Friday, June 15, 2012

Neil Young pre-sale, plus Americana

Managed to figure out how to negotiate buying Neil Young and Crazy Horse tickets today using the Rock 101 Presale. Pretty uncomplicated, actually. Totally enjoying Americana, too. There are some remarkably bold and effective (and generally very dark) reworkings of what might normally seem annoyingly trite campfire singalongs for kids; to my amazement, my favourite tune on the album is "Jesus' Chariot," a re-interpretation of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain" that all but obliterates the original and evokes an Appalachian apocalypse, greatly aided by Ralph Molina's tribal drumming. The poorly sublimated, resentment-driven bloodlust of Rapture-ready Christianity courses through the veins of this tune, makes it a very scary and very relevant song about America today. "Oh Susannah," "Clementine," and "Tom Dula" (AKA "Tom Dooley," here re-worked to suggest a "Down by the River"-style crime of passion), all work damn fine, too. Not all the songs are rendered quite so unrecognizable in the treatment, but then, not all of them require such radical measures to make them listenable and new. I haven't really been excited about a Neil Young album (with or without Crazy Horse) since 1996's Broken Arrow (though I've ignored several, to be honest), so I'm delighted that I'm going to get to see them on an album I think I kinda love. Fans of Broken Arrow (or Crazy Horse's unique brand of jamming) will find this a most agreeable disc; I gather some critics are accusing it of being sloppy and indulgent, with songs that go on too long, but it sounds to me like those folks have no business even listening to Crazy Horse...

One suggestion for Mr. Young: how about an album reworking some songs by African-Americans? It's no criticism of (the pretty much all-white) Americana - I'd just love to see you get your hands on some Reverend Gary Davis (or Charley Patton or Bukka White or Howlin' Wolf or Son House or...).

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