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Neil Young – On the Beach (1974)

November 2, 2017

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Magnificent logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

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[Album 576/1001]

I’ve always known Neil Young could write songs.

But it’s been a journey learning to appreciate his voice.

These days, not only do I now appreciate the voice, it’s actually what I look forward to the most when listening to a Neil Young record.

I estimate that somewhere around Harvest (or around the time I reviewed Harvest), I started to prefer the singer to the songs.

Or graphically:

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My Neil Young Appreciation

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This early-into-mid-70s period is likely my favourite Neil Young era (so far).220px-On_the_Beach_-_Neil_Young

As per usual, with On the Beach, his voice is perfectly imperfect.

And he’s not oblivious to this either: I remember reading that Young himself recently acknowledged in an acceptance speech, “I know I can’t sing.”

Perhaps he can’t – but whatever his voice is doing, it’s become the enduring (and endearing) appeal for me.

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Verbalize the Positive

I hope Neil Young will remember – although I used to agree with Lynyrd Skynyrd that he was unessential, how wrong I was!

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From → 1970s

32 Comments
  1. He used to be one of my favorites, although I haven’t listened to any of his music in a while. Maybe it’s time to get re-acquainted.

  2. Zack permalink

    I could really do without Lynyrd Skynyrd myself, but I’m a Yankee.

    • And if I had to choose between Ol’ Neil & Skynyrd, I’m afraid as a Northern man, I’d have have to choose the former, anyhow!

  3. My favourite Neil Young album. Or one of my favourites anyway. I can also appreciate what you mean about his voice; there’s something warming even when the song is unremarkable.

    • A fine choice for a (or one of the!) favourite J – I found this was one where the individual songs didn’t necessarily jump out at me, but the performances made the overall record work wonderfully

      • It’s worth sticking with it, cause the songs really reveal themselves over repeated listens.

  4. That is what has always put me off of him was his voice. So, if you eventually warm up to it, I need to revisit his catalog.

    • The time it takes to appreciate his voice may vary by listener – but I’m glad I invested the time, it’s paying off nicely!

  5. The ‘ditch’ trilogy are riveting albums, aren’t they? Although it doesn’t get a guernsey in THE book, can I also put in a word for ‘Time Fades Away’, a Young fave that I reviewed in the early daze of Vinyl Connection?

    • The two from the trilogy that I’ve heard (and that THE book acknowledges) are riveting indeed!
      I’ll definitely have to explore Time Fades Away to complete the trilogy – I suppose 2 outta 3 ain’t bad so far?

      • Too right. Your Neil adventure has been enjoyable to follow!

      • And thanks for joining me on the adventure Bruce! He’s one of those artists where ‘adventure’ is the right term.

        I think with some other multi-album artists here, my feelings have remained relatively constant.

        I can’t think of any that I’ve somehow been less impressed after multiple albums – but he’s leading the way (or maybe tied with Eno!) for the artists where I’ve changed my tune

  6. You know, the most technically perfect and obviously gifted singers can often have the blandest of songs. There are so many I could name, but I don’t want to offend anybody. I’ve never really thought about Neil Young’s singing as something that might work against him. It works overall, and that’s all I care about.

    • And the further I get into this list (and the further technology advances), I’m realizing sounding ‘perfect’ is meaning less and less to me.
      These days, any vocal track could be made to sound perfect, the more I hear Neil, the more I like Neil Young’s lack of perfection!

  7. Big Red permalink

    On the beach is amazing. Neil at his most stoned. The live at the bottom line 1974 recording has got a lot of the early versions of those tunes. Late 70s Neil just keeps the guys rolling, comes a time, stars and bars, rust never sleeps. All so good.

    • And I love how tonight’s the night sat on the shelf for a couple years before its release – and it’s right up there with this one!
      Encouraging to read I’m only scratching the surface of quality Neil Young recordings, cheers Big Red

  8. Is that all the Young albums in the book? I like to quibble with the choices sometime, but if I had to choose 7 Young albums, mine would quite possibly be identical. There’s lots of good music scattered on other 1970s albums like Time Fades Away, Comes A Time, and Zuma though.

    • There’s also an album with Buffalo Springfield and a CSNY – I think that’s all though.
      Time Fades Away looks like my next stop!

  9. If I’d done the cover for the LP I’d have had ol’ Shakey playing beach volleyball with a bevvy of lovelies – it would have sold so many more copies. What a wasted opportunity.

    • I think if you had left the cover the same with the beach lovelies in the foreground you would have a real album cover, Shakey in any form is not necessarily a thing of beauty.

    • It would have totally captured the cheerful cars & girls vibe of the tracks here too!

      • or the joy of the pretty flowers inside the cover

  10. Fantastic album. But Tonight’s the Night is even better. I’m not much of a Harvest fan, I prefer the weird Neil.

    • I imagine Harvest works well as an introduction to Neil and then listeners are rewarded for digging deeper in the catalogue!

  11. One of my fav Neil Young albums. I’ve always wondered how much of that car is buried in the sand!

    • I’d be curious to see the before/after the photoshoot – it was a few years before photoshop, so I’d be interested in seeing how much of that car is buried as well!

  12. Love Neil and this album is aces.

  13. I like Neil’s music and I like this album. Neil’s like a big pot of stew. Just scoop some out and it will taste good.

    • And I didn’t used to like the stew – but these days, I’m requesting second helpings!

      • I hear you on that. I went from not even tasting it to pigging out. So much to like about him. and so much music. “I like his style man”

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