December 06 - 12, 2020
Year of Release: 1983
Betty Lou's Got A
New Pair Of Shoes
Rainin' In My Heart
Kinda Fonda Wonda
Bright Lights Big City
Cry Cry Cry
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Neil Young's period with Geffen Records were not his favorite years. Neil wanted "this" for his album(s) for the label, Geffen management wanted "that."
Obviously, there were conflicts. Neil Young did record a total of five albums with Geffen. At the time, Young wanted a Country album, Geffen wanted a Rock album.
(Did they say "what kind of Rock album" ?) [To mention: He had already released his first album for Geffen, Trans, a different album, using the use of
synthesizers. So, in recording a "rock" album, he came up with a "rock" album consisting of 1950s/Rockabilly-styled tunes. It would be reviewed as terrible,
and quite honest, it was (another) different direction than that of previous Neil Young solo releases. Don't get me wrong, the 1950s music started it all for
Rock & Roll, but it just didn't sum up for Neil Young. I will give credit though, the music itself (provided by The Shocking Pinks), does provide a great backup
band for Neil. The music works, it's just that Neil Young isn't a great singer to start with. Although some of his songs worked well with his voice, especially
his songwriting. In summary, Neil Young is not a 1950s singer. As he sings on his original "Payola Blues," -- "you will never hear my record on the radio."
True, these songs (many) were not heard on FM nor AM radio, back in 1983, the year of this album's release.
However, there was one song that did get radio airplay from Everybody's Rockin'" -- "Wonderin'". It was actually written by Neil Young. But again,
the music, and the doo-wop vocal backgrounds makes the song stand out. And, on this particular song, Neil's voice does work. As for the other songs? Read on...
Starting out the album, is "Betty Lou's Gotta New Pair Of Shoes" (originally written by Bobby Freeman ("Do You Wanna Dance") Bob Seger had
recorded his own version. Seger's version is way better. "Rainin' In My Heart" is next, with great piano, and Neil does provide harmonica (really? a 1950s
recording with harmonica? REALLY?) To make it worse, Neil's singing doesn't match. Jerry Lee Lewis would have done better, as this particular song has the musical
style Jerry Lee would have recorded. "Payola Blues" mentions the line "You will never hear my record on the radio." Enough said.
"Kinda Fonda Wonda" is an orginal written by Neil, and it tries to sound like "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard, with the piano, as did Little
Richard's inspired instrument of his choice. There is no comparison. Little Richard would have done much better on this one.
"Jellyroll Man" isn't as bad. It's tolerable to listen to, and another song that was penned by Neil Young. "Bright Lights Big City" (Jimmy Reed)
is a song that was recorded by many, including Elvis Presley, Sonny James. Neil's voice is so-so, yet the music (again) does well. Neil's version is tolerable,
and just a few that are not as bad as the others. "Cry, Cry, Cry" kicks into gear pretty good musically. This song was also penned by Neil, and at first,
you would think it would be the song of the same title by Johnny Cash. Although it may have a similarity, yet Johnny's "Cry, Cry, Cry" is better, of course.
Another early Elvis favorite -- "Mystery Train." The train arrives, yet Neil's version doesn't carry far. Ending the album is the title track, penned
by Neil. And again, it has the 1950s sound, yet the singing doesn't mix.
Sorry Neil, and sorry to the Neil Young fans -- this album was recorded in a period of conflicts, and it showed. Geffen Records vs. Neil Young - the verdict is
Guilty. Everybody's Rockin' (credited as Neil & The Shocking Pinks) does not live up to it's title. Maybe this album would have been better
with Neil and duets with the greats of the 1950s. I can hear Jerry Lee sinigng on "Rainin' In My Heart," Little Richard on "Kinda Fonda Wonda."
Johnny Cash on "Cry, Cry, Cry." Sonny James on "Bright Lights, Big City." Elvis was gone by 1983, and who else could have filled in with Neil on
"Mystery Train" ?
The Geffen period of 5 albums for Neil Young were not his best. He was trying different things. Trans (1982; his first with Geffen) was definitely
different, using synthesizers. Everybody's Rockin' was to be a "rock" album that Geffen wanted, yet it turned out to be a 1950s-styled rock album. His
third album was Old Ways, a Country album, in what Neil wanted. Landing On Water (1986) was an album resurrected from 1984 "failed sessions" by Neil
Young and his band Crazy Horse. "Failed Sessions" defined as how they played -- According to longtime producer David Briggs, the musicians "played like monkeys."
And finally, the fifth Geffen album, 1987's Life, credited as Neil Young & Crazy Horse. The album contained mostly live recordings, as from their 1979 live
album Rust Never Sleeps. Life also included two studio tracks. IN 1988, they returned to their former label, Reprise.
You can say (most) artists go through a "down" period, And the Geffen-era was Neil Young's era for that. (Kinda how Alice Cooper went to New Wave with albums
he recorded.) Was this Alice's "down" period? That is debatable, as some of the songs did highly stand out. As for Neil Young's Everybody's Rockin'",
"Wonderin' was the highlight. This song I remembered getting radio airplay, and as it went back in time to the 1950s doo-wop era, this song was catchy,
and brought back the 1950s doo wop sound. It is just disappointing that the rest of the album didn't reflect as good as the "Wonderin'" tune. The Shocking
Pinks band knew how to bring that 1950s sound back to style, yet Neil's singing just didn match up. I'd be curious to hearing the other Geffen albums by Neil Young.
I do remember one song from Trans -- "Little Thing Called Love." A good song, yet Trans "confused" the Neil Young fans, with the use of
synthesizers, which Neil had never used before. I didn't hear any tracks from the remaining three Geffen albums. Old Ways would be interesting to hear,
as his "country'ish" albums (if you want to call it that) have been extremely well. Harvest and especially Comes A Time -- two of my favorite
Neil Young solo albums.
"Wonderin'" is the best song from Everybody's Rockin' -- Give Neil Young credit for trying. There are songs better than others here, but not many.
He would later record far better albums than this one. Trying "new" things can be a challenge. It may work, and in this case, it didn't. Look forward in the
reviews of other Neil Young releases here. Neil Young is by far a great musician and song writer. His singing voice on the other hand, (just as in many of his
albums) may not be the greatest, (comparing to others such as Bob Dylan and Tom Petty) -- yet there are truly songs that his voice works well, and as for the others,
hit or miss. Definitely a miss on Everybody's Rockin'.
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