Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)

A dreamer of pictures
I run in the night....

  

Released on 14 May 1969

Running time 40.29

This was Neil Young's second album, and the first to feature his excellent backing band, Crazy Horse. Their presence ensures that it was an essentially rock album in flavour, despite a couple of folk/rock tracks that served as echoes of his debut album from only four months earlier. Young was casting himself as a proper rock artist on this album. He succeeded in this aim too, it is an excellent album. I is still one of my favourites of his. There is something essentially pure about it.

TRACK LISTING

1. Cinnamon Girl
2. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
3. Round And Round (It Won't Be Long)
4. Down By The River
5. The Losing End (When You're On)
6. Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets)
7. Cowgirl In The Sand                                            

"Cinnamon Girl" is a short, riffy rocker that gets the album off to a fine start. It is clear from the outset that Young's voice is deeper on this album than on his debut offering. I much prefer it when his voice is like this. Crazy Horse are on top form on here too - great bass and drums. "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" is a mid-pace rocker with hints of the Byrds and The Band in there. The guitar is big, jangly and caustic. Once more, Young's voice is stronger than it sometimes had been. Both these tracks were played live by Young many times over the years.

"Round And Round (It Won't Be Long)" is more typical Neil Young - a mournful, slow pace acoustic-driven number with a plaintive, reflective vocal. It is a throwback to Young's first album in its gentle folk/rock feel. "Down By The River" was the first of the album's two extended tracks in which Young  wound his oblique, almost hippy-like lyrics around his loose, improvised playing with Crazy Horse. This was re-inventing Young as a credible rock artist. The rumbling, deep bass and the tremendous guitar interplay is extremely impressive, particularly for 1969. It is good solid, powerful but dignified rock. His vocals always sounded uniquely mysterious and ominous, though, and the backing vocals are so very 1969 "country rock". Some of the guitar also briefly reminds me of Creedence Clearwater Revival in places. Many years later, Paul Weller, in his "Wild Wood" era, would be very influenced by stuff like this.


"The Losing End (When You're On)" is a melodic, mid-pace country rock chugger with a nice, swinging bass line. "Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets)" is a sombre folk number with echoes of Pentangle, as well as Bob Dylan. It is enhanced by some superb electric violin. Incidentally, "The Rockets" was the original name of Crazy Horse. It is an atmospheric track that really gets into your system after a while. "Cowgirl In The Sand" is the other lengthy number. Like the first two tracks, this and "River" became Young live staples. It is packed full of swirling, muscular electric guitar backing an archetypally late sixties vocal. Once again, Paul Weller will have learned to love this after probably initially hating it. That guitar is a blueprint for much of his work in the mid-nineties, and Ocean Colour Scene, for that matter. There is some simply superb, instinctive guitar work on this track.

This was certainly a most convincing album - four great rock tracks and three folky ones. Young's relationship with Crazy Horse, of course, would go on to produce so much great music over many more years.

B+

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