Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Psychedelic Pill

> > Oct 28 2012

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill
By Jason SchneiderThere's a level of trepidation that accompanies every new Neil Young release lately, as if we who revere him now perceive him as a relative we're being forced to care for in their old age. The sad truth is that, while Young remains as electrifying as ever on stage, especially with Crazy Horse, the quality of his songwriting has been in steep decline since the mid-'90s. Albums like Are You Passionate?, Living With War, Fork in the Road and even 2010's Daniel Lanois collaboration, Le Noise, are forgotten almost as soon as they're released, written off not unlike the ramblings of Clint Eastwood addressing an empty chair. And like Eastwood, Young's untouchable straight-talking reputation enables him to get away with it. Psychedelic Pill comes mere months after Americana — Young & the Horse's bizarre take on public domain folk songs — and in conjunction with a memoir, Waging Heavy Peace. In true Young fashion, calling the album Psychedelic Pill is an inside joke: he has admitted that for the past two years, he has been completely sober for the first time in his adult life. The effect it's had on his writing is dramatic, and what we get on Psychedelic Pill are stream-of-consciousness attempts ("Driftin' Back"), along with musings on the grim reality of old age ("Ramada Inn") and the regrets that come with it ("Walk Like A Giant"). Then there's "Born in Ontario," which sounds paid for by the provincial tourism board, and "Twisted Road," another walk down memory lane that ultimately goes nowhere. Title track and "She's Always Dancing" are both standard, tossed-off Crazy Horse rockers, leaving "For the Love of Man" as the album's high point. Written for his wheelchair-bound son, Ben, here Young fully displays the yearning spirituality that only comes in flashes now when he steps outside of himself. It's a stunningly compact, Brian Wilson-like performance, which makes up for an hour of overindulgence, even though that's Crazy Horse's stock-in-trade. But how much longer can Young keep rewriting "Cowgirl in the Sand"? Stay tuned though; he still sounds a long way from being finished.
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WOW! This album is amazing.
Please ignore all the negativity of the above review.
Clearly not reviewed by a fan of Neil or for that matter someone who actually gave this more than one or two listens.
Saying how Neil hasn't been in decline is insulting as a music fan!
First, Living with War was one of the most relevant rock album reflecting the state of the world during that time.
Le Noise. Well that won a Juno.
Americana. Show me another artist that can take ownership of classic songs like that.
This is best album of 2012 hands down.
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While I wouldn't go as far as the above commenter, Jason T, in calling it the "best album of 2012", it's certainly better than a 6 & a middling review. In part this could be growing pains on Exclaim's part, finding the pocket where the new numerical system will assess "average" albums, but I do tend to agree with Jason that this review is also pretty heavy on generalizations about Neil's recent work, and this probably informs the lackluster review.

What I find most impressive about this album (especially on the "rockers") is it's organic, raw feel that highlights that ragged dynamics between the band - there's a vitality to this record that's undeniable. Quite honestly, a lot of other so-called "classic rockers" could use a little more of what Neil and Crazy Horse seem to have bottled here - an off-the-cuff energy that feels loose, warm, and positively kinetic. While it's hard to look at this album without context and chronology, I contend that had this been a "lost" album from one of Neil's peaks in the 70s, this reviewer would be singing a different tune. Unfortunately, generalizations about the past several years have gotten in the way.

... and really... pissing on Le Noise? REALLY???

And for the record, I'll take 30 minutes of opening-track long-jam by Crazy Horse any day over the stuffy, studio sterility of recent Springsteen records.
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This review is HORRENDOUS!!! Barely any discussion of music, just snarky comments about aging. What a load of condescending bullshit! Unless this is some kind of hipster-driven attempt to troll by knocking Canada's great musician, this review is completely out of line. Notwithstanding the issues with the numbering system, this review is just terrifying bad.

Good job, Exclaim. You really shit the bed on this one.
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Believe me, I really wanted to like this album. I've listened to Neil probably more than any other artist my entire life. If you enjoy his guitar playing -- which I do -- then this album is brilliant. But I'm open to hearing any arguments that the bulk of these songs stand up to his best work. Just check out his current set lists. Aside from the new album, they're playing nothing after Ragged Glory.
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No further rebuttals? Okay Jason, I win. Please remove your bullshit review now.
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I am in general agreement with Jason. I will say that Neil has been my favourite since I was 18, so a good 32 of adoration from this camp. I must say that Neil seems to be hell bent to release as much material as possible. Frankly it has become a bit like releases to super fans of demos and out takes. I don't want polish, but I do want quality. Le Noise captured a great session style and Daniel Lanois is a great collaborator. It was a pretty good album and gets my thumbs up for a bona fide Neil effort. It just seems like the Geffen days where there seems to be a push to get the material out. Odd that Geffen became someone he hated, and now Neil's mortality may be making Neil behave in the same manner. I will continue to have faith in Neil, and will continue to buy each release, but I would not be upset if it took a few years before the next release if it would make for some music that lasts and becomes part of my journey.
As an aside, Neil has put together a great line up for this tour. Los Lobos won me again, in an arena yet! The Sadies, Patti Smith Group shows are dream line ups for me.
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