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CD Reviews: Review of Prairie Wind by Neil Young
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com   Neil Young: Prairie Wind (Reprise 2005)

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Traditional fans of Neil Young might have been alarmed a couple years back when his customary path went temporarily awry and spawned a full-length movie and accompanying soundtrack. Greendale, written and directed by Young, was a cautionary account of small town life that exposed the artist’s abhorrence of commercialism and greed. The album, called a rock novel by some, and resulting concert tour, which turned out to be more of a dramatic skit, were not well received by many unadventurous Young devotees seeking “Hey Hey, My My” or “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World”.

Almost as if to say “I’m sorry”, Young ushers out the new Prairie Wind, a far more predictable dose of conformist folk rock that’s been touted as the third in a “Harvest trilogy” (along side 1972’s historic Harvest and 1992’s Harvest Moon). Only problem is, this third chapter ain’t what its predecessors were. Oh sure, clickety-clack railroad numbers like the title track and a calmed down slide guitar treasure called “This Old Guitar” do all they can to recollect earlier periods (the latter even pirates the signature acoustic guitar part that made the song “Harvest Moon” so popular). Throw in a gospel choir (“When God Made Me”), a near dead ringer “After the Gold Rush”-like piano ballad (“It’s A Dream”), and scores of soulful brass (“Far From Home”), and Prairie Wind certainly has throw-back potential.

The quandary with tagging along behind two truly epic recordings like Harvest and Harvest Moon is that the footprint is colossal. Prairie Wind is a good record, particularly sinking in after a couple few listens. It just isn’t great, and that’s okay. The thing that makes legendary albums, well, legendary is the simple fact that they are not easily replicated. So while Neil Young can pay homage to Elvis in a hokey sing-a-long like “He Was The King” (which reeks more of “Dead Flowers” than anything else), he’s best served by letting his time pieces stand instead of trying to rework them. 

~Red Rocker 




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