On the Beach by Neil Young

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On the Beach by Neil Young
On the Beach by Neil Young

Album Released: 1974

On the Beach ::: Artwork

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1.Walk On2:42
2.See The Sky About To Rain5:02
3.Revolution Blues4:03
4.For The Turnstiles3:15
5.Vampire Blues4:14
6.On The Beach6:59
7.Motion Pictures4:23
8.Ambulance Blues8:56

Reviews

At the time of its release, On the Beach was - in the eyes of many critics - a nadir in Neil Young's career, the critical hostility being in part fuelled by a falling out between Young and the music press - reflected in Young's lyric now all you critics sit alone - you're no better than me for all you've shown.

Here for example is an amusing rant from the NME ... that an album as bleak and miserable-sounding as On the Beach has been preceded by no less than six other albums almost all equally bleak and miserable-sounding can easily obscure the fact that the record represents a departure. Indeed, even if people were to credit Young with doing something vaguely new in On the Beach, a lot of them would be fairly justified in dismissing his 'new' bleakness as a bleaker version of the one they ... er, already knew and loved. And there's plenty more where that came from, at Thrasher's Wheat vast online Neil Young archives.

But having frequently found myself at odds with 'mainstream' opinions, I found myself disagreeing with the critical condemnations on this occasion too, and thought of this album as the best work Young had produced thus far. This opinion was mainly derived from the three tracks on Side Two, which is endowed with an exquisitely melancholic tone throughout, being "On the Beach", "Motion Pictures", and "Ambulance Blues".

This album didn't sell well at the time of its release, no doubt due in part to the critical tongue-lashing, and so it was subsequently hard to find and became something of a Young collectible, further compounded by the fact that it wasn't available on CD until fairly recently. But it's now been fully 'rehabilitated', indeed it is today acknowledged as possibly Young's finest work, so I'm pleased to see that my initial impressions have at last been vindicated.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon


It’s ironic that the moment the masses seemed to be abandoning Neil Young in droves, his music got better. In my eyes, this album is vastly superior to Everybody Knows This is Nowhere / After the Gold Rush / Harvest and Déjà Vu. And I don’t say that just to be a weirdo - it’s what I actually think.

The ultra-polished, ultra-careful, and ultra-boring Young of Harvest has gone in favor of a rawer, sloppier, and more earnest replacement. What’s more, On the Beach actually has diversity, meaning that it sounds fresh throughout, unlike the previous albums, that all suffered from saminess.

The first four songs are awesome. “Walk On” is a rock number with a catchy melody and rather bouncy instrumentation. Previously, Young rarely let himself sound so sloppy, but that’s exactly how he should sound -after all, he’s the 'Godfather of Grunge' ... he already had an awful voice, so ugly instrumentation was the only missing link. For Young it seems, the more undisciplined he is the better, as long as he’s keeping the well-written melodies, earnest ambitions, and instrumentation ability intact.

Young shifts the mood to balladry for the album's second track, "See the Sky About to Rain", whose instrumentation is very raw and features a distorted electric piano (that gives it good texture), but it has a phenomenally engaging vocal melody.

As good as those two songs are, Young changes gear again for the wonderfully mean and driving “Revolution Blues”, arguably the best song he'd written up to this point (definitely the most hard rocking song he'd released). Thanks to the skillful instrumentation (including a finger-melting electric guitar solo), it’s a complete blast to listen to. Then he changes styles again completely after that, for the refreshing “For the Turnstiles”, which sees him singing along to a simple banjo and noodly guitar accompaniment.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)