Sound — 7
The debut album from Canadian folk-rockster Neil Young is littered with a variety of musical endeavours, some good, and some not so good. Neil Young was released in 1969, a year after his departure from the mammoth Buffalo Springfield, and attempted to capture a moment in time, a time when rock was shifting from the hippie/psychedelic movement into the more rootsy territory that would be explored as the 1970s wore on. The production of Jack Nitzsche and David Briggs works with Young's bare-bones rock n' roll mentality, creating a strong debut record. A landmark in the country tinged rock of the era, Neil Young's Neil Young serves as a pleasurable view into the mind of a hugely influential artist who started out as a shy, gentle folkie.
Lyrics — 7
Young would grow into one of the most revered and respected lyricists of the 20th century, but it is here on his first solo outing that his shortcomings are easily noted. The words, while attempting to be prophetic, often fall into the tired niche of "rambling folkie looking for love" - a niche that Young would develop and access from more creative points on his next record, the powerful Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Stand out lyrics, however, appear in the classic "Thrasher". Young croons: "Where the eagle glides ascending/There's an ancient river bending/Down the timeless gorge of changes/Where sleeplessness awaits/I searched out my companions, /Who were lost in crystal canyons/When the aimless blade of science/Slashed the pearly gates." The imagery and pictoral strength used by Young gives "Thrasher" the feeling of a first instalment in that historical folktale that he would come back into in standards such as "Pocahontas" and "Powderfinger". Neil Young, a very creative and talented lyricist, just isn't developed at this point in his career. The music, on the whole, is powerful but it just isn't enough to save the listener from the lyrical upside-down pizza that is Neil Young.
Overall Impression — 7
This album should serve as a place for fans of Neil Young, whether they be young or old, to come back to and listen to where the musician who wrote greats such as "Alabama" or "After The Goldrush" started. This record is by no means a classic, it instead is a mere piece of an extensive catalog by one of the most prominent songwriters of our time. Highlights include "The Loner", "Thrasher", and the epic "Last Trip To Tulsa". Lowlights, however, include the uselessly instrumental "Emperor Of Wyoming" and the weak all over "What Did You Do To My Life?" In conclusion, Neil Young by Neil Young is not a great record, but it is a good one.