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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Ragged Glory: A Perfect Summer Soundtrack

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So what makes for a perfect soundtrack for a hot Summer?

Well, apparently Neil Young's 1990 release Ragged Glory defines the sound of summer according to a Crawdaddy! article by Andres Jauregui:
For me, there are a few qualifications that an album has to meet in order to be considered a viable summer rock album. Its most definitive characteristic should be a predominance of guitar, preferably electric. Add to that a steadiness that’s predisposed to the open road, rolled down windows or peeled back ragtops, in my imagination, if not in fortunate reality. Picture me and a dog with a bandanna around its neck cruising down a traffic-free PCH or LIE, and you’re halfway there.

Based on its steady beat and Neil’s undeniable guitar work, this album’s potential as a summer soundtrack rode high on the first listen. But there were a few things beyond that foundation that truly established it for me. One was its sense of freedom: Good ‘ol ‘Merican open-aired, big-sky freedom. The other was its scope. Unlike beach read albums that only come out for fun in the sun, Ragged Glory had weight behind it. Its liberation comes with a little baggage, and sage reflection tempers its golden reminiscences. The former made Ragged Glory my stand-up stand-in of last summer; the latter led me to consider it a classic.

We've listened to "Over & Over", over and over ever since Greil Marcus raved on the song's uniqueness.

More on Ragged Glory - Neil Young Albums In Order Reviews by e2f.


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24 Comments:

At 7/01/2010 05:37:00 PM, Blogger Matthew Lintzenich said...

This is one of my favorite albums of all time, and one of Neil's most perfect from beginning to end. Truly a driving summer rock album if Neil ever made one.

 
At 7/01/2010 09:36:00 PM, Anonymous SONY said...

"That old white line is friend of mine"

I'll second that. Just laid down 100 miles after work through the hills of the Finger Lakes on my motorbike.

"Right now I'm thinking 'bout these things that I know But it's good time that we've been making."

 
At 7/01/2010 09:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe that it's been 20 years since this bad boy was dropped on us. It's a brilliant album -- cohesive, rocking, melodic. Staggering solos. The Crazy Horse sound has never been better realized. I wonder if Neil is too old to ever gain make an album that is so intensely rocking and focused as this one. In my opinion, this is far and away his best album since Rust Never Sleeps. He has never been as good since, but he set an awfully high standard with this one.

-Big Old Rig

 
At 7/01/2010 10:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Neil!
This is Farmer John.
I heard you're in luv with my daughter?
You know the one?...with the champagne eyes!
I heard ya like the way she wiggles,
she wiggles when she walks
Well keep ya eyes off and stick to ya unknown legend!!!

 
At 7/01/2010 10:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though this album was released in the fall of 1990, I listened to this non-stop in the summer of 1991 (I caught on slow, and was, at the time, a newbie to Neil). I remember listening to it camping in the New River Gorge in West Virginia and working on my construction job in NC. The best thing was this bar that had it in its jukebox. For $4 you could set the whole album playing in its entirety, pissing off lots of people but making me and my friends happy!

 
At 7/01/2010 11:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonder what the Ego (ie Steve Stills) would say about Ragged Glory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyrvIafPbBY

 
At 7/02/2010 08:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post Thrasher! It's a cool reminder on the hottest day of the year. Love and only love on my old record player since I read this post early this morning. Fantastic. Never had the idea this was a summer album, but it is, just like LA Woman which I played yesterday evening because of the hot summer atmosphere. One more time side two. Psychedelic music hits the air! Because Sound Matters

 
At 7/02/2010 08:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has been my work-out album for almost 20 years ... get on the exercise or mountain bike, turn on Ragged Glory, and then crank ... I would have thought I'd get sick of it after listening to it hundreds of times but it somehow its never felt stale ... in an understated way its such a classic album. As opposed to EKTIN which has the stand alone classic songs that make the album great, Ragged Glory lacks those high profile song but the album as an album overwhelms in a really good way ... also I love this album because it came after the 80s period when many people, even fans, had written Neil off as a has been. Ragged Glory seemed like Neil's answer to those critics reminding them that its a mistake to ever count Neil out ... In the 80s he was in his own place and many people couldn't relate to it and in the late 80s / early 90s after Freedom, he broke out Ragged Glory, a classic CH electric album, reminding everyone that he hadn't lost a beat, he just hadn't been in the space to make such an album ... part of the joy of the album for me was how long he made us wait for it ... today is no different, the naysayers have their criticisms of his albums and you can be sure he will always have a trick up his sleeve and when everyone least expects it he'll spring another classic album on us...

