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


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At 2/27/2021 12:03:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Good writing and observations from Scotsman. Thank you. I am ecstatic about this release! I am not at all affected by the lack of audience noise. The music has such an elevated level of feeling, intensity, and passion that it just takes me away. I agree with the vibe leading to the OPL show feel. One night there I saw Neil play 4 songs from Zuma, and a few from Stars & Bars. Bite the Bullet is a fantastic and amusing song. As expected, I bought the physical product. How could I resist? I won’t buy it all, but this is my favorite live album yet from Neil Young. Alchemy could be amazing too! I am listening again now. I like the feel better than Weld. It’s more upbeat and laid back. I love Weld, but this is better to me. Peace. Alan in Seattle

At 2/27/2021 12:14:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

You ever see little kids bouncing forward and back on a couch. That's what this record has me doing haha.

At 2/27/2021 08:48:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

...can relate!

At 2/27/2021 08:51:00 AM, Blogger ANDREW BYROM said...

Why is it ORS 5? 5 is already taken by Time Fades Away.

At 2/27/2021 08:51:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Thumbs up, Alan!

I am also looking forward to Alchemy. But the Archival release I'd most love to hear next is a deep dive into the Niko Bolas years, 1988-1989.

That will turn out to be a real treasure trove that wows a lot of people, I think.


At 2/27/2021 10:19:00 AM, Blogger Thomas said...


At 2/27/2021 10:32:00 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

This is such an incredible album
The band are peaking
Ragged glory just completed
They Could not go any higher
Last year one track per week of RUST BUCKET Was released over the course of around three months on NYA
it was such a godsend during lockdown in Melbourne
This album is so special

Alchemy has been a long time coming - it’ll sit along side this nicely
The full Hunter Vallley, NSW show from the alchemy tour is on the timeline in NYA for all to listen to
The Australian tour was the last set of dates the legendary poncho lineup would complete - both poncho and Billy would go on to sit out subsequent dates in Europe

At 2/27/2021 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

He means volume 5, which i am hoping will include: Freedom, Ragged Glory & Weld. I suspect Weld will also be a triple vinyl, due to the excessive length if the original double vinyl.

Neil has already confirmed Volume 4, will be Hawks & Doves, Reactor, This Notes For You, Eldorado.

At 2/27/2021 11:19:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

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 esthetics.

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 🙏

At 2/27/2021 11:57:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

@Dan Swan, sorry about your cat. Best wishes. Good luck to mother in law with 2st vaccine shot.

@!!!!!!!! I looked for the Alchemy show you mentioned as being listenable (Hunter Valley) on the timeline but found nothing to click on to listen.

Alan in Seattle

At 2/27/2021 12:09:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Excellent review, agree with it all! Really enjoy Country Home opener, but not sure about Surfer Joe in #2 spot. Lack of applause is annoying, loses the feel of a continuous show. Weld is my absolute fave as well though. Not sure if Neil changed amps or anything after this 1990 show, but when I saw 4/23/91 in San Diego I had never heard and felt such beefy guitar. It literally rattled the Sports Arena.

At 2/27/2021 12:55:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Seconded best wishes to Dan and (feline) family.

Alan, the concerts on the timeline are well hidden. You have to find the tour itinerary for the year you want. It's just a tiny icon at the start of each tour on the timeline.

@!!!!!! That 2013 show is a good 'un. The classic Horse line-up made it back for the 2013 European tour before Poncho broke his hand. Billy then had a stroke during tour rehearsals the following year.

I saw them in Birmingham and London in 2013, and thought they played well but weren't as into it as they were at the US and Aussie shows.

Will we ever see another Neil/Poncho collaboration? As Ralph would say, "time will tell".


At 2/27/2021 12:59:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Thank you! Agree on all counts (one exception: Surfer Joe is one of favs from this show - laser-like, ultra focused lead guitar playing).

Something really special about Neil's tone (and playing) in 1991, isn't there? For me, his best ever year as an electric lead guitarist.


At 2/27/2021 01:02:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...


Unknown: I have a rough sounding tape of that San Diego show somewhere. He played Tonight's The Night that night instead of Hurricane.

...If I remember correctly, Dan Swan (?) was at the Seattle show a few days earlier and also got treated to a (particularly weird) Tonight's The Night encore!


At 2/27/2021 01:43:00 PM, Blogger NYBD11-12 said...

Is there a concensus on whether Weld or Rust Bucket has the better performances, sound, and set list? I have Weld, but rarely listen to it.

Weld includes all the songs we heard at the Landover, MD show 2-27-91. Rust bucket has 8 songs that NY/CH didn't play at that show. (Thank you Sugar Mountain!).

One interesting question: The Rust Bucket show in Santa Cruz was a little more than a year after the Loma Prieta (World Series) Earthquake that devestated downtown Santa Cruz. Were the the ferocity of the playing, and length of the show (3+ hours) inspired by SC earthquake recovery?

