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Archive for August, 2012

As many of us already know, Neil Young often prefers to record during a full moon. But confusing him with the first man ever to step on its surface is still probably a bit of a reach, even for the most diehard Rusties.

Yet, for those who missed it, NBC News did exactly that in reporting the death of astronaut Neil Armstrong this week, briefly running with the darkly amusing headline seen below:

Now that’s one small step…far across the moonbeams.

The good news of course is that Neil Young is still alive and well.

But now it’s gettin’ late
And the moon is climbin’ high
I want to celebrate
See it shinin’ in your eye.

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong. You walked like a giant.

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1994’s Sleeps With Angels would certainly have to rank as one of the most criminally underrated albums in Neil Young’s entire catalog. Released in the wake of the suicide of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, this album has often been called the sequel to Neil Young’s dark masterpiece from the “ditch trilogy,” Tonight’s The Night.

The common thread between both albums of course, is the dark shadow of death.

Tonight’s the Night deals with its subject matter — the drug related deaths of original Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry — with some of the rawest, straight to the bone sounding songs that Neil Young — or anyone else for that matter — has ever committed to record (and there is an even starker sounding version of this record rumored to exist in a vault somewhere).

If anything, Tonight’s the Night comes across as the sort of boozy wake that Whitten and Berry themselves might have appreciated.

Sleeps With Angels on the other hand, is much more reverent and nuanced. There is a quiet, downbeat sort of elegance to songs like “Prime Of Life,” “Safeway Cart,” “Trans Am” and especially “Change Your Mind” — although the latter features some of the most hypnotic guitar passages you’ll find this side of “Cowgirl In The Sand” or “Cortez The Killer.”

As a launchpad for Neil Young’s own brand of psychedelic guitar “Nirvana,” it is a worthy, if slightly lesser known successor to either of those classic guitar excursions.

One of the harder to find Neil Young videos these days, comes from this very same period.

The Complex Sessions features Neil Young & Crazy Horse performing four songs from Sleeps With Angels live in the studio, including “My Heart,” the oddly out of place “Piece Of Crap,” and a beautiful version of “Prime Of Life” stripped clean of the additional studio embellishments found on the album version.

Filmed by Jonathan Demme, who would go on to direct Neil Young’s more recent trilogy of concert films including Heart Of Gold, Trunk Show and Neil Young Journeys, The Complex Sessions is a fabulous document of Neil Young & Crazy Horse playing live in the studio. The versions of the Sleeps With Angels songs seen and heard here, easily eclipse those found on the album (great as those were).

But the real keeper here is the spellbinding version of “Change Your Mind.” Clocking in at just under 15 minutes, it’s not that this version differs from the one found on Sleeps With Angels all that much. But there are a number of subtle nuances in the guitar exchanges between Neil and Poncho that diehard Rusties especially should be able to spot immediately.

At any rate, the chemistry between them is undeniable.

Danny would have been proud.

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Some of our favorite photos among the hundreds which were submitted for use in Neil Young FAQ come from the lens of photographer Kim Reed. Continuing our ongoing series highlighting these talented shutterbugs, we thought we’d share some of Kim’s work with our readers here.

One of the things which immediately struck us about Kim’s pictures, were the sharp contrasts captured between Neil Young’s quieter, more introspective moments, and the fury of his more intense persona during his more highly charged concert performances. A prime example of the latter, is this shot of Neil and Rick Rosas onstage, seemingly ablaze in the eerie glow of the bright lights and stage smoke.

It’s hard to believe that the wildman seen above onstage, is the same guy seen in the pictures below, relaxing backstage at Farm-Aid in moments both solitary and with his Farm-Aid co-conspirators Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp.

Needless to say, we like these shots a lot.

Much like Neil Young’s music itself, Kim Reed’s pictures are a study in contrasts, representing the many colors and shades you’ll find when exploring this fascinating, multi-faceted artist.

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After hyping a mysterious big announcement 24 hours prior, we were delighted to learn yesterday that our good friend — and author of the forward of our Neil Young FAQ book — Thrasher is coming soon to a radio near you.

Not to be confused with the legendary Rust Radio — the 24 hour, round the clock internet Neil Young radio station which brings nothing less than “All Neil, All The Time” — Thrashers Wheat Radio nonetheless is promising that “Feedback Is Back” when it makes its official debut this weekend on WBKM.org.

In addition to playing the latest, greatest — and no doubt, the rustiest — Neil Young music , Thrashers Wheat Radio promises that “every week we’ll ride the rusty human highway to bring you the best Neil Young news and reviews, rumors and musings….plus rare and unreleased tracks that will keep you rockin’ in the free world!”

Simply put, if there is any more qualified guy on the planet to bring everything Neil out from behind those haybales and into the larger masses via both the terrestrial airwaves and beyond than Thrasher…well, we’ll just have to eat ourselves a big, fat peach.

For Neil Young fans — hardcore, casual or otherwise — this is nothing less than destination radio.

Thrashers Wheat brings the rust beginning this Saturday, August 18 at 9:00 PM EST. Check it out at WBKM.org.

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It would appear we all know a little more about the origins of Neil Young’s “Twisted Road” now.

With their recent appearance at San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival, the much anticipated first leg of Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s 2012 reunion tour is — at least for now — in the books.

