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Chrome Dreams II
Unlike his recent output, there’s no overarching preoccupation here, there is only a bunch of good tunes.
Tara Brady, 06 Nov 2007
You know how it is with gentlemen of a certain age and standing. When was the last time you didn’t read a review of the latest opus from, say, Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, that wasn’t heralded as A Great Return To Form?
Frequently, to be fair, these claims are not without validity. But more often than not, such feverish notices are borne of wishful thinking, cumulative fandom and an unbridled relief that our most revered artistes haven’t quite flushed their illustrious career down the lavatory just yet.
Sadly, time is rarely kind to these Brand New Instant Classics. We’re seduced, of course. We might even declare our undying love. But it’s rarely the Real Thing. Once that shiny new package is back on the shelf, its shot at the big time, at high rotation play, is going, going, gone.
Neil Young is, of course, the exception that proves the rule. By the late eighties, you’ll recall, the stars were realigning in his favour. Years spent wandering through an experimental wilderness gave way to the thumping melodies of Freedom (1989) just as the grunge kids who fashioned themselves in his craggy image were coming of age. But there was more going on than celebrity endorsements from plaid-shirted Seattle denizens. Harvest Moon, Mr. Young’s belated 1992 sequel to his 1972 country-rock classic, is still reckoned as one of his finest outings.
Since then, the Canadian rocker has been remarkably consistent in his cranky inconsistent way, hop-scotching between the personal, the political, the conceptual and the downright distorted. But for now, he’s keeping it together in a way that early eighties efforts – think Re-ac-tor or Trans – suggested he might not. Whether he’s rambling (‘Greendale’), romanticising (‘Prairie Wind’) or ranting from his soapbox as a war supporter (‘Are You Passionate?’) then an anti-war peacenik (‘Living With War’), he, and by extension we, never lose touch with the heart and soul of Neil Percival Young.