Uriah Heep Live

Although, “Salisbury” is highly experimental, it’s a very important record nonetheless. The band takes the best of the best from each member and tries to make the perfect Prog Rock album. What the records does instead, it resets the band’s musical direction. The version of the that I have is the U.S. release. The only difference is that “Simon the Bullet Freak” replaces “Bird of Prey” that was released on the European version of the record.

The album has some riffs, but the music itself is more complex with lots of strumming, scales and picking. Chords are more strummed and picked loosing that metallic sound.  Some of the music has blues influence with the usage of slide guitar in the leads. The album has some classical influences and some orchestra and folk influences.

“Salisbury” is not a heavy record by any means as compared to Uriah Heep’s first record or the following three albums. It’s more mellow and does skim the easy listening world at times. The heaviest song on this release is “Time to Live.” The ballad “The Park” is an acoustical piece that has a bit of a psychedelic feel to. “Lady in Black” has a heavy folk feel to it. It’s an Anti-War song in the form of a ballad. Lot’s of vocal harmony. This song also was one of the biggest hits for the band. It’s a great song, but the song structure is based around two chords on the guitar Am and G. The music at times falls flat. “Salisbury” is one of those songs. The orchestra is overpowering on this 16 some minute song. The guitar on this song is very eerie and has a good sound to it. But, the orchestra and the organ drowns out the band at times.

The album is focused more on melody and harmony, both musically and vocally. The song structures are put together nicely, but there are parts where the album fails to show the power of the band. The vocal harmony is probably the greatest work on this record than any other.

Track listing:

Side 1
1. “High Priestess” 3:39
2. “The Park” 5:38
3. “Time to Live” 4:02
4. “Lady in Black” 4:43
Side 2
1. “Simon the Bullet Freak” 3:25
2. “Salisbury” 16:12

On Stage: Rainbow

Rating: 90%

Rainbow-onstage.jpgReleased in 1977, after only having two studio albums, “On Stage” tries to capture the power and energy of Rainbow. The performance captures five musicians trying their best. You have the awesome guitar work of Ritchie Blackmore. The man knows his way around the fret board of the guitar. Fronting the band is the powerful and one of a kind vocalist Ronnie James Dio. How the voice of heavy metal comes from a man that is so short is beyond me. But, Ronnie James Dio is absolutely great. He to me is one of the best vocalists of all time. Pounding the drums is Cozy Powell. Playing bass is Jimmy Bain. The man behind the keys is the very talented Tony Carey on keyboards and Orchestron.

Some say that this album falls short and fails to capture the power of Rainbow. I agree to a certain point. But, I also disagree. Agreed, the final mixing is not as good as it could be. There is a good bit of background noise to it. Agreed that some of the music falls flat in some places of the performances.  But, the rawness is there. You are hearing the band at the height of their rise to fame. Not that they needed it.

This album captures the power energy of Ronnie James Dio a few years after Elf. His vocals on the Deep Purple cover “Mistreated” is flawless and shatters the atmosphere with his high range of vocals. I would say he does a better job at singing this song than what David Coverdale did with Blackmore in Deep Purple. Another highlight on Dio’s vocals is “Still I’m Sad.” This song has a lot of feeling. The studio version of this song was just an instrumental. But here, you get that added bonus of Dio’s vocals.

This record captures the excellent guitar work conducted by Ritchie Blackmore. If you like long songs with lots of great and powerful leads, then this is an album for you. He throws out riffs from start to finish. “Mistreated”, “I’m Still Sad”, and “Medley” have some great leads and riffs being conducted by Blackmore.

This record showcases the talents of the band itself. There is some kick ass drumming and bass work on here. Back that to Carey’s organ work and it’s like a super group style of musicianship.

Musically, there is a great set of songs. The arrangement of the songs is totally different that the restraints of the studio versions. And to be honest, there isn’t a single song here that I do not like. I love the intro with the clip from the “Wizard of Oz.” It was a nice touch. These six songs lengthened are epics in the right.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Kill the King” 5:32
2. “Medley: Man on the Silver Mountain/Blues/Starstruck” 11:12
Side two
3. “Catch the Rainbow” 15:35
Side three
4. “Mistreated” (Deep Purple cover) 13:03
Side four
5. “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” 7:36
6. “Still I’m Sad” (The Yardbirds cover) 11:01

Harvest: Neil Young

Rating: 100%

NeilYoungHarvestalbumcover.jpgNeil Young over the decades has proven that he can play just about any style of music from Country, Grunge, Heavy Metal, Blues and yes, Folk. He has also proven that he can play the guitar like no other with his famous dropped down D tuning. He plays piano, organ, harmonica and yes, banjo.

It’s no surprise that 1972’s release “Harvest” was one of his best records. After his successful debut in 1968 and then again with Crazy Horse in 1969, what would you expect Neil Young to do with his fourth release? “Harvest” was the answer.

“Harvest” is a collection of Folk and Country Rock songs. This album features a string of hits that are among Neil Young’s best from the title track “Harvest”,  to “Heart of Gold”, “Old Man” and  “The Needle and the Damage Done” which was written about Crazy Horse front man Danny Whitten who died from a heroin overdose.

This album is also holds part two of two swings at the American South. In 1970, Young wrote the song “Southern Man” which dealt with the issues of Slavery and Racism. On this record the song “Alabama” was released dealing with the state that Alabama was in.  In 1974, Lynyrd Skynyrd answered Neil Young with their hit song “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Musically, this album is among one of Neil Young’s all-time best. He is a great performer and the mixture of music that was produced on this record is fantastic. It contains a little bit of everything. Mild to upbeat tempos, great song structures that are not overdone. “Words (Between the Lines of Age)” features a great guitar jam session that Neil Young has always been known for. The musicianship behind the backing band the Stray Gators is very tight. All of the musicians work so well with one another. no wonder this record is among the top all time best.

Track Listing:

Side one

1. “Out on the Weekend” 4:35
2. “Harvest” 3:11
3. “A Man Needs a Maid” 4:05
4. “Heart of Gold” 3:07
5. “Are You Ready for the Country?” 3:33

Side two

1. “Old Man” 3:24
2. “There’s a World” 2:59
3. “Alabama” 4:02
4. “The Needle and the Damage Done” (recorded in concert January 30, 1971) 2:03
5. “Words (Between the Lines of Age)” 6:40