- 19 Jun 20
Legendary Long-Lost Long-Player From The Young Young
It’s a good time to be a Neil Young fan, a fan of his golden Seventies in particular. It’s only relatively recently we received the marvellous 1976 acoustic session Hitchhiker, followed by the excellent Songs For Judy, a live performance, again from 1976, that featured Young solo as well as with the immortal Crazy Horse. And that’s to only mention two.
This might be the one Shakey heads have been waiting for though, and Lord knows this is probably what the record company were holding out for to follow After The Gold Rush and Harvest to the northern reaches of the charts rather than the decidedly more bleak – but no less brilliant - trilogy of Time Fades Away, On The Beach, and Tonight’s The Night. Allegedly, Young shelved it because of the personal nature - i.e., his relationship with Carrie Snodgress - of some of the lyrics. Time fades away, I suppose.
The shorthand then is that this is located at the crossroads between those two sets of records. There are plenty of acoustic guitars and pedal steels and even Emmy Lou Harris’ beautiful voice on the one hand, and harder edge knock-abouts like ‘Vacancy’ and the title track on the other. A good proportion of these songs did emerge later in various forms – ‘Star Of Bethlehem’ on American Stars ‘N Bars, “Little Wing’ on Hawks & Doves - right up to ‘White Line’ which is beautifully delicate here, and had the tar kicked out of it by Crazy Horse on Ragged Glory (1990).
It’s all pretty great, apart from the spoken word nonsense of ‘Florida’, a nightmare of crashing gliders - "Hey, Man! It's like he predicted 9/11, man!" No, it isn't, man. - and misplaced babies, intoned over someone rubbing the lip of a wine glass. Even back in those crazy days, someone must surely have advised Neil that it was time to lay off the pipe. For reasons no can probably now remember, these lyrics ended up as part of the sleeve “art” for Tonight’s The Night.
Still, ignore that, and go instead for something as charming as ‘Try’, ‘Mexico’ or ‘Love Is A Rose’, which shares a melody with ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ on the first Crazy Horse album. Another winner from a time when Neil Young very rarely put a foot wrong. Never known to fail, as it says on the cover. Not back then anyhow.