Neil Young's new release "Way Down In The Rust Bucket " is now available for pre-order. Order here
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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

INTERVIEW: Frank “Poncho” Sampedro - Neil Young, Crazy Horse Guitarist | Rolling Stone

Köln, Germany - July 12, 2013
Photo by Roel van Dijk's
(Click photo to enlarge)

A major interview with Crazy Horse's Frank “Poncho” Sampedro  | Rolling Stone by Andy Greene. (Thanks HG, Alan, Francisco & all!)

‘Way Down in the Rust Bucket’  - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse 
"Fuckin' Up"
Crazy Horse's Frank "Poncho" Sampedro

Cleveland, OH, Oct. 8
Photo by thrasher

Rolling Stone/Andy Greene: What’s interesting is that you make Ragged Glory in early 1990. This is before Pearl Jam even exists and before most people have heard of Nirvana. It’s still the era of Mötley Crüe and Poison. With Ragged Glory, you really made a grunge record before that was even a thing.

Frank “Poncho” Sampedro: Yeah, man. We did. You know what?

Let me go on record as saying that I think this 'Way Down in the Rust Bucket" is the best Crazy Horse record we ever recorded. I love it!

Ilove this record. Neil plays great, unbelievably great. He’s just electrified. “Country Home” sounds like a country tune I never heard in my life. He just takes it to all kinds of different levels. He nails “Cortez.” He nails “Danger Bird” and “Over and Over.” He’s just playing so good and the band played really good.

I hate when people say, “These were warm-up shows for the tour.” We did two shows. Do they really think they were warming us up for a giant tour? That’s more for us. It’s giving back to the community. We played in Santa Cruz. It’s really close to Neil’s place. That’s so most people could come to see us. Just standing in the parking lot, I wound up talking to about 100 people I know.

We’d go onstage and we played “T-Bone.” We’d played that song at a birthday party for one of Pegi’s friend and then we played it there. We never played it too many other places. It was just fun. We played “Homegrown,” and at the end, people were throwing weed on the stage since it’s a big weed-growing community. [Laughs] We were having fun.

It was all about the beginning of a new era. We were becoming alive. I just don’t see it as a warm-up. It doesn’t hit me like that. We played “Cortez” and it sounds so beautiful. When I hear Neil play it with other people, it just doesn’t sound the same to me, ever.

RS: Tell me a little more about why this Catalyst show happened.

Poncho: Well, Briggs, our leader, said it was time for us to go out and play. We had to go play in front of people before we do a tour. That was why we did it. It was just to be out there and be aware that there’s going to be a crowd. At the same time, it was a setup because it was all our friends and it’s a home crowd. It felt really good.

We did “Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze.” Briggs used to give us crap about that song. “You guys never put your heart into it. You have to dig deeper. You sound like you’re noodling.” [Laughs] He wanted it to be “Moe the Sleaze” and really dig into it. It came off more like a pleasure cruise. He thought maybe the audience would give us an edge.

RS:  You played the Catalyst a lot over the years. What’s special about that room?

Poncho: Where Neil lived at the ranch, there was one other place to play and it was a bar, the Mountain House. We played there [on November 12th, 1990], but you could only get like 50 people in there. We just played on the dining-room floor. There was no stage. There was no room for a PA. You might want to call it our home venue. Later on, after Princeton Landing [where Crazy Horse had a long residency in 1996], Neil didn’t want to play bars anymore and the Warfield [in San Francisco] became our home venue. But playing at the Catalyst felt like playing at home. It felt like we were still at the ranch.

RS:  Do you remember them filming it?

Poncho: No. Not at all. When they told me they had a six-camera video shoot, I was like, “Really?” I had no idea.

RS: That’s great. It means you were playing to the audience and not thinking about the cameras.

Poncho: We always played to the audience. I’m watching the video now and Billy is having so much fun. I think I’m watching him more than anybody else.

Full  interview with Crazy Horse's Frank “Poncho” Sampedro  | Rolling Stone by Andy Greene.


Poncho Fuckin' Up
Australia 2013
Photo by Gary "Old Man Emu" Carter
(Click photo to enlarge)

Neil Young with Crazy Horse

Also, see:


Deluxe Box Set Edition (DVD, 4 LPs, 2 CDs)
(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link . Thank you!!!)


Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse:
"3rd Best Garage Band in the World"
~~Bill Graham
In tribute to Crazy Horse, the "3rd Best Garage Band in the World", here's a look back at some highlights:

Induct Neil Young w/  Crazy Horse
Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


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Sunday, February 28, 2021

REVIEW: ‘Way Down in the Rust Bucket’ - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse | Old Grey Cat

‘Way Down in the Rust Bucket’  - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse

As noted repeatedly over the past many months (see here, here and here), the 2019 major discovery of the "Rust Bucket tapes" continues to blow rusties' minds as its massively majestic magnitude manifests around the EARTH.

Neil Young - Mansion on the Hill - Way Down in the Rust Bucket (Official Music Video)

From a review of  ‘Way Down in the Rust Bucket’  - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse |  Old Grey Cat:

Although my CDs are still dancin’ across the proverbial waters, sans galleons and guns, I’ve been enjoying the archival Way Down in the Rust Bucket live set from Neil Young and Crazy Horse thanks to the high-resolution files that come with the purchase via the Greedy Hand store

Long-time fans who planted trees and/or were branches and leaves on the Human Highway and/or Rust List email groups should be familiar with the Nov. 13, 1990, show from the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, Cal., as fans were in attendance and audience recordings were made. Bootleg aficionados will know it, too, as it soon appeared in specialty shops under such titles as Don’t Spook the Horse, Feedback Is Back and Homegrown, not to mention the mammoth four-disc set Warpath, which coupled it with an audience recording that captured the first night of the 1991 “Smell the Horse” tour. 

I trawled my long-archived original Old Grey Cat site (1997-2006) and came away with reviews of two of those bootlegs. Here’s my original take on Feedback on Back, which – allegedly sourced from an audience tape – excised “Cowgirl in the Sand” in order to fit the show onto two discs; I’ve edited it ever-so-slightly…

Feedback on Back (Bootleg)


In the wake of Ragged Glory, in early 1991 Neil saddled up Crazy Horse for a tour that was eventually documented on the live double-CD Weld.

If you’re familiar with that album (and you should be), then you know Neil and the Horse delivered more than just a rudimentary greatest hits set. They created a cacophony of feedback, laying down the musical equivalent of the bombs then blowing up Iraq. It was an intense affair with plenty of standards, true, but they were attacked in such a way that they came out new. One listen to the apocalyptic version of “Like a Hurricane” present on Weld is proof enough, but if need be crank up the version of “F+!#kin’ Up,” too. Maybe it’s me, but I hear it as ominous and threatening, sans the goofy spirit of the Ragged Glory rendition. It works on several levels – as does “Crime in the City,” another relatively new song that just plain kicks ass. The music accents the climate of the times even as it goes beyond them.

Feedback Is Back doesn’t do that. 

Taken from a warm-up date in November ’90 at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, it reflects and extends the mood of Ragged Glory: Loud, goofy and fun, with plenty of jammin’ just for the sake of jammin’ – and, no doubt, jammin’ in the name of the Lord, too. What else explains the inclusion on “T-Bone”? Yeah, that’s right. “T-Bone,” the guitar workout from re*ac*tor that features the “incisive” lyrics of “ain’t go no t-bone/got mashed potatoes.” Like the set in total, it’s not earth-shattering – but it is fun to hear Neil recast the lyrics time and again. 

The inclusion of more than a few infrequently played songs – “Surfer Joe & Moe the Sleaze,” “Bite the Bullet,” “Dangerbird,” “Don’t Cry No Tears” (complete with “a Las Vegas ending,” to quote Neil), the aforementioned “T-Bone” and “Homegrown” – in a set that features eight tracks from Ragged Glory amongst a handful of standards (“Cinnamon Girl,” “Sedan Delivery,” “Roll Another Number,” “Like a Hurricane” and “Cortez the Killer”) gives a different spin to what the Smell the Horse tour may have been like if not for Saddam Hussein, George Bush and CNN: A lot looser. The sound itself, while not great, is solid throughout. Of note, however, this is not the entire show. (For that, one should seek out Doberman’s Warpath.) That said, Feedback Is Back ain’t bad.

Please take my advice: Play it LOUD!

The main difference between it [WDITRB], Feedback Is Back, the other bootlegs and treed CDs: the pristine sound. 

Listening to the high-resolution (192/24) files via my USB DAC and headphones is akin to being in the sonic sweet spot of the 800-seat Catalyst. [ed: highlighted]

Thick chords, winding guitars and sweeping melodies roll like sonic waves from the stage and leave you drenched with bliss. It’s not Neil’s greatest live album by any means, mind you, but is a welcome addition all the same. (One note: Like Feedback Is Back, “Cowgirl in the Sand” is AWOL due to an apparent recording malfunction, but was captured by the film crew so is on the DVD.) It’s available to stream on the Neil Young Archives – and membership is only $19.99/year, so if you don’t belong, join. 

