“Evol (the name of the album in question) is love spelled backward, which is pretty much what was going on in 1991, Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, as Sonic Youth warmed up Neil Young + Crazy Horse, choosing not to pander even slightly to all the aging hippies in the house, but rather to deliver unto them a profound and beautiful and sustained NOISE. The climax came with Expressway to Yr Skull, which actually starts out kind of nice, but then ‘We’re Gonna Kill – The California Girls – We’re gonna fire the exploding load in the milkmaid maidenhead.’ The hippies were very confused, angry even, but I just laughed. The times, they just kept a-changing.” (Philip Random)
Apparently, Buffalo Springfield are the greatest band nobody’s ever properly heard, unless you were lucky enough to catch them live way back when, with the psychedelic 60s ripping a hole through time. Neil Young and Stephen Stills (and the other guys), brash and wild and still mostly unknown, desperate to be heard, to wake people the f*** up. The records just don’t capture that. They’re too restrained, too produced, which isn’t to say they don’t have some moments, just lacking that overall carnivorous bite.
As the story goes, Neil Young had at least a peripheral connection to Charles Manson. They weren’t exactly buddies, yet there was a sort of passing amity that perhaps could only have existed in the old hippie days of 1960s Los Angeles, the weird scenes up Laurel Canyon in particular. That was before all the slaughter, of course. After which Mr. Young found a way to get it into at least one song, in particular the part about getting armed to the teeth, hopping into dune buggies, then swarming down the canyon, exterminating everyone they saw, particularly all the hippie rock star types who hadn’t let Chuck join their club. Which was apparently a scheme that he never got around to executing. There were a bunch of those.
It’s 1975 and if you’re Neil Young, you’re hanging out in sunny California, feeling a decade older than you were three years ago, but at least the drugs are good, and sometimes the smog ain’t so bad, particularly when Crazy Horse drops by. Just plug in and play so loud it actually cuts through the haze, and mystical birds of great danger are seen soaring high, fierce and beautiful.
Neil Young, reluctant rock star, still smarting from the heroin deaths of two good friends, sits on a vague beach on a vague day and plucks his banjo, waxing skeptically (if not cynically) about the nature of the game he’s playing. Apparently they were imbibing a lot of strong hemp product during the recording of this album. You’d never know.
The Solid Time of Change is our overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era – 661 selections from 1965 through 1979 with which we hope to do justice to a strange and ambitious time indeed, musically speaking.
Part Twenty-Nine of the journey went as follows:
Buffalo Springfield – broken arrow
Electric Light Orchestra – Shangri-La
Aphrodite’s Child – the system
Aphrodite’s Child- seven trumpets
Aphrodite’s Child – Altamont
Tommy James + the Shondells – crimson and clover
Barclay James Harvest – suicide
Barclay James Harvest – hymn
Gentle Giant – the runaway
King Crimson – cat food
King Crimson – groon
Fleetwood Mac – oh well
Genesis – ripples
Genesis – in the rapids
Genesis – it
Genesis – watcher of the skies [live]
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In which Neil Young waxes sad and beautiful about leaving home and finding himself on an asphalt highway bending through libraries and museums, galaxies and stars. Originally found on the acoustic side of 1979’s Rust Never Sleeps, the album where Mr. Young faced the punk whirlwind, found it relevant, and thus ensured that, unlike most of his contemporaries, he would neither burn out nor fade away, but keep on keeping on.
“In which then still young Neil Young draws the obvious connection between the vampire’s bloodlust and western man’s need for oil. In other words, we’re junkies, willing to kill for a fix. And kill we did in 1991. And then again in 2003. No Blood For Oil said all the anti-War posters and placards, but they were missing the point. The oil was blood. It still is. And we’re still killing for it.” (Philip Random)
Neil Young weighs in with an important public service announcement, which was recorded in 1973 on the heels of various deaths in and around the band (Crazy Horse), but not released until 1975 because everybody was just too bummed out. When it doubt, counsels Mr. Young, get stoned and go for a long drive that gets you reflecting on a recent past that seems much further away than it really is. That’s what the rear view’s for.