Saturday, January 16, 2021

Mirror Ball (1995)

I like the disco music represented by a mirror ball and I like Neil Young, but I must report that this album has nothing whatever to do with disco or even with mirror balls, except the grungy sepia image on the cover. In fact, that's Pearl Jam backing him for this one, a band that also has nothing to do with disco or mirror balls. The original release was an environmentally sensitive package, but now it comes in jewel boxes like most of them do. Who even buys CDs anymore? Well, in this case, me. I was amazed to find Mirror Ball is not on Napster, though it is on Spotify. The album felt to me then and still feels to me now pretty close to generic Neil Young product, which I know may be something of an oxymoron for the iconoclastic rocker. But it's full of songs that distinguish themselves merely on the fine points, when they distinguish themselves at all, even as it does remain overall satisfyingly lumbering and not without its winning moments of rockin' majesty. After opening with a curious sort of "Blow the Man Down" play in "Song X" it approaches quick liftoff with "Act of Love" followed by "I'm the Ocean," my favorite part of the album in 1995, with an ascendant keyboard pushing against the pounding bottom. That's 12 minutes of goodness right there. "What Happened Yesterday" is a shorty that works at first like the funeral for the Rolling Stones' jaunty "Something Happened to Me Yesterday" nearly 30 years earlier. But it's actually the overture to "Peace and Love," the one collaboration with Eddie Vedder (all the rest are Young songs). "I'm the Ocean" plays for 7:05. "Peace and Love" goes 7:02. "Scenery" is the longest at 8:50. Getting the picture? "Throw Your Hatred Down" (5:45) is there so we know their hearts are in the right place, which we already knew, though it has some very nice guitar. The single was "Downtown" (5:10), which may give some idea of their perspective. Even mediocre Neil Young has its points for fans like me, so I guess I can appreciate the thudding groove of "Downtown," such as it is. But when you're alone and life is making you lonely it's no Petula Clark. Like the rest of the album, the highs here are just not that high.

1 comment:

  1. For me Young '69 to '79 is sui generis brilliance. But sometimes I think of everything after Rust Never Sleeps as "Neil Young product" and sometimes, if I'm maybe feeling more charitable, everything after Ragged Glory. Dude puts out too many albums!