Saturday, July 11, 2015

"Little Thing Called Love" by Neil Young

Song#:  1324
Date:  01/29/1983
Debut:  84
Peak:  71
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  If you are ever in a conversation about bizzaro albums in an artist's catalog, bring up "Trans" by Neil Young. After his 1981 "Re-ac-tor" album, Young continued to record songs with his band Crazy Horse for his next LP. But then Young got a couple of new toys and things changed drastically. He experimented with the songs by stripping out most of the band parts and replacing them with a Synclavier synthesizer. He then did his vocals through a vocoder.  Soon after his experiments, Young decided to switch labels and move over to the newly formed Geffen Records. For his first album for the fledgling label, Young handed in a set of tunes he recorded in Hawaii that he titled "Island in the Sun." The tropical themed album didn't impress David Geffen and he asked for something else. He certainly got it when Young handed him "Trans." Instead of recording something new, Young revisited his experiments and combined six of those with three tunes from the "Island" sessions. He wrapped it all up and called it "Trans." Geffen decided to release the album which baffled critics and fans alike. Despite the confusion over the album, it did pretty well reaching #19 (which was a better showing than his previous two albums). It also contained this single which became his final pop chart entry. "Trans" ended up being a legendary album, but not necessarily for its music.

ReduxReview:  I've never been a fan of Young's music. He's written some great songs and is a terrific musician, but I just don't connect to his tunes. He is fascinating though. Like "Trans," he's not afraid to experiment and change up his sound. I admire that. Sometimes it may not work out, but at least he moves his music in different directions. Back in the day, I almost bought this album. The concept, the cover, the controversy, and the whole synth thing attracted me. Ends up, it's not a great album but it is one that I kind of like and would actually own. It would have been cool to make it all synth based, but instead there were a couple of "normal" songs like this one tossed in. For a Young song, this one ain't too bad. It's not what pop radio was into at the time, but it jams along just fine and I don't mind it.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Young revealed later that the album was inspired by his son who had cerebral palsy and could not talk. Therapy sessions using technology to try and communicate with his son played a part in the LP's concept. Many complained that Young's use of the vocodor made his lyrics indecipherable, but that was intentional. It was what he imagined it was like for his son trying to understand him. 2) This album and Young's next one, the rockabilly "Everybody's Rockin'," really pissed off David Geffen. He though Young was deliberately trying to release non-commercial material. So Geffen, who was probably expecting more of the "Harvest"-style music, sued Young for not making, well, Neil Young music. It was the first lawsuit of its kind. The problem though was that Young's contracted gave him complete artistic control. Therefore, he could do about any music he wanted for the label. The suit was settled and afterward Geffen did apologize to Young. Oddly, Young went on to release three more albums for Geffen before switching back to Reprise in 1988.


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