Bluenote Cafe

Neil Young

Warner Brothers, 2015

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


If Eric Clapton is God, then Neil Young is the high priest of rock and roll. He has been clearing his vaults lately, and the latest release to be unearthed is Bluenote Café. It gathers performances from ten different locations from his 1987-1988 tour. The era does not contain his well-known or most commercially successful material, but despite the somewhat obscurity of a number of songs, there are plenty of positives to the release. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Neil Young has always been one of rock’s better guitar technicians, and his expertise is on display as it weaves through and above the brass section. A 20 minute version of “Tonight’s The Night” and an extended 12 minute “Ordinary People” are worth the price of admission due to his searing guitar excursions.

In many ways, this is an eclectic group of songs. “Bad News Comes To Town” is a slow ballad that percolates along. “Doghouse” strikes a funky note that was present during this period of his career. Young reaches into his past for a modernized updating of “On The Way Home.”

There are some misses: “Ten Men Workin’,” “Welcome To The Big Room,” and “Married Man” are average songs that tend to disappear into the bland part of his legacy. Still, the sound overall is fine and the backing band is tight. However, the pick-and-choose approach from 10 different performances makes it an album of individual tracks, rather than a cohesive whole.

The mid to late 1980s were a transitional point in Young’s career, as After The Gold Rush and Rust Never Sleeps were in his rear view mirror and Ragged Glory and Harvest Moon were in his immediate future. Many of these songs here tend to get lost, but there are some nuggets to be mined. When Neil Young is at his rock and roll best, there are few better, and some of the performances on this release fall in to that category.

Rating: B+

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