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Colorado by Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Album Review

Neil Young is nothing if not prolific. This new release with long time sidekicks Crazy Horse is his 39th studio album. If archive releases, live albums, compilations and soundtracks are included then it is his 66th! Unfortunately a lot of that recent content, "The Monsanto Years" et al, has been less than stellar. The absence of long time producer and BS caller David Briggs, (who died in 1995), had been sorely felt by this listener in recent years. 

Happily though I can report that this is easily his most satisfying album since 2012's "Psychedelic Pill", significantly also his last studio work with the Horse. Whilst recent collaborators Promise Of The Real are undoubtedly better musicians, (Nils Lofgren excepted of course), and have been an excellent live foil for Neil, they have yet to bring the best out of him in the studio. Perhaps they have too much respect for "Uncle" Neil, whereas the limitations of Crazy Horse bring a little more focus to the job in hand.

Early single "Milky Way", (more on that here), had me hoping for a "Sleeps With Angels" style album and overall that is what we have got. Not without flaws, it nonetheless represents a significant step up from those dire recent albums.
It is a positive and upbeat start with "Think Of Me; nice harmony work with a country swing and discreet bar room piano that is an early indication things are going to be different this time. Even thought this track isn't a rocker, Neil sounds invigorated and ready to work. Perhaps that Telluride mountain air during recording cleared the head?

We're back in familiar Crazy Horse territory on "She Showed Me Love", a classic elongated rocker that whilst probably too long, shows the best and worst of the garage rock style. At times it almost stumbles to a halt before gathering itself and soaring again. Lengthy solos and fat guitars, exactly what we expect from this group of musicians. It should a legal requirement that every Neil Young and Crazy Horse album comes with a 10 minute plus rocker; consider that box ticked.
"Olden