Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Psychedelic Pill

Warner Bros.

Oct 30, 2012 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


 

Some may have thought Neil Young was off his rocker when he reunited himself with Crazy Horse earlier this year and released Americana, an album of fuzzed-out American standards such as “Oh Susannah” and “Clementine.” But lo and behold, just a few months later along comes what everyone was waiting for, manna from the rock gods, in the form of a Neil Young & Crazy Horse double album. 

When one thinks of double albums, one usually envisions bloated excess, 20-some tracks, half of which are probably throwaways. Not Psychedelic Pill. Here Young and the Horse give us eight songs. Yep, eight songs (well, eight songs and an alternate mix of the title track), in almost 90 minutes. And half of these tracks are under four-and-a-half minutes, which makes Psychedelic Pill a vehicle for some of the most intense and blistering (and longest) tunes Neil Young & Crazy Horse have ever put to tape. The set starts with “Driftin’ Back,” which at 27½ minutes challenges the listener to stay put for the other seven songs, while seeing Young through six chorus-verse-guitar turns, until the listener is nearly delirious from the routine. By the time the track is done, the three-minute title track seems rote, almost pedestrian. But then the fireworks begin.

“Ramada Inn” is classic Neil Young & Crazy Horse, rivaling monsters like “Cortez the Killer” or “Fuckin’ Up.” With it’s pounding riff and solo-happy near-17 minutes, the track is a reminder of what Neil Young is capable of at his rock and roll best (and it’s rendered even fiercer live). Elsewhere, the 8½ minute slow burn of “She’s Always Dancing” and the 16½ minute whistle-happy sludge of “Walk Like a Giant” are tempered by shorter tracks such as the autobiographical “Born in Ontario” and the hymn-like “For the Love of Man.” Psychedelic Pill is as near to perfect as this lineup may record. Most Neil Young albums are either good or very good, but it’s been quite a while since he’s released one like this. (www.neilyoung.com)

 

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