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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Comment of the Moment: VIDEO: Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse @ Fuji Rock Festival 2001

Neil Young - 2001

 

The Comment of the Moment is from post VIDEO: Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse @ Fuji Rock Festival 2001 by Tomatron:

Great time for the Horse. 

When the timeline concert from that tour was uploaded, the melody from Gateway really stuck in my head. And that’s no small feat since those things aren’t the most easily accessed content, other than the concert of the moment. 

But the tune kept coming back to me. Neil now expresses real regret over not having released Toast at the time. I say, don’t be so hard on yourself, sir. Are You Passionate, while not a banger in its time, has grown in appreciation from the fanbase. For me, it beats out the three studio albums that followed. If he had put out Toast like he says he should’ve, AYP would never have been. And I venture to say Toast, for its part, could very likely have been panned at the time. 

Now, with patience, we have both records. What a treat. Can they be reconciled into one grand statement? With the magic of playlists, this is possible.

Here’s my favorite way to overdo it:

1. Boom Boom Boom

I just really love this song as a warm up to the journey to come. It’s totally original, with plenty of space between the notes for the studio stank to seep through. Plus, it was one of the first tunes recorded for the sessions and is a more tantalizing introduction than either of the albums’ kickoff tracks. 

2. You’re My Girl
3. Mr. Disappointment
4. Differently
5. Quit (Don’t Say You Love Me)

Since AYP was what we heard first, it’s only fair to proceed with a quadruple threat from that 2002 CD. You’re My Girl is just the sweetest dedication that I bet a lot of parents can relate to. Then you get immersed in the MGs’ treatment of otherwise unheard Toast material and the super soulful Differently and practically go swimming in that soupy B-3 sound. 

6. Standing In The Light Of Love
7. Goin’ Home
8. Timberline
9. Gateway Of Love
10. How Ya Doin’?

This is a perfect point to switch off into Horse territory. We are ready to rock! Standing In The Light Of Love was the first fully Toast Toast we got to hear. It kicks ass. The heart of Toast remains intact and the heartbroken vibe does not let up for over half an hour. Awesome. I think that’s enough time to return to Mr. Disappointment; he sounds even more disappointed with the slower tempo and more honest voice. 


11. Let’s Roll
12. Are You Passionate?
13. Goin’ Home
 

Yes, that moment is here. That moment when we listen to Let’s Roll. We can’t skip Let’s Roll, can’t pretend it didn’t happen. When heard as an ode to the bravery of regular people in the face of terror rather than as the hawkish call to deployment it could be taken for, Let’s Roll is actually a pretty cool song, and the band more than do it justice. Somehow, despite all the strife of blowing off one record for the next, enduring pained relationships and national trauma, a loose narrative still seemed to break through in Neil Young’s sequencing of AYP, something we can see he took seriously with all the possible permutations of song orders on the back cover. The family and marriage themes of the early tracks give way to the shock of attack and burden of war. Nothing else needs to be said about the title track but it’s perfect and beautiful. And what an impact the AYP version of Goin’ Home made, and makes still. We all love the brutal drumming and the brutal ending. It was a characteristic stroke of genius to include one Crazy Horse song on the album, and it was *this* song. This is the mythical Crazy Horse, from the lost sessions. It retains this quality here. 


14. When I Hold You In My Arms
15. Be With You
16. Two Old Friends
17. She’s A Healer


And yet, Are You Passionate rolls on. Again, contrasts are crucial when it comes to the flow of an album, a film, a story or work of art of any kind. The epic bleakness of Goin’ Home gives way to the folksy hand wringing of When I Hold You In My Arms, and it wouldn’t have worked better in any configuration. We are lucky to have the ebullient Be With You to buoy us up into the warm embrace of the best Motown feel the MGs have to offer. And Two Old Friends, a fan favorite, serves the purpose of relieving some of the weighty themes posed by the mid-album 9/11 inspired songs before She’s A Healer performs a similar function for the heartsick husband of the earlier tracks. Thrasher’s Wheat contributors seem to generally agree Healer is a high point of the record and possibly exceeds the excellence of its Toast counterpart. Either way, it’s a hell of a finale.
18. Quit


