WBEZ | neil young jim derogatis album review http://www.wbez.org/tags/neil-young-jim-derogatis-album-review Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Neil Young is trippin’ http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/neil-young-trippin%E2%80%99-103670 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1NeilYoung.jpg" style="height: 643px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>Psychedelia always has been one of many strains running through the long and fruitful career of the great Neil Young. Remember those otherworldly acoustic idylls like &ldquo;Expecting to Fly,&rdquo; or better yet, the long, languid guitar jams in songs such as &ldquo;Mr. Soul,&rdquo; &ldquo;Cortez the Killer&rdquo; and &ldquo;Down by the River.&rdquo; So when the 67-year-old musical giant entitles his 35<sup>th</sup> studio album <em>Psychedelic Pill</em> and announces that the music will cover two CDs or three vinyl album sides&mdash;recorded with the mighty Crazy Horse, no less!&mdash;well, there&rsquo;s reason aplenty for high expectations, if you&rsquo;ll pardon the pun.</p><p>In fact, after nearly a decade apart, this is Young&rsquo;s second release backed by rhythm guitarist Frank &ldquo;Pancho&rdquo; Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina this year, following their jaunt through the antique folk songbook on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-06/neil-young-rides-horse-through-american-songbook-100008"><em>Americana</em></a>. But where that disc injected unexpected joy into dusty standards via the interaction of these supernaturally simpatico musicians, <em>Psychedelic Pill </em>is like an unfocused, unedited jam session, if not an inferior retread of classic Crazy Horse rockers like those mentioned earlier.</p><p>Despite the long wait for this reunion, that reliable spark just isn&rsquo;t there. The last Young and Crazy Horse collaboration prior to 2012, <em>Greendale</em>, not only rocked harder, it was a lot more fun.</p><p>The eight-song set opens with the nearly half-hour &ldquo;Driftin&rsquo; Back&rdquo; and includes two other almost 17-minute epics in &ldquo;Walk Like A Giant&rdquo; and &ldquo;Ramada Inn.&rdquo; These three tunes and the title track are the real focus, with the other, more country-hoedown tracks (&ldquo;Twisted Road,&rdquo; &ldquo;Born in Ontario&rdquo;) pretty much tossed in as extras. But long-winded flatulence on the key tracks and an untidy musical sprawl overall aren&rsquo;t the big problems. Young and Crazy Horse have done epic before, often with great results, and they&rsquo;ve done sprawling and messy well, too, at times.</p><p>Here, the flaw is a lack of both musical and lyrical ambition. The central melodies just aren&rsquo;t strong enough to justify the extended guitar blow-outs. Nor are those solos especially musical or memorable&mdash;and that&rsquo;s saying something for an artist who could build a killer 10-minute six-string storm out of just a few notes.</p><p>Even worse are the lyrics. The aptly named &ldquo;Driftin&rsquo; Back&rdquo; seems to have been free-associated at the mike, with Young sputtering random, inscrutable lines such as &ldquo;Gonna get a hip-hop haircut,&rdquo; &ldquo;Used to like Picasso&rdquo; and &ldquo;When you hear my song you only get 5 percent; you used to get it all,&rdquo; a dig at one of his favorite scourges of modern technology, the MP3. But higher fidelity wouldn&rsquo;t have enhanced these listless melodies or other toss-offs such as the title track (&ldquo;Party girl&rsquo;s got her shiny dress on&hellip; She&rsquo;s lookin&rsquo; for a good time&rdquo;) and &ldquo;Walk Like a Giant,&rdquo; yet another of Neil&rsquo;s epitaphs for the faded dream of &rsquo;60s tree-hugging utopianism.</p><p>How, you might ask, could this critic applaud Young and Crazy Horse grooving on &ldquo;Oh Susannah&rdquo; and &ldquo;She&rsquo;ll Be Coming &rsquo;Round the Mountain&rdquo; on <em>Americana </em>and be so disappointed with this album? Well, part of it, as noted earlier, is expectation: As a rabid fan both of Young and psychedelic rock, I expect a lot from Crazy Horse stampeding through this terrain. But as even the most diehard Neil fan will tell you, the man is not infallible (<em>Landing on Water </em>or <em>This Note&rsquo;s for You, </em>anyone?). And <em>Psychedelic Pill</em> is one of his most lackluster duds.</p><p><strong>Neil Young and Crazy Horse, <em>Psychedelic Pill </em>(Reprise)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 1.5 stars.</strong></p></p> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 15:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/neil-young-trippin%E2%80%99-103670