Friday, February 13, 2009

Neil Young 21: This Note’s For You

While he’d declared that country music was where it’s at only three years before, Neil turned up out of nowhere with a horn-driven R&B revue called the Bluenotes—oblivious to that of Harold Melvin—playing two long sets of original, blues-based material. A new album, safe from the shackles of Geffen, followed shortly after.
Your enjoyment of This Note’s For You will depend on your opinion of horn sections, but it’s got some great moments. “Ten Men Workin’” is the statement of purpose this time out, but the Tonight Show stylings go on too long. The title track is too short on the album to offend, missing the point. “Coupe De Ville” is quiet Neil, and quite good at that; he’d do better with the mood music than trying to sound like B.B. King. “Life In The City” barrels on through as a hint of the future, then “Twilight” closes the side trying to sound like Otis Redding singing “Coupe De Ville”.
“Married Man” is a pain in the ass, but “Sunny Inside” seems awfully sincere. And as happy as it is, it sounds like a Neil song. “Can’t Believe Your Lyin’” goes back to the mood music, then that in turn is blasted out of the way by “Hey Hey”, one of the better raveups. “One Thing” features Ralph Molina and George Whitsell in their only appearance on this album, which leads one to think that this was a leftover from On The Beach; it even resembles the song of the same name. (Perhaps the Archives will provide clarification on this someday.*) It ends the proceedings quietly yet satisfyingly.
The moody numbers on This Note’s For You work best, since they don’t sound as much like parody or a bad white version of blues. Even those who think Stevie Ray Vaughan invented the genre weren’t fooled. But Neil was definitely back on track, and sounded a lot more like he actually was enjoying himself. He’d written and performed a pile of other songs with the horns around this period, which were promised, until his next detour relegated them to the vaults. As usual.

Neil Young & The Bluenotes This Note’s For You (1988)—3

1 comment:

  1. A recent reread of the Shakey biography brought to light a mention that George Whitsell replaced Billy Talbot in an embryonic version of the Bluenotes for about a week, with Ralph Molina still on drums, so it could very well be that "One Thing" was indeed recorded around the time of the rest of the album. Which is too bad, because we really wanted it to be an On The Beach outtake.