Neil Young - A Letter Home
Initially released only on vinyl, Neil Young’s recent album of covers gets a full CD, download and impressive box set release this week, making it available to a much wider audience. A Letter Home is a pet project of his, recorded in conditions that only someone with the reputation of Neil Young could get away with as being commercially viable in today’s world. But he set about recording a set of covers on a refurbished 1947 Voice-O-Graph recording booth at Jack White’s Third Man studios in Nashville. Where else, eh?
If you try to picture a very simple recording studio not much bigger than a phone box, you will begin to get the idea. Put a legend in there with some old, lost songs and this is what you get – a record which, on paper, shouldn’t be beautiful but somehow manages to carry off an almost crazy idea with aplomb. He describes the album as ‘an unheard collection of rediscovered songs from the past recorded on ancient electro-mechanical technology captures and unleashes the essence of something that could have been gone forever’.
It’s that sense of history, the timeless capturing of these fine songs that is the appeal of this experiment. If experiment is the right word. I suspect it’s more school-boyish fun for Young, who is able to explore whichever musical niche he wishes and can pretty much rely on his fan base finding it cool, maan. Because it is cool, maan! We’ve got covers of Bert Jansch, Bruce Springsteen, Don Everly and Bob Dylan on here, all presented in a deep, emotional way in a raw and real experience Young has gone through. It’s personal. His letter home.
Morrissey - Vauxhall and I
With new Morrissey material looming on the horizon in the shape of World Peace is None of Your Business, now is also a good time to reflect on his past solo career with an interesting little anniversary release of Vauxhall and I.
Twenty years ago, this brilliant piece of work rose to the top of the English charts and made the top 20 in the United States as well. The track that will be most remembered is the top ten single The More You Ignore Me The Closer I Get which, like much of the album, is a fine home for Morrissey’s razor-sharp lyrics. So explore a range of themes, including jaded tourists in The Lazy Sunbathers, rejected romantics in Billy Budd and the loss of innocence in Used To Be A Sweet Boy. Another highlight on the CD version is the bonus disc featuring a previously unreleased live concert in London in February 1995. The neat package of this 20th anniversary celebration is just what fans need to count down the days to the new album on July 14, the first he’s released since 2009.