From the wasteland, two of Neil Young’s lost albums, one deserving of some attention and one that may be hard to forget.
Landing On Water is generally derided as Neil’s worst moment. It is a difficult listen and I don’t think this album will ever be a fond memory of the 80’s. It is so different to other Neil Young albums the drums are in your face and it has an 80’s sound that is hard to reconcile with the Laurel Canyon sound or even the eclectic dodging he had engaged in with the previous three albums on Geffen of Trans, Old Ways and The Shocking Pinks album. It is however almost a precursor of Freedom, especially on tracks like Hippie Dream which along with Thrasher is his best comment on the 60’s flower child rot. It’s not something I want to listen to all the way through again though.
I followed this up with Life, which is a better and easier listen. This was also the album that was out the first time I went to see Mr. Young and Crazy Horse. I had however never heard it. We all drove down to the Birmingham NEC in the back of a white Ford Transit van with no seats. Eight 19 yr olds rolling around in the back of an old van being driven at break neck speeds as we were concerned we would be late could be considered a recipe for disaster or the beginning of a really bad road movie.
You can find the setlist and download the show here if it is still there:
I remember it being a great show, how could it be bad that began with Mr. Soul as the starter. Lesley was convinced she new all the songs lyrics, even the new ones we had never heard. Dave was glassy eyed for some reason, Andy had only heard the Roxy Music version of Like A Hurricane and we may have lied to him about how it would be but he was the only person we new who could drive. I have no real memory of the other people in the van, I think we added them for petrol money and help with renting the van. I have no memory of getting home from the show, which is a little concerning.
Back to Life, it’s a fine album with some still relevant songs. It is a more traditional Neil Young album than Landing on Water and does contain the essential Prisoner’s of Rock’n’Roll and Long Walk Home. It was apparently recorded live with the audience removed which may account for it sounding more comforting then Landing on Water.