's 1974 album, finally released on CD
for the first time in 2003. It's a minor masterpiece, a rather laid-back collection of solid songs that was overlooked upon its release. While running away from the stardom brought on by the success of 1972's Harvest
album, Young still managed to make worthwhile music, though it was definitely more complicated and inaccessible to the reocrd-buying public.
Neil is backed on most of the record by The Stray Gators, his country-rock ensemble of the mid-1970s. There are also several guest shots-- David Crosby turns up on one track, members of The Band on several others.
Side one is the more uptempo side, though it really isn't all that fast. The most famous songs are Walk On, a simple rocker that is supposedly another dig at Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the banjo-driven ballad For The Turnstiles. The best song, however, is probably Revolution Blues, a pile-driving rocker with fantastically paranoid lyrics (Neil envisions bloody fountains, ten million dune buggies coming down the mountain, and then says: "I hear that Laurel Canyon is full of famous stars, but I hate them worse than lepers and I'll kill them in their cars"). Neil turns in some blistering guitar work, and actually manages to make the guys from The Band play as if they're excited too.
Side one concludes with Vampire Blues, a slow, creaky, nearly-straight-12-bar blues with once-again timely lyrics about the energy crisis going on at the time. Neil has another good guitar solo here, as he actually almost makes his guitar sound like an oil well.
Side two is the slower, spacier side, opening with the title cut, On The Beach, a 7-minute minor key dirge which is another highlight of the album. The lyrics seem to directly address Neil's confusion following the success of Harvest, and include the memorable line:
"Though my problems are meaningless, that don't make 'em go away..."
The record concludes with the very mellow Motion Pictures and the 9-minute gonzo folk epic Ambulance Blues, which is very good, if a little on the long side.
Also worth mentioning is the cover photo, in which Neil has strategically displayed a newspaper headline of Richard Nixon's impeachment, and the nonsensical liner notes, written by severely drug-addled sideman Rusty Kershaw.
Previous album: Time Fades Away
Next album: Tonight's The Night