Customer Reviews: Pickin on Neil Young
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on May 24, 2000
If you like your covers to sound like the original (what's the point in that?), then stay away from this. But, if you love hearing excellent musicians interpreting music in new and innovative ways, then this may be for you. However, you may need to already like bluegrass. Or, if you are a Neil Young fan interested in being introduced to bluegrass, this is a great place to start. Just listen to the "only love can break a heart"(beautifully done) and "cowgirl in the sand" samples provided here; if they don't peak your interest, then you probably won't like this CD. Otherwise, you are in for a real treat. And as for the reviewer offended by the "upbeat" version of "needle and the damage done", bluegrass music and the blues (of which Mr Young's music is built upon) have always treated serious and sometimes depressing subjects in upbeat fashion. Mr Young's own song, "tonight's the night" is an example of this. Thats a poor reason not to like a song.
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on June 15, 1999
This is a wonderful album, but if you want more, don't look to Neil. Look to recordings by the group as individuals. Listen to David West's "Arcane", or the Acousticats, or the Cache Valley Drifters. Or the Transyvania Mountain Boys for Giles Apap. For beautifully sensitive mandolin work, check out Mike Mullins playing on "Home by Morning" by the criminally underrated Paul Edward Sanchez from Austin, Texas. Also, even though he's not on the Young tribute, give a listen to fiddler Phil Salazar; all roads lead back to him.
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on May 20, 2011
You might ask what is going on here when, to date, 6 reviewers have given this album 4 or 5 stars and another 6 have given only 1 star (and probably wished they could have given zero).

The answer, I believe, lies in Cmh Records having elected to market this instrumental collection (alternatively titled "Gettin' High on Neil Young") as "a Bluegrass tribute". The music is down-home pickin' all righty, but there are many styles of down-home pickin' in this world. The Bluegrass genre is a specific type of high powered group playing invented by Bill Monroe, using a set range of instrumentation and a set form of playing (and singing). There are quite a few people who love that type of music exclusively, or at least above all other music. So you can well imagine their horror when they pull off the shrink-wrap, slap the album on their player and hear the first track with its reggae-like back-beat electric guitar and a little light snare drumming to fill things out. Going further, one finds bongos, triangles and harmonica as well as such things as jazz piano, off-rhythms, dead stops and string harmonics, making it very clear that this is not actual Bluegrass music. "New Grass" maybe, but the damage has been done. Thus the negative reviews from those who feel misled. And if anyone wandered into this album looking for Neil Young style Rock'n'Roll, that's a complete wash-out. Also, what's up with not identifying the players anywhere on the album? That doesn't bode well.

The positive reviews evidently come from people who do not share the same Bluegrass fanaticism, casual listeners mostly, who just like the pleasant sounds they hear. Personally, I resonate with their appreciation for a nice tune, if not with their apparent indifference to 20th century traditions in acoustic music.

The music on this album is for the most part creatively conceived. For all the heavy arranging, there is a fair amount of spirited playing, although some tunes do come off paradoxically as a bit bland. For the most part, Neil Young's brilliant compositions come through loud and clear and help to carry the day. It's a rough fit for a couple of the songs, notably the distressingly over-arranged "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", but we expect a few duds in most albums don't we. For most people, the fun may be largely from recognizing a familiar tune played in a new way. To me, that's a very good thing.

So essentially, I take a middle view on this album. I like having it in my collection, to round out the variety of my choices, but I can't give it more then 3 stars. There's certainly nothing ground breaking here. It's all pleasant enough, but probably not worth, say, taking the time to write an online review. It should also be noted that this album is a part of a much larger series of similar commercial projects with self-explanatory titles such as "Tangled Up In Bluegrass: A Tribute To Dylan" and "Jamming: Blue Grass Celebrates Bob Marley". One shudders to think of the possibilities.
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on January 8, 1999
What a pleasant surprise. It gets better every time I hear it. ( Just wish there was a voice track on it.) Easy listening. Had same reaction to "Common Threads" which, at first, I thought was a travesty; but later liked some of the cuts better than the Eagles' own version.
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on August 25, 2006
Why bring it down. Always love to hear how others interpret a great musicians work. Enjoy it for what it is. Uplifting sound. I bet you that Mr. Young would be enjoying the tribute, as most musicians would be flattered to be so honored.
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on June 24, 2010
So some of you don't like Bluegrass Music,Some of you don't like the interpretations,yes needle and the damage done is a bit out of center but some of the playing on this album is very very good.So for what it is I like it.(my favorite Neil Young albums are On The Beach,Tonight's The Night,Zuma,Time Fades Away) but it still allows me to enjoy fine Playing.I am also a Led Zep Fan but it doesn't mean I have to hate Dolly Parton's version of Stairway to heaven (I Like It)!!!.If you don't like Bluegrass DO NOT BUY THIS but if you like Mr Young and Bluegrass you will probably like this or many parts of this album.
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on December 29, 1998
Why do some artists beleive that they can cover a tune? All involved in this one should be embarassed. Did the producer just pull some musicians off the street and give them some Neil music to play? Neil's music is more than words and tunes. It's harmony, soul, and a lot of feeling. By far the worst thing I've ever heard that had Neil Young's name attached to it. Pull it from the shelves and save anyone else in the future from being tortured!!!
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on October 24, 1998
This is an all acoustic (no vocals at all) version of some of Neil's songs and is dreadful. I am a through-and-through Neil Young fan (from Hawks and Doves to Everybody Knows this is Nowhere to Trans) and I have loved everything that he has ever done -- but this is not him -- Not even close. I can't believe that the folks that put this out believe it is any good.
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on August 29, 1998
This CD falls short as a tribute to the music of Neil Young and as an example of bluegrass music. It lacks the fire of the artist and the genre. Bluegrass musicians with some passion and creativity should try the same song selection, that would be worth the cost of burning in the disk; this one isn't even a decent coaster. Send 15 bucks to CF foundation, it will be a much better celebration of the man and his incredible music.
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on April 18, 2008
This album is the same as the album titled "Gettin' High On Neil Young" and "The Ultimate Pickin' On Neil Young" though the last one has three extra tracks tacked onto the end:

15. Rockin' The Free World
16. Country Girl
17. Harvest Moon

It isn't a bad compilation, but sort of Bluegrqss elevator music. Not worth paying for three times though!
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