Dan

 
At 7/02/2010 10:02:00 AM, Anonymous setlistthief said...

It may just be the photos on the album cover but RG even looks like a summer album. The blues pop guitar licks throughout, the music's one "song-ed-ness," and even the track order just beg for the obligatory "crank it up, man!"

I rarely listen to Neil's studio work anymore, preferring to listen to the ROIOs I've collected over the past few years. I'm struck, though, that the '91 RG tour supporting the album has a completely different feel. The same bright and sunny songs sounded dark and desperate played in big barns at night against the backdrop of the first Gulf War.

I'm headed to the beach in a week or so, and the studio RG will definitely be on the road list...in heavy rotation, of course.

 
At 7/02/2010 12:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best summer album ever. I used to blast this at my old house while mowing the lawn. It was loud enough to drown out the push mower I used! Great memories! It's really just an excellent record from start to finish...some of the best guitar solos ever recorded, in my opinion...one of a kind. Anyone who thinks Neil is a terrible guitarist just needs to hear Love To Burn. Brilliant. I enjoyed, and still do just as much before, this record so much that I used it in my myspace address:

www.myspace.com/raggedglory87

Just thinking about this record gets my blood flowing. I truly wish Neil would get back together with Crazy Horse!!! It's been 6 years!!! I have faith that he will someday...just hoping it's someday soon! :)

 
At 7/02/2010 12:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It may just be the photos on the album cover but RG even looks like a summer album."

What?

What am i missing? What about the Ragged Glory cover looks like "Summer."

Can you please explain?

 
At 7/02/2010 01:19:00 PM, Anonymous Chris from Québec City said...

Great road album also.There has to be a reason why Neil doesn't saddle up the horse because everybody knows these guys won't live forever.Money?Egos?
If you like R.G. listen to broken Arrow loud ,there are a few songs like Loose Change that are in the same mood.Another (B.A.) underestimated album.

 
At 7/02/2010 02:08:00 PM, Anonymous Honeyslide said...

It's hard to believe its pretty much 20 years since the reunion of the Horse. I drive an old muscle car and remember getting a ticket listening to this album cranked, and going 90 mph without even realizing it.
Twenty years later, every time I play this album in my present muscle car, I still speed.
I agree it may be the ultimate (along with Rust & Weld) "Getting to the liquor store before it closes" albums of all time.

 
At 7/02/2010 04:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris from Québec City wrote: "There has to be a reason why Neil doesn't saddle up the horse because everybody knows these guys won't live forever. Money? Egos?"

Perhaps it's something personal that we don't know about. Maybe one of the members of Crazy Horse - or a member of their family - has cancer or some serious illness. Sorry if that sounds morbid but there has to be more going on than we're aware. Or maybe Neil just wants to prove that he doesn't need Crazy Horse to shine.

I love the band as much as anyone here but I must be the only one who isn't looking forward to Toast. Based on everything I've heard from that period, it wasn't a particularly fruitful time. Hope I'm wrong though (assuming Toast ever sees the light of day)! Does anyone know what the guys are currently up to? I believe Billy has his own band which probably keeps him busy. Not sure about the others.

jay

 
At 7/02/2010 05:38:00 PM, Anonymous setlistthief said...

Look at the light in the studio photo, look at all the green in the individual shots, look at the picture of Neil and the boys in the field. Maybe it's because I lived there for a few years, but that's undeniably a Northern California summer. (Well, before everything turns brown!)

 
At 7/02/2010 09:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A release of RG on 180 gram vinyl would be a nice summer.
Unless I've missed it and it's out there somewhere.
How about a DVD audio release with the videos or will that be Archives fodder in the future?

Archives Guy?

Pour a shot and think about it.

