Tuesday, September 13, 2011

#40: Neil Young - Freedom

Release Year: 1989

Neil Young has had a very long career, beginning in earnest in the 60s, and continuing today.  I consider Young to be the best songwriter alive, a title that many believe belongs to Mr. Dylan.  His most well-known, and indeed strongest, body of work was from 1969-1979, beginning with Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and ending with Rust Never Sleeps.  Every album in this period is spectacular.  1979's Rust featured an acoustic front side and electric back side, with different versions of "Hey, Hey, My, My" on each side.

The 80s were a very turbulent period, music-wise, for Young.  He started with a seemingly patriotic folk album, then went with a new wave rock/punk album, followed that up with an album where most of the vocals were computerized, then released a rockabilly album, followed by a country album... That only takes us to mid-decade, but you get the picture.  The upshot is that his popularity eroded by 1987, and Life became his least successful album ever.  But then, out of nowhere, emerged Freedom.  This is the album that kicked off the grunge movement, and brought loud, angry rock music to the forefront of the music world.  "Rockin' in the Free World" became his biggest hit in probably a decade.

Neil borrowed the Rust bookend concept with this one: the album begins with an acoustic version of "Rockin' in the Free World," and closes with the more well-known electric version of the same song.  Though this album is known for its angry protest song, it is actually more toned down and folksy than its successor, Ragged Glory.  There is quite a variety of styles here, with several folk tunes, and only a few rockers.

Freedom is Neil's most solid album after 1975, and, despite being released in 1989, one of the most important of the 90s.

Standout tracks:
  • Rockin' in the Free World
  • Crime In The City (Sixty To Zero Part I) 
  • Eldorado 
  • Too Far Gone 

1 comment:

  1. I can't figure out why I like this album better than Rust Never Sleeps... But I do.