Also, as I inferred up top, CDs and LPs bought from the slow-as-molasses Greedy Hand store come with a download code for the high-res files.

Full review of  ‘Way Down in the Rust Bucket’  - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse |  Old Grey Cat. 

Thanks OGC!  This was just so good we just had to quote the bulk of it.  Hope that's ok.  Be sure to check out all of Old Grey Cat's excellent reviews.  (Tell'm TW sent you!)

Well --  as we like to say:   May The Horse Be With You & Yours!

Deluxe Box Set Edition (DVD, 4 LPs, 2 CDs)
(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link . Thank you!!!)

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse
Jack Nitzsche , Neil Young's producer/arranger on the masterpiece "Broken Arrow", has stated that: 
"Crazy Horse was the American equivalent of The Rolling Stones. IOHO, Crazy Horse is to Neil Young what The Band was to Bob Dylan. As perfect a complement as tequila and salt."

Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse:
"3rd Best Garage Band in the World"
~~Bill Graham
In tribute to Crazy Horse, the "3rd Best Garage Band in the World", here's a look back at some highlights:

Induct Neil Young w/  Crazy Horse
Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Comment of the Moment #2: NYA FIRST LISTEN/WATCH: ‘Way Down In The Rust Bucket’ - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse

"My Country Home"
Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Catalyst Club, 1990 via Neil Young Archives

(More on TW @ RUST BUCKET PREMIERE TODAY: "Country Home" - Neil Young & Crazy Horse, 1990 Rehearsals | NYA )

The 2019 major discovery of the "Rust Bucket tapes" continues to blow rusties' minds around the EARTH as its full majestic magnitude manifests.
‘Way Down in the Rust Bucket’  - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse

Rapturous shouts of joy continue to pour out across rustdale and into TW.

A somewhat not atypical comment on hearing and watching ‘Way Down in the Rust Bucket’:

"You ever see little kids bouncing forward and back on a couch?

That's what this record has me doing haha." 

As the "Inextinguishable Scotsman" declared succinctly: "RUST BUCKET: the sound of Ragged Glory transforming into Weld."

So here is our TW Comment of the Moment on NYA FIRST LISTEN/WATCH: ‘Way Down In The Rust Bucket’ - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse  by Dan S.:

No surprise; I completely agree with Scotsman’s observations

Like Alan, I actually like the fading between songs, as it honors each individual performance. The obvious joy that is evident here is contagious, and as Neil has said,”they were smoking some incredible weed that night”, yet every song (for me anyway) is a highlight. I can’t think of another live concert recording where every single song is a highlight, although Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense comes pretty darn close.

Without question, my favorite officially released live Crazy Horse recording. That could change with the Alchemy Box of course, as the pure joy experienced on that stage at Red Rocks on that tour was palatable to everyone there. They were genuinely happy that night, as they were on this show. Really looking forward to that release.

Neil’s guitar work is completely off the charts, with uncanny moments of contrast and relief, allowing layers of emotional intensity with a master’s touch. Vocally relaxed and confident. Nobody’s in a hurry, it’s such a relaxed and loose performance. This show also illustrates the subtle impact of Poncho. With his ability to play with grounded positivity is inspiring, always leaving room exactly when it’s required.

Billy and Ralph are both committed throughout the show, and it’s inspiring to hear the joy they both share when the pocket never waivers.

The Deluxe Edition is beautifully presented. Sturdy cardboard outer box, much like the Deluxe Return to Greendale, there is an embossed number on the back. Inside, each of the four LP’s are sealed in shrink wrap, as are both the CD and DVD. The pressings are perfect on every level, perfectly flat, and absolutely no surface noise. Thanks to Chris Bellman the vinyl mastering is remarkable, as is usual with his amazing ear for detail. The running time for the two CD’s totals 2 hours and 34 seconds, but the DVD says on the back, running time 3 hours and 52 minutes. So the pause between songs may have to do with fitting all the songs in the correct sequence on four albums, minus Cowgirl. I’m just guessing of course, perhaps it was more to do with aesthetics.

I’m looking forward to watching the DVD (although BluRay would have improved the sound quality), but we have a sick cat that needs to see a vet today. He’s 17 1/2 years old, so we may be saying goodbye to our sweet friend. Then I have to take my mother in law to get her first COVID vaccine ( she’s 88). 

