Neil Young - Heart Of Gold -
Customer reviews (av rating: 4.5):
Dull, Flat & Uninspired : This is one of those DVDs that really disappointed me.
I love Neil Young, I love his electrics stuff, I love his acoustic stuff, I read the (glowing) reviews, saw the guests and all the rest and got it ordered. Then I sat down to watch it and found it painful just to make it through.
I've never seen such a self satisfied bunch of old hacks in one place (Emmylou Harris - you should know better than to be involved in this. MUCH better!). The smugness of the whole thing was horrible, especially Pegi Young. She may well be a lovely person but what is she doing on here? What? I ask thee...
Oh, and a final `special' comment on Demme and his arse kissing of Neil... see to believe...
Its hard for me to put my finger on why this is so bad. I was really wanting to like it... as I say, I am a huge fan of his music... but I really cant recommend this to anyone. Go get `rust never sleeps' or track down `year of the horse' but not this... lord, not this.
Good but not amazing : I'm not the biggest Neil Young fan and only have a few of his albums, of which Weld (double live) and Harvest are my favourites. I love the energy and grunginess of Weld and the pure beauty of Harvest. I don't have Prairie Wind so I thought this would be a good DVD to buy, rather than buy the CD.
I will try to explain my rating of 3 stars (above average rating) rather than explain what this DVD actually is because you have probably already read that in the Amazon description further up.
Music: The music is performed fantastically and it's obvious even to me (someone who isn't familiar with Neil's "band") that all the musicians are talented (and established.) They all play together seamlessly and I think it would have been a great gig to experience. For me though the Prairie Wind songs are a bit too "Country" (for lack of a better adjective) - as I said above I love Weld and Harvest, and I don't think the Prairie Wind songs wouldn't fit into either of those albums. But, that doesn't make them bad songs as Neil is a good composer as well as performer. They just don't stir me personally. The latter half (ish) of the concert was more to my taste as they performed several songs from Harvest.
Cinematography: Generally very good for disc 1, the actual concert performance. The director tends to favour shots which are held for quite a long time and that suits the music. The concert itself mostly doesn't have dynamic lighting except when Neil does a few solo performances (and duets) and most of the songs have a lot of artists playing where the whole stage looks evenly lit. Nothing to get excited about but again it suits the music. One thing I noticed another reviewer mentioned was the music going slightly out of sync. It's strange because it looks like the vocals are synched but the music not. It's not all the way through and I think not everyone will notice but I noticed as I was fascinated by Neil's guitar playing (I play a little) and the strumming didn't quite match the sound.
Special Features (disc 2): I found really boring. I'm sorry but I don't know who those artists are although it's obvious they are well established country (or "American music" as they refer to it) artists and all talented people. Neil's famous guitars are mentioned and shown on several occasions but even as a guitar owner myself I found it flat viewing. The director really got on my nerves as he goes well over the top idolising (almost worshipping!) Neil. Also, the special features are not in 16:9 format so I had to change my TV setting to "zoom" to stop people from looking squashed, something I've never had to do with a DVD before.
The packaging is very basic - a standard double-DVD plastic box, not even a booklet. One other comment is the end credits for disc 1 state Cortez the Killer but I didn't hear it playing anywhere so I'm wondering if the DVD is edited differently to the cinema release. And I love that Song so I hope I haven't been duped :)
So if you're a big Neil Young fan (why haven't you bought this already?) or you like the Prairie Wind CD and/or American/alt-Country (or whatever genre it is) then do buy this as the concert itself is worth the asking price and it's a little piece of history.
Neil Young @ the Grand Ole Opry : Prior to releasing the Prairie Wind album, Neil Young performed most of the songs from it at the Grand Ole Opry, along with a second set featuring many of his most enduring and popular songs. Jonathan Demme, director of Silence Of The Lambs and the Talking Head's concert film Stop Making Sense, was invited by Neil to film the concert, the rehearsals and to conduct interviews with Neil and members of the band and road crew. The resulting film, which had a limited cinema release before coming out on DVD, ranks as one of the best collaborations between a musician and a film-maker.
Neil Young is an artist who loves to perform in the moment and over the years he has built up strong relationships with a vast number of musicians and singers, all of whom have become familiar with his working methods but who are nonetheless thrilled to perform with him. Brought together at short notice and with very little time to rehearse before the big concert, "Heart Of Gold" shows how true working musicians and singers can achieve so much magic not by the size of a pay cheque but through passion for their art and an affinity for performing in the moment.
What emerges is a heartwarming concert film full of great performances, plenty of humour and some excellent interviews with the participants, including Neil, Emmylou Harris, Spooner Oldham, Ben Keith, Chad Cromwell, Rick Rosas, Wayne Jackson, Diana DeWit, Anthony Crawford and Karl Himmel among others. But the best interviewees are Grant Boatwright and Larry Cragg, two wonderful personalities with incredible knowledge and a passion for telling stories.
Plus, of course, the music is fantastic! The second DVD contains some good extra material from the rehearsals and more interview material with Larry Cragg and Grant Boatwright.
Real Emotion : Bought this DVD a month or so ago, when looking to improve my music DVD collection and thinking back to who I liked when I was younger.
The performance is just so full of feeling and emotion, which, if you have a soul, can't help but transmit to the listener. Whatever kind of music you like, go buy it, it is so very good!
A timely reminder : A lot of Neil Young fans just seem to buy the odd one of his records these days. In so doing, it's easy to just assume he's gently losing his way, or isn't as vital as he used to be. That is just a mistake, and this film is the most potent evidence of this fact. I've been away from the music buying game for a while, and now I'm back I've been acquainting myself with Shakey's more recent output. On the whole, he is still magnificent.
This performance shows a performer reaching old age, reflecting on family and the state of the world, and producing some genuinely moving and relevant songs. Young has integrity in spades, and to quote the man himself, he is "as real as the day is long". I have not felt such sincerity in a performance... probably ever. It is absolute proof of Young's passion for music, and as such is beautiful and inspiring. I can think of no one else today producing such personal and yet universal music.
With it's country feel it's probably not for all Young's fans, but it's another fine addition to a remarkable body of work that, along with the recent "Lving With War" and "Performance" series hints at a great deal more vital work still to come - both new compositions and archive material.
Buy "Neil Young - Heart Of Gold" now!