Ok, I’ll say it. This is the superior version of the song. The funny thing is, the two are so alike, they should stay as far apart as possible: 20 years, or at least the better part of a playlist’s distance. But that’s not the only reason Quit landed here. Inclusion as a coda to our listen symbolizes the wait we had to finally hear Toast. And the sadness of “don’t say you love me” turned out to be the truest end to this story, taking us back to the beginning in a legendary little San Francisco recording studio. 

Let’s go listen to Toast again, on vinyl this time.

Thanks for our Comment of the Moment Tomatron!  What a playlist. As you say,  the magic of playlists makes this all possible.

More on post VIDEO: Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse @ Fuji Rock Festival 2001.

 


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10 Comments:

At 7/21/2022 08:00:00 AM, Blogger tolstoigorky said...

Stax, not Motown.
A very illuminating write up of the two albums.
I have always loved AYP, mainly for the title track, Mr Dis, and Going Home, but now I can't get Quit out of my head. I also love the poly rhythms of Gateway, takes Neil's soloing in a different direction.
Thanks Thrasher, and contributors for all of the discussion. I check in every day.

 
At 7/21/2022 09:43:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Great comment of the moment in a series of great comments on the moment.

I have stayed away from the discussion of AYP because I just never found it compelling on any level. Toast strikes me as something far more interesting.

 
At 7/21/2022 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Hi everyone!
The "news" that Crazy Horse has recorded their next album with Rick Rubin was almost not discussed. If true this could be something very good or at least unique considering Rick’s CV. Thoughts?

 
At 7/21/2022 05:50:00 PM, Blogger Tomatron said...

Thank you tolstoigorky for the correction re: Stax. I’m clearly trying to get kicked out of the South with that gaffe. It took me quite a while to warm up to all of AYP; it was probably that ever-present ambience of Booker T’s Hammond that ultimately did it for me. On the surface it seems crazy that Gateway Of Love would not have made the cut, but looking at AYP as a whole, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. Goin’ Home dropped in there as the sole Horse joint is more powerful and even a little scary in context. Gateway Of Love could be the single greatest Crazy Horse tune of the 21st century. I’m glad it finally got a proper release, and it works so well as the centerpiece of Toast.

Abner, it’s good to hear you are now having this opportunity to revisit that era of Neil’s work. I agree that Toast is a more interesting project. I find that Crazy Horse typically provide the most compelling arena for his expression. Toast has made AYP more interesting for me as well, in considering the dichotomy between the two presentations now that both records are available to compare. The upcoming Toast movie will shed more welcome light on the proceedings.

Now that you mention it, Chris, there is quite a bit to talk about since the Rick Rubin project has been announced. We still need to hear the couple of tracks he worked on back in the day, as well. I suspect he might have a similar influence on Neil’s studio sound as Briggs had, with the result of capturing the honest essence of the songs. Rubin’s strength is in creating the proper environment for artists to do their best work. His ear is such that he will make suggestions that no one will have thought of, but turn out to be brilliant decisions. A lot of the time he will just stay out of the way and let the band do their thing, but seems to make subtle calls in the production that add up to a successful finished album. One thing he never does is impose a particular studio sound or style on an artist (not that that is always a bad thing), instead bringing out the best of what they already do. As for the new Crazy Horse album, it’s hard to tell what this will mean. These guys do a lot of things well, and Neil will likely have had a specific vision for the songs. He has stated in some fan letter responses a bit about this project. Old Black may not even feature on the record! Not too many Gibsons, apparently. This could be a more acoustic or piano-driven album. I do hope though there is at least some of the classic epic electric sound!

