Neil Young: Psychedelic Pill (Warners)

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: For the Love of Man
Neil Young: Psychedelic Pill (Warners)

Now this makes more sense. Although some enjoyed Young's recent Americana which saw him reunited with Crazy Horse after a decade, it was clear that was just the throat-clearing rehearsal on old folk and American roots music.

This sprawling double disc is what it was leading too, but typically it isn't quite what we might expect.

With Crazy Horse, Young had delivered some of the most exciting, primal, grinding and almost paleolithic rock'n'distortion. But while there is some of that here, across these 85 minutes Young is mostly reflective.

On the beautifully blissed-out 27 minute opener Driftin' Back (with a chorus of “hey now now”) he considers his past and suggests things were better then as the music ebbs and flows between acoustic guitars, quiet passages and widescreen grunting chords. Young's mercurial guitar work has seldom sounded better.

Later he sings in his country style of being Born in Ontario (“That's where I learned most of what I know, because you don't learn much when you start to get old”), acknowledges when he first heard Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone and discovered the Grateful Dead (Twisted Road) and how this world has been good to him.

If it seems like a retirement note, the heavily phased title track (referencing a girl who “loves to dance” and, like the thumping and instantly familiar 17 minute Ramada Inn, sounding beamed in from the late 70s) gives the lie to that.

As does the 16 minute kerthump of Walk Like a Giant (“me and some of my friends, we were going to change the world . . . but then the weather changed”) which is about holding on to youthful ideals and energy, and gets seriously deconstructed and psychedelic.

Also here is the beautiful, almost holy ballad For the Love of Man in which he sings of wonderment and the mysteries of Nature and God. Bound to be played at the best funerals.

When Neil was 26 he sang Old Man and at 66 he's acknowledging he's now become that . . . and nostalgically reflecting on when he was young, and a different – but similar – Young.

And speaking of Neil Young . . . the are numerous articles, reviews and so forth at Elsewhere starting here.

Your Comments

George Henderson - Nov 5, 2012

Wow.

Sludgie - Nov 25, 2012

Graham, I am just not sure I get it. In his blogography Neil commented on not being able to develop songs live as new songs are instantly posted on YouTube the night they are played and he feels this constraining. I found this album under-developed, lacking real songs and melody, just afew ideas and short melodies caught between long jams. I love neils work, even his later stuff, but this ain't no Zuma, nor Sleeps with Angels, ragged glory and a long way from le noise. I only hope that the current tour with crazy horse will keep the mojo going and allow Neil and The Horse to produce something a little more focused. I think I will listen to Americana again now.

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