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Top Twenty Albums. Eleven. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: “Ragged Glory/Weld Live”(1990)

 Neil Young strides across the history of Popular Music as a colossus and these records embrace both styles in which Young is a master, country/ folk and hard, loud, noisy and dirty rock.

The titles are perfect, the later almost onomatopoeic as you can feel the sparks fly during a Crazy Horse set, almost as if the audience and the band are literally welded together by the music which is an assault on the senses.

If James Brown is the Godfather of soul and Weller the Modfather of Brit Pop, then Neil Young is without a shadow of a doubt the Daddy of 90’s Grunge and it’s 21st Century rock offshoots such as Green Day, Ash and the like.

Indeed Kurt Cobain quotes Young in his suicide note, a fact that saddens the Great Man hugely; “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”, lifted directly form “Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black)” and recently covered by non other than Oasis.

The eighties represented a slump in creative an commercial fortunes for Neil Young after 20 years of enormous success, but 1988’s “Freedom” was a return to form and a commentary on the decline of Blue Collar Inner City America presided over by Ronald Reagan, a bete noir of the politically active Canadian star, and Young was infuriated when the Republican Party played his rousing title track “Rockin’ In the Free World” at rallies, just as Springsteen’s considerable ire was raised by Bush playing “Born in the USA” when visiting the troops in the run up to the Iraq invasion.

Both songs couldn’t have been interpreted more wrongly if the Neo Cons had tried (which they didn’t as they are stupid, stupid people).

1990 saw Young reunited with Crazy Horse for the first time in and decade, and the result is "Ragged Glory", a beautifully paced effort which draws on the legacy of Young’s solo work“Harvest” and Crazy Horse’s “Zuma” to produce a perfect crossover record which marries the best of both styles.

Indeed “Farmer John”, “Country Home and “White Line” are re writes of material which didn’t make the cut previously but epitomise the rawness of the album which was recorded with the minimum of technology, often as live, in Young’s barn.

“Over and Over” has a lighter sound but the apogee of the album is the stupendous 10 minute epic “Love and Only Love” which plays us out.

“Weld” perfectly showcases the album in a live setting, adding in the best of the Crazy Horse back Catalogue.

“Crime in the City” is Young’s greatest polemic as he tells us the story of a man at odds with, and on the margins of Society, a victim of circumstance reflecting on a brutal life.

So much brilliant rock music, from “Hey….. “ to the achingly beautiful “Cortez the Killer” which tells of the brutal conquest of the Continent by Europeans with no idea, or desire to understand Native American ways.

And, of course my personal favourite Young track, “Like a Hurricane” which is a song to touch the soul, if ever there was one.

Neil Young is one of the best songwriters to have wielded a guitar, still producing superb music, which challenges the listener and inspires many a youngster to have a bash themselves, surely the greatest legacy a musician can have.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

Discussion

One thought on “Top Twenty Albums. Eleven. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: “Ragged Glory/Weld Live”(1990)

  1. I thought you was going to start your top 20 again?

    Posted by Richard | February 19, 2007, 1:00 am

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