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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neil continues to challenge the definition of "Neil Young"
Well, he's done it again. Throughout the last 30+ years, Neil's made a career out of zigging when people expect him to zag, and "Are You Passionate?" is no exception. Following a live album from the 2000 "Friends & Relatives" tour, an acoustic-folk album in "Silver & Gold," and spring 2001 studio sessions with Crazy Horse (for a...
Published on April 9, 2002 by Brian J. Sleeman

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars About Let's Roll...
This album is ok, some of the songs are good, some aren't but what I really want to say is, will everyone please stop slagging Neil for writing "Let's Roll"? Admittedly it's not a very good song, but everyone who is calling it right-wing, jingoistic, and hypocritical (or anyone who is saying, haha, even lefty Neil Young supports this war)is just plain WRONG. People are...
Published on March 21, 2003 by College student and Neil fan


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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neil continues to challenge the definition of "Neil Young", April 9, 2002
By 
Brian J. Sleeman (Marquette, MI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
Well, he's done it again. Throughout the last 30+ years, Neil's made a career out of zigging when people expect him to zag, and "Are You Passionate?" is no exception. Following a live album from the 2000 "Friends & Relatives" tour, an acoustic-folk album in "Silver & Gold," and spring 2001 studio sessions with Crazy Horse (for a project tentatively titled "Toast"), this one seems to have come out of nowhere. Some have said this album sounds like something out of his eccentric '80s catalog, where the bouncing around from genre to genre was the most pronounced. However, granted that some of those albums have their merits, this one is much stronger on all fronts.
Backed by Stax house band Booker T. & The MG's for most of this album, Neil dives head-first into '60s soul, and you can hear echoes of the old Stax sound in several of the tracks here. The opener, "You're My Girl," is a classic example, referencing a handful of '60s classics but written from the perspective of a man who's grown up and now faces an increasingly empty nest at home. Neil has explained this during his 2002 concert tour with CSNY as a song he wrote for his daughter, Amber Jean (who also had a song written for her during the '84 International Harvester period), whom he used to drive to school every day and has always loved the motown sound.
My favorite cuts on the album come next, in "Mr. Disappointment" and "Differently." You can see Neil gently swaying back and forth on a stool with "Old Black" in his hands as he weaves through both of these tunes, the lyrics of which continue the theme of the reflections of an older man on his storied past.
"Don't Say You Love Me" is another slow-rolling smoothie, and the first of three tracks on this album that were debuted on the 2001 European tour with Crazy Horse. The second is "Goin' Home," which comes to us from the same portion of Neil's mind as the classics "Like a Hurricane" and "Cortez the Killer." This one was an instant classic when performed live, and it's unfortunate that the studio version (even with the Crazy Horse lineup) lacks a lot of the punch the live version had. This one feels like it was recorded at 8 am while the Horse was still waking up, but even then it's a great song.
"When I Hold You In My Arms" sounds much more like the drifting ballad it was originally (anyone who saw Farm Aid last year on CMT got a preview of this). Lyrically it's representative of the new direct approach Neil's taken with his songwriting - you won't find anything as deep as some of the older albums, but that's not necessarily a bad thing: this new style fits the music well (can you see the lyrics to Ambulance Blues going along with an r&b/soul type of sound?).
"Two Old Friends" has been another staple in the CSNY setlists of this year, stuck right in between "Long Time Gone" and "Woodstock" - that oughta tell you how confident Neil is about it, and I agree - it's another of my favorites from the album. "Let's Roll" works really well in a live concert setting, however I wonder what that will sound like several years down the road. "Ohio" has had a long life and still applies - let's all hope that "Let's Roll" won't. This song has caught a lot of flack from a lot of people - it seems you either love it or you hate it. While I'm not a fan of some of the George W. Bush style lyrics, I still think it's a decent song, just a little out of place on this album.
