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Friday, September 01, 2023

Deep Inside The Recording of Ragged Glory by Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse

Neil Young Official Release Series #5:
Discs 22, 23+, 24 & 25 
w/ “Smell The Horse” Edition
 (Click photo to enlarge)


Rustie-grain fans were especially excited earlier this summer about "The Perfect Summer Album Soundtrack" Ragged Glory and the rare B-side “Smell The Horse” Edition with 4 tracks. “Interstate” and “Don’t Spook The Horse” were both b-sides to singles. “Box Car” and the 12 minute “Born To Run” are both previously unreleased versions. The 4 additional songs have resulted with the album expanded to 3 LPs and 2 CDs. 

 Ragged Glory Signal Paths & Recording Gear


Over on NYA, an in depth article by John Hanlon on  Ragged Glory's Signal Paths & Recording Gear.

The flowchart documents microphones, amps and recording technical details from Indigo Ranch in July 1990 that gear geeks will love. (Actually, much of this was covered in 2020 @ Analog vs. Digital: infographic for the ragged glory sessions| Rusted Moon). 

The sessions by Producer David Briggs with Engineer John Hanlon resulted in one the greatest post 70's Crazy Horse albums, still deeply revered to this day.


"Ragged Glory: A Perfect Summer Soundtrack"
Neil Young's 1990 Album w/ Crazy Horse
(Also, see Ragged Glory : Massive Discoveries in the vault! | NYA

Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse
The Catalyst - Santa Cruz, CA - November 11, 1990
(via  ‘Way Down In The Rust Bucket’ )
‘Way Down in the Rust Bucket’  - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse
(See  NYA FIRST LISTEN/WATCH: ‘Way Down In The Rust Bucket’ - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse )

Also, see Ragged Glory II - Neil Young and Crazy Horse Found Tapes.

Also, see more on Neil Young's Ragged Glory Sound & Equipment - Guitar World, October 2009.

Neil Young's Rig
Neil Young's Ragged Glory Sound & Equipment - Guitar World, October 2009

(Click to enlarge)

Analog vs. Digital: infographic for the ragged glory sessions| Rusted Moon
(Click photo to enlarge)

Ragged Glory @ 30: Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse Returns to Glory 

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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At 9/01/2023 07:53:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

We purchased both CD and Vinyl sets of this collection because it represents something completely unique in the Neil Young universe. These albums represent a tidal force in the music world at that time, and fans and critics alike were more than impressed. Neil’s appearance on Saturday Night Live performing No More, and Keep On Rocking In The Free World was explosive to the point where the media declared him the godfather of grunge. Which I might add….. was ridiculous. But the music held within this set was a defining moment in Neil’s illustrious career. The Ragged Glory tour was like spending time inside an earthquake. Literally. I was fortunate enough to see two shows from that tour, and I can attest to its brilliance.

These records are essential for any Neil Young collection.

Unfortunately we had to go through two separate sets to make a single set that wasn’t defective. These records were pressed poorly, and each and every disc was badly marked up, with some having deep scratches that were difficult to understand how they could possibly be missed in the factory.

The Harvest 50th vinyl was pressed in Germany, and they were completely flawless, but I think these were pressed at the GZ plant, which have been incredibly inconsistent with their quality. They’re either perfect, or they’re horrible. I can remember a time when Neil only pressed his records only at the best pressing plants. Apparently that is sadly no longer true.

We did manage to get a complete set that played fine, even though several were fairly marked up. But this is such an important piece of the Neil puzzle that I wasn’t going to settle.

I’m hoping in the future he sticks with the plant in Germany, as they are highly regarded in the industry. Even if that means we have to wait a bit longer for a vinyl release. After all, we have been overwhelmed with releases lately.

We just picked up Odeon/Budokan, but have yet to play it. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to share my thoughts about it later, but life has been extremely difficult lately.

Peace 🙏

At 9/01/2023 11:30:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

@ Dan : I am sorry to hear about your vinyl troubles. I quit buying vinyl from Neil after my Ditch Trilogy fell apart. I reglued them myself but it shouldn't be so hard to make good quality records with these great NY recordings. But it is hard, and that is the trouble.

