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Neil Young + Promise of the Real: Paradox

review neil young x1 cong

For parts of this movie soundtrack you think, “If Heineken did soundtracks…”; other parts are apparently men eating crisps in a field and playing guitar, so less so.

Paradox is a film directed by Neil’s other half, Daryl Hannah. Its plot: Sometime in the future past, the “Man in the Black Hat” (Young), the “Particle Kid” (Micah Nelson), “Jail Time” (Lukas Nelson) and a “mangy band of cowboys” and outlaws hide high up in the Mountains (capital M, that’s important). They pass the hours searching for treasure while waiting for the full moon and playing music. And eating crisps.

Rotten Tomatoes gives it 29%, reviews offering comments such as “like a glorified home movie sans the glory” and “a waste of time made bearable only by its brevity”.

The soundtrack is much different, a mix of Young in full glory and creaky little campfire songs. It has real charm.

It’s almost peak Young — you want acoustic, you want politics, you want grungy guitar, you want some whimsy no-one else would do? It’s all here. But only almost.

The proper songs are all enjoyable, from Show Me to the excellent Peace Trail, and a wheezing live version of Pocahontas. Hey has the toms turned up loud and with the guitar playing the riff of Love and Only Love, and Young just shouting “Hey!” every four bars or so.

Other parts of the album or more whimsical or even partly-finished acoustic songs, often indistinct as people make scratching noisy sat round a camp fire. There are short instrumental interludes called Paradox Passages, which vary in quality.

In between all this are faux-wise sayings such as “Many moons, ago in the future”, or “It’s days like this I miss the old days”.

Even average Neil is better than most people and this is a touch above, as a package, the mix of proper songs and camp-fire frivolity working surprisingly well.

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