Following a much deserved month off — which may include putting the finishing touches on their second album of 2012, tentatively titled Psychedelic Pill (and rumored, but thus far unconfirmed, for an October release) — the band will hit the road again with a “free concert” at New York’s Global Festival in Central Park.

This will be followed by a full schedule of dates which has the reunited Neil Young & Crazy Horse criss-crossing America and Canada all the way through December.

Here at NYFAQ, we reported on opening night because, much like the rest of the Neil Young Nation, we were chomping at the bit to see just how they would pull it off after all these years. They didn’t disappoint of course (not that we expected anything less).

But once that particular cat was outta’ the bag, we figured a nightly setlist report would prove to be mostly redundant. Unlike Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, the magic in a Crazy Horse tour doesn’t come so much from a changing list of songs played, as it does from the way what is already in place itself evolves.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was just how much of the setlist (which, as we expected, didn’t change all that much following the opener in Albuquerque), was devoted to new, previously unheard material. Among the standouts was the stunning “Walk Like A Giant,” a sprawling twenty minute jam in the best tradition of Crazy Horse classics from “Cowgirl In The Sand” to “Change Your Mind.”

In addition to the usual guitar-pyro between Poncho and Neil, this one also features some damn fine whistling!

Speaking of those Crazy Horse jams, it was also a nice surprise to see the somewhat lesser known (at least among more casual fans accustomed to what the radio plays) Ragged Glory classic “Love And Only Love” back in heavy rotation.

Ditto’ for “Fuckin’ Up,” which received a particularly raucous treatment this go-round.

Another highlight — and the apparent title track of the upcoming new Neil Young & Crazy Horse album — was “Psychedelic Pill,” a rocker cut straight from the “Cinnamon Girl” mold (because after all, “it’s all the same song,” right?).

This clip, from Red Rocks, also includes a ferocious “Mr. Soul.”

Aside from the fact that the setlists didn’t change a whole lot on the first leg (which shouldn’t surprise those who have followed recent Neil Young tours), probably the biggest surprise — aside from all the new songs — was the lack of material from the recent Americana album, which was represented on this leg only by “Jesus Chariot (“She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain”).

For a tour promoted on T-shirts and posters as “The Past. The Present. The Future.”, there was a little of the former, considerably less of the current, and a whole lot more of the still to come. No complaints here.

Fans still salivating for such Crazy Horse road warhorses as “Cortez” and “Like A Hurricane” apparently needn’t worry though. According to the recent Rolling Stone article confirming the reality of the impending Psychedelic Pill album, Poncho Sampedro has said those songs — and others — could very well show up in a revamped setlist during the second leg.

We can’t wait.

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Not sure where we read it…maybe over on Thrashers Wheat or perhaps the Rusties group on facebook…but Poncho sure appears to be having a great time in the video below, from opening night in Albuquerque on the 2012 Neil Young/Crazy Horse reunion tour:

Sorry for the delay in posting, too. Here in Seattle (and nowhere near Albuquerque, NM) we are suffering through our once-a-year heatwave, and since the house is a virtual oven, we’ve been trying to stay outta the house and away from the computer.

While were on that subject though, we probably won’t be following the setlists that closely here (especially since the folks at Sugar Mountain already do such a great job of that).

Unlike say Springsteen, Neil normally doesn’t vary his setlists all that much from night to night for one thing. Of course, we’d love to be proved wrong about that on this tour.

But we were very interested in what opening night was going to look like…and it did not disappoint in terms of surprises. Any show that opens with “Love And Only Love” and features no less than five new songs is guaranteed to get our attention. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the lack of focus on the barely three month old Americana album (only one song, “Jesus Chariot” made the Albuquerque opening night setlist).

Even more surprising was the lack of concert warhorses like “Hurricane” and “Cortez.” One assumes these will come later of course. But with Neil, who can say for sure? His long tradition of testing out new material on a live audience first certainly continues with this tour, and one can only hope there is more to come. The “Past, Present, Future” theme they are promoting on posters and T-shirts was certainly the case on opening night.

Setlist (courtesy of Sugar Mountain)

1. Love And Only Love
2. Powderfinger
3. Born In Ontario*
4. “Walk Like A Giant”*
5. The Needle And The Damage Done (acoustic solo)
6. Twisted Road* (acoustic w/ the band)
7. For The Love Of Man/I Wonder Why*+
8. Ramada Inn*
9. Cinnamon Girl
10. F*!#in’ Up
11. Psychedelic Pill*
12. Mr. Soul
13. Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)

14. Jesus’ Chariot
15. Roll Another Number

* – song debut
+ – 1981 studio outtake

UPDATE:

…AND Just in, here is the RedRocks setlist, from 08/05/12.

As expected, very similar….

1. Love And Only Love
2. Powderfinger
3. Born In Ontario
4. Walk Like A Giant
5. The Needle And The Damage Done
6. Twisted Road
7. For The Love Of Man
8. Ramada Inn
9. Cinnamon Girl
10. F*!#in’ Up
11. Psychedelic Pill
12. Mr. Soul
13. Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)

14. Over And Over

Setlists from the 2012 Neil Young & Crazy Horse tour are welcomed at our facebook page.

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