I am sorry to hear of difficult times you are having Dan. Hang in there. Positive prayers Dan...

I hope to meet up down the road apiece, perhaps when Neil returns to Outlaw Field or other nearby venue.

It was nice to read your writing on the new releases. I always enjoy your input and your positive energy. Keep that fire burning.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 9/01/2023 11:49:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

@ Thrasher : Your very cool post about the Ragged Glory gear is much appreciated. Thrasher hits another home run in the Neil Young universe. Freedom, Ragged Glory, this was the foundation of my love for the music by the man. These albums happened right after I hit my first NY show, the Blue Note Cafe (Bluenotes!). Neil Young was in command of his Art and wielding it like a mighty sword, and audio.

@ Dan. Not to argue, but rather to provoke conversation..... I am not so sure Neil should not be called the Godfather of Grunge. Why not? If not him, then who? Cobain saw something intense and powerful in Neil's music. Mark Lanegan (singer for the Screaming Trees, Sousavers, Twilight Singers, & Mark lanegan Band..... listened to After The Gold Rush & it kept him alive for a year as an old teen. He later covered Through My Sails on a Soulsavers album and covered Cinnamon Girl live, a pretty grungey song for 1969! Pearl Jam worshipped Neil. Mirrorball did not impress PJ fans or many NY fans, but I LOVE it. Mike McCready is a fantastic guitarist. Cobain said Neil was the Only one from the 60's who stayed true and vital, more or less. Zappa stayed true to himself, as far as I am aware.... not sure if Cobain considered him. McCready and Chris Cornell covered Hendrix. Hendrix may as well be the Godfather of grunge. And Jerry Lee Lewis invented punk rock. kidding sort of. I met McCready's mom one time and asked her what they listened to in the house when Mike was growing up. Hendrix? yes. Dylan? Yes. Darn it, I forgot to ask her about Neil Young. Another true story from Your Brother Alan in Seattle

Anyway, just splitting hairs on the musical highway, my friend.

At 9/02/2023 02:35:00 PM, Blogger Harm said...

RE: godfather of Grunge. Just listen to Old Man from the BBC concert, if that didn't inspire Grunge, then I don't know what did.

At 9/02/2023 03:07:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

To help explain my point on “godfather of grunge”, I’ve just never cared for these titles that try to categorize things. Things like ‘classic rock’, or ‘punk’. It’s all just music to me. I feel like it devalues the artist, and can be detrimental for others in discovering new sounds. I suppose one could argue that it can also do the opposite, but for me personally, this categorization of music, art, film, and dance seems counterintuitive. But they are ingrained into our culture like tattoos, so I understand I’m in the minority.

Classic rock was just the music of a certain time period which I lived through, so it’s just the music I grew up with. If a band is from a different country then calling it African music or whatever, then I feel that is appropriate. But music is just too important to be cut up into pieces like that. I hope this makes sense.

Peace 🙏

At 9/02/2023 10:46:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

If the expanded Ragged Glory were available individually, I'd probably go for it. As a rule, I haven't partaken of the Original Release box sets. In the case of the 1972-76 material, most of the remastered tracks came out on NYAII, where they do indeed sound fantastic. What's more, NYAII had enough unreleased material to justify the investment. Hopefully, we'll see what NYAIII holds in the near future.

I still maintain Weld and/or Rust Bucket are the best ways to experience the RG material. A live concert setting is the only way to fully bring out the awesome and defining "raggedness" at the heart of these songs. When I hear Love to Burn or Love and Only Love, I want it raw and wild. To that end, Weld has had greater replay value over the years than RG for me personally.

I appreciate the importance of the Freedom/RG era as a huge artistic (and commercial) renaissance for Neil, but I'd be lying if I said those albums as a whole touch me in the same way as (for instance) Sleeps with Angels. This is a very personal, subjective response and I may be in a minority. The best parts of RG are fantastic and exhilarating. SWA verges on the sublime. I hope that distinction makes sense. There are moments of sublimity scattered throughout NY's recordings from Cowgirl in the Sand to Plastic Flowers. But entire albums that rise to that level? I can only think of a few.

