It is always nice to find an album that makes you feel cooler for having listened to it. Neil Young’s “On the Beach” is one of those albums. It’s mellow sound eludes to late nights and despair. It is not a record to be picked apart and scattered among playlists.
On the Beach includes a combination of acoustic and electric Neil. It’s production is noticeably crude, with heavy guitar often negating the need for any further percussion. It features the prominent use of slide guitar, banjo, and harmonica, with contributions from Rick Danko, David Crosby, and Levon Helm, among others. Neil’s emotive guitar leads can be heard on almost every track, with the solos on “Vampire Blues” and “On the Beach” standing out in particular. The album is filled with powerful, uncomplicated leads, brought to you by the man who absolutely shredded “Down by the River” with one note.
While it is hard to designate any particular track on this album, my nod would have to go to “For the Turnstiles”. Aside from the excellent use of banjo and slide, this is discernibly one of Neil’s all-time vocal performances. His harmonies screech alongside the lead vocal, providing the raw and guttural emotion of a live performance. On the Beach is just a beautiful and complete album that every music fan should own.
“Though my problems are meaningless, that don’t make them go away”