Happy 30th: Neil Young & The Bluenotes, THIS NOTE’S FOR YOU
30 years ago this month, Neil Young released his 16th studio album, an LP which found him raging against commercialism while being backed by a horn-laden new band called The Bluenotes.
Recorded at Studio Instrument Rentals in Hollywood and co-produced by Young and Niko Bolas, THIS NOTE’S FOR YOU was Young’s first album to appear on Reprise Records since 1981’s RE-AC-TOR. It was also the first of Young’s albums to crack the top 30 of the Canadian Albums chart since 1983’s EVERYBODY’S ROCKIN’, which – and we’re just spitballing here – may be because both that album and THIS NOTE’S FOR YOU were quickly defined by mainstream audiences not by their songs but, rather, by a video.
EVERYBODY’S ROCKIN’ gave us this classic:
THIS NOTE’S FOR YOU, meanwhile, delivered a classic of its own:
Directed by Julien Temple, who – using the script penned by Charlie Coffey – delivered a spot-on parody of rock star beer and soda commercials of the ‘80s, the video for “This Note’s For You” was an instant classic. Unfortunately, it was also almost instantly banned by MTV when Michael Jackson’s attorneys threatened legal action because of the Jackson lookalike whose hair catches fire, but the network eventually reconsidered, and the video actually ended up winning Best Video of the Year in the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards.
Seriously, if you haven’t watched it recently, you need to go back and watch it right now. It’s still just as wickedly funny as it ever was.
In regards to the rest of the album, it’s fair to say that nothing else on THIS NOTE’S FOR YOU earned nearly as much attention as its title track, but that’s not to say that there isn’t some solid material to be found within its grooves, including opener “Ten Men Workin’” and “Life in the City.” All told, though, it’s that title track that makes this LP a must-own all by itself, so anyone who wants to argue that the rest of the songs are just gravy, well, that’s not our viewpoint, but we can certainly understand it. It’s just that good a song.
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