Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Reviewed by Joseph Tingle
Neil Young’s first album with Crazy Horse in over a decade is also one of his most challenging. Kicking off with “Driftin’ Back”, a nearly thirty-minute meditation on the 60’s counter culture, Neil makes it obvious that, at the very least, he’s still got something to say. “Here’s how I got my mantra,” Neil tells us around six-minute mark, before the trance-like, two-chord progression continues on for something like twenty more minutes. And, by that time, I suspect only the most ardent of Neil Young disciples is still listening.
Not unlike Bob Dylan’s recent Tempest, Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s Psychedelic Pill is an album of long songs. And, not unlike Tempest, many of these compositions are marred by the way they seem to meander on with no direction or variation. And, whereas Dylan has poetry making up the difference, Young only has his lead guitar.
The shorter, more digestible songs are better sometimes, but not always. The title track, for example, might have been a good song if it weren’t swathed in an abrasive panning effect, no-doubt an attempt to attain some psychedelic value. Others, such as “Twisted Road”, represent Neil’s songwriter at its strongest: that is, paying tribute to his various musical influences. But ultimately, it’s hard to get past two of the two long clunkers that make up half of the album’s music; the third, “Walk Like a Giant”, is actually decent stuff.
As I’ve heard one fan described in telling words, Psychedelic Pill is an album for Neil Young advocates who wish “Cortez the Killer” was three times as long, with half of the melodic variation.