uReview: Neil Young “Trans”


I was a late bloomer to Neil Young’s music and still no expert. But I’m curious about this synthesized 1982 departure called Trans. What’s the score on this one?

12345678910 (54 votes, average: 6.89 out of 10)

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“We R In Control”

:D CD Reissue | 1999 | Polydor | buy ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1982 | Geffen | ebay ]

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  • Priscilla

    Under-appreciated album! I really love this album – & neat to see NY brach out a bit, against most everyone’s wishes. Very unique production, with an emphasis on newer synthesizer technologies. Not for everyone, however – I can understand that in my heart… Thanks for posting this here, Brendan!

  • Len Liechti

    Ouch! This could be anyone, couldn’t it? I admire Neil for his eclecticity (is that a word?) and for his determination to sidestep the expectations of his record company and his audience – that’s what makes him a true original. But to forego that God-given voice and that wonderful guitar rapport with Crazy Horse and the other backing musicians . . . think I’ll be sticking with Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Rust Never Sleeps for the time being!

  • There’s usually no middle ground on this one. I liked it from the first time I heard it. Way out there, though. “Sample and Hold” remains a fave, but almost everything on this is good.

  • mark

    Alright… it is Neil and it does explore new territory (I have heard that it related directly to Neil’s experience with his son and his illness)… however, I have long since abandoned my copy to the shelf (having never purchased a cd version even!). I will occasionally enjoy Re•actor with its seemingly endless repetitions and driving rock, but this one seems to be Neil thumbing his nose to his listeners and to the music industry (and perhaps to Stephen Stills… did he not send a copy of this version of Mr. Soul to Stephen and claim that it was his audition tape for Buffalo Springfield just following Stephen’s suggestion that BS reform for an album?). Anyway, surfer Joe caught the big one and let it go…
    I give it 4 stars for effort.

  • tony c

    When Neil signed to Geffen records, he did Trans and the rockabilly record Neil Young & the Shocking Pinks. Geffen responded by suing Neil for breach of contract; sued for not delivering a “Neil Young” album.

    Neil had a quote at the time that I’ll paraphrase from memory: Fifteen years in the Business and I get sued for not making a commercial album. That’s better than a Grammy.

  • Dave

    Trans is the lead evidence that Neil Young was not afraid to take chances, grow with music, and avoid the tried and true.
    He could have kept pumping out heart of gold and other big sellers, but then he wouldn’t be Neil Young. He has never stopped evolving as a musician and a writer.
    You may not like some of his excursions into uncharted territory (e.g. I was never much of a Trans fan), but you have to give him his props for being a genuine musician, innovator and songwriter.
    How many of these have we had the pleasure of witnessing? Dylan, Tom Waits, to a certain degree Springsteen?
    Regards, Dave.

  • EH

    The story I heard is that it’s the album Neil made after he heard Kraftwerk.

    P.S. Please turn off the autoplay.

  • Jay

    I thought Neil was trying to get out of this contract and so gave them this That is how I remember it anyway – Both albums were very interesting but commercial failures – as if that matters with NY

  • There are a couple of revealing quotes by Neil in the “Shakey” biography. Much of his inspiration for using electronics was trying to find a way to communicate with his son Ben, who has cerebral palsy.

    “The computer and the heartbeat all have to come together here–where chemistry and electronics meet….And that was completely misunderstood.” (p. 556)

    “If you listen to ‘Transformer Man’–you gotta realize, you can’t understand the words–and I can’t understand my son’s needs.” (p. 558)

  • jonni kafka

    Only just got this, after having wanted it/been curious about it for ages, and, yeah, bits of it sound like Kraftwerk, but then, so did Herbie Hancock at times in the 80s. And I love all three anyway. There are some really killer tracks on this, and it’s good to see that someone like Neil Young was willing to experiment in this way. As a sidenote, I also got Crazy Horse’s first album at the same time – thoroughly on the recomendation of this blog. So, please, keep up the good work! Many thanks!

  • The vocoder used on this album is the Sennheiser Vocoder VSM201, btw!!

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