Neil Young & Crazy Horse – World Record (Indie Exclusive, Color Vinyl)
In a recent interview, rock legend Neil Young said many of the melodies on World Record came to him
while taking walks in the woods. It’s easy to hear these rustic roots on unadorned numbers, such as
“Love Earth” and “This Old Planet (Changing Days).”
These song titles and others – “I Walk with You (Earth Ringtone),” “The World (Is in Trouble Now)” – give
away the central theme of World Record. Young has sung about the ecology for at least half a century
now , but has returned to the topic with growing frequency over the past few years.
For that reason, the humble acoustic numbers that populate the first half of World Record seem don’t
distinguish themselves against the other similar songs Young has written on the same topic. It’s only
when Crazy Horse plug in that the album crackles to life.
Aided by longtime rhythm section Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot and the return of Nils Lofgren, Young
has been playing with this version of Crazy Horse going back to 2019’s Colorado album. Buried six songs
in, the lumbering blues of “Break the Chain” is the first time Crazy Horse shake off their shackles. It’s a
fine number made better by the songs around it, but only a tease for World Record’s best performance.
Clocking in at more than 15 minutes, “Chevrolet” comprises one-third of World Record’s runtime. Just
when you’re about to write off the album as diminished returns on familiar themes, “Chevrolet”
punches through the speakers and demolishes everything that’s come before it. Crazy Horse swagger on
“Chevrolet” with a force unseen since the Psychedelic Pill album 10 years ago. “Chevrolet” may or may
not fit with World Record’s concept, but it doesn’t matter because the performance is so good.
World Record is a middling record with a ferocious ending that nearly salvages the album. You may not
play the first couple sides, but the last one will get a lot of wear. -Joel Francis