Backed only by co-producer Danny Kortchmar on guitar and Steve Jordan on drums, with all three playing synthesizers, Neil Young turns in an album that attempts to mix the raunchy rock thrust of his Crazy Horse-style music with contemporary trends in pop, especially the tendency to turn the drums way up in the mix. It's an uneasy combination in which Jordan's forceful drumming dominates the tracks, with Young's vocals nearly buried. But that only means that the production has ruined a group of songs few of which were any good anyway. The only one that offers the promise of being one of Young's better efforts is "Hippie Dream," a sober criticism of what became of '60s idealism in general and Young's erstwhile bandmate David Crosby in particular. But if Landing on Water was not a good album, at least it seemed to point Young away from the stylistic dabbling of his last three albums and back toward the kind of rock he did best, and at least some of his fans returned as a result, giving him a slight uptick in sales.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann