Neil Young

From the opening notes, led by Booker T. Jones on organ and based on his famous “Time is Tight” riff, this is not your average Neil Young record. Already billed as his “soul” album, it offers a familiar, old-school Stax sound created largely by the great backing band (Booker T and MG stalwarts Donald Dunn on bass and “Smokey” Potts on drums) wedded to Young’s familiar off-key warble and minor chord musings.

Back in the early ‘60s, Young sang in the R&B group the Mynah Birds with future superfreak Rick James, but old age has not improved his ability to hit high soulful notes, and one can only imagine Booker T. wincing at some of the botches here. Still, with his usual charm and sincerity, Young manages to make this a fairly enjoyable album. Where his voice fails, he makes up for it by letting the band groove, and his electric guitar playing is full of feeling (with a clean, warm tone reminiscent at times of Santana), leading to some fine solos on several of the 11 tunes (of which the bluesy title track is the standout).

I can do without the cheesy tribute "Let’s Roll," based on Todd Beamer’s famous last words aboard hijacked Flight 93 on Sept. 11, and hearing Bushisms come out of Young’s mouth is particularly disheartening ("You got to turn on evil/ when it’s coming after you … and when it tries to hide/ you gotta go after it/ and never be denied"). But overall not bad—probably recommended only for open-minded Rusties, though.