So hopefully later tonight I’ll have a chance to watch the whole concert. 

Can’t wait.

Peace 🙏


Thanks as always for the thoughts on the Horse and the Rust Dan!  

Really sorry to hear about your cat. 17 years is quite a long run. Good luck and maybe your cat has another life or 2 somewhere? And good luck with your mother in law, as well.  Enjoy your Saturday night!

So --  as we often like to say to anyone who cares to listen and hear: "May The Horse Be With You & Yours!"

Deluxe Box Set Edition (DVD, 4 LPs, 2 CDs)
(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link . Thank you!!!)


They'll be calling this "The Rust Bucket Miracle" long after we're gone over how the 1st concert performance of "Danger Bird" was filmed with 6 cameras and soundboard audio.  Thank you L.A. !!!

As we mentioned yesterday, somehow, we have to think that this is all part of "The Plan" given that there are no coincidences.  So somehow Neil delivers his entire catalog online for $20 just as the world shuts down? 


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Friday, February 26, 2021

"Smell the Horse": Ragged Glory Extended + Comment of the Moment: NYA FIRST LISTEN/WATCH: ‘Way Down In The Rust Bucket’ - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse

Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse
The Catalyst - Santa Cruz, CA - November 11, 1990

The amazingly relentless Neil Young news continues unabated.

Neil Young has just announced that the new, extended Ragged Glory edition will be titled ‘smell the horse,’ with four added tracks.

"We are presenting this in all analog for the first time, remastered from original analog 2 tracks under the loving care of John Hanlon. John has wanted to do this for years and now it’s here, coming in triple vinyl and remastered for CD and Hi Res from the original analog mixes. This will most definitely be the greatest version of this record ever made."

Ragged Glory - ‘smell the horse’ features 4 added tracks:

  • Born To Run
  • Interstate
  • Boxcar
  • Don’t Spook the Horse

Produced by David Briggs, Neil Young and John Hanlon


‘Way Down in the Rust Bucket’  - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse


Which brings us to our  Comment of the Moment on NYA FIRST LISTEN/WATCH: ‘Way Down In The Rust Bucket’ - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse by the "Inextinguishable Scotsman":

Way Down In The Rust Bucket:

Impressions of the Inextinguishable Scotsman

I'll start by saying just this:

You know you have a special Neil Young album in your hands when even T-Bone sounds like some sort of masterpiece.

Need I say more?

If the answer is "yes", then here's some context:

Long-time readers here know I think Weld, the record of 1991's Ragged Glory tour, is Neil's best electric live album.

It's also seriously intense. The musicianship, already pretty damn fierce on Ragged Glory, has by this point dropped all pretense of mellowness. The guitar solos have become ruthless enough to slice through steel.

And the best synopsis I can give of Way Down In The Rust Bucket is this: it's the sound of Ragged Glory transforming into Weld. With a looser setlist than the latter, and without the explosions of noise, the guitar strangulations, or the frenzied eruptions of feedback.

The sound at the warm-up Catalyst gig hasn't yet mutated into the (regimented, Gulf War inspired) brutality of the following 50+ shows. But it has started to. You can hear it developing, intensifying - sometimes mid-song.

Many tracks agreeably gallop (or chug) along, in no great hurry to get anywhere. And then Neil's lead guitar suddenly escalates and has you by the throat. There's a slightly Jekyll and Hyde feel to it.

You get the sense, even without the onslaught of the Gulf War, that the Ragged Glory tour was always destined to be a mighty affair.

(And you can also hear the seeds being sown that would grow into the Old Princeton Landing series, 5 years or so later.)

It's an epic 2 hour+ album packed with songs fresh from Ragged Glory. Along the way we get an abundance of Crazy Horse classics (Cinnamon Girl, Like A Hurricane, Cortez The Killer...) and a generous scattering of mind-blowing ultra-rarities (Danger Bird, Surfer Joe, and yes, T-BONE) that Neil would banish from the setlist straight after the warm-up gigs.

The more "cheap and cheerful" material here (Farmer John and T-Bone again, as examples) is mostly included as an entirely-justified excuse for Neil to go berserk on his Gold Top guitar for extended periods. Behind the *appearance* of the relaxed vibe of this period is a musician more focused than ever.

The Catalyst gig is looser than the '91 tour; but it's not *that* loose. Neil and the band road-tested most of the songs the previous night, with several of the others also appearing well-"rehearsed".

