Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

Reprise Records

Well, there: here’s the album for all of those who complained that Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Americana was made up of covers when it was released back in June. (Of course, the songs were twisted and cranked by Young and company into shapes and forms of their own unique design, but you know how some folks are, eh?) The nine tracks on the new double-disc Psychedelic Pill (eight originals plus an alternate mix of the title track) are all original NY & CH tunes – as NY & CH as it gets. Young has had some brilliant collaborators over the years (the late Ben Keith being one of the best and most unique), but when it comes to simply rolling up the sleeves and getting down to it, drummer Ralph Molina, bassist Billy Talbot, and guitarist Frank Sampedro are Young’s go-to team. Always have been; always will be.

The opener “Driftin’ Back” shares some of the same vibe as Young’s recently-released memoir Waging Heavy Peace – he even acknowledges his book in the opening verse. Just as WHP follows Young’s train of thought with memories and observations landing on the page as they appear in his head, “Driftin’ Back” is simply a magnificent jam interrupted by occasional bits of ol’ Neil reflecting on … whatever makes its way into the space between the rumble and the wail – from crap MP3s to Picasso’s work being turned into wallpaper.

For the first minute, it’s just Young and his acoustic guitar, offering a little of the classic picky/strummy sound that’s been pissing off guitar technique snobs for years. “Hey now now/Hey now now/I’m driftin’ back” sings Young – a nod to “Hey Hey My My”, perhaps? Maybe – maybe not. Molina, Talbot, and Sampedro add their voices to Young’s on the chorus; and then the now begins to slide out from under everything as a wall of Crazy Horse crunch approaches from somewhere else. There’s a slight shift in rhythm – or is there? What? Wait – we were here and now we’re … “I’m drifting back …”

Yes, indeed.

What follows is 27-plus minutes of pure Horse jam – harmonics, drone notes, barely-contained feedback, and thick slabs of chords by Sampedro and Young, all lugged on the backs of Molina and Talbot – lumbering and lurching, but never losing the groove.

Read the entire review at Jambands.com

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