NEIL YOUNG -- Mirror Ball (Reprise)

When Neil Young releases a new album, it's always a big event. With his latest effort "Mirror Ball" however, it's even more of an event because this time its a collaboration with some of his biggest fans - Pearl Jam.

Always one to admit to ripping himself off, Neil copies himself on 2 songs on the new CD - "Fallen Angel" (same melody as "I'm the Ocean"), and "What Happened Yesterday" (same melody as "Big Green Country"). Not that this is bad, the songs are like a "reprise" (no pun intended) to the ones they copy, with "Fallen Angel" being a touching finale to a fine effort from Neil.

The CD, also released on vinyl, was recorded over a 16-day period at Heart's Bad Animals studio in Seattle using the new High Definition Compact Digital system (HDCD). The suprising thing about Mirror Ball though, is the decidedly "low-fi" sound on the CD - considering the new technology used.

The members of Pearl Jam are Neil's backing band this time out, & they do a fine job overall. All the songs on Mirror Ball were written by Neil, with the exception of "Peace and Love" which has a middle coda written and sung by Eddie Vedder. The members of Pearl Jam are credited individually on the CD, as opposed to as a band due to contractual obligations.

There are several highlights on the CD. "I'm the Ocean" & "Scenery" are both destined to become classics. The CD also has it's downfalls tho, most notably with the first single, "Downtown", which is one of the weaker tracks, as well as "Truth Be Known". The CD's opening track "Song X" however, has quite a different sound for Neil with it's droning but effective chorus.

Mirror Ball definitely has a Pearl Jam sound to it, and the band should be commended for their effort. Neil has managed to produce another fine album, with this being his best effort since his 1989 CD, Freedom.

© 1995 Steve Marshall