Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Neil Young - Trans 1982

We were recommended this record by reliable source, Rob of Smash records. He was working a record fair at Comet Ping Pong and noticed me eyeballing this oddball album. I'd be told that Neil Young went on several uncelebrated musical tangents in the 80's and that his foray into electronica was the most odd. My assumption was that Neil was tired of being a country rock music darling and wanted to expand his musical horizons. Either that or he was really, really freakin' high.

Before I say any more about this album, I feel it's important to note that Neil Young has been a favorite of mine since my undergrad years. I got sucked into the image of him as "The Godfather of Grunge" that the music press of the early 90's billed him. Hey, the music was good and some of it did sound pretty grungy... those reporters must be onto something! Well, it was a little longer till I started actually listening to Neil's larger catalogue. This guy had pretty wide range and tastes. Slow folky ramblings, rocking souther style epics, and everything in-between. Still, I was warned to stay away from the early 80's stuff. Neil went weird...

Trans is a weird album. Very weird. The first song on the album is generic southern, folk rock, and cheesy too. It could easily throw anyone off the idea that Neil was experimenting sonically. Everything else on the album is pure electronic synth odd freakout pleasure. I'm pretty sure he liked to dance the robot while writing this album. On record he makes frequent use of the robotronic voice altering microphone device, the vocoder. Think "auto tune" but not shitty. So what possessed Mr. Young to go from tunes like "Needle and the Damage Done", "Old Man", "Harvest Moon", "Southern Man", "Ohio", etc. to this type of computerized strangeness? Turns out that using the vocoder around his son (who has cerebral palsey) elicited an improved response in communication. Pretty nice, eh? Finding a better way to communicate with your ailing child is a much better story than being really, really high. Ultimately, none of that matters if it sounds like hell, which it absolutely does not. It sounds amazing. It's catchy, well written and has a good deal of surprises. He even says "yippee ki yi yay" several time in full on robot talk. Pure gold. Standout tracks; "Like an Inca", "Computer Cowboy", "We R in Control"

Seems the only way you're getting this album is on an import CD or a bootleg rip. We got lucky and found the vinyl version. Love it so much that the album sleeve is framed and adorns the top of our stairwell. Beauty. Also, it should be mentioned that portions of some of the songs appear in the movie "Human Highway", that Young directed. It's a comedy that he made with New Wave band Devo... It's purported to be incredibly bad and also, it's impossible to find. Maybe we review a Devo album next...

No comments:

Post a Comment