The same cannot be claimed about Sedan Delivery: thrillingly, the band are clearly re-learning how to play it, on-stage, after a full 12-year absence from the setlist.

The song staggers around uncertainly, more than once threatening to careen overboard (a bit like me as I write this column). Then, against all odds, it gets second wind and concludes with an explosion - Neil lurching into a warped guitar solo that will strip the paint from your walls.

This nightmarish sound is the twisted result of him using (abusing?) an old Alesis reverb simulator; one of the effects units within the big red box that you'll see at his feet at all his electric gigs.

(If you found that last sentence boring to read, that's because you're not a lead-guitar fanatic. Bottom line: this is an album not remotely suited to anybody unwilling to become a lead-guitar fanatic.)

Like many of you, I'm sure, I think the decision to fade out the audience noise between songs is an odd one. It kind of leaves the record halfway between an immersive concert experience and a series of isolated tracks.

An analogy: a fish can survive in a pond or in an aquarium, but not half-way between the two.

And yes, I like Rust Never Sleeps - a hybrid exception that proves the rule. But I think producer David Briggs would have preferred to seamlessly crossfade the audience chatter on Rust Bucket, instead of leaving gaps between the tracks. Would that have made Rust Bucket an even more thrilling experience? I err towards "yes". You decide.

Overall, the sound mix is fantastic. It has warmth and energy and (literally dozens of) guitar solos as piercing as razor blades. Billy Talbot's bass on this album is the warm and inviting kind: impactful, but not the room-shaking earthquake you'll enjoy on "studio Greendale", if you crank up your subwoofer.

The one real disapointment is an unavoidable one. Cowgirl In The Sand has been excluded because of technical reasons. This is one of the elite Poncho-era versions of the song, and its absence is an annoyance.

Still, it's out there on bootleg in decent quality, and also on the DVD version of the new album.

(Are there any rascals out there who were sneaky enough to find a way to download the video stream of Cowgirl, last year? That means you have the stereo soundtrack of it from the multi-track, too. Just patch it into the album playlist and smile broadly, by all means.)

The question on all our lips:

How on earth has a classic gig like Way Down In The Rust Bucket remained unnoticed in the vault for 30 years? What in heaven's name has the Archives team been doing for 3 decades?!

It's odd. It's weird. it's perplexing.

But, in 2021, what a treat for us all.

Thanks NY and NYA. It's an album that I think people are going to enjoy listening to for many years to come.

...And thanks for reading, everybody.


Oh, our dear "Inextinguishable Scotsman". To say we've missed you here @ TW is a massive understatement.  So glad you could drop in and share your thoughts on the Horse and Rust. 

Your immortal quote from 2019 on the RUST BUCKET tapes as "the missing link between Ragged Glory and Weld" is spot on and has been thoroughly memorialized.  To which we now can add: "RUST BUCKET: the sound of Ragged Glory transforming into Weld."

We somehow have to think this is all part of the plan given that there are no coincidences.  So somehow Neil delivers his entire catalog online for $20 just as the world shuts down?  

Deluxe Box Set Edition (DVD, 4 LPs, 2 CDs)
(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link . Thank you!!!)

Well --  as we like to say:   May The Horse Be With You & Yours!


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Thursday, February 25, 2021

"Stringman" by Neil Young: Archives Vol 2 (Official Music Video)

 "Stringman" by Neil Young
(Official Music Video)

The Official Music Video of "Stringman" by Neil Young is now streaming on YouTube (see below).


Breathtaking in its simple beauty, "Stringman" reveals Neil Young in one of his most intimately vulnerable moments.

Recorded in concert at Hammersmith Odeon, London on March 31, 1976 (overdubs at  CBS Studios, London on April 1, 1976), the track is from Look Out For My Love (1975-1976) — Archives Vol. 2, Disc 9.

As has been observed many times before, the irony of Neil on a piano, singing about  Neil playing a guitar -- all while trying to keep his head together and not losing his soul -- between the hippies and the soldiers, is literally spellbinding.

More on SOLD OUT: Neil Young Archives Volume II Blows It Out in 48 Hours.

Neil Young Archives Volume II (1972 - 1976)


More on Neil Young Archives Volume II (1972 - 1976): Pre-Order Updates via The "Greedy Hand" Store + Unboxing & Preview Videos

 Also, see Comment of the Moment: Pre-Order - Neil Young Archives Volume II (1972 - 1976).

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The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?

Show Me A Sign


(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul

the zen of neil
the power of rust
the karma of the wheat