Psychedelic Pill – Neil Young and Crazy Horse
The enigmatic Neil Young has teamed up with Crazy Horse to release his first studio album with them for ten years and his second of the year. Young is clearly in FU mood presenting his listeners first off with the 27 minute long Driftin’ Back, a wistful look back at his life, his regrets that the 60’s generation didn’t change the world and (his latest hobby-horse) the deficiencies of MP3 which starts off with acoustic guitar but soon gets into a great groove peppered with stunning raw electric guitar solos and ending with the reflection he may be a pagan. Even Dylan positions his longer songs further down the track listing.
Young has, famously, given up drugs and booze but instead of making him concise and edgy it seems to have made him contemplative, nostalgic and loud. Stand out track, at least after a couple of listenings, is Ramada Hotel (weighing in at around 16 minutes) about a long-married couple. As well as the heavier side we are familiar with when Young and Crazy Horse team up, the double album ranges from the light and poppy Born in Ontario, the least appealing song to me, to the mass whistleathon at the beginning of Walk Like A Giant (another 16 minute opus). There are two versions of Psychedelic Pill although, to my ears at least, they seem so similar as to beg the question, why?
Like Dylan, this is his 35th studio album but whereas Dylan, whose formative influence on Young is acknowledged on Twisted Road, has become obsessed with death, Young is content to put his life into some kind of perspective. The old fire is there and his guitar style veers from growls and heavy solos with feed-back to soaring blistering assaults on the fretboard while the rest of the band chug along, as if they are egging him on.
At 66 Young seems to have hit another peak in his creativity – perhaps this is what he meant by it being better to burn out than fade away. If this great album is any testament, he is not going to fade away any time soon.