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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Neil Young : Psychedelic Pill review

You either love Neil Young or you loathe him. And, as he approaches his 67th birthday next month, he doesn’t give a toss.

No surprise, then, that his new album – the second he has recorded with Crazy Horse this year – is typically uncompromising.

Psychedelic Pill opens with Driftin’ Back, a by now typical 27-minute grunge guitar grumble, seemingly served up just to prove the point.

“The songs the Horse likes to consume are always heartfelt and do not need to have anything fancy associated with them,” he says in his new biography. “The Horse is very suspicious of tricks...”

With a couple of the other songs weighing in at over 16 minutes, Warners have had to release the nine-song set over two CDs. It’s Young’s longest album to date.

But, and here’s the rub, it’s also one of his best, both musically and lyrically, too. Because Neil Young is an angry man.

Driftin’ Back is an indictment of the failure of the 1960s, a topic revisited in Walk Like A Giant, the latter a rock classic in the waiting.

“Me and some of our friends, we were going to save the world,” he growls. “Breaks my heart to think about how close we came.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum, For The Love Of Man is a tender strum dedicated to Young’s quadriplegic son, Ben.

“Who could understand what goes on,” the doting dad asks, “when a child is born to live, but not like you or I?”

Musically, Twisted Road opens like CSNY hallmark Ohio before paying tribute to Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and others who influenced a younger Young.

The nostalgic Ramada Inn is all about later life love; two versions of the title track boast gloriously shambolic rock and roll. She’s Always Dancing has a deceptive grace, and only the rootsy, cornball Born In Ontario disappoints.

This Psychedelic Pill should be made available on the NHS.

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