Recorded on his 2019 European tour, Noise & Flowers is Neil Young’s latest live release. Technically, it’s Neil Young & Promise of the Real, his other backing band that includes two of Willie Nelson’s sons.
No. Title Length
- “Mr. Soul” 4:33
- “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” 2:46
- “Helpless” 5:22
- “Field of Opportunity” 4:17
- “Alabama” 4:14
- “Throw Your Hatred Down” 8:59
- “Rockin’ in the Free World” 9:59
- “Comes a Time” 3:19
- “From Hank to Hendrix” 5:07
- “On the Beach” 7:35
- “Are You Ready for the Country?” 3:15
- “I’ve Been Waiting for You” 3:52
- “Winterlong” 4:11
- “Fuckin’ Up” 7:17
This album is the second of three Young releases this year. Toast, which was recorded about 20 years ago was released this summer. It was an alternative version of what he did release at the time, Are You Passionate?. Next month come New World, the latest from Young with Crazy Horse, produced by Rick Rubin. Young also released Official Release Series Volume 4 of his album archive collection in April. His mighty vault continues to empty.
Noise & Flowers is a compilation of songs recorded on the European nine-city tour, which was dedicated to Young longtime friend and manager Elliot Roberts, who died as Young was preparing to depart for the tour. Roberts managed young for 50 years.
Young wrote that Roberts always went on tour and stood off by the side. In his honor, Young had a poster of Roberts placed in his usual location at each concert.
“Playing in his memory [made it] one of the most special tours ever. We hit the road and took his great spirit with us into every song. This music belongs to no one. It’s in the air. Every note was played for music’s great friend, Elliot.” – Neil Young in the liner notes.
The concerts were filmed and released. Young co- directed (as Bernard Shakey). I’ve only seen one clip, the song below.
I think I own most Neil Young live albums, and with his vault releases, there are many. How does this one rate? Overall, I’d give it a B+. The song selection covers his entire career, but it’s not a greatest hits set, though there are many familiar songs and a few deeper cuts. He’s not really duplicating other releases. It’s great to hear “On the Beach,” since Young reportedly only performed it a few times live. “I’ve Been Waiting for You” was from Young’s first solo album, a neglected treasure. “Field of Opportunity” and “Comes a Time” are from Comes a Time, his late 1970s largely acoustic album. At least we don’t get any songs from his shocking pink or vocorder periods.
Promise of the Real is a very good backing band. This is not the grungy, rough-edged Crazy Horse. Promise of the Real is a bit more flexible, and while they rock, the band is a bit more subtle. My only complaint about the album is sound quality, it seems a bit muddy, but that might be the way Mr. Shakey intended it.