- 08 Jul 22
This Note's For Her
Another month, another archive Neil Young release; completists must be constantly in and out of Ikea for more shelving units. Toast was recorded in 2001 at San Francisco’s Toast Studios – heads were scratched late into the night naming this one – but held back because, according to Young, it “was so sad that I couldn’t put it out. I just skipped on to do another album in its place. I couldn’t handle it at the time.” Hard as this relationship-documenting record might be on Young’s ears, the good news for ours is that it’s a definite improvement on last year’s disappointing Barn.
If you're a fan of the album that Young did release in 2002, Are You Passionate?, then you'll be familiar with about half of what's here, albeit in different form. It's no exaggeration to say that Booker T. and the M.G's - going on the evidence of all those Stax recordings - are one of the greatest bands there's ever been but I have to admit that the collaboration with Young passed me by; I heard it once or twice, decided it didn't really suit either party, and thought nothing more about it. Given what I'm hearing here, maybe it's due a dust down. On other hand, when you already have a band like Crazy Horse at your disposal, why bring in outside help?
‘Quit’ opens the show at a gentle pace with a melodic lead guitar and could almost be a pop song with the Horse-drawn backing vocals were it not for the lyric’s bitter recounting of a love gone arseways, “Don’t say you love me, that’s what she said,” he wistfully intones, remembering her response to his declarations. Crazy Horse locate the volume knobs are for the arse-kicking ‘Standing In The Light Of Love’ as their boss does some more giving out on a cut that could, at a push, remind the listener of high-water mark Ragged Glory, and the bass and bass drum rumble of ‘Goin’ Home’ is cut from a similar cloth, with Young essaying his faith-of-the-Native Americans trope. ‘Gateway Of Love’ is in real danger of getting a groove going, thanks to Billy Talbot’s bass - perhaps Young wrote this with Donald 'Duck' Dunn already in mind? - and while the thirteen-minutes of ‘Boom Boom Boom’ - expanding out further from the already lengthy 'She's A Healer' recorded with The M.G.'s - will test just how much you love Young’s strangled guitar wrangling, it sounds good to me.
I became a bit distracted and started to lose interest during the slow and bluesy ‘How Ya Doin’?’ - previously known as 'Mr. Disappointment' - and ‘Timberline’ is just unnecessary Horse-by-the-numbers but overall ‘Toast’ should be welcomed by Young-olytes as it’s certainly better than albums like Greendale that he was actually putting out around the turn of the century.