Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Greendale: Second Edition
If you missed Neil Young and Crazy Horse's recent stop at the World Arena on their Greendale tour, never fear. Reprise records has just released a CD/DVD edition of the album featuring clips from the studio sessions and scenes from the companion film, which is an adaptation of the stage show. It's all very confusing -- something like a grunge rock opera la Thornton Wilder or Harry Nilsson's animated allegory The Point shredded through the pencil sharpener. The music is rather atypical Neil Young and Crazy Horse fare. Gone are the tiresome testosterone drones (for the most part) in favor of stripped rock rudiments in that "shaky" Neil Young way: the lovely "Leave the Driving" and its tale of life's imponderable and irrevocable split-second changes; the sad and languorous "Bandit," as pretty and wise a cautionary tale as "The Needle and the Damage Done"; and "Be the Rain" with its unabashed hippie environmentalist throwback sound. This is good stuff.
-- Noel Black
The Living End
It's sort of impossible to believe, 30 years after the Ramones invented, perfected and destroyed pop punk, that bands as utterly mediocre as The Living End are still trying to wring, as the poet Emily Dickinson put it, "the attar from the rose." Blame it on Melbourne -- these Australian ska-brahs went quintuple platinum down under in 2001 with their last album Roll On. But, you know, they're also really into The Vines and Russell Crowe's band. No matter which direction your toilet swirls, Modern Artillery is Australian for crap.
-- Noel Black
Count Your Blessings
The first time I saw Chicago blues guitarist and singer Nick Moss live, I wanted to get the hell out. Not because he was so bad, but because he was so amazingly good. Being a blues guitarist myself, I could feel my self-respect ebbing away like water down the drain.
Luckily, I have since recovered. And Nick is now on his third release, Count Your Blessings. An appropriate title -- it's a blessing that we have someone so schooled in the old sound producing new and fresh blues material.
Here, Moss channels the spirit of guitar great Freddie King, honors the down-home Windy City sound of Jimmy Rogers (Muddy Waters' faithful sideman and seminal bluesman in his own right), and one-ups the ruling king himself, Buddy Guy, that maestro crescendo.
In Moss we have met the new blues master. He is disciple no more and he lays it down heavy and hard. Having done his time in the woodshed and on the road, he's out to show the rest of us how to do it without any apologies. It's enough to make me want to sell all my guitars and look for an easier gig, like selling used cars.
-- Joe Sciallo