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Everybody's Rockin'
(The FUNHOUSE! Review)

1983 - Geffen GHS 4013

Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes / Rainin' In My Heart / Payola Blues / Wonderin' / Kinda Fonda Wanda / Jellyroll Man / Bright Lights, Big City / Cry, Cry, Cry / Mystery Train / Everybody's Rockin'

by Jyrki Kimmel

As much has been said about Neil Young and his relationship with Geffen in the 1980's, this review focuses only on the record Everybody's Rockin'. A history of listening to Neil Young, however, brings a personal bias to the article. The album consists of five rock-and-roll standards as well as five songs by Young (two of them with co-authors). In all, the tone is that of great nostalgia, and the standards are recorded with care and original spirit. At the same time, humor is not forgotten, as is shown in the opening "Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes," a childish play on rhymes, and "Kinda Fonda Wanda," as in its lyric:

"...'cause Wanda always wanna wanna wanna..."

Another play on words, or rather imagery, is "Jellyroll Man," with obvious references to sex:

"I gotta have it right now "

But maybe I just see it that way. The album-ending title song is also a seemingly meaningless rock-and-roll tune, in the vein of "Shakin' All Over," "Let's Twist Again," "At the Hop," or any other song proclaiming the birth of a new way to dance, but with the added topical notion of Ronnie and Nancy, "rocking in the White House all night long." A more serious effort is "Payola Blues," a lament of record company payoffs and of radio DJs. "Rainin' In My Heart" and "Cry, Cry, Cry" go beyond the usual in rock and roll tear-jerker ballads, and Neil's renditions are superbly true to that spirit in both songs. The most noteworthy songs, when taken out of context on the album, are "Wonderin'," a tune Neil wrote and had performed on stage in the seventies, and covers of "Bright Lights, Big City" and "Mystery Train," both great hits from their era. "Wonderin'" would be a rocker in any arrangement, and this version is just perfect. "Bright Lights, Big City" is sang as if Neil personally is relating a story of a girlfriend lost in metropolitan splendor. "Mystery Train" also has a personal, emotional feel, and it does not have its roots in Neil's model railroad hobby. The album clocks in at 24 minutes, over which the very essence of fifties rock is laid out, turned over, and emptied. Undoubtedly this is the music Neil grew up with (with the obvious exception of the personally penned songs), and as such, Everybody's Rockin' is a great tribute to the roots of rock-and-roll in a time when artists of a "Younger" generation are crafting tribute albums to the Godfather of Grunge himself.

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