Published on October 28th, 2012 | by greg0
Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Psychedelic Pill:: Review
Neil Young has become a perennial nostalgic huckster. The elder statesman of rock and roll is so adamant about the decline of digital music that he created his own hi-fidelity Pono format which has been documented recently by the press and ad nausea in Young’s new autobiography Waging Heavy Peace. While it’s clear that the unreleased Pono isn’t going away any time soon, did Young have to reiterate his misgivings and plug his book in the first minute of his gargantuan album with Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill? Opening track “Driftin’ Back” synchronizes and expands Young’s gripe into a 27 minute rant where he rails against religion, the tech world appropriating Picasso images and once again reiterates his disdain of the mp3 format in case you may have forgotten or fallen asleep somewhere along the way.
Psychedelic Pill isn’t as much of a trip as it is more of a remembrance of Young’s past with Crazy Horse. The Horse, who by the way, were last seen with Young on this past summer’s folky Americana album where they provided some additional grit to songs that have been buried deep into the American conscious. Title track “Psychedelic Pill” isn’t the strongest number, as it only reaches as far as “Rockin’ in the Free World” in Young’s history and comes complete with flanged guitar effects that tend to grate on one’s nerves. “Ramada Inn” is a fuzz-laden piece that finds Young in an almost reflective mode and back on the right track as he spins a yarn about missed opportunities bolstered by Crazy Horse’s background melodies. “Ramada Inn” is the second number on Psychedelic Pill that exceeds 15 minutes but never feels ramshackle; it’s direct and features a gnarly guitar solo that rivals “Cortez the Killer.”
Additional songs that supplement Young’ autobiography appear in the form of the down-home vibe of “Born in Ontario” and “Twisted Road.” “Twisted Road” seems to be the stronger of the two tracks and documents Young’s elation when he first heard Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead and Roy Orbison. “She’s Always Dancing” throws Psychedelic Pill off a bit; it just feels like Crazy Horse by the numbers. “For The Love of Man” slows things down into magisterial territory as it takes on a sanctimonious note. Then reality sets in as a creeping guitar riff is echoed by a whistling melody in “Walk Like A Man” and Young acknowledges his generation’s naiveté on Psychedelic Pill’s best track.
Psychedelic Pill isn’t easily digestible for everyone because of its length but fans of Young’s work with Crazy Horse should be impressed with the adventuresome nature of the album.