Sunday, 15 March 2009

Boba's Blast From The Past I: Neil Young Becomes a Robot.

If you've been reading this blog for a good length of time, you will remember my earlier articles about oldies like Proxyon, The Brothers Johnson, and so on. I referred to these as a blast from the past. Well, now that I’m a full-time writer, I decided to make this a regular thing.

Now, by the title, the presence of robots is suggested. Well, you won’t be disappointed, as todays tracks are full of robots and computers… and… Neil Young? Yeah, I was surprised too.
For those of you who don’t know, Neil Young is a guitar player/songwriter/singer known for his falsetto tenor, and excellent lyrics. Neil Young changed styles as time went by, just as we saw Superfunk, Etienne De Crecy and Daft Punk change styles, but this was different: Neil Young always wrote rock music. Always. He had some jazzy stuff, but it was all sex’n’drugs rock’n’roll.

So when 1982 rolled around, and Young released the album Tran, people were confused and annoyed. David Geffen, the head of his record label even sued him for making music so very un-Neil Young-ish that it was commercially unpalatable. Here was this rock star with hits like Cinnamon Girl, The Damage Done, Heart of Gold, and Like A Hurricane under his belt coming into studio with a TR-909, vocoder, and symthesizer! Though this may have been baffling to fans, Young may have become interested in these instruments as technologies used in vocoding eventually provided a way for his son Ben, who had cerebral palsy and was unable to speak, to communicate with people.

I picked up this record completely on a whim because my dad likes Neil Young, and here was this Neil young record for a buck with awesome cover art that I was pretty sure my dad didn’t have. So I picked it up and looked at it, and noticed the lyrics were all about electronics and robots. No self-respecting rock album would be about that sort of stuff. Then again, 1982. The world was entering the computer age, who knows what they’d do? Bringing it home to listen, track A2 delightfully greeted me with a thumping 909 kick, and I knew that this record was for me, not my dad.

FYI, to keep the audio from clipping when I record the records, I have to keep the volume kind of low, and I forgot to amplify them before uploading, so you'll need to turn up your volume a bit to hear them well.

Neil Young – Computer Age [Right Click To Download]

Neil Young – We R In Control [Right Click To Download]

Neil Young – Sample And Hold [Right Click To Download]

Keep robot rockin’!


apell said...

Hearing this electronic side track in Neil Young's career gives more cred to my Electroncia / Drum n Bass cover of "Don't Let It Bring You Down". You can watch the video for the track here -

Anonymous said...

There was no 909 in 1982