NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE play the Air Canada Centre November 19. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Between his ill-advised covers album, Americana, in June and the recent train wreck of a memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, we were starting to lose faith in Neil Young. But if there's one thing you can count on him for, it's unpredictability. Psychedelic Pill is exactly the kind of noisy, joyfully loose and oddly hypnotizing guitar album we love Crazy Horse for, and according to Young's rambling book, it's the first record he's written and recorded without the aid of weed and booze.
It's a little hard to believe he didn't smoke a joint (or five) before laying down the 27-minute opening jam Driftin' Back, but maybe Young is just getting stoned on pure mainlined music now? He's still not listening to what anyone tells him. Otherwise, he wouldn't have left in so many mistakes or made odd decisions like putting a sweeping phase shift effect over the entire title track. (Thankfully, a less obnoxiously cosmic mix is included as a bonus track.) But it's that stubborn adherence to his primal impulses that makes this disc work so well. Well, that and some of the most gloriously juicy guitar crunch we've ever heard on record.
Top track: Walk Like A Giant