Monday, December 17, 2007

Chrome Dreams II

Neil Young's most recent album of first-rate rock & roll songs was Ragged Glory, released in 1989 (although Sleeps with Angels, Greendale, & Living With War have strengths). In that time he's also released a pair of nice folkie collections. But his two best albums since Ragged Glory could be the acoustic Live at Massey Hall 1971 & Live at the Fillmore East 1970 with Crazy Horse, the latter only about 45 minutes long. Otherwise, Neil has kept busy doing this & that. Chrome Dreams II isn't the album I'm waiting for. A lumbering, long, old song, "Ordinary People," occupies the center of Chrome Dreams, & while it's great to hear & have it - love the horn riff, thank heavens - at 18 minutes I doubt I'll be listening to it much. Length doesn't make it an epic. The album is generating an excessive amount of fan blab. But for me, it comes down to one really nice folk thing, "Boxcar," one white trash rocker, "Dirty Old Man," that isn't as as good as "Welfare Mothers" or "Sedan Delivery," & one midtempo demon chaser, "Spirit Road," with an instant sing-along hook chorus & a surprisingly energetic rhythm section, that could have made it on Ragged Glory. But even this excellent number would have benefited from some tightening in the lyrics & maybe a few more minutes of guitar rave up. Neil is good for the planet, he's messy, he annoys his legions of true believing geezers who always want another Harvest & fantasize a CSNY reunion. I wish he'd stop screwing around with concepts & archives & just sit down & compose 10 good songs. Works for Dylan & Springsteen every few years.


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