Neil Young's 1977 album followed a very productive streak which produced the peerless On The Beach and Zuma. It's a bit of a mish-mash of styles, opening up with The Old Country Waltz, which is just that, a relatively hokey, countrified waltz featuring backing vocals from Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson. Dodgy songs abound, particularly the country-rock pairing of Saddle Up The Palomino and Bite The Bullet, and the slow country of Hold Back The Tears is not much better.
So why bother with this album? There are 4 very fine tracks on it. The country strum of Hey Babe strides along very nicely, and the acoustic ballad Star of Bethlehem is equally fine. But the latter half of the album is dominated by two tracks which taken together last 15 minutes. The spooky acoustic ballad Will To Love is the first of these. The song features a vibraphone along with the sound of campfire crackling in the background, lending it an eerie atmosphere. Oblique lyrics about "an ocean fish who swam upstream" simply add to this.
The next track blows all the cobwebs away. Like A Hurricane was recorded with Crazy Horse, and it shows. The song is an epic guitar tour de force, a straightforward descending melody provides the background for Neil Young's blistering guitar solos. The final track, country-stomp Homegrown is something of a let down but this album is worth seeking out for the previous two tracks alone.