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Archive for March, 2013

Forget about Trans.

Though far lesser known, 1981’s ReAcTor – the immediate predecessor to Neil Young’s infamous 1982 debut for his then new label Geffen Records, and his last album for nearly a decade at Warner/Reprise – may in fact be the weirdest album in his entire catalog.

Between its weird-for-the-time black and red, triangular shaped artwork, and its extremely minimalist – and LOUD – songs, ReAcTor was one of those blasts completely out of left-field that bewildered fans at the time, and – needless to say – didn’t sell particularly well.

To say the songs on ReAcTor were, shall we say, “brash” for their time would be an understatement (and then some).

But looking back now, they also provided some interesting clues as to where he would be headed on his very next record – most notably on the furious, guitar-driven crossfire of “Shots.” Here, Neil Young takes what Hendrix did with the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock (and later on “Machine Gun,” with Band of Gypsys) a logical step further.

“Shots” was also the track which first introduced the electronically enhanced sounds (of gunfire, mainly), that Neil Young later employed to far greater effect on Trans.

Among the other wildest tracks found on ReAcTor, are “Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleaze” (which many have since speculated might have been directed at then Warner Brothers honcho Mo Ostin – and towards the same label he would leave shortly thereafter).

Another one of the more memorable tracks from ReAcTor is “T-Bone” – which to this day, stands as one of the loudest, most abrasive songs that Neil Young has ever recorded. It basically consists of Neil & Crazy Horse making one hell of an extremely loud, feedback-laden racket, as Neil sings its single lyric – “Got mashed potato, aint’ got no T-Bone” over and over:

But unlike some of those other, more notorious records from Neil Young’s early 1980s years that prompted charges of “career suicide” at the time – Trans being the most oft-cited of them – ReAcTor barely merits a mention these days, not to mention any similar school of latter-day apologists.

Outside of “Southern Pacific” – which, in a slightly more countrified version, became a regular fixture of Neil Young setlists during his mid-eighties “country period” with the International Harvesters – the songs from ReAcTor have also been very rarely played ever since.

Which is what makes the sudden re-emergence of several songs from ReAcTor on the current Australian run of the Alchemy Tour with Crazy Horse all the more interesting.

Although the recent reappearance of Zuma rarities like “Danger Bird” have gotten far more attention, the most observant Rusties certainly must have noticed how ReAcTor songs like “Opera Star,” and most recently, “Surfer Joe” have made their way into the setlists being reported from the shows down under.

Could “Shots,” “T-Bone” or “Southern Pacific” be far behind? Stay Tuned…

Setlist
2013-03-21, Vector Arena, Auckland, New Zealand (thanks to Sugar Mountain):

Love And Only Love
Powderfinger
Born In Ontario
Walk Like A Giant
Hole In The Sky
Heart Of Gold
Twisted Road
Singer Without A Song
Ramada Inn
F*!#in’ Up
Cinnamon Girl
Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleaze
Mr. Soul
Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)
Danger Bird
Sedan Delivery
Roll Another Number

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By all accounts, Neil Young & Crazy Horse have continued to stun audiences on the Alchemy Tour during the current run of shows in Australia – much the same as they did last fall in North America.

But unlike those 2012 stateside shows – barn-burners that they were – there have been some very interesting recent surprises coming from the land down under.

The first of these came early on. The great new song “Hole In The Sky” made its debut at the March 2, Perth Arena show (thanks to Sugar Mountain), and has remained in the set ever since.

A few nights later, the rarely played “Opera Star” (from ReAcTor) made its Alchemy Tour debut on March 7 in Brisbane, Queensland. Then on March 10 in Sydney, Neil dusted off “Prisoner of Rock And Roll” from 1987’s Life (in addition to the aforementioned “Opera Star”).

Who says Neil Young doesn’t mix up his setlists?

seattle-crazy-horse-neil-young-2012

But the best was still to come.

On March 13 at the 5000 seat Plenary in Melbourne, Neil Young & Crazy Horse played a blazing three hour set that saw all of those aforementioned rarities, as well as a mini-set from 1975’s Zuma, consisting of “Cortez The Killer,” and the Alchemy Tour debuts of the ultra-rare “Barstool Blues” and “Danger Bird.”

Reviews of this epic show – which have been tweeted and posted on various internet forums, and at sites like Thrashers Wheat – have been unanimous in their praise, as being one for the ages. But “Danger Bird” (last played ten years ago) has been one of those most often singled out “holy shit!” moments.

As seen in the video below, it is also a particularly heavy version of the song:

Most interesting though, is a report from Noise 11, that says the Melbourne show was filmed for an upcoming documentary concert film from Shakey Pictures.

Stay Tuned…

Setlist
March 13, The Plenary, Melbourne:

Love and Only Love
Powderfinger
Born In Ontario
Walk Like A Giant
Hole In The Sky
Heart of Gold
Twisted Road
Singer Without A Song
Ramada Inn
Cinnamon Girl
Cortez The Killer
Danger Bird
Barstool Blues
Prisoners of Rock and Roll
Opera Star
My My Hey Hey
Sedan Delivery

Encore:

Like A Hurricane

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