Review : Neil Young - Dreamin' Man
PitchforkNeil Young fans waited decades for his fabled Decade II project, later renamed Archives and finally released this year as the start-- or, technically, the continuation-- of the singer's long-simmering and fitfully realized reissue program. Reasonable people can quibble over the set's presentation and the relative redundancy of much of its contents, but it's hard to imagine anyone having a problem with how the set positioned Young within a definitive chronological context. Archives may be too awkward to be definitive, but no question they worked well as a portrait of a quixotic artist as a young man.
For the Young faithful, the belated set seems to have gotten those rusty gears moving again. What was next? Will the second volume of the Archives encapsulate Young's formidable mid-1970s stretch? Would Time Fades Away finally appear on CD? Would any of Young's infamous live sets of that era show up? Rumors swirled. Well, Young threw one of his trademark wrenches in the works: What came next was Dreamin' Man, an unexpected jump to Young's 1992 Harvest Moon period-- itself an unexpected detour following the raging Crazy Horse reunion Ragged Glory. Dreamin' Man, deemed the Neil Young Archives Performance Series #12, captures Young solo, performing the entirety of Harvest Moon shortly before the album's release, albeit in a different order and compiled from multiple dates.
Wait, back up. Or actually, fast forward. Neil Young Archives Performance Series #12? The Archive "performance series" releases began in 2006 with Live at the Fillmore East aka Volume 2, and continued in 2007 with Live at Massey Hall (Volume 3). Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968 (Volume 0) and Live at the Riverboat 1969 (Volume 1) appeared in the Archives boxed set this year (along with the previously issued installments). So what happened to the others? It must be in the fine print somewhere that Young didn't need to release this stuff chronologically....full text
Independent"It's just the feeling behind this song," murmurs Neil Young, introducing "Dreamin' Man", "there's nothing literal in here".
But the whole album has the aspect of a dream – specifically, a wistful reverie about times past and friends forgotten. Recorded at various solo performances in 1992, these 10 songs would later that year comprise Neil's cosy country-rock comeback album Harvest Moon. But 17 years on it's like a double-flashback, looking fondly back at songs which look fondly back: in "Unknown Legend", ageing hippies yearn for the freedom of their youth; in "From Hank To Hendrix", a man facing divorce reflects upon a fading relationship; and in "You And Me", a reference to an "old man" short-circuits the mind back to that song on Harvest, as Young ponders "how lifetime flies". There's even a song in which Neil apologises to old musician chums summarily abandoned as he flitted from style to style: "I never tried to burn any bridges, but I know I let some good things go," he acknowledges. Delivered to gentle strummage and occasional gusts of organ or harmonica, it's all pleasant enough – but if Neil's going to do an 11-minute number called "Natural Beauty", I'd much prefer it if Crazy Horse were saddled up alongside, quite frankly....full text
HuffingtonpostBack in '92, Neil Young toured extensively in support of his Harvest Moon album, a return by the grunger to his mellow Harvest and After The Gold Rush roots. The LP followed his controversial Geffen Records period that included the biting "This Note's For You" (that was a smack at aggressive commercialism), and his experimental outing Trans that confounded fans but delighted the electronic-minded.
Basically, Dreamin' Man Live '92 is a nod to that excellent creative move, documenting the best of Young's Harvest Moon tour. This ten-song set is a very personal read of Young by Young, these live performances emphasizing lyrics and substance over staging. From the first track "Dreamin' Man" and on, Young's intimate reworks pay particular attention to story lines and points being made, and his live sequence of the track list works just as well as the studio album version, if not better in some instances (like concluding with "War Of Man," or "One Of These Days" segueing into "Harvest Moon").
Perhaps in the future, Young's vault can be opened a bit wider and a Harvest Moon Deluxe Edition can include both the original album and expanded live performances that gathers everything here plus more. But as for now, we have this revealing release, and it presents the Neil Young that the Boomers grew up on twenty years later with a songwriting prowess that's still as illuminating as the moon on which he ponders....full text
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