Greendale Album Review

Veja - Brazil, 1/1/03

Neil Young News

Originally posted by Fabio on Human Highway

(translated by me from the original portuguese-written review. Any translation errors are my fault. As for the reviewer's opinion... well, never mind. Fabio "Yes I'm Passionate")

* * * "NOW THAT'S ENOUGH! Neil Young enters the Boring Circle with his record Greendale" - by Sergio Martins (Publisher: Veja (brazilian weekly magazine), sept 1st edition)

Neil Young, one of the great names of rock history, is releasing a new album. It's called 'Greendale', and it's a conceptual work. Its songs tell the story of the Green family, inhabitants of a fictitious litle town at the boundaries of America. Neil Young recorded everything in his home studio. Besides that, he has created an internet webpage, a DVD and even a film, to be released soon. In resume, Greendale is another masterpiece, that teaches novices how to be a good rocker. Right? Wrong.

The album is tedious, with its chorus-less songs that drag for twelve minutes. It is also annoying, with its message of how to preserve nature to save the world. And the saddest thing of it all, the new album is not even worse than the last ten albums released by Young. It is not pleasant to say that. After all, the canadian singer has a long list of good deeds to music. But, this time, he seems to have applied for membership to that peculiar club - the one of the important rockers who have become boring.

As sinners in Dante Alighieri's hell described at his poem "The Divine Comedy", the boring rockers can be separated in "circles". The most populous circle is the one of the politically-engaged artists. To mix politics and music is a safe way to, sooner or later, bore the listener to death. There's nothing worse than discover that the song that plays in the radio while you drive to the beach is an attempt to summon you to a Politically-Correct cause. There's nothing worse than remembering U2's Bono Vox holding a white flag asking for the end of wars while singing 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', or listening to Pearl Jam shouting against the "system" for the nth time.

Farther on Boring Rocker's Hell, you'll find the pretentious and the 'avant-garde'. These are artists that used to provide nice works at the pop arena, but suddenly felt that their work "lacked ambition". An exemplary case is Sting (who by the way also deserves the sulphur from the previous circle). Creator of pop gems when leading the Police trio, he wore his reputation out when he went solo to work his "jazzist side". One companion of Sting's misfortune is scottish David Byrne, who had a brilliant career ahead of Talking Heads and later decided to embrace all the world's sounds - recording albums with rumba and lambada influences. The younger candidate to enter this region of hell is Thom Yorke, leader of english band Radiohead. He loves to cite polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki to explain the sonority of his band's albums, each time more strange, difficult - and boring.

The last type of boring rocker is the one where Neil Young fits. That's the artist who has worked out a style throughout a long career. To have a style is a good thing, of course. That's a sign that the musician has stood out of the crowd and conquered a personal space. The problem is when "style" becomes an euphemism for "repetition". And "repetition is the mother of tediouness", as russian poet Joseph Brodsky has once proclaimed. As rock grows old, that's a lineage that is becoming always more copious. For instance, the last works of Lou Reed and David Bowie emulate what they did in the seventies, without bringing the same spark contained in their classical albums.

The media is often connivent with these charlatans, covering up their boredomness. Until a bubble-buster decides to say what everybody was thinking, but no-one had the guts to cry out loud. Until now, the only important reviewer to decreet the artistic bankrupcy of Neil Young is Andy Gill, from [England's] newspaper "The Independent". In his opinion, Young can't stop releasing garbage, but he is greeted by fans and journalists who are too embarrassed to admit that his [Neil's] [latest] records are pieces of crap. Andy Gill, unfortunately, is absolutely right.

* * * Fabio again here. Damn, it's not even a proper review... the guy only uses NY new album (which he 'reviews' in just a couple lines) as an excuse for his diatribe. Anyway, I offer it here for your comments. Perhaps someone agrees with the reviewer? Bob?


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