Friday, March 02, 2007

album of the day

American Stars'N'Bars by Neil Young.

This is by no means the greatest album Neil Young has ever released (and there have been a lot, and they're still coming), being as it is a sort of cast-offs and odds and sods collection bunged together (in 1977) while he was compiling the Decade compilation. So it does have a bit of a fragmented feel to it, but it does have a particular kind of ramshackle charm as a result; in any case most songwriters would give their guitar arm for songs as good as these cast-offs.

The first half of the album consists mainly of some medium-paced country-rock numbers, with some prominent steel guitar and backing vocals from Nicolette Larson and Linda Ronstadt, mixed with a couple of throwaway rock numbers in Saddle Up The Palomino and Bite The Bullet. The second half of the album fatures a couple of contrasting longer songs, the wonderfully addled Will To Love, where Young strums blearily at a guitar in front of a crackling log fire (after taking a phenomenal quantity of drugs, one has to assume) and wonders what it would be like to be a fish, and the epic Like A Hurricane, a staple of his live shows with Crazy Horse to this day. Another brief rocky blast, Homegrown, finishes things off.

Like I say, not the greatest album he's ever done (After The Goldrush, On The Beach, Rust Never Sleeps or Ragged Glory might be better places to start), but one I have a bit of a soft spot for. Only £4.97 on Amazon, as well.

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