Personnel: Neil Young (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica, Wurlitzer organ); Neil Young (Wurlitzer piano); Ben Keith (vocals, guitar, slide guitar, steel guitar, dobro, Wurlitzer piano, organ, Wurlitzer organ, drums, background vocals); Graham Nash (vocals, Wurlitzer piano, Wurlitzer organ); Ralph Molina (vocals, drums, background vocals); Tim Drummond (bass instrument, drums, percussion); Rick Danko, Billy Talbot (bass instrument); David Crosby (vocals, guitar); Rusty Kershaw (guitar, slide guitar, violin, fiddle); George Whitsell (guitar); Joe Yankee (harp, tambourine); Levon Helm (drums).
Liner Note Author: Rusty Kershaw.
Recording information: Broken Arrow Studios, San Francisco, CA (11/30/1973-04/07/1974); Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, CA (11/30/1973-04/07/1974).
Photographer: Bob Seidemann.
After working his way through loss and chaos on the brilliant TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT (recorded in 1973, but not released until 1975), Neil Young deftly exorcised any lingering demons with 1974's ON THE BEACH. The album opens with the saunter of the aptly titled "Walk On," followed by the utterly gorgeous, Wurlitzer-tinged "See the Sky about to Rain."
The set also features a trio of scathing songs--"Revolution Blues," "Vampire Blues," and "Ambulance Blues"--that address issues important to Young, both social and personal. It is good to hear Young back with such bite and vitriol, especially after the broken desperation of TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT. But while ON THE BEACH is edgy and deeply felt, it also manages to sound liberating and relaxed, with glimmers of hope and humor peeking through the spare, evocative arrangements. Inexplicably unreleased on CD until 2003, ON THE BEACH is both unflinching and resilient, and easily stands as one of Young's finest albums.
Rolling Stone (07/24/03, p.92) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Vintage Young....[songs] coalesce with the landmark consistency of 1972's HARVEST..." Entertainment Weekly (9/5/03, p.77) - "...The sound is stripped down and casual, but the vibe is intense..." - Rating: A
Q (01/01/04, p.77) - Included in Q's "Best Re-releases of 2003" - "[S]avagely triumphant....ON THE BEACH stills reverberates with an honest urgency out of step with early '70s rock."
Uncut (8/03, p.118) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...As a document of a despairing personal low, ON THE BEACH would be a kind of masterpiece by any standard....A moving experience..."
Mojo (Publisher) (3/01/04, p.54) - Included in Mojo's The 67 Lost Albums You Must Own! - "He decided the world was going to hell in a handcart. He sang it all with brutal-fragile beauty."
Mojo (Publisher) (7/03, pp.116-118) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...As a document of a moment when rock still meant something, it is peerless..."