Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Neil Young Live Rust (1979)


There’s something about October, with the cool, crisp air, that always makes me reach for Neil Young. Perhaps it’s my propensity for flannel shirts during the cooler weather.

Or perhaps it’s the warm glow of acoustic guitars mixed and Neil’s yearning vocals. Whatever the reason, you’d be wise to get yourself some Neil Young for the coming cold…

Live Rust, released in 1979, documents songs from Young’s Rust Never Sleeps tour in the fall of ’78. Hey, what do you know, fall time! Anyways, the album is split into two distinct parts, acoustic during the first half and raw electric during the second half. Actually, it’s not quite that cut and dry as out of 16 songs, only 6 of them are acoustic. Still, those first five acoustic songs are wonderfully played by just Neil, his guitar and harmonica. He even finds time to play piano during “After the Gold Rush” to emotional effect.

Songs like “Sugar Mountain,” “Comes A Time,” and “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” are all played with such heartfelt emotion they quickly became my favorite versions. There is just something about that sparse guitar mixing with Neil’s trebly, shakey voice that stops time. There is a realness to the material that is quite remarkable and I often find myself staring out the window with a sense of yearning, watching the leaves fall from their trees, Neil softly strumming in the background. It’s real, true, and almost noble music. There are no tricks, no screwing around, just a simple man with a handful of simple songs.

“When You Dance I Can Really Love” kicks off the first of the electric songs with a surge of electricity. Suddenly the amps are turned to 11 and that warm guitar distortion is running rampant. The band, the aptly named Crazy Horse, is playing with a controlled chaos that is almost comforting. The vocal harmonies are all spot on, the bass and drums hold down the groove, and Neil sets off into one of his trademark melodic solos. “The Loner” follows with similar results, Neil singing with a unique rock & roll swagger that is just plain cool.

“The Needle and the Damage Done,” a harrowing song about a fallen friend who succumbed to the dangers of drug use, follows and Neil’s performance is spellbinding. For such a short, simple song the message rings clear with some of Neil’s finest lyrics delivered in excellent voice.

As things move along the album grows darker and heavier, the dense electric guitars threatening everything in their path. “Cortez the Killer” moves with a thick sound and molasses like beat while Neil delivers stunning solos that sound like his guitar is about to explode. One thing that is always unique about Neil’s electric work is that it’s never too loud, never hurting or piercing, and instead goes towards the warmer side of things; whereas other guitarist like to set their guitars to stun, Neil likes to wash over you with thick waves of electricity.

A quickly paced and heavily rocking “Cinnamon Girl,” complete with a stunning electrified coda, sets the stage for the live favorite “Like a Hurricane.” Neil comes in like a storm, almost quiet but with an unnerving sense of foreboding. When the main riffs sets in the band gels with ragged magnificence, setting the groundwork for Neil to come in with his heaviest solo of the night. Amidst his highly melodic solo Neil throws in a ton of heavy effects and at one point hits notes so low they must have rippled the roots of the amber autumn trees.

The night’s heaviness continues with a seriously rocking version of “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” that settles into a deep head shaking groove. Neil’s thin voice sounds almost scary when paired with the heavily distorted riffs that are being thrown around without a care. “Tonight’s the Night,” another song about a fallen friend, rounds out the set with heavy grooves, excellently ragged harmonies, and raging, emotional solos. The band throws down for the final time in a wash of feedback, leaving the heaving crowd to voice their full approval.

Live Rust is one of those albums that every music fan should have. The acoustic numbers are excellent and the electric songs just plain rock. Neil’s penchant for being real is on full display and there is plenty to enjoy throughout the entirety of the album. I can recommend a lot of albums that are fall time essentials and this certainly makes it high into my list. Just awesome.


January 1, 2014 - Posted by | Neil Young Live Rust |

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: