|Studio album by Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks|
|Released||1 August 1983|
|Recorded||April–May 1983 at Modern Recorders, Redwood City, California, United States|
|Producer||Neil Young and Elliot Mazer|
|Neil Young chronology|
Everybody's Rockin' is the thirteenth studio album by Canadian musician Neil Young, released in 1983. The album was recorded with the Shocking Pinks (a band made up just for the occasion), and features a selection of rockabilly songs (both covers and original material). Running 25 minutes, it is Young's shortest album. Everybody's Rockin' is typical of his 1980s period in that it bears little, or no resemblance to the album released before it (Trans (1982), a synth-heavy, electro-rock album), nor the one released after it (Old Ways (1985), which is pure country).
Having already created tension with his label, Geffen Records, with the previous year's Trans, Young offered the label in 1983 a country album he'd recorded the previous fall called Old Ways. Young's music had ample precedent for the influence of country music, including his two most successful albums, After the Gold Rush (1970) and Harvest (1972), as well as Comes a Time (1978). Geffen, however, reeling from the commercial and critical failure of Trans, rejected Old Ways and demanded "a rock & roll album."
Therefore, Young went into the studio and quickly produced a set of songs from the early period of rock & roll, including classics of the genre such as Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City" and "Mystery Train," recorded by Elvis Presley in his early days at Sun Records. He also included some original tunes in the project, songs such as "Kinda Fonda Wanda" that had originally been written to amuse his wife. Young wrote the song "Wonderin'" long before the sessions for Everybody's Rockin'. It dates from at least the After the Gold Rush era, and was part of his setlist at solo acoustic shows in 1970.
According to Young, Everybody's Rockin' had been intended to be a concept album, with two additional songs, "Get Gone" and "Don't Take Your Love Away From Me," that would have "given a lot more depth to The Shocking Pinks." However, an infuriated Geffen Records cancelled the recording sessions, preventing Young from finishing the album, which they thus released as it was. The two songs later appeared on Young's compilation Lucky Thirteen.
Young explained the inspiration for the album in 1995, saying that "there was very little depth to the material obviously. They were all 'surface' songs. But see, there was a time when music was like that, when all pop stars were like that. And it was good music, really good music....Plus it was a way of further destroying what I'd already set up. Without doing that, I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing now. If I build something up, I have to systematically tear it right down before people decide, 'Oh that's how we can define him.'"
All songs written and composed by Neil Young, except where noted.
- Side one
- "Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes" (Bobby Freeman) – 3:02
- "Rainin' in My Heart" (Slim Harpo, Jerry West) – 2:11
- "Payola Blues" (Ben Keith, Young) – 3:09
- "Wonderin'" – 2:59
- "Kinda Fonda Wanda" (Tim Drummond, Young) – 1:51
- Side two
- "Jellyroll Man" – 2:00
- "Bright Lights, Big City" (Jimmy Reed)– 2:18
- "Cry, Cry, Cry" – 2:39
- "Mystery Train" (Junior Parker, Sam Phillips) – 2:47
- "Everybody's Rockin'" - 1:57
- Neil Young – vocals, piano, guitar, harmonica
- The Shocking Pinks
At the time of its release, Everybody's Rockin received among the worst critical reviews of Young's career. Robert Christgau of the Village Voice wrote that "The covers are redundant or worse, as are all but two of the originals....I hope Neil realizes that for all the horrible truth of "Payola Blues," nobody's three thou's gonna get this on top forty." New Musical Express added, "At least Neil Young has yet resisted rejoining Crosby, Stills and Nash, although this foray into rockabilly pastiche is hardly much less regressive than that."
Young himself expressed fondness for the album, comparing it favorably to his acclaimed 1975 album Tonight's the Night, yet also acknowledging the truth of some of its harsher criticisms: "What am I? Stupid? Did people really think I put that out thinking it was the greatest fuckin' thing I'd ever recorded? Obviously I'm aware it's not."
In November 1983, following the commercial failure of Everybody's Rockin', Geffen sued Young for $3.3 million, on the grounds that this record and its predecessor were "not commercial", and "musically uncharacteristic of [his] previous recordings." Young filed a $21 million countersuit, alleging breach of contract since Young had been promised no creative interference from the label.
The suit backfired against Geffen, with label owner David Geffen personally apologizing to Young for the suit and for interference with his work. The lawsuit repelled prospective signees R.E.M., who were preparing to work with Geffen but upon hearing of the Young lawsuit signed with Warner Bros. instead.
The year before the lawsuit, just after Young had signed to Geffen, his longtime manager Elliot Roberts was asked why Young had changed labels, and said, "I did have a much larger offer from R.C.A. about £4 Million more. David Geffen and I used to be partners and David has worked with Neil for a very long time. He totally relates to Neil as an artist and has no preconceived notions about Neil. He knows that he's capable of doing anything at any point, at any time... he will have the freedom to practice his art as he sees it, as opposed to when you make a deal where someone is paying you £1 - £2 million an album you feel obligated to give them commercial music that they can sell large numbers of. Neil's not concerned with selling large numbers of his records, he's concerned with making records that he's pleased with. Unfortunately they are not always commercial from the record company's point of view. David Geffen relates to that. He knows Neil may do a country album and then he may do an electric album because there's no rhyme or reason with Neil. It's what he's moved by."
- Clancy, Chris. "From the Vault: Neil Young." Money, September 2, 2010.
- Kent, Nick. "I BUILD SOMETHING UP, I TEAR IT RIGHT DOWN: Neil Young at 50." Mojo, December 1995
- Allmusic review
- Robert Christgau review
- "Neil Young: Everybody's Rockin (Geffen) . By Penny Reel : Articles, reviews and interviews from Rock's Backpages". Rocksbackpages.com. 1983-08-20. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
- "Elliot Roberts and Neil Young". Thrasherswheat.org. 1982-05-25. Retrieved 2012-02-15.