 
At 7/03/2010 12:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy, I hate to go against the grain, make waves and such, however, RG is an Autumn record hands down! I'm too lazy at the moment to verify it's release date (however irrelevant to the discussion)never the less, at the time of it's release, I was in the proccess of building a garage in Sept/Oct of that year and let me tell ya, that thing was crankin 'Over And Over Again'!

 
At 7/03/2010 01:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Country Home" is the best track from this album.

 
At 7/03/2010 07:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Technically, Ragged Glory is a "summer album," having been released Sept 10, 1990.

Now, as for the album art, and the person who says it "looks" like a summer album.....sorry, my friend, but not sure what you're looking at.

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and your's is a subjective thought....but....i....still....don't....see....it.

Yea, they're wearing short sleeves in some photos, and sunglasses here and there....but the album art looks dark....and, to me at least, hardly signifies "summer."

But whatever.....

I first heard Ragged Glory in June 1990, a few months before it was released. An underground radio station got a bootleg copy of the album, and broadcast it....i smartly taped it, and was amazed at the beauty of this album, certainly one of Neil's finest.

 
At 7/04/2010 12:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Count me among the fans longing for a reunion with the Horse but if I had to speculate I'd say he feels the '07-09 band can play everything in his canon and the Horse is seriously limited. But Neil has never been able to stay with one band and over the years has gone back to crazy horse over and over again. If not for the fact he's gone back to CSNY over the years, I might think the Horse was permanently out to pasture, but if he's willing to go to CSNY I can't see why he wouldn't go back to CH too.

 
At 7/04/2010 03:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If `Goin` Home` is anything to go by, well, I for one can`t wait for Toast!

And RG definitely seems like a summer album to me - as well as the `summery` photos it`s such an upbeat, feel-good album, great song after great song, merging into one long wonderful NY and CH rock-out. Fave songs for me are Love to Burn and F!*+in` Up, but they`re all great. Such a classic.

Jill

 
At 7/05/2010 04:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful album. I can listen to it over and over again...
Parts of Broken Arrow's got the same feeling, like one said. I agree.
And Living With War's got some of the same feeling musically. I've heard that one a thousand times. Excellent.

Mickey

 
At 7/06/2010 01:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ralph was on the Chrome Dreams II tour. Poncho is (may was now) the midi board operator for Jay Leno's Tonight Show Band.

Old Black

 
At 7/08/2010 04:08:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

Re-post by Old Black:
"I love 'Over and Over' but I'm not getting at all what he says about the song 'turning over'. I don't agree. The solos (and I love 'em) are not particularly exploratory as in, say, 'Love and Only Love' or 'No Hidden Path'. Neil is playing his 'new' goldtop, outfitted with the B-7 Bigsby and the Firebird pickup. What he does on 'Over and Over' is combined switching between the P-90 (neck pickup) and the firebird (bridge pickup), combined with changing tone by switching through the whizzer settings to adjust the volume(s) and tone pots on the 5E3. So, what you get are phrases that are pretty much the same but sound tonally different. Neil is also moving to different positions, so that the solo phrases are played at one moment in an open G position and at the next up on the neck but on the E-A-D strings (such as the riff that opens the song at the 10th and 12 frets on the E and A strings.

It's a great song (G-C-D repeated, with some slight variation in the measures in the chorus)and it really drives - an excellent example of simplicity as the framework for rocking out and a great format for the Horse. But the guy in the interview is making it out to be something its not. And you know Neil would call all that bullshit. But its not exploratory as a solo (as he is trying to make the point) like some of the other songs on the Ragged Glory - especially 'Love and Only Love' and 'Love to Burn'.

The thing about Ragged Glory is that it is all one song. Country Home is in G, White Line is in Em, Over and Over is in G, Love to Burn is in Em, Mansion on a Hill is in G, Natural Anthem is in G. G and Em are basically the same scale. Love to Burn and Love and Only Love are basically the same chord progressions. (F*&king Up is in D or Dm.) My point is that the approach to the leads are going to be very similar in all of these songs. Neil is poking around throughout the album on the same song. That's what I think is so cool. He is exploring his leads by changing tones using only volume and tone (which is just selectively dumping frequencies to ground).

I would love to see someone who really gets into the structure of the music and tone to evaluate Neil's playing. Larry Cragg is probably the most informed.

Old Black

 

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