Thursday, 22 August 2019

Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps (1978)

This is the story of Johnny Rotten....


Recorded live in 1978

Running time 38.16

This is a collection of live recordings by Neil Young that were later enhanced by studio overdubs. The first three tracks are largely acoustic and recorded in early 1978 at The Boarding House in San Francisco. The rest were recorded on the Young/Crazy Horse tour in late 1978. Two exceptions were not recorded live - Sail Away from the Comes A Time sessions and Pocahontas which dates from 1976.


1. My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)
2. Thrasher
3. Ride My Llama
4. Pocahontas
5. Sail Away
6. Powderfinger
7. Welfare Mothers
8. Sedan Delivery
9. Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)                

My My, Hey Hey (Out Of the Blue) is the acoustic version of Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black). It has a haunting, mesmeric appeal, enhanced by some excellent harmonica.

Thrasher is a Springsteen-esque (later era) piece of folky country. It has shades of early Dylan with hints of Love Minus Zero/No Limits's rhyme scheme.

Ride My Llama is a deep but acoustic number, with some really sonorous, heavy rhythmic bits thumping behind its plaintive country-ish melody. Again, but in a different way, there is something Dylanesque about this. Another similarity with Dylan is that the first five tracks are acoustic (the old "side one"), while the second side is electric, like Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home.

Pocahontas is another one that you could imagine post 2010 Springsteen doing. It is acoustic as well, but strongly acoustic if you know what I mean.  In the lyrics, Young imagines that he was a trapper who got to sleep with Pocahontas. He then imagines "Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and me...".   Hmmm, ok Neil. The afore-mentioned Sail Away is a fetching, laid-back folky number with a comforting country air to it.

Right, now it's time for Neil to strap on that electric guitar, get Crazy Horse to join him and give us some of that buzzy electric rock as only he and "The Horse" can. Powderfinger is a Young classic as well. Driven on by a superb riff, enhanced by a big, scratchy guitar solo and some great lyrics, it is up there as one of his best songs. Another corker is the similarly rifftastic and wryly amusing Welfare Mothers . "Welfare mothers make better lovers..." he tells us. You can find them "down at every Laundromat in town...". Really? I never did on any of my weekly visits to the Launderette back in the day.

Sedan Delivery is almost punky in its initial guitar attack and grungy drum thump. In between its frantic thrashing there are some slow, almost sixties psychedelic moments. For a member of rock's old school by 1978, this was incredibly punky stuff. Finally, we get the iconic Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) with more top class mega-chunky riffs and the mention of Johnny Rotten, "gone but not forgotten", in 1978. Old Neil had his finger on the pulse. He always was "old Neil" as Lynyrd Skynyrd described him, wasn't he? Even when he wasn't that old.

This was certainly an interesting album, but it never really comes across as a "live" album. That sort of feeling is better found on Live Rust, released soon after this.


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