Life at 33 1/3
By Carl Meyer
Neil Young: Time Fades Away (Reprise)
Boy, do we need a legendary live album that is so hated by its main
performer that he pretends it doesn’t exist. The “Time Fades Away” tour in
1973 is living proof of Neil Young’s eccentricities; the star of mega
success “Harvest” dismantling himself right in front of thousands of fans,
and then millions as seven takes from that disastrous tour were assembled
and released as an eight-track album (the eighth track lifted from a
Neil Young was a superstar at that moment in time, hot on the heels of
“Harvest” and being the main attraction of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But
he would have none of it. Late in ’72 came the soundtrack-double “Journey
Through The Past” containing just one new song and little else worth a
Then he took The Stray Gators with him across the U.S. on a 62 date tour.
They were all in a bad shape, there were bad vibes, cases of tequila,
quarelling about money, and in the midst of it all a very unpredictable and
unstable Young who took it out on them all, keeping the whole entourage on
its toes, postponing sound checks, lambasting the band members, the works.
His guitar playing would be below par too as his faithful old Gibson Les
Paul was broken, so he replaced it with a less reliable Gibson Flying V that
kept going out of tune.
The audience was in for a hard time obviously and not at all prepared for
the band’s raucous and highly electric treatment of Young’s best loved
tunes, including the key tracks from “Harvest”. What made it even worse was
the generous insertment of new songs that had nothing in common with the
cuddly mood of “Heart Of Gold”.
Not in spite of, but because of this artistic left turn, “Time Fades
Away” is a great and fascinating album. It contains no old music at all.
Every single one of the eight tunes were new to those who bought the record.
Neil Young tested his audience as much as he tested himself. In all its
ramshackle shabbiness the album delivers a different kind of beauty, there’s
loads of integrity involved, it is a semi-documentary capturing something
falling apart, but there is no sadness involved, because it has to fall
apart, this is the sound of Neil Young reinventing himself and preparing
both him and us for the naked, horror-stricken and extremely powerful albums
that were to follow: “On The Beach” and “Tonight’s The Night”. And the
lesser, but still great “Hawks And Doves” and “American Stars’n Bars”.
In retrospect, most of the songs on “Time Fades Away” work surprisingly
well. The stomping, almost flat footed title track is a delight; the long
and not very elegant “Last Dance” grows on you, as do “Yonder Stands The
Sinner” and “Don’t Be Denied”, though I do admit that they are not Young’s
most accessible recordings. “LA” is doomsday dressed up almost pretty, the
apocalyptic words about the coming earth quake are pure poetry, a slow song
locked in that typical lazy “Harvest”-backbeat. And there’s the vulnerable
and haunting beauty of the piano-ballads “Journey Through The Past”, “The
Bridge” and “Love In Mind” (the latter lifted from a 1971-concert) – all
three are as magic as anything on “After The Goldrush”.
Not a bad album at all. It has become my all-time favourite Neil Young
live-experience, and it sure deserves a re-release.
Released: October 15, 1973
Produced by: Neil Young and Elliot Mazer
Contents: Time Fades Away/Journey thru the Past/Yonder Stands the
Sinner/L.A./Love in Mind/Don't Be Denied/The Bridge/Last Dance
Neil Young — vocals; guitar on "Time Fades Away," "Yonder Stands the
Sinner," "L.A.," "Don't Be Denied," and "Last Dance"; piano on "Journey thru
the Past," "Love in Mind," and "The Bridge"; harmonica on "Time Fades Away"
and "The Bridge"; bass† on "L.A."
Ben Keith — pedal steel, vocal on "L.A.," "Don't Be Denied," and "Last
Dance"; slide guitar on "Time Fades Away" and "Yonder Stands the Sinner";
vocal on "Time Fades Away"
Jack Nitzsche — piano on "Time Fades Away," "Yonder Stands the Sinner,"
"L.A.," "Don't Be Denied," and "Last Dance"; vocal on "Don't Be Denied"
David Crosby — guitar on "Yonder Stands the Sinner"; vocal on "Yonder Stands
the Sinner" and "Last Dance"
Graham Nash — guitar, vocal on "Last Dance"
Tim Drummond — bass on "Time Fades Away," "Yonder Stands the Sinner," "Don't
Be Denied," and "Last Dance"
Johnny Barbata — drums on "Time Fades Away," "Yonder Stands the Sinner,"
"L.A.," "Don't Be Denied," and "Last Dance".
