Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Album Review: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Broken Arrow

The good thing about Neil Young albums is that if you don’t like one, you might like the next one. They tend to vary a fair bit stylistically. However in 1996, his album with Crazy Horse was the latest in a long line of rock albums, stretching back to 1989’s Freedom, and broken only by 1992’s Harvest Moon.

Ok that’s enough of the back story. One noticeable thing about this album is that there are only 8 songs on it, and the first 3 songs are all more than seven minutes long. Big Time is classic sounding Crazy Horse territory with that unique guitar sound, though it and many of the other tracks here are overlong. Case in point is Loose Change, which has a very pleasing, if ridiculously repetitive guitar-laden midsection but does it really need to be nearly 10 minutes long?

The loping strut of Slip Away is the closest in feel to his classic 70s Crazy Horse material, with ghostly vocals harking back to the more recent Change Your Mind. After 3 tracks over 25 minutes you either buy into this or you don’t. Changing Highways is sloppy country-rock, like a weaker version of Looking for a Love (off Zuma), and Scattered again evokes the 70s (Albuquerque off Tonight’s the Night).

Lovers of acoustic Neil are also catered for here with the mellow strum of Music Arcade, but final track Baby What You Want Me To Do, a Jimmy Reed cover, is a messy (in a bad way) blues strum recorded live, complete crowd noises and dragged out over 8 minutes!

Definitely not an album for lovers of short, succinct songs, mainly one for fans of the jamming Crazy Horse variety.