Neil Young – On the beach (1974)

Seagulls out of reach

The first studio album after the huge success of “Harvest” has always been a sore toe to me. I missed it when I started to listen to Neil, and then it was not released on cd for a very long time. I have felt that it has been underappreciated by me, and my feelings of guilt is real. Because I really like it. It’s a stellar album.

The whole album has a dreamy feeling. The lyrics are great with the title track in the front row. The world is turnin, I hope it don’t turn away.

“Walk on” is more fun than great. The second song “See the sky about to rain” is a great track. It is even better solo in concert, but this full band version is also good.

“Revolution blues” is one of the highlights of the album. Love the guitars, David is manning the acoustic one, but mostly the singing and the groove. “For the turnstiles” grows on you. All the sailors with their seasick mamas. Though your confidence may be shattered, it doesn’t matter. I think this may be a song that is more likely to be loved by long-time fans than the casual listeners. It doesn’t matter.

“Vampire blues” is a slow blues and yet another best song of the record. Neil as a vampire sucking blood from the earth. How great can this be? Very.

The second side doesn’t disappoint. Only three songs but longer, sweeter. It kicks off with the stellar “On the beach”. It’s been on plenty of a best-of tapes I have done for myself and bored girlfriends. I can’t face them day-to-day. Neil’s sly guitar, Graham’s tentative piano and the slow but steady bass and drums are all a perfect garden for a great story. Neil is a master of painting pictures.

“Motion pictures” is like the long lost sister to “Will to love”. No sparkling fire this time though. The song used to make me sad, and I always welcomed “Ambulance blues”. How can you not love a song with an electric tambourine? What is the meaning of this song? Friends who tell you you are pissing in the wind…?

This is one of my favourite albums from Neil. Easily top 10 or 15.

My rating: 9/10

Side A:

  1. Walk on
  2. See the sky about to rain
  3. Revolution blues
  4. For the turnstiles
  5. Vampire blues

Side B:

  1. On the beach
  2. Motion pictures
  3. Ambulance blues

Best songs: “Revolution blues”, “For the turnstiles”, “Vampire blues” and “On the beach”.

Released: July 19th, 1974

Media: Reissued remastered 180 grams vinyl, 2016, Official Release Series 06

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