Fireworks of steel
Warren Zevon: “Stand In The Fire” (Asylum)
*From the vaults of Carl Meyer, a record review written in February 1981.*
The traditional California-rock (Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, etc.) is a sinking
ship these days. But there’s a desperado on the decks of the Titanic, and
he’s got no intentions of going down with the ship. Don’t be fooled by his
blonde, delicate, almost feminine looks. Warren Zevon spells danger. The
rock’n’roll urgency shoots through his veins, and he’s heavily armed with
with an attitude more deadly than a pair of blasting sixguns. His voice is a
rugged trench of gravel and gunsmoke, so masculine and virile that you
automatically back off. And he is possessed with the Americana that was
introduced to us via hardboiled detective stories back in the 1930’s, 40’s
On “Stand In The Fire” Warren goes (monu)mental. It is one of the most
intense live-albums you’ll ever hear, the heat almost unbearable as his band
catches fire and sparks start flying. Crashing, crisp guitars, pumping
keyboards and a brutal rhythm section, they roar ahead, slamming into the
curves. It is towering, it is powerful, it is fireworks of steel. Zevon’s
raw slab of a voice is in complete control, delivering stories from the
darker sides of life with anger and painful desperation.
So this is California-rock too: A crackling, curvaceous inferno of anxiety
and anger; tough as an aging heavyweight champion, hot as an emptied
revolver and bloodthirsty as a werewolf (of London).
Released: December 26, 1980
Produced by: Warren Zevom & Greg Ladanyi
(All songs written by Warren Zevon unless otherwise indicated)
Contents: Stand in the Fire/Jeannie Needs a Shooter
(Springsteen/Zevon)/Excitable Boy (Marinell, Zevon)/Mohammed’s
Radio/Werewolves of London (Marinell/Wachtel/Zevon)/Lawyers, Guns and
Money/The Sin/Poor Poor Pitiful Me/I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead/Bo Diddley’s a
Gunslinger & Bo Diddley (Diddley)
Warren Zevon – bass, guitar, piano, keyboards, vocals, 12 string guitar
David Landau – guitar
Zeke Zirngiebel – guitar, electric guitar, rhythm guitar, steel guitar,
vocals, 12 string guitar
Bob Harris – synthesizer, piano, keyboards, backing vocals
Roberto Piñón – bass, backing vocals
Marty Stinger – drums
Like a herd of Harleys
Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell (Epic)
*From the vaults of Carl Meyer, a record review written in
August 1978.* (Why so late? Well, “Bat Out Of Hell” was a
sleeper in Norway, not charting until 1982.)
I don’t know what Meat Loaf’s real name is (hey! we didn’t have
Google back in 1978), but he is certainly one of rock’s
weightiest stars, literally. During the last six months he has
led his group to the summit with the album “Bat Out Of Hell” and
some stunning concerts.
Musically he belongs to the artsy end of heavy metal. Todd
Rundgren contributes to most of the album with members from his
own Utopia and Springsteen’s E Street Band. Todd is also
responsible for the perversely overblown wall-of-sound
production. The songs are hauled through a jungle of twists and
turns, sudden stops and cascading climaxes with a couple of
soft, trembling ballads thrown in for good measure.
A veneer of horror is added by the sleeve’s illustration and by
the doomsday like thunder of the music. You find yourself caught
between demons and angels as stories unfold about teenage lust,
car sex rejections and crashes on the highway, the title track
being the most violent crash song of all time. Powerful, larger
than life, riffs roaring like a herd of Harleys, and still every
track is so full of hooks that they eat your brain.
Among my personal favourites are “Bat Out Of Hell”, “You Took
The Words Right Out Of My Mouth” and the Tubes-like epic
“Paradise By The Dashboard Light” (an intense piece of sexuality
delivered by Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley). Great stuff!
Released: October 21, 1977
Produced by: Todd Rundgren
(All songs written and composed by Jim Steinman)
Contents: Bat Out of Hell/You Took the Words Right Out
of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)/Heaven Can Wait/All Revved Up
with No Place to Go/Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad/Paradise by the
Dashboard Light (I. Paradise / II. Let Me Sleep On It / III.
