Neil Young and Crazy Horse Get Their Stage Legs Back on 'Way Down in the Rust Bucket'

BY Vish KhannaPublished Feb 26, 2021

One of the finest rock bands ever, getting their stage legs back before a small audience in a club, ahead of an era-defining arena tour — what a glorious thing.

After releasing the acclaimed and influential Ragged Glory in the fall of 1990, Neil Young, Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot and Frank "Poncho" Sampedro hunkered down together onto the small stage of the Catalyst club in Santa Cruz and casually blew everyone in attendance away. Captured here in startling audio and on DVD as a Bernard Shakey and L.A. Johnson custom job, grainy with the smoky haze of the club burned into the film stock, Crazy Horse sound huge and they dig into treats, both for us and for them.

Ostensibly a set debuting songs from Ragged Glory that have become legendary live staples, like "Country Home," "Love to Burn," "Farmer John," "Fuckin' Up" and "Love and Only Love," it's clear that virtually every album track kicks all ass in-person and get the band tripping on their own Horse juice in a thrilling manner. That's what happens here, particularly sitting with the record. The sound produced by these four dudes — instrumentally and in their vocal harmonizing — roars through the speakers like nothing else ever has.

Further distinguishing this release, Young felt compelled to dig through his catalogue for rare performances and debuts. "Danger Bird" had, remarkably, never been played live despite being a standout from 1975's Zuma. 1981's relatively under-the-radar Crazy Horse record, Re·ac·tor, was revisited for a spirited take on "T-Bone" and "Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze," an angry tirade about yuppies. Along with American Stars 'n Bars pieces like "Bite the Bullet" and  "Homegrown," all of this rarity must've been mind-melting to witness at the time.

Sure, every once in while somebody in the band fucks something up at their first show in a while but they do have a song about fucking up, so it makes total sense that they might do that and laugh it all off, like an inside joke we can all see. It's clear from listening to and watching Way Down in the Rust Bucket that this was a truly special occasion that now lives on, in this remarkable new document of Crazy Horse in all its (ragged) glory.

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