Album review: Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill

By Graham Reid

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Neil Young. Photo / AP
Neil Young. Photo / AP

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 of old folk and American roots music.

This sprawling double disc is what it was leading to, 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 though 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, at 66 he's acknowledging he's now become that, and nostalgically reflects on when he was young, and a different - but similar - Young.

Stars: 4.5/5
Verdict: Old Young thinking of olden Young days.
Click here to buy a copy of Psychedelic Pill.

- TimeOut/elsewhere.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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