Neil Young & The Bluenotes – Ain’t Singin’ For Pepsi (Godfather Records G.R. 963/964)


Neil Young & The Bluenotes – Ain’t Singin’ For Pepsi (G.R.963/964)

World, New York, NY, April 18, 1988


Disc 1: Ten Men Working (fade in), Find Another Shoulder, Married Man, Your Love Is Good To Me, One Thing, Ain’t It The Truth, Band Introductions, Sunny Inside, Twilight, Life In The City, This Notes For You.


Disc 2: Welcome To The Big Room, High Heels, Hello Lonely Woman, Bad News, Hey Hey, Your Love Is Good To Me, Coupe De Ville, Life In The City, Soul Of a Woman, This Notes For You, Encore Crowd, Ten Men Working

The Band

Neil Young: vocals, guitar
Frank (Poncho) Sampedro: Keyboards
Steve Lawrence: lead tenor sax
Ben Keith: alto sax
Larry Cragg: baritone sax
Claude Cailliet: trombone
John Fumo: trumpet
Tom Bray: trumpet
Rick Rosas: bass
Chad Cromwell: drums

Neil Young has never had a problem changing musical direction and one of his more obscure musical incarnations proves this.

In the late 1980’s he hooked up with the big band sound of The Bluenotes.

Falling somewhere between a big-band record and a soul album, Young’s 17th album, credited to Neil Young & the Bluenotes, employs a horn section that sounds more like a scrappy bar band than a tightly formed unit. Curiously enough, they miss many notes on the record, leaving many fans to wonder if the LP was a tribute or satire. Like most Young albums from the period, ‘This Note’s for You’ tanked, making it to No. 61 before quickly disappearing. The title tune received some airplay, mostly because of the success of the video, which parodied ‘80s pop stars and commercial product placement. Young eventually had to change the Bluenotes moniker after ‘70s R&B star Harold Melvin, who led a band called the Blue Notes, sued; the record was reissued without their name. Not that it mattered much, because few people heard or bought the album.

The Godfather Records have now released the tapes of two Bluenotes shows packaged into a single 2CD soundboard release (Ain’t Singin’ For Pepsi). Both early and late shows from New York April 18th, 1988 are represented here.

I have to admit I am not a huge fan of big band, however this collaboration seems to work in a strange kind of way. I quickly found myself getting somewhat immersed in the music. I quite enjoyed renditions of Ten Men Working, Your Love Is Good To Me, Ain’t It The Truth, and Life In The City.

The sound quality of this release is mostly excellent however at times I did find the horns kind of overpowering the guitar in the mix, which should not be surprising given the makeup of the band. Very easy and enjoyable listen.

Packaged as usual in the traditional Godfather trifold cardboard case with band pictures adorning the inner jacket.

Neil Young completists should definitely have this release in their collections, and even if you’re not, the release provides an interesting glimpse into one of Neil’s more obscure periods. Give it a listen…you may be surprised as I was.



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