Overall I think this album will go over well for fans of the Booker T. sound, as well as anyone who wants to hear Neil doing something different yet again. Far from the days of "Landing On Water" and "Everybody's Rockin'," Neil turns in a beauty here.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars About Let's Roll..., March 21, 2003
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
This album is ok, some of the songs are good, some aren't but what I really want to say is, will everyone please stop slagging Neil for writing "Let's Roll"? Admittedly it's not a very good song, but everyone who is calling it right-wing, jingoistic, and hypocritical (or anyone who is saying, haha, even lefty Neil Young supports this war)is just plain WRONG. People are completely taking the song out of context. It's about the passengers on Flight 93 fighting the [enermy], and it is a tribute to them and their courage. The song is not about America's current foreign policy. The song is not about America's strikes on Afghanistan or the War on Terrorism in general. So everyone stop trying to make [a] song mean something it doesn't. Thank you.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Graceful Reinvention, January 29, 2003
By 
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
Four decades and 36 albums into his career, Neil Young continues to explore his versatility with Are You Passionate. While his collaboration with Booker T & The MGs may seem discrepant, the loose guitars of Young and Crazy Horse sidekick, Frank "Poncho" Sampedro, frequently bridge the gap between grunge and soul. The results are often marvelous.
Past departures from Young's folk and rock roots, such as Time Fades Away, Trans, Everybody's Rockin' or Landing on Water, were either flat or baffling or just plain awful. However, a sense of purpose and, yes, passion, makes this the most compelling experiment of Neil Young's erratic career. Something genuinely fresh derives from many of these songs, in which Donald "Duck" Dunn's bass and the sly croon of Booker T. Jones' trusty organ sweetly complement Young's familiar guitar licks.
Though Motown and soul characterize the album, a potpourri of styles and moods surfaces after repeated listens. From the searing, Crazy Horse rocker, "Going Home" to the jubilant "Be With You" to the gorgeously delicate title track, Young's capacity for venturing into unexplored musical territory shines as luminously as ever. Not Since 1992's Harvest Moon has Young's production been so artful, chiming with beautiful rhythm guitar on the rollicking "You're My Girl" and "Differently," the title track's softly lilting piano and the gently wailing guitar of "When I Hold You in My Arms," one of the most ethereal ballads of Young's career.
"I knew that I wanted to play my guitar more like a saxophone this time," Young told Pulse magazine, "And I felt more like a horn player while I was playing my guitar." But while Young & Co. manipulate familiar instruments to create fresh sounds, the addition of bongos, tambourines, vibes and the occasional, hauntingly distant burst of a trumpet makes this one of Young's most flavorful projects.
With the exception of "Let's Roll" -- an embarrassing nod to the abundance of 9-11 tribute songs -- many tracks on Are You Passionate? demonstrate the kind of lyrical honesty that is unique to Young's best songwriting, revisiting themes of love, hate and loss with renewed inspiration. Whereas Young's previous album, Silver & Gold, was both musically and lyrically lackadaisical, these new songs are focused, inspired and occasionally biting. "Please don't tell me that you're leaving me just yet/'Cause I know I gotta let you go/Please don't tell me that you're saying goodbye," Young sings on "You're My Girl," a farewell song to his college-bound daughter, Amber. Other songs, such as "Two Old Friends," suggest that Young's days of innocence, love and politics have acquiesced to the world-weariness and nostalgia of middle-age:
"The Preacher went up to the Golden Gate and met God there
With the glow of love in his flowin' hair
I'm dreamin' of a time when love and music is everywhere
Can you see that time comin'?"
No my son. That time is gone.
There's things to do
The world has changed since I first met you
Back when the Band played Rock of Ages in their prime
And the old Juke Joint was rockin'"
As though to accommodate the album's bluesy ambiance, other songs bravely walk through memories of lost love and desperation, as on the beautifully tender "Mr. Disappointment": "I'd like to shake your hand, Disappointment / Looks like you win again, but this time might be the last."
Elsewhere, Young reveals himself in intimately confessional statements such as the album's final words: "All I got is a broken heart and I don't try to hide it/When I play my guitar."
While these mellow, sweet and introspective tunes foreshadow twilight ahead for the godfather of grunge, there are still some raucous reminders of younger, angrier days. If it really is "better to burn out than to fade away," then tracks like "Going Home" and "Differently" suggest that Young is taking his own advice. Ralph Molina's outraged drums punch through "Going Home" with ceaseless ferocity, while Young and "Poncho's" berserk guitars sing their decades-old anthem to rock and roll as though it were written just yesterday.
