Sample and Hold / Transformer Man / Depression Blues / Get Gone / Don't Take Your Love Away From Me / Once an Angel / Where Is the Highway Tonight / Hippie Dream / Pressure / Around the World / Mideast Vacation / Ain't It the Truth / This Note's for You
by Gary A. Lucero
"Excursions Into Alien Territory"
Lucky Thirteen is an eclectic collection of music made by Neil Young from 1982 through 1988. Many of Neil's fans appreciate little from these years, which the artist spent with the David Geffen Company. The albums he released during this segment of his career include Trans, Everybody's Rockin', Old Ways, Landing on Water, and Life. He also toured with the Bluenotes while with Geffen (before releasing This Note's For You on Reprise Records in 1988). These albums represent some of the best music Neil has ever made, though, and Lucky Thirteen is a good sampling from them. Lucky Thirteen opens with "Sample and Hold." This is not the original version that appeared on the Trans LP, though it does appear on the Trans CD that Geffen released in Europe and Japan last year. It does not have the rock 'n' roll bite that the original had. It is longer and slower, but is well worth listening to. Next is "Transformer Man" from Trans, and it is a good song about Neil's youngest son Ben. "Depression Blues," "Get Gone," and "Don't Take Your Love Away From Me" follow. All are previously unreleased, and all are excellent.
"Depression Blues" is a slightly country number that is very pretty, and the other two are blues songs recorded live on the Neil Young and the Shockin' Pinks tour. Except for "Ain't It the Truth," which is a previously unreleased Neil Young and the Bluenotes song, and "This Note's For You," which is a tremendous, previously unreleased, live version of the song from the album of the same name, the rest of the songs on Lucky Thirteen are the original versions from the albums Old Ways, Landing on Water, and Life. Their order and selection are very pleasing. Lucky Thirteen can be considered not only as a sampler of what Neil Young did in the eighties, but it also hints at how he will prepare his long awaited Archives, and the Lucky Thirteen liner notes suggest that many tracks on this album will appear on Archives when they are finally released. While you're waiting for Neil, who is careful but slow, to put together and finally release that boxed set, you can put Lucky Thirteen on and understand that it's his varied styles, wonderful guitar playing, and wondrous songwriting that sets him apart from the crowd.