 
At 7/22/2022 09:38:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Thanks for your input Tomatron!

 
At 7/23/2022 05:49:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

This is a great cotm. Refreshing to have some in-depth music discussion. Sets a tone much preferable, in my opinion, to some other recent threads.

Tomatron's playlist has inspired me to experiment with my own, which I have some history of doing anyway. Placing Boom Boom Boom at the start is a brilliant idea and I, too, see Quit as a bookend song, though I didn't end up with quite the same arrangement in my own permutation.

Firstly, in the interests of creating a listening experience that provides unity, flow, and symmetry, I would normally have reservations about using more than one recording of the same song. However, the Toast vs. AYP? versions are (mostly) different enough in flavor to merit showcasing both. With one exception: I decided not to include the same take of Goin' Home twice, simply opting for the longer AYP? mix with the abrupt coda.

So, to begin with a large slice of toast:

1. Boom Boom Boom
2. Standin' in the Light of Love

Can't add much to what has already been said about these tracks. Next, however, I exercise a free hand, a compromise between the running order heard on AYP? and the note cards pictured on the back cover:

3. When I Hold you in My arms
4. Be with You
5.Mr. Disappointment
6. You're My Girl
7. Differently

This portion quenches the fire of Standing in the Light, cooling things down with a touch of romance and ample time to soak in the bright, sunny sound of the M.G.'s.

8. Two Old Friends
9. Timberline

I like these two next two each other, because of the common religious themes and the stark contrast in tone. Of all the tracks, I struggled the most with where/how to fit in Timberline, until saw the potential of exploiting tension between this song and Two Old Friends. From here out, attentive listeners may also notice the tone of the songs growing darker and grittier. In narrative terms of rising action, this is the middle of the story. The innermost circle. Things start to get complicated.

10. Goin' Home
11. Let's Roll
12. Are you Passionate?

Again, this segment is lifted wholesale from the note cards on the back of AYP?, read left to right. Goin' Home is halted in its tracks (the abrupt, drop-off ending) by Let's Roll. 9/11 brought cataclysmic change, casting a heavy shadow over everything that came before. To hear the music stop cold for the intro to Let's Roll perfectly captures this feeling.

13. Quit (Don't Say you Love me)

Relief from all the brooding, piercing tension of the title song, a ray of hope. This is another nice transition I picked up from that back cover of AYP?, on which the title song and Quit are positioned back to back, with the latter capping off the entire sequence. In this case, I've used it as a gentle lead-in for the final act:

14. Gateway of Love
15. How you Doin'?
16. She's a Healer
17. Quit (Toast version)

Maybe Gateway ended up in a climactic position because I'm so partial to it, but for me, it is clearly the emotional and musical peak of the Toast cycle. How you Doin'? follows as the ultimate anti-climax and She's a Healer puts us back where we started. Finally, I take the calculated risk of sequencing the Toast version of Quit only a few tracks after the AYP? cut. First of all, because Quit works so well as a soft, yearning yet ambivalent coda, a release of tension after the fireworks of the previous numbers. What's more, I hope the combo of Gateway and Healer will have left more than enough distance (musically and emotionally) between the two Quits.

 
At 7/23/2022 05:50:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Addendum: Long time readers will know re-configuring AYP? is one of my favorite "games", treating the back cover like an ancient hieroglyph or cipher, an Emerald Tablet of sorts to read *through* rather than simply look at passively: the hermetics of Neil Young, no? To be able, after all these years, to include the Toast cuts is very satisfying. Although these two albums are quite distinctive, they do illuminate aspects of one another. The common link, instrumentally, seems to be Neil's guitar (also Pancho's): "All I got is a broken heart and I don't try to hide it when I play my guitar."

The extended Horse workouts of Toast speak for themselves, but the textured guitar tone throughout the AYP? album is extraordinarily underrated. Even the "vanilla" When I Hold You in My Arms ends with a series of tender, lyrical licks. For Neil, the solos are unusually restrained and crafted, which may be why they are overlooked, but the best passages (Quit, Mr. Disappointment) are totally sublime.

