Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I'll Kill Them in Their Cars: Neil Young- On The Beach, "Alternate Version"
I remember when On The Beach finally got put out on CD. I was a kid, and I had grown up with Neil Young (I worshipped Harvest and After The Goldrush), and I was freshly in love with Tonight's the Night, which struck me as the rawest, scariest, truest thing I had ever heard. This fellow is an undeniable genius, I thought, but there has to be some limits. I had already been vaguely disappointed by Zuma, which was cool, but just okay, and I didn't have super high hopes for On the Beach. The folly of youth (refracted through the dearth of accessible information to such a youngster in the early days of internet), had deceived me.
When it comes to the early 70s, there is no underestimating the prolific genius of Neil Young, and when I heard how good On The Beach was, it did not seem possible. It was another fucking masterpiece. A contemporary L.A. noir about the music industry, California, and the crazy hangers-on and fringe people, featuring Young as a typically unreliable narrator with a slightly atypical sun-baked hard-boil to his language-- Altman's The Long Goodbye, plus Dennis Wilson and the Manson Family, with Neil Young shadowing Elliot Gould's Marlowe as a spastic, surly journeyman musician prone to paranoia and nostalgia, known only as Shakey. This could be a ridiculous sentence, but I have typed it and here it lies. The only editor I have is this program which is telling me that "worshipped" has only one P. Truly it is the thinnest of thin red lines.
Anyway, I loved it. It would be years still before I got a copy of Time Fades Away, proving to my mind that there was still room within it for it to be blown. Oh my, but the dude was on a roll.
So here is what has been referred to as an "alternate version" of the album, but that's something of a misnomer. It's just a collection of live recordings of a lot of the songs from On The Beach, with enough repeats and variations to make it a regular bootleg and not some re-imagining of the record. It's all live. Also: it's all pretty much awesome, and it has three great versions of "Revolution Blues," which is one of my favorites.
If you are into this type of thing, consider it essential. Otherwise, go get On The Beach and have a great time hearing it for the first time.
On The Beach (320)
I'll post Time Fades Away and its "alternate version" soon if you ask nicely.