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Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Ragged Glory 

May 29, 2016

I recently joined Tidal for access to the new Radiohead album and one of the side benefits was Neil’s catalog –  which he pulled from Spotify in favor of Tidal.

Neil is teasing his new album Earth with a and tasty half-hour single “Love And Only Love” as an exclusive on Tidal.  Which got me thinking about Ragged Glory, the album it originally appeared on. Ragged Glory was released in the fall of 1990 when Neil was invigorated himself as the godfather of grunge.

The album is a collection of mostly new songs performed as wonderfully sloppy jams with Crazy Horse. Several stretch out for ten minutes.  The Horse always inspire Neil to his grungy best. This is one of the strongest albums in Young’s catalog and that is saying a lot as he has several masterpieces.

Neil had come back to life the previous year with Freedom (which included “Rockin’ in the Free World”) after the dreadful Geffen years. Freedom is a good album, but Ragged Glory is a great one.

The album opens with “Country Home” which is nearly 8 minutes of rusty jamming that sets the table for the album.  It is grunge with twang.

“White Line” has the classic dark groove of the Horse.  It has that railroad rock and roll beat – only instead of the train, the movement is the white lines of the highway that rhythmically and lyrically set the tone.

“F*!#in’ Up” captures a mood that I assume most people have felt – “Why do I keep fuckin’ up?”  This song has been often covered by Pearl Jam over the years.

“Over and Over” has that almost danceable beat that AC-DC has.  The song opens with a classic Neil Young guitar solo.  A great love song with an arena anthem chorus:

Over and over again my love
Over and over again with you
Over and over again my love
Over and over again with you.

Eight minutes of glorious distorted guitar and sing-song lyrics – Neil at his best.

“Love to Burn” another nearly ten minute jam.  “Old Black” sings like a an angel – an angel who has had too many whiskeys.  The song is also the beneficiary of classic Horse harmonies.

“Farmer John”is an intriguing cover of a Don and Dewy song. I always love when a great songwriter covers a song – especially when it is something as obscure as this.

“Mansion on the Hill” was the lead single from this album. The mansion seems like a an analogy for rock and roll – note the chorus:

There’s a mansion on the hill
Psychedelic music fills the air
Peace and love live there still
In that mansion on the hill.

“Days That Used to Be” is a sentimental remembrance of a simpler time – a time that Neil has managed to stretch for a lifetime – meanwhile the rest of us have sold out:

Seem like such a simple thing
to follow one’s own dream
But possessions and concession
are not often what they seem
They drag you down
and load you down
in disguise of security.

“Love and Only Love” is a classic ten minute jam by Neil and the Horse that pretty much defines their sound. Hard rocking, yet meandering.

“Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)”  opens with a blast of guitar feedback. Young juxtapositions his grungy guitar with hymn-like singing. What should not work – works perfectly.

Ragged Glory is classic Neil Young and Crazy Horse: grungy, jamming rock and great Neil Young songs – metal on Quaaludes. Lyrically it is both sentimental and crabby.  “Old Black” grinding out riffs and the Horse’s simplistic but perfect harmonies.  I apologize for the repeated uses of “classic” in this review – but that is the best word I can think of to describe this work – classic Neil Young.

PS – if you like this album, Neil followed it up with a live album (2 CDs) Weld.  It came with a companion CD called Arc that was 35 minutes of feedback, guitar noise, and vocal fragments edited from the 2 CDs.  Again – classic Neil.

  1. Agree. Great review.

  2. Freedom is a good album, but Ragged Glory is a great one. Perfectly put.

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  1. Neil Young and Promise of the Real – Earth | Axl's Catch Groove

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