Soon to come, I hope, are my thoughts on Chrome Dreams. I'm a little behind due to a shipping delay and other Real Life concerns. It's lovely to check in with this corner of the worldwide web. Sorry it has been so long.

At 9/03/2023 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@The Metamorphic Rocker : You have been missed, but real life concerns must always take precedence. I too have been away for the same reasons. After my last post yesterday I wondered how you were doing. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Chrome Dreams, as I genuinely enjoy your thoughts and brilliant writing.

Peace 🙏

P. S. Sleeps With Angels is indeed sublime.

At 9/03/2023 12:22:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

@ Dan : I hear your point and agree. Neil Young is so much more than any title could include. Labels can be very limiting. Why pigeon hole an Artist? Giving credit where credit is due is appropriate, I feel. Try labeling Rain Dogs, right!? I am glad you spoke on that. Neil’s variety is key. What a master craftsman of songs.

Neil’s electric guitar sound to me is so blissful, so epic. I love the “jet engine in a hurricane” description. But Neil is so much more than that too. He has so many sides! Natural for a shape shifter! I don’t actually believe NY changes the shape of himself! Haha. Perhaps with a good diet and some paddle boarding, some walking, Neil has shifted his shape a bit.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 9/03/2023 12:33:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dan - thanks for dropping by with an update.

bummer on the vinyl pressings. you'd think that by now these issues with pressings would be resolved. but it seems like another lost art form.

take care and pass this way again.

@ our Brother Alan in Seattle - thanks much for keeping the spirit alive and flame burning.

as for Godfather of Grunge? Well, we know about labels. But Salt and Pepper need labels. Just like life the labels are considered guidance.

certainly that grunge look of "lumberjack aesthetics" is something Neil really did pioneer. The Harvest film is a giant commercial for "lumberjack aesthetics" fashion.

@ The Metamorphic Rocker - what Dan said. good to see you and look fwd to CD I thoughts.

also, take care and pass this way again.

At 9/03/2023 04:13:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9/03/2023 04:21:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9/03/2023 04:29:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

@ Thrasher: Haha. Salt & Pepper need labels! Thank you for the encouragement & uplifting vibes. This whole Neil Young thing is quite a sonic feast! I will keep the fire burning in my spirit & enjoy the good things in life we have to enjoy. The planet is getting hot, but we do have huge piles of music that Uncle Neil and his buddies have given us. A Treasure, we know this.

@ Harm : Now that’s funny! Was the spark for Grunge created when Neil played Old man @ BBC in ‘72?! Gave it a quick listen & there it was, a growl that perhaps breathed life into a nebulous thing known as “Grunge” music. Haha. It’s all illusion any way.

No argument, just as long as we can all agree that Elvis is not the King of Rock & Roll! (Even tho Neil has called him that, I know). King of marketing… White kid shakes hips on TV! & sings someone else’s Blues songs! The young white kids never heard anything like that before! Elvis never wrote a song. The real “King” writes his own songs! Chuck Berry is certainly the Father of Chuck Berry Rock & Roll, & that is a LOT of Rock & Roll. Chuck wrote so many great songs. Neil Young seems less influenced by Chuck than many other guitar players. Neil is more like Roy Orbison on acid, and killing it on the lead electric & the gorgeous acoustic songs. I always loved Neil’s voice. Some people hate it. What a horrible fate that would be!

I was lucky enough to see Chuck Berry & Lil Richard in DF/W one night with The Turtles. Lil Richard could not sing anymore. Chuck blew it up! One of the very best shows I have ever seen. No BS. No stage show. Just a local piano player & drummer. The excitement in the music was Infectious. Everyone was dancing, including me. So many times I saw the Grateful Dead play Chuck Berry songs in the mid 80’s - ‘93. But nobody can play Chuck like Chuck!

