Neil Young - Trans (1982)

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When I posted about Trans a few years ago, I was kind of lukewarm about the album.  I assumed that Neil was just playing around with genre, trying to find out what an electronic sound could do for his songs. I did love the robot voice on Transformer Man, that's for sure. 

However, after reading his autobiography last month, I found out that there's a lot more to this album than I previously thought.

 Neil's son Ben Young was born with cerebral palsy. In the early eighties, Neil was having a hard time communicating with him - the disease was affecting Ben's ability to speak. So Neil was experimenting with electronics at the time, seeing if they would give him any advantage in talking with his son. In his book he talks about how Trans has to do with how we communicate in an increasingly digital world.

This album lies smack dab in the middle of the lawsuit Geffen brought against Neil for producing albums that were "unrepresentative of Neil Young." I totally get their case, but doesn't that seem like exactly what went wrong with music labels? I truly believe labels should serve the artists and not the other way around. Especially with voices as distinctive as Neil. But those are thoughts for an (even) more boring blog. Here, just listen to this awesome weirdness:

[ mp3 ] Neil Young - We R In Control

The robot voices in "Computer Age" are just out-of-their-mind. It's really something to be heard. I think what's so weird about it is that Neil's voice is so distinct and human on its own. To process it like this seems antithetical to what makes it attractive in the first place. Also, vocoder sounds insane, but it sounds the MOST insane at high pitches.

[ mp3 ] Neil Young - Computer Age

Also, do yourself a favor and go check out my original post to listen to "Transformer Man." It's awesome. It's an awesome song. It's the kind of song you'd remember for the rest of your life if you heard it when you were 10 years old in your Optimus Prime pajamas. You'd love it. 

-N.W.

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3.5 / 5 Dads

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4.5 / 5 Sons

8/18/2014 03:47:37 pm

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