At 56 years old, Neil Young insists that he still has something to prove. Not only is this one of 2002's most inventive and inspired albums, it disputes the unfortunate stereotypes that dog rock's aging stars. "People my age, they don't do the things I do/They go somewhere while I run away with you," Young sings on Mirror Ball's "I'm The Ocean." Are You Passionate? reveals that the man means what he says.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep on rockin' Neil..., May 15, 2002
By 
Amazon Customer (Syracuse, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
I was inspired to buy this CD after seeing Neil Young perform the title track on the Jay Leno show. Just the fact that he was backed up by Booker T and 3/4's of the MG's was enough for me! The song itself grabbed me with it's fifties beat and oddball NY lyrics. I loved it. I bought the CD the next day.
I don't care what anyone says, Neil Young is and always has been an original. Now in his fifties, he continues to refuse to conform and that's all right by me. This CD is yet another facet of this incredibly talented performer. I especially like, Mr. Disappointment, Quit (Don't Say You Love Me) and, of course Are You Passionate. The only track that I seem to skip is Let's Roll. It doesn't sit well with me for some reason. But that's not enough for me not to declare this a five star winner.
I respect any artist who can continue to perform into their 50's (and now 60's for some). It proves to me that we were right all along. The music I grew up listening to is solid, lasting and, in my humble opinion, the best ever. Neil, keep on rockin' and I'll keep on listenin'.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Touching View in to the world of Neil Young, April 15, 2002
By 
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
This album could be hastily placed among his genre experiments of the '80's (with stuff like Trans, Everybody's Rockin', and This Note's for You) simply by listening to the Stax inspired music. But the songs themselves are so much deeper than the inappropriate generalization.
The whole album tells a beautiful story that shows how much he loves his family (especially his daughter, someone hardly ever mentioned when people discuss Neils' home-life) and of his adopted country and his music.
"Let's Roll" has been almost universally panned by hardcore Young fans, but I love it. I don't see rash verbal attacks on the enemy, rather I see a harsh, cynical song attacking not only those who dared to attack our great country, but also the great country it attacked.
My favorite tunes are without a doubt the aformentioned "Roll", "Are You Passionate"(beautiful guitar work), "Goin' Home"(not his best, but very atmospheric), "Two old Friends"(A great commentary with an aching chorus), "She's a Healer"(Excellent guitar melodrama), and "You're my Girl"(tied with "Roll" as the best song on the album, a touching affirmation for his daughter).
This is a great album, though, admittedly, very different. I don't think it's his best, but it's so personal and revealing that I can't put it down, and the songs are so good I can't take it out of the player. It's one of those discs that doesn't feel done at the end, so when it starts over at track 1 it feels like the album is just continuing, not going back to the beginning.
Anybody that doesn't like this album has no heart.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, May 4, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
This album is an absolute gem. It is not only my favorite Young album, but my favorite cd in my collection (about 400). It's hard to put into words what makes this album work so well. It is powerful and flows with feeling from the get-go. Neil's saxophone-style lead guitar playing is fantastic. The only drawback -- the song "Let's Roll" isn't Neil's best work, but it actually compliments the rest of the album with the feeling it envokes.
This album is a case of being "worth more than the sum of its parts." Taken individually, each song seems a bit lost after hearing the entire album. I usually listen to the whole cd from start to finish, and I'm always left satisfied. Young was definitely inspired when he created this album -- and it will leave you inspired as well.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Extra star for "Goin' Home", April 19, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
Neil Young's genre exercises (for example, almost all of his '80s albums) tend to indicate a lack of songwriting inspiration. That's certainly the case with this new album, which isn't unappealing musically, but is a very disappointing collection of songs from Neil. (I could be mean and say that it continues a major songwriting slump from him since "Sleep With Angels.")
Young has written some of the most powerful, ambitious rock lyrics ever (think of "Powderfinger," "Pocahontas," "Cortez the Killer," and so many others), so it's depressing to hear him resort to obvious hackneyed rhymes and greeting card sentiments, as he does on much of this album. And his reaction to 9/11, "Let's Roll," could have been written by any hack songwriter--it doesn't tell us anything we don't already know. "Ohio" and "Rockin' In The Free World" had real passion; this new topical song feels done for the sake of doing it. Frankly, this is more like something one of his CSN cronies would have penned. I was hoping that recent events would fire up Neil lyrically, but it wasn't to be.
