Neil Young – Freedom (1989)

Hair red as blood

“Freedom” was the last album of the eighties and it became Neil’s true come-back album. It was also the start of a string of fantastic albums. The whole nineties was very good actually, almost a challenger to his seventies. A second golden era, one could say.

The structure of the reorcd is similar to the classic “Rust never sleeps” where has the same song as the first and last track on the album, played acoustic and electric respectively. But there endeth the similarities of album layout. This album does not contain as many acoustic songs, there are a few calmer songs but most are played with the band, but they are among the best on the album regardless.

“Rockin’ in the free world” has become the second best known song by Neil if I would have a guess. The electric version is often played on the radio and it is being covered by many contemporary bands. Pearl Jam plays it often live, and it is one of the most played songs by Neil himself. I love the song but it does feel a little worn out maybe.

The album includes some really majestic songs with the slow version of “Crime in the city” as the number uno. Neil tells stories about American lives. I love the song, I love the man. I also adore two songs that in my mind are together, it may be the melancholy in the songs, or the desolate guitar in the background, it’s “Eldorado” and “No more”. The first a western tale of old times, the second a grim tell about the perils of drug users of today. The guitar work, the arrangements, the clarity of the sounds, yes, perfect songs. The sound after the “red as blood” is brutal. The stress!

My favourite song of the album have always been “Too far gone”, an absolutely lovely tale about two lovers. It is such a treat. Nowadays it is sometimes challenged by “Hangin’ on a limb” the only truly acoustic song except for the first one. I love the duo of Neil and Linda Ronstadt. It is a wonderful song, so underrated. Linda is also singing on “The ways of love” which is a fine song, very good even, but it doesn’t reach the heights as those other two.

The weak section of the album is the trio of “Someday”, “On Broadway” and “Wrecking ball”. The first song “Someday” is the weak song on the album in the running order as it is now, even though it is kind of nice on its own. Heck it is rather good actually come to think about it. 

“On Broadway” is a cover and it is slightly better on the mini-album “Eldorado” with its rougher mix. “Wrecking ball” was always boring but it was revitalised when Emmylou Harris covered it on her album of the same name.

This was the second album I bought as soon as it came out and it is one of the albums by Neil I have listened to the most. It will always be a precious album to me.

My rating: 8/10

Side A:

  1. Rockin’ in the free world (acoustic)
  2. Crime in the city (Sixty to zero part I)
  3. Don’t cry
  4. Hangin’ on a limb
  5. Eldorado
  6. The ways of love

Side B:

  1. Someday
  2. On Broadway
  3. Wrecking ball
  4. No more
  5. Too far gone
  6. Rockin’ in the free world (electric)

Best songs: “Too far gone”, “Hangin’ on a limb”, “Crime in the city”, “Eldorado” and “No more”

Released on October 2nd, 1989

Media: LP 1989, UK & Europe

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