Neil Young Album Reviews from FUNHOUSE#3A

The Rust@Death Mail List Evaluates the Neil Young Catalog

Funhouse Album Reviews

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The cyberzine of degenerate pop culture
vol. 1 - no. 5; October 20, 1994

1979 - Reprise HS 2295
My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) / Thrasher / Ride My Llama / Pocahontas /
Sail Away / Powderfinger / Welfare Mothers / Sedan Delivery / Hey Hey,
My My (Into the Black)

by Richard Dubourg

Just recently, some people have started to say that they never really could
understand the connection made between grunge and Neil Young, and between
grunge and Rust Never Sleeps in particular. Don't listen to them, as this is
seminal, and all the more astounding for having been recorded over fifteen
years ago (with many of the songs older than that). The all-pervading theme
of the album is one of change, and of what becomes of those who try to resist it. Hence, the boy who stands to fight the anonymous invaders, ignoring his
father's advice ("Red means run, son, numbers add up to nothing") gets a
bullet in the head for his pains ("Powderfinger"); the alien who says, "It's
old but is good" is nothing but a "primitive" ("Ride My Llama"); even the now
infamous line, "It's better to burn out than to fade away" is more an
exhortation to accept, and if possible to adapt to, change rather than resist
it and become obsolete ("Out of the Blue [Into the Black]"). Rust Never
Sleeps is an album borne of the decade that saw Vietnam, environmental
disasters, and other events of global change, and ends up being one of the
most direct and coherent statements about the punk movement ever put to vinyl.
"This is the story of Johnny Rotten," Young sings, and you know he sees Rotten
as the ambassador to an irresistible driving force in popular music at the
time. This only serves to reinforce the grunge connection, with that later
(and almost exclusively North American) phenomenon being a fruitful (if
somewhat overdue) offspring of the union between punk and rock music. You can
be sure that Young wasn't intending to "fade away" from "I'll know the time
has come to give what's mine" ("Thrasher"). But don't think this is just a
grunge album, as it has all of the Young trademarks: the distorted guitar, the
country influence, and good ol' rock'n'roll. But all of it, even the acoustic
first side, has a hard edge. There are not many albums which sound as fresh
and relevant today as when they were first recorded. Rust Never Sleeps is
one, and deserves to be in everyone's collection.

More reviews of Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps album.

1979 - Reprise 2296
Sugar Mountain / I Am a Child / Comes a Time / After the Goldrush / My My,
Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) / When You Dance I Can Really Love / The Loner /
The Needle and the Damage Done / Lotta Love / Sedan Delivery / Powderfinger /
Cortez the Killer / Cinnamon Girl / Like A Hurricane / Hey Hey, My My
(Into the Black) / Tonight's The Night

by Joost Groen

Live Rust was released by Reprise in 1979, only a few months after Rust Never
Sleeps saw daylight. It is a record of Neil's 1978 North American Rust Never
Sleeps tour, with Crazy Horse in its strongest line-up (Poncho, Billy Talbot
and Ralph Molina,) and was primarily released as a soundtrack to the tour's
filmed documentary. The set list of Live Rust comprises a good overview of
Neil's work thus far. The show can be more or less subdivided into two parts
(as is usual in a lot of Neil's concerts), an acoustic and electric. Live
Rust immediately starts off with one of the highlights, a very clear guitar
and Neil's singing what's famously known as the song he wrote on his 19th
birthday, "Sugar Mountain." The ending, with Neil singing the last stanza in
a kind of desperate way with the help of his harmonica, really strikes at the
heart. After this emotional song, the somewhat hurriedly played "I Am A
Child" comes as a kind of an anticlimax - I think this song deserves more.
But then, "Comes a Time" is great. I'm prejudiced toward this song, since my
friend Marc and I used it as the theme of the party for our graduation from
University. These first three songs have the same theme - a loss of childhood
and innocence. "After the Gold Rush" is alright, but "My My, Hey Hey" is kind
of impoverished. Although the audience appreciates Neil's dedication to
Johnny Rotten (shouted out), within this line-up the usual emotionality of this song, telling of the first indications of maturing after an innocent
childhood, does not come out clear enough. With "When You Dance I Can Really
Love" bursting from your stereo set, things are alright again. Now this is
emotion, this is how being in love feels! The power emerging from this song
is incredible. "The Loner" is, again, somewhat hastily played, and therefore
loses some of its power. The thunderstorm and rain at the end of "The Loner"
("my guitar! - no rain!") is a nice relaxation point in an altogether exciting
show, and Neil's emerging from the rain acoustically with "The Needle and the
Damage Done" gives the song a good setting - the junkie in the gutter and in
the rain. "Lotta Love" is played better than the original, in my opinion,
especially the background vocals, which contribute to a sweet but intense
song. It maybe should've been performed earlier in the set, however.
With "Sedan Delivery," Neil and the Horse switch to electric - definitively. I
don't like this version of "Sedan Delivery," as it's too noisy and you can
hardly hear Neil's singing. That's a pity, but then the sequence
"Powderfinger" - "Cortez The Killer" - "Cinnamon Girl" - "Like A Hurricane"
produces one hell of a lot of energy. A very powerful "Powderfinger" again
describes the difficulties one encounters in maturing:
"I just turned 22 / I was wondering what to do"
"Cortez the Killer" is played slowly, in the way that it should be. The
reggae-ish ending of the song is famous and makes you smile. "Cinnamon Girl"
is still one of my early Neil favorites, but the version on Live Rust has a
strange spectral distribution (lots of treble, too low on bass). I've heard
Neil do better versions of "Like A Hurricane," as well. Well, the song was
still pretty young then, and it has certainly since developed. The encores of
"Hey Hey, My My" and "Tonight's the Night" are both played in a very
distorted, heavy, black style. I love them that way, but they make for a
strange appearance on an otherwise quite clear album. However, their symbolic
value - of decline setting in - serves the "story" of this concert well; in
this way, the concert ends in some kind of black hole through which we all
eventually have to crawl. The line-up of the songs on Live Rust suggests a
story of growing maturity. From childhood in the first couple of songs, to
death (in this case of someone in your vicinity) at the end. Some critics
claim that Live Rust doesn't really add anything to Neil's oeuvre, especially
since it came out only two years after Decade, and nine of the songs on Live
Rust are on Decade as well. I think the power of Live Rust is the fact that
it is live. It takes you on a 74'01" minute journey through the past.

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