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The release of 'Freedom' in 1989 provided further evidence to the theory that Young comes good at the end of each decade. Following 1978's 'Rust Never Sleeps', this may not quite measure up, but it's still Young's strongest release of the 1980's by a stretch. He repeats the trick of 'Rust Never Sleeps' by starting & finishing with the same track, 'Rockin' in the Free World', again differentiated by acoustic & electric arrangements.
Stylistically, 'Freedom' is fairly diverse, but no more so than most other Young releases, it features the usual polar opposites of raging rockers & delicate ballads. The hard rock direction follows on directly from the Eldorado EP, released shortly before this album, while some of the songs are lengthy (8-9 minutes a piece), Young never loses his way or repeats himself.
'Hangin' on a Limb' & 'The Ways of Love' appear reminiscent of Young's most popular work, namely the country-rock of 'Harvest'. This wouldn't be a Neil Young album if it didn't swerve you at least once, & the appearance of a Drifters cover definitely does that, Young throwing in his rendition of the Leiber-Stoller hit 'On Broadway'.
Elsewhere you can find a track dating from the 'Chrome Dreams' sessions almost a decade before (Too Far Gone) & a track later covered & improved upon by Emmylou Harris (Wrecking Ball).
This is a fine return to form & among Young's better albums.
Neil Young has had lots of albums, lots and lots of albums...but one that I take favouritism to (something I usually avoid doing) is the 1989 release 'Freedom'. Young's 1970s music was largely folk country orientated, but Freedom shows a maturity from the late 80s that confirmed his place amongst rock music's greats. The album contains the massive and classic 'Rockin' In The Free World' (which Pearl Jam fans should be familiar with as it forms a regular part of their live set) in two versions. Track 1, version one, is taken from a live acoustic performance (which is available on video), and is a good interpretation of the original electric version. Track twelve closes the album with the more common version of Rockin' In The Free World - the version which showed Young to be pre-empting the grunge movement with his own lyrical and musical masterpiece. Rockin In The Free World is a classic, and whilst that is a term used too often thesedays, Neil Young is deserving of it. The standout on the album is without a doubt the (almost) 9 minute long epic 'Crime In The City' which is part one of a song that, at full length, contains some sixty verses. Crime In The City is a strange mix of country, spanish, and rock influences all put together into a brilliant track telling the story of...suprise...crime in the city. I have tried in vain to find the full 60 verse version, but for now the version of Freedom is more than sufficient. I think it is the highlight of the album, which is praise indeed against songs like Rockin In The Free World and Wrecking Ball. The rest of the album is, generally, reminiscent of Neil Young's early and late 1970s country rock - especially tracks like Don't Cry and Hangin' On A Limb. A change from this is seen in the Spanish orientated Eldorado, which is another standout on the album. On Broadway is typical of the original Broadway songs, and The Ways of Love is si
milar to much of Young's music from the 1970s (for which I recommend the album Decade). Neil Young has been going for a long time and has a lot of music, but I suggest Freedom as a starting point for any collection as it gives a wide range of his music (from country to rock to all-sorts in one). Freedom is a very very good album and deserves a place in any music collection...regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a fan of Neil Young. Tracklist: Rockin' In The Free World (live acoustic), Crime In The City (Sixty to Zero Part I), Don't Cry, Hangin' On A Limb, Eldorado, The Ways of Love, Someday, On Broadway, Wrecking Ball, No More, Too Far Gone, Rockin' In The Free World
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Rockin' In The Free World
2 Crime In The City
3 Don't Cry
4 Hangin' On A Limb
6 Ways Of Love
8 On Broadway
9 Wrecking Ball
10 No More
11 Too Far Gone