The music is fine--it's not as far a stretch from Neil's regular sound as, say, "This Note's For You," which in some ways is the closest album in his catalog to this one, stylistically. The Stax groove added by half of the former Booker T. and the MGs is enjoyable, and Neil tailors his guitar playing to the sound well, showing he's capable of some restraint in his solos he doesn't always display with Crazy Horse. This album mostly features a relaxed sound, but with a little bit of edge to keep the music interesting.
And speaking of Crazy Horse, the one true standout is "Goin' Home," the lone appearance by the group. It's the most energetic Neil and the Horse have sounded together in the studio in a long time, and the lyrics even have some of that old Young mystery. Hearing more of the Horse would have been nice, but given the unambitious, minor songs, it would have been a waste.
I keep hoping Neil will dust off his muse and deliver another great album, but this isn't it. It's far from his worst, but that's not good enough. I hate to say it, but this album and "Silver and Gold" make him sound old and a bit out of touch. But I wouldn't write him off yet...he's surprised us before.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neil's passionate!, April 10, 2002
By 
thomas van rompay (Europe, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
Are you passionate is Neil's new jewel, mellow, uplifting and, at the same time, profound! Mr disappointment is an instant classic. On 'Going Home' Neil is backed up by Crazy horse, fabulous!
However, most surprising to me was this record's very intense sound mixed with Neil's 'new' guitar style, subtle and groovy at the same time.
It is this intensity that certainly makes up for one of the 'weaker' tracks like 'let's roll', which just seems a little out of place on this 'liuttle' masterpiece.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Let's phone it in, December 30, 2002
By 
HalSF (Santa Fe, NM United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
I own every album Neil Young has released, and my fan-hero relationship has hit one of those really rough patches, kinda like when a marriage loses its sparkle for a while. The great thing about Neil is that you know he'll come back (eventually) with something surprising and wonderful, like "Silver & Gold" or "Ragged Glory." The terrible thing about Neil is he'll give you the good, the bad, and very occassionally (as with "Are You Passionate?") the ugly. This is the worst thing he's done since "Old Ways" -- and it's even worse than that. The level of songwriting craft is perhaps his worst ever. The lyrics are more like Jesse Colin Young than Neil Young, and this splendid array of musicians is left to riff unconvincingly on what are clearly half-baked, barely sketched-in musical ideas. Maybe Neil was double-depressed by 9/11 and his own palid response in the wretched "Let's Roll" -- where the problem isn't the politics, but the lame level of musicianship. Nothing Neil does is completely boring or worthless or purely cynical, but "Are You Passionate?" sounds cynical in its shallow sincerity. The only real flash of the master's wit is in the sick joke of the album's title. Buy the "Red Rocks" or "Rust Never Sleeps" DVDs, or get "Silver & Gold" if you want a look at the amazingly stuff NY is still capable of.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars understatement is a lost art..., April 19, 2002
By 
allah (McLemore Ave) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
...and it's about as welcome in the pop music world as experimentation is. This explains the low ratings here. People just want the same thing, over and over again, until they get sick of it and discard the performer. Well, there's a reason why people like Neil Young and Elvis Costello have lasted this long and haven't turned into oldies acts - it's because they continue to explore, and _don't_ do what they do just to be popular.
A few words about "Let's Roll"... frankly, I find it reassuring to hear a musical artist take a position on that topic... ANY POSITION (other than some worthless sentimental ballad). Most of the country was numbed to the tragedy of what happened not too long afterwards, because we're so accustomed to media barrages over relatively meaningless things, that when something important DOES happen, the mind shuts down and we look the other way, just as if it were Amy Fischer or Tonya Harding they were talking about. Now, along comes a person verbalizing real feelings about a disturbing issue... and all people can think to do is accuse him of jingoism, or of jumping on a bandwagon (with which other performers?)...
If you want _Freedom_, or _Harvest_, well, go buy them - they're still in print. And for the buffoon who called this Neil's most boring album, I sentence you to an eternity with no music at all, except a copy of _Hawks and Doves_, repeating endlessly...
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Are You Passionate?
Are You Passionate? by Neil Young (Audio CD - 2002)
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