 
At 7/23/2022 07:55:00 PM, Blogger Tomatron said...

Ian, your playlist was a blast to consider. I especially like the closing four tracks. Originally I was looking at a finish similar to that one. Gateway has such a climactic feel, and it’s sequenced as such on Toast. You have chosen a freer approach to this arrangement. For my running order, i wanted above all to maintain fidelity to the albums’ own sequencing as I combined them. I ended up setting Gateway as the peak of the Toast chunk so that Healer could hold that position at the end. Making the two mixes of Goin Home work was the trickiest, since I didn’t want to leave off any tracks but they are literally the same performance. So I’m treating them as representations of the records they inhabit. On Toast, Goin’ Home is a proper chapter of a longer story. On AYP it’s a total departure, its meaning obfuscated by the lack of context. Having that edition come later with the full ending revealed seemed to solve the problem of how to reconcile these two versions together. I looked at the back cover a lot and was quite tantalized by it. The photo itself is pretty fascinating. Other layers, or frames, are visible in the shot. I became convinced we were seeing, rather than an intentional sequence, a snapshot in the midst of the track order/inclusion process. Now when I look at the back of the CD I see a random moment of a decision in progress. It makes a statement about the construction of the album itself. Your incorporation of this sequence gives the project a somewhat mysterious character.

 
At 7/24/2022 02:53:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, Tomatron—I think part of the appeal of rearranging AYP? is from the variety of songs, but also because, as you alluded to, there is a certain quasi-narrative cohesion about the album as released. Certainly, there a dramatic tension points, a push and pull in both music and lyrics reflecting an emotional journey.

It’s possible the back cover is using some sort of double exposure or layered images. Probably easier to tell if I had the larger LP sleeve instead of CD. At the least, there are photographic artifacts. It does, however, end up showing the titles in a certain arrangement(s), maybe just because it can’t fully escape the limitations of being a still image. So I’ve always kinda wondered, why give us that snapshot out of all possibilities? I could easily be attaching too much significance to the trivial, but I was surprised at how the music flowed when I first tried the notecard order (mins Gateway).

It starts with Hold you in my Arms and ends on Quit, which do sound to me like they were recorded as bookends: the backing box, gentle guitar passages, long fadeouts. Also the common thread of dialogue between lovers. That Quit was used as the opener of Toast reaffirms this in my mind. On AYP?, there’s an island of three songs in the middle of the album (Let’s Roll/Ayp?/Goin’ Home) that are different, and heavier, than the others. Quit and Arms are still bookends; the beginning and end have just switched places depending on which sequence you use.

In my back cover alt sequence, She’s a Healer immediately follows Hold You in my Arms. This is a bold move, but I think the song can work as both an “overture” to the album and/or a finale. Hence we both started our sequences with Boom. Putting Boom/Healer near the start is just like frontloading CDII with Ordinary People, or more recent, Colorado’s She Showed me Love. It’s counterintuitive but NY has done it several times, to good effect in my opinion. Start strong, end stronger—but in the case of AYP? , it’s hard top Healer, especially if you’re going to drop Gateway (which looks like the choice made in at the time).

The alt list also places You’re My Girl/Differently/Be with You back to back to back. That’s probably its biggest liability: several very similar tracks all in a row. But I really like the title song and Quit at the end of the sequence, a perfect case of tension and release. It does make the tone a bit darker—putting the heavy songs, particularly Let’s Roll and AYP? as a climax, rather than sandwiching them between the brighter M.G’s tracks, creates a different emphasis.




 
At 7/27/2022 04:29:00 AM, Blogger Tomatron said...

The darker trio of AYP songs at the end is very cool. The way they play off each other is one of the highlights of the album for me, and they’d work great as a set ender for sure.

 

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