Neil’s lifelong interest in Jimmy Reed is fascinating to me. Of all the Blues Artists, Neil would cite Reed as his favorite, I gather. I believe Neil said he listened to Reed as a child(!). Jimmy Reed was playing on the PA before the show on the Coastal Tour. Reed is laid back more than anything. He may have nurtured Neils’s “relaxed approach” in singing style.

But we know there is an Alpha Dog in that Heart of Neil’s that takes this thing very seriously. Neil wields furious energy at times, insisting on the sound being perfect, etc, from what I have personally witnessed (Boise soundcheck / rehearsal). The local PA set up was not to Neil’s liking and he was about as grumpy as a guy could be for a minute there. Under pressure, the locals got their shit together.

Neil is still living the Hippie Dream, for him, it’s not over. Creativity, the Muse. Let it flow. But he has had to labor for his Art, and fight for it. He has shepherded quite the mountain of music for us all. How in the hell did he come up with all of these songs?!
How did he come up with all of these chords and arrangements?

He is for sure the “King of Rock Curveballs” as I toss out labels, haha. He confounds his fans, which I love. As it was written on this blog, Chrome Dreams really does ripple the Neil Young fabric of time and Art, chronologically speaking. The what if scenarios are fascinating. Good points made on sequencing, etc, by Dan & writer whose name I forgot. New branches and connections in the Neil Young song / album family tree. I am growing excited for NYA3 and I think I will even get my blu ray system set up again, with surround.

Pardon my editing & deleting…

Have a fantastic day! Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 9/03/2023 10:48:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, Dan and Thrasher. I will try to be more consistently present here. The issue of labels is a tricky, nuanced one but in the context we're speaking of here, titles like "Godfather of Grunge" or "King of rock 'n' roll" are largely bestowed upon artists by music journalists. They are reductive and, as such not terribly useful. At the least, we shouldn't take these media-spun narratives for granted. They tend to be oversimplified and there's a risk of one's thinking getting constricted with too many underlying assumptions.

As a preliminary note on Chrome Dreams, the album sequencing and structure looks like what I call the patchwork quilt effect. In other words, there's a mix and match of materials, in this case songs, that are superficially disparate and don't necessarily seem like they would fit together, but the disjointedness paradoxically creates a cohesion and beauty of its own. Another good metaphor would be scrap-booking. There's a lot of cutting and pasting, and probably a few jagged edges, but there's a consistency of form and the juxtapositions can be quite artistic.

Not coincidentally, Chrome Dreams II is a great example in the NY oeuvre. I am specifically referring to the CD version, which (with apologies to vinyl devotees) I take to be the original intention for the album in this case. Check out the transition between Ordinary People and Shining Light. The jagged guitar coda of OP dissolves into gentle acoustic strumming. Two very different songs, cleverly bridged. Some people find CDII too fragmentary, in contrast to an album like Prairie Wind or Silver and Gold, where all the songs immediately sound like they go together. For me, the variety is refreshing and it does create an atmosphere all its own.

Now, with the arrival of the first Chrome Dreams, we can hear the blueprint, the form CDII was consciously designed to mirror. It's an aural collage approach I can't help wishing NY had experimented with more often over the years. For many of the originally released albums, there's an emphasis on musical unity and/or structural symmetry. I'm thinking especially of the genre projects, but also records like Tonight's the Night (bookend songs) and Rust (acoustic/electric 50/50 split and bookend songs). Whereas CD (I and II) have contrasting songs and sounds bouncing off of each other, creating sometimes wild changes in mood and tempo.

For various reasons, the more chaotic, non-linear albums often seem to have been set aside over the years. Homegrown is a perfect example. In that case, the album's fragmentation adds up to a picture of a fractured psyche. I have yet to discover the exact effect(s) Chrome Dreams will create for me. That will take time and close listening.

At 9/03/2023 10:58:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Quick addendum on labels: Giving credit where its due is good. But the real credit, in my opinion, comes not in the form of titles, awards, and honorifics, but rather in how we as fans and listeners are moved to express what this music means or does for us. In other words, the reality that we can write with great depth and passion about Neil's music is the truest testament to his legacy.


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