Album review: Neil Young And Bluenote Café - Bluenote Café

Neil Young And Bluenote Café - Bluenote Café

Neil Young And Bluenote Café - Bluenote Café - Credit: Archant

Young’s vaults now prompt a reassessment of his horn-heavy ‘80s blues, says Stephen Moore.

The eleventh dispatch from Young’s all-live Performance Archive series alights in an oft-overlooked era.

Few would regard the ‘80s as Young’s golden period, as he pinballed between genres with albums that were, by and large, commercial flops.

Bluenote Café plays out in chronological order from his ‘87-’88 US tour across two discs, and arguably its biggest achievement is making an argument for a reassessment of this era’s work.

Young hit the road with a six-piece horn section, playing a set of slow-paced to swinging blues-rock that gave him space and time for emotive guitar solos.


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Gathering together seven unreleased songs and improving upon his This Note’s For You LP with a zesty, coherent and honest brass section, there’s fire in the belly of the sprawling half-dozen opening tunes - the title track as defiant and punchily-delivered as you’d hope.

But there’s a rather tired middle that sags towards Blues Brothers retread territory (Soul Of A Woman, Ain’t It The Truth). Young’s wilful self-indulgence gets the better of him at times, but whether that’s good or bad is a matter of taste - the 19-minute roiling, quiet-loud-quiet blowout Tonight’s The Night is perhaps the acid test. Still, there’s enough on here to surprise even ardent fans.

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Rating: 3/5

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