Friday, 23 August 2019

Neil Young - Zuma (1975)

He came dancing across the water....


Released on 10 November 1975

Running time 36.34

Neil Young reunited again with Crazy Horse on this album and it revisits the hard rocking edge he had employed at intervals throughout the seventies. The music is played with a loose, buzzy guitar-driven energy by Crazy Horse (who didn't seem to be able to play in any other way, anyway) and is considered one of Young's best seventies rock offerings. It is another in what was now becoming a long line of highly credible and listenable albums from this enigmatic artist.


1. Don't Cry No Tears
2. Danger Bird
3. Pardon My Heart
4. Lookin' For A Love
5. Barstool Blues
6. Stupid Girl
7. Drive Back
8. Cortez The Killer
9. Through My Sails                                      

"Don't Cry No Tears" is a solid, mid-pace rocker to start the album off, with a nice deep bass sound to it and some by now trademark Crazy Horse riffing. A low-key bass and slow guitar riff introduces the sombre "Danger Bird". It ends with a couple of minutes of outstanding guitar work. As will be said on any review of their work in this period - Crazy Horse could really play. "Pardon My Heart" was a gentle, tuneful acoustic number that wouldn't have been out of place on 1972's "Harvest" album. "Lookin' For A Love" is a poppy piece of country-ish rock. Cynical old Neil Young could periodically come up with fetching, romantic, wistful songs like this. Its vocal harmonies are very redolent of CSNY.

"Barstool Blues" is a typical Young/Crazy Horse slice of solid riffy rock with Young's "marmite" high-pitched reedy voice straining a bit to cope with the song, but the backings are always so good that I always tolerate Young's voice (of which I have always had my problems with). The lyrics are aways great and the attitude too. That is why I always return to his music with enthusiasm. "Stupid Girl" is not The Rolling Stones song, but another chugging Young deep rocker. Once more the guitar is top notch. "Drive Back" continues along the same riff-paved road. Nothing new here, just trustworthy, reliable rock. Neil Young was like Tom Petty in that respect - album after album that you knew would not let you down.

"Cortez The Killer" sees Young going all historical as he sings of the Spanish conqueror of the Aztecs  over some sublime, extended guitar backing on one of his most lengthy, improvisational numbers since the "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" album. It is a minor classic. The laid-back and folky "Through My Sails" was apparently a remant from the CSNY sessions back in the early seventies. It provides a peaceful, reflective end to an otherwise upbeat, rock-oriented album.


Neil Young - Live Rust (1978)

It's better to burn out than it is to rust....


Recorded live on tour with Crazy Horse in 1978

Running time 73.47

This was the properly live companion to "Rust Never Sleeps", which was "sort of live". The music is taken from Young's tour with Crazy Horse in 1978 and features Young backed with bass, guitar and drums and occasional keyboards. It is a back to basics performance, begun with acoustic/harmonica material before we get the solid, riffy, crashing, no-nonsense rock that Young and Crazy Horse would be known for over subsequent years. It has attracted criticism for including four of the tracks from "Rust Never Sleeps" but that is a bit churlish, really. You can never get enough of those songs anyway and there are still twelve others. This is still a very good live album, one that would set the standard for many more from Young and Crazy Horse over the years.


1. Sugar Mountain
2. I Am A Child
3. Comes A Time
4. After The Gold Rush
5. My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)
6. When You Dance I Can Really Love
7. The Loner
8. The Needle And The Damage Done
9. Lotta Love
10. Sedan Delivery
11. Powderfinger
12. Cortez The Killer
13. Cinnamon Girl
14. Like A Hurricane
15. Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)
16. Tonight's The Night                                                

Kicking off things is "Sugar Mountain", a sort of singalong acoustic number that finds the crowd getting into it and clapping along. The acoustic vibe continues on the plaintive "I Am A Child" and the harmonica-enhanced, enjoyable "Comes A Time", from Young's latest studio album. Then it is time for an earlier classic, the wonderful "After The Gold Rush". The studio version's flugelhorn is replaced by a Springsteen-esque harmonica. "My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)" sees an electric guitar used, but it is gently utilised on the laid-back version of the grungy "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)". Once again the harmonica is excellent, very Dylanesque here. The electric guitar is fully introduced now on the riffy strains of "When You Dance I Can Really Love". This is a full-on, copper-bottomed Young/Crazy Horse rocker, packed with outstanding guitar, throbbing bass and pounding drums. The riff-driven attack continues on "The Loner" from Young's debut album. Proper rock once more. Again the guitar power is truly pulsating.

For some reason, between this track and the next one, the acoustic, anti-drug "The Needle And The Damage Done" contains a thunderclap and stage announcements about taking precautions during the thunderstorm that were take from Woodstock, in 1969, when Young played there with CSNY. A most odd inclusion. "Lotta Love" is a peaceful, chilled-out piece of breezy soft rock that sits a bit incongruously with some of the more caustic material.

Back to rock next with the punky, energetic romp of "Sedan Delivery", followed by the superb, powerful but melodic "Powderfinger". The solidly dignified "Cortez The Killer" continues the high quality. It has an appropriately killer guitar solo. Young returns to his second album for the short, sharp, hard-hitting rock of "Cinnamon Girl". You simply can't argue with the power of the chunky guitar attack on tracks like this. You can never hear "Like A Hurricane" too many times either. This begins with lots of feedback before launching into the familiar intro. "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)" is as chunkily industrial as you would expect. The album ends with the slow but powerful "Tonight's The Night". As with so many tracks it is full to the brim of great guitar. This album has been an air guitarist's dream. Uncompromising, full volume stuff.