Friday, July 4, 2008

Neil Young 5: Journey Through The Past

While Everybody’s Dummy has only screened the film but once, has yet to meet anyone else who has nor read any reasonable synopsis, it has been affirmed that the Journey Through The Past album has little to do with said film, despite its classification as a soundtrack. The album doesn’t lend itself to repeated listening, except as a reminder of what’s on it.
It starts out as a kind of retrospective, with television performances by Buffalo Springfield that sound as if they were recorded by pointing a microphone at a TV speaker. We hear CSN telling an audience to listen to their “wooden music”, followed by a lackluster live rendition of “Ohio”. Another tedious “Southern Man” starts side two, then half of “Are You Ready For The Country?” fades into a version of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” performed by what appears like a dance school. That is followed by a studio meld of “Alabama”, going into the control room so Neil can teach the harmonies to Crosby. The side ends with soundbites of a TV preacher, Nixon and Crosby ranting about something.
The sidelong rehearsal of “Words” can be pretty taxing, but side four is really odd, even compared to all that has gone before. Outside of Neil talking to a Jesus freak and the slightly meandering “Soldier” (which was recorded in a foundry), everything else is music by other people, including selections from Handel’s Messiah and the movie King Of Kings. One gets the feeling that even if the connection between “Let’s Go Away For A While” from the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and the movie could be determined, it wouldn’t have been worth the effort.
The film was shown on Neil’s official website during an online film festival, followed by a few years in the form of grainy YouTube clips and bootleg DVDs. When the Archives actually surfaced in 2009, it was included in the DVD and Blu-Ray packages. The album itself is out of print, and unavailable on CD; an edited mix of “Soldier” is on Decade, and the side three take of “Words” is on Archives. And that’s just as well. Strangely enough—but par for Neil’s course—the “title track” wouldn’t appear until his next album, even though he’d been performing it onstage for the better part of two years.

Neil Young Journey Through The Past (1972)—2
Current CD equivalent: none

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