Neil Young: World Record: Album Review

Prolific veteran rocker Neil Young bares his soul and environmental concerns encompassing broad musical styles on World Record, accompanied by Crazy Horse and supported by infamous producer Rick Rubin. 

Release date:  Available now

Label:  Reprise Records

Format:   CD, Vinyl, digital stream/DL

Over the years spanning nearly almost 60 in number Neil Young has been everything to everyone; country rocker,  grunge-crasher , American folk troubadour, political protester, mellow balladeer and much more. Whichever way you see him when his prolific muse has been put to record he has remained true to himself, never compromising his art for commercial popularity.

If there ever was an album to attempt to combine all these different elements of Neil Young’s eclecticism this is it. I don’t doubt for one minute that this is deliberate, as he gives what he wants to give. Backed by his ever-faithful ensemble of  Crazy Horse (Billy Talbot, Ralph Moilina and Nils Lofgren) you can expect high quality musicianship .  Don’t be fooled into thinking that 11 tracks spread over two CDs will see Neil’s desire to stretch out into wandering pieces of music. The second CD carries only 2 tracks dominated by the 13-minute epic which is the awesome Chevrolet  which sees Neil at his wailing,  rocking best  taking you back to his Rockin In The Real World /Like A Hurricane peak.

Lyrically  the album focusses on his environmental concerns about the future of the planet and the emergency measures we need to take if we wish our world to prevail. With the expert guidance of the legendary Rick Rubin there are times when they have decided to retain the rough edges rather than squeeze them out as there is a definite rawness, which to me gives a natural live feel to the album.

Clearly  Neil Young has a lot to get off his chest regarding the  environmental  plight of the planet Earth and the opening track Love Earth requests we all appreciate more of what we have. It’s as though he wishes to get this message by using all the musical powers he has exerted over his illustrious career and his many styles.  Those who prefer his melancholic style will get the message through  Overhead and The Wonder Won’t Wait, which are  bright and stompy while This Old  Planet, is a pleasant singalong song with a massive message. The melodic and cheerful A Long Day Before sits with a hopeful Walk On The Road, which carries the same message as Imagine . 

Those who prefer his grungy  heavy style will get it loud and clear in the fuzzy and plodding I Walk With You and the mind-blowingly raucous  Break The Chain. Not fitting  either is This Old World a catchy tune with a refrain which I couldn’t help thinking of Watermelon  Man.

Anyone who has read about Neil Young, particularly in his autobiography Waging Heavy Peace will know that this mercurial and enigmatic troubadour is best when left to his own devices or supported by those he trusts and this album epitomises that.

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