Eat a peach
Neil can be many things, but easy to work with is not one of them. In 1976 he joined up with his old running mate from the the Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young times, Stephen Stills. Neil and Stephen are like cat and dog, always fighting. I think the great sadness for Stephen is to have been in Neil’s shadow his whole career. The completed a studio album but the following US Tour was suddenly ended when Neil left him and the band in the middle of it all. Neil left Stephen a note: “Dear Stephen, Funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach, Neil.”
This album is clearly part of Neil’s discography but I somehow forgot it when I made my run of reviews of his seventies records. Maybe I subconsciously thought it belonged to the CSNY folder? Anyway it is included in Neil’s third box of ORS releases.
The album starts off in an almost brutal way. One of Neil’s best songs of all time on this forgotten album. Crazy indeed. I am flabbergasted. Every second song is by Neil, the rest is from Stephen. Neil is the alpha dog so he made sure he got five songs versus Stephen’s four. Why not kick a guy when he is down?
Actually some tell stories that the problems were due to Stephen’s heavy drinking or that he was jealous of Neil due to reviews in the press. One article may have been titled “Young hot, Stills not”. Neil’s songs are clearly stronger than Stephen’s, even though some of these songs are not good enough to make it to any other of Neil’s records from the seventies. I also think we see the decline of Stephen cleraly with thise album, his singing is not as enjoyable as it were once.
“Long may you run” is a fantastic song, so West Coast, so California. A song about “Mort”, Neil’s first car.
Stephen counters with one of his best on the album, “Make love to you”. It’s a little heavier. Stephen was, when at his best, an inspired guitar player. The problem with his music is that he’s a little too much into Latin American, Caribbean and Cuban music. I don’t like that to be sure. He also is too much a blues man. As long as he was in CSN or CSNY he used to be great though.
Neil follow this with “Midnight on the Bay” that is a great song, but somewhat of a let down after the tone set by Stephen’s song before it. “Midnight on the Bay” makes me thing on Bowie’s “Young Americans”, the same laid back soul style.
“Black coral” is not good, but “Ocean girl” is a nice little tune.
The first song on the second side is Neil’s “Let it shine” which is an underrated little song. It was actually performed with Crazy Horse earlier 1976, but it ended up here on this album. Later it was played a few times during the shortened Stills-Young Band Tour.
“12/8 blues” is an extraordinarily boring blues.
“Fontainebleau” is a slow dreamy song that could be the soundtrack to a night on Venice Beach. I really like the images. Sometimes Neil’s songs make me see short movies in my head.
“Guardian angel” is a nice try but it never takes off for me.
The album is fractured. It feels uneven, and the songs don’t cooperate, even though the guys have a excellent backing band of Joe Lala, Joe Vitale, George Perry and Jerry Aiello. Neil offers a fairly homogeneous bunch of songs. Some could be played with Crazy Horse and some are a little more into his kind of country-rock.
If the album had been a CSNY album, as initially planned, it would have been much more interesting. For Stephens songs I am truly disappointed. Nothing stands out, no softer songs like “Helplessly hoping” or “Daylight again”, and no rocker that could challenge his best works like “Carry on” .
Neil delivers as always, but they are too few!
My rating: 5/10
- Long may you run (Neil Young)
- Make love to you (Stephen Stills)
- Midnight on the Bay (Neil Young)
- Black coral (Stephen Stills)
- Ocean girl (Neil Young)
- Let it shine (Neil Young)
- 12/8 blues (All the same) (Stephen Stills)
- Fontainebleau (Neil Young)
- Guardian angel (Stephen Stills)
Best songs: “Long may you run”, “Let it shine” and “Fontainebleau”
Released on September 20, 1976