At 2/27/2021 02:14:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Yes Scotsman, I agree 91 was peak of Neil's playing and the tone was incredible. I dig Surfer Joe too, just didn't like it as song #2. Interesting comment about earthquake too, I know the Catalyst was damaged the year before as some shows were cancelled...

Good thread, thanks all--Ed

At 2/27/2021 03:34:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

I was at the San Diego 1991 Weld show and was impressed hugely. It was very intense. Thinking back on it, Booker T & MG’s show with Neil in 1993 made the hair stand up on my neck, sent a chill down my spine how powerfully Neil was playing, doing few if any songs from the album. Anyone got an opinion? I can’t wait to hear Dream Machine on NYA!

Thanks Scotsman for the specific tip on locating Alchemy show in itinerary. I will be checking that soon!

Surfer Joe is hilarious and I am always glad to hear it. The only time I got to was during soundcheck in Boise with PotR, which I was very glad to have “snuck in” for (heard the band playing at 3pm, walking in a 60’ wide fenceless opening with no security, saw 6 songs up close, 4 from Peace Trail. Unbelievable. I was alone watching this unfold. They ended with Surfer Joe! Alan in Seattle

At 2/27/2021 04:25:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

So I followed your tips to find the Alchemy show and was glad to find it. I started the show and was enjoying it. Then my system crashed all of a sudden, which is rare. It seems to only happen when I am viewing / listening to NYA. So I go to look for the show again, and *poof* I cannot find it at all. Must be user error. I am going to hit a bike ride in the rare Seattle sun and then come back to it later today. I cannot to shine it being aw awesome as Rust Bucket, but I will keep an open mind. It IS strange that Rust Bucket was “discovered” only recently. Perhaps the Vault is like a galaxy with black holes and that sort of thing. I am stoked I live inTHIS world where I can enjoy the 1990 show once again.

At 2/27/2021 06:08:00 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

This release has really generated a lot of excitement!!! I love reading thee reviews
It’s a bloody great time to be a horsehead
I thought Return to Greendale last year was fantastic too
Now Alchemy and Rageed Glory extended edition hopefully both this year
Thanks be to Neil

At 2/27/2021 06:26:00 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Alan it’s very much worth persevering with the Hunter Valley show
They hit some great heights - the psychedelic pill tracks are great live
There’s some good in between song banter from Neil
It was a special tour for us here in Aus (hoping some performances from it may feature on alchemy)

At 2/27/2021 10:38:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

I want in my bicycle ride and took a huge nap. Now getting coffees up and about to return to the AU show. Thank you, thank you. It’s like a tiny little line one must almost accidentally touch to activate. It’s like walking around in a sacred temple looking for treasure a la Indiana Jones, minus the danger. Thanks to Uncle Neil for the lovely gifts! God it’s great to be a NY fan! Thanks “@!!!!!!!!!”

At 2/27/2021 10:38:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...


At 2/27/2021 10:38:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...


At 2/27/2021 10:43:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

F Yaaa! Do you think the extended release of Ragged Glory will have the same version of Boxcar, etc as those we have already? I expect the same version of “Don’t Spook the Horse” as the Mansion on the Hill single. Alternate or longer versions are welcome by myself, of course.

At 2/28/2021 02:12:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

That is a Hell of a great show! What power! And funny, too! The song along back and forth in F’n Up is classic! The time machine bit is funny too. The power of Walk Like A Giant is extreme. Thanks for encouraging me to listen to this fantastic show. Hard to Find, and well worth the effort! Alan in Seattle

At 2/28/2021 06:55:00 AM, Blogger Old Black said...

Hi all, just to pick up on Andrew Byrom's post, I'm a little confused here, and appreciate that obviously I've missed something. I have the original release cd boxes of discs 1-4, 5-8, and 8.5-12. Are these now volumes 1, 2, and 3 under some new way of logging? I too thought that volume 5 was Time Fades Away etc etc. I appreciate that I may have answered my own question, but if you take your eye off the ball for just one second then things can get a bit confusing here in Neil world! Thanks, stay safe.

At 2/28/2021 12:07:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Old Black: The actual Original Release Series Box Sets are the numbers that are being referenced. So you have Volumes #1-#2-#3, and the individual albums included in each are numbered in order of when each album was originally released. So (ORS) Box #4 will contain Hawks and Doves, Reactor, This Notes for You, and Eldorado. And (ORS) #5 will contain Freedom, Smell The Horse (Gagged Glory w/ 4 bonus tracks), and Weld, which perhaps will be a three record set. I know it can be confusing, but this is my interpretation.

Peace 🙏

At 2/28/2021 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Old Black said...

Thanks Dan, much appreciated!

At 2/28/2021 01:32:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Glad I could help.

Peace 🙏


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