Neil Young – Landing on water (1986)

Take my advice

With such a horrible album cover, could this really be good? It turns out – no. This might very well be Neil’s weakest album ever. “Everybody’s rockin'” is at least good within its genre. “Landing on water” is made of everything that was rotten musically in the late eighties. The album is over-produced and it is shock-full of synthezisers. Neil is backed up by Danny Kortchmar and Steve Jordan plus a boys chorus. All three guys in “the band” are playing synthezisers together with drums or guitars.

Still, as usual, there are good songs hidden beneath the production. “Hippie dream” seems to be a nice song. I would love to hear it played acoustic. The lyrics is funny… “take my advice, don’t listen to me…”.

But unfortunalety most songs seems to be quite both boring bare bone, as well as with this horrible over-coat of a production that kills all semblances of good music. One example is “Bad news beat”. I do not like it.

“Touch of the night” is forcefull. It is like something from the “Footloose” or “Streets of fire” soundtracks. It’s getting nowhere fast. The eighties was a decade of two faces, both a musical golden era as well as a tar pit of bad productions. Think Bowie’s “Never let me down”. They even made a completely new version of that one recently. Even Pink Floyd with their timeless sound has re-worked their 1987 album “A momentary lapse of reason”. Neil also fell into that trap. This is his blemish on his dicsography.

But can it be that Neil is only joking? Is he pulling our leg? “People on the street” may indicate some kind of humour here? I like it in a perverse kind of way. It is catchy!

Ugh, most of the songs are bland and full of synthezisers. A few songs are taken from the unreleased session with Crazy Horse from early 1984, and I can hear the sharpness, the songs seems to be angry. The album is not harmonic at all. It’s like an angry outcry from Neil.

All in all a confusing album. How it come to be less than a year after the release of the fantastic “Old ways” is a mystery. This is the low-point of Neils’s alienating Geffen period. Only one record left before he went back to Reprise, “Life” recorded with Crazy Horse in 1987.

“Landing on water” is a record that stands out due to its strangeness as an oddity in the discography. It’s only for the completists, only for the connoisseurs of Neil’s music.

Rating: 4/10

Side A:

  1. Weight of the world
  2. Violent side
  3. Hippie dream
  4. Bad news beat
  5. Touch the night

Side B:

  1. People on the streets
  2. Hard luck stories
  3. I got a problem
  4. Pressure
  5. Drifter

Best songs: “Hippie dream”, “Touch the night” and “People on the street”.

Released on July 21st, 1986

Media: 1986 vinyl, Canada

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