Praying for the End of Time)/For Crying Out Loud
Meat Loaf – lead vocals, backing vocals (track 6),
percussion (track 2)
Todd Rundgren – guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4–6), percussion (tracks 1,
2), keyboards (track 1), backing vocals (tracks 1–3, 5, 6)
Kasim Sulton – bass guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4–7), backing vocals
Roy Bittan – piano, keyboards (tracks 1, 2, 6)
Steve Margoshes – piano (track 7)
Cheryl Hardwick – piano (track 7)
Jim Steinman – keyboards (tracks 1, 2, 6), percussion (tracks 1,
2), “lascivious effects” (track 6), dialogue intro (track 2)
Roger Powell – synthesizer (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6)
Edgar Winter – saxophone (tracks 2, 4, 6)
Max Weinberg – drums (tracks 1, 2, 6)
John “Willie” Wilcox – drums (tracks 4, 5, 7)
Marcia McClain – dialogue intro (track 2)
Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto – play-by-play (track 6)
Ellen Foley – featured vocal (track 6), backing vocals (tracks
1, 2, 4, 6)
Rory Dodd – backing vocals (all except track 4)
Gene Orloff – concert master (track 7)
Members of New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra –
orchestra (track 7)
A strong one from Lynott
Phil Lynott: The Philip Lynott Album (Vertigo)
*From the vaults of Carl Meyer, a record review written
in September 1982.*
Phil Lynott delivers a solo-album that deserves your respect. His lyrics
appear to be much more self-revealing and vulnerable than what we have come
to expect from Thin Lizzy. He is certainly concerned about the global
problems in general, but restricts himself to let his opinions slip nicely
in between the lines as he presents for us a handful of losers, the
stepchildren of society, their portraits painted with strokes of subdued
anger and despair.
There are also philosophical thoughts on the mysteries of life itself, with
subtle references to the Bible. It’s not all moody, though, as Lynott also
found room for a couple of dainty love songs. Every tune has its own
identity, and everything sounds personal and sincere. The music fits the
lyrics as it rarely raises its fist or start hollering. Lynott avoids the
Although the overall impression of the album is muted and moody, the
individual songs do not stick to one style, on the contrary, they are in
fact very different from one another. There’s the ominous, horrific
modernism of “Fatalistic Attitude”, the feisty funk of “The Man’s A Fool”,
the astonishing Dylan-like “Ode To Liberty (The Protest Song)” as Mark
Knopfler’s fingerpicking injects that irresistible Dire Straits-urgency to
it, and there’s the bittersweet “Growing Up.”
A captivating record it is. Now if only Lynott would work the same magic on
Thin Lizzy, coz they are in a sorry state these days.
Released: September 19, 1982
Produced by: Philip Lynott, Kit Woolven (with Midge Ure, Mark
Knopfler and Neil Dorfsman)
All tracks composed by Philip Lynott, except where indicated.
Contents: Fatalistic Attitude (R. Lymon, Lynott)/The Man’s a
Fool/Old Town (Jimmy Bain, Lynott)/Cathleen/Growing Up/Yellow Pearl (Lynott,
Midge Ure)/Together/Little Bit of Water/Ode to Liberty (The Protest Song)
(Bain, Lynott)/Gino/Don’t Talk About Me Baby
Philip Lynott – vocals, bass guitar, bass synthesiser, timpani & cymbal,
CR 76 computer drum machines, guitar, Sarah’s space gun, Irish harp,
Midge Ure – guitar, keyboards, Linn drum machine (tracks 6, 7)
Mark Knopfler – lead guitar (track 9)
Jimmy Bain – bass guitar, backing vocals (tracks 2, 3)
Jerome Rimson – bass guitar (tracks 7, 10)
Scott Gorham – bass guitar (track 8)
Darren Wharton – keyboards, drum machine
Huey Lewis – harmonica (track 4)
Mel Collins – saxophone (track 5)
Rusty Egan – drums (tracks 2–4)
Bobby C Benberg – drums (track 8)
Brian Downey – drums (track 9)
Mark Nauseef – drums, percussion, vocal intro (track 10)
Pierre Moerlen – drums (track 11)
Gordon Johnson – intro voice (track 3)
Suzanne Machon – intro voice (track 4)
Monica Lynott – backing vocals (tracks 4, 5)