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Not only does Young sound more honest (and stable) than ever before, but the overall melodies have never been richer than they are on Rust Never Sleeps.

The lyrics are such that I became intensely interested in delving into them more deeply, meaning this will be an album I will be revisiting frequently in the future. Sure, a handful of tracks are clearly less-than-perfect, and there was only one song that I felt wholly deserved a coveted 7-star rating, but hell, this is a classic album.

The most appealing aspect of Rust Never Sleeps is that it’s easily Young's best put-together album - far from the a patchy leftover feel of Zuma or American Stars ‘N Bars. It starts out as a simple folk album with just Young, his guitar, and harmonica, but then the sound evolves to eventually incorporate fuzz guitars louder and uglier than any he'd done before. And the transition is surprisingly subtle, and rather brilliant!

Young reveals his whole outlook on the then-current music biz, which was at the time overrun with the freshly emerged New Wave, on the opening “My, My, Hey, Hey (Out of the Blue)”, delivered with as much earnestness as I’ve ever heard from him (by 1979 punk rockers had made their mark and were already 'burning out', as opposed to 'fading away' like he says Elvis did). And that's followed by the endearing “Thrasher”, which sounds just as earnest, though not as solidly melodic.

“Pocahontas” is a little more interesting. Though another light folky number at heart, there’s the hint of something new on the musical horizon, with its weird sound effects that sound like someone’s rasping an electric guitar the wrong way, and I also think I can hear someone playing a recorder, and someone else playing er, bongos? It's a great song by the way.

“Sail Away” ends up being somewhat shrug-worthy, but at least it has a real drumbeat for the first time on the album - it's somewhat missable, but it’s there. And then, Young subtly turns electric with the sensational “Powderfinger”, even delivering a lengthy and beautiful electric guitar solo.

“Welfare Mothers” turns the rock up another notch, maybe too much, as that’s the only song on the album that’s not especially endearing. It’s not a bad tune, but it’s the only track that actually sounds somewhat banal. Still, it’s hard to deny that I can’t help but get caught up in the beat, and it does have plenty of spirit.

Realising he couldn’t get harder rocking than that one, Young decides to turn up the fuzz with the absolutely mean sounding “Sedan Delivery”, which makes similar material on Zuma sound like small potatoes. It’s the sort of ugly song that really lends his 'Godfather of Grunge' title plenty of credence. It’s also very melodic, making it better than the majority of grunge songs.

But it’s not until the very end that Young delivers the album’s real gem - a reworking of the album opener, except with lotsa electric guitars. The guitar tones are even fuzzier than the previous track, although it sounds rather robotic and industrial. The rhythms are interesting and even somewhat innovative (especially considering 'industrial' as an actual genre was still to emerge).

Interesting musical development is exactly what I long to hear in albums, and I can’t say I’ve heard it done like this before, or this well! I’ve done a pretty thorough job telling the world that I’m not much of a Neil Young fan, but this album changed my mind. Oh, and I haven’t told you the punch line yet - it was all recorded live. Yup.

[Footnote: Don Ignacio's Blog supplements this Review with a bonus track-by-track commentary]

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio

Posted: Tuesday 17th Oct 2017 4:27 PM
Recent album review
The Flaming Lips' debut EP The Flaming Lips [1984] may as well have been entirely instrumental for all the good Mark Coyne did vocally. So, out he goes and up to the mic steps his brother Wayne. And that works out for the best.

The sound of that atrociously-produced debut has been replaced by a similar murky garage sound, only not quite as murky as before. And if you're only familiar with The Flaming Lips from their later works - marvel at the fantastic joy that is "With You" - a little guitar singalong. I can imagine that appearing on any of the band's albums, although it differs wildly from latter-day Flaming Lips. The basis of "With You" is a simple strummed guitar and vocal. There's a groovy loud section of wild noisy guitars in the song too.

That wild noisy guitar sound is the key to Hear It Is - simple riffs and songs that sound like they were recorded live. Nobody can play their instruments very well, but that's the sound of the underground for you. Play "Trains, Brains & Rain" to any lover of pop and they'll recoil in horror, even though the song is a marvellous pop song at heart, with loads of gorgeous little melodies, along with wonderfully off-key and off-in-the-distance backing vocals. Suddenly the mud clears, and the melodies appear and never leave.

"Jesus Shootin' Heroin" is suitably stark and dark, and a highlight of the album, that followed by the catchy and punky "Just Like Before". That performance doesn't sound quite together, everything constantly sounds as if it's about to collapse, but that's half the charm. Besides, if nothing else the drummer sounds like he's having fun! And "She Is Death" is the sound of punk rockers taking acid.

The main problem with Hear It Is is a degree of repetitiveness of sound across the album's ten tracks. Still, it's a nice album, even with a few faults here and there.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning

Posted: Tuesday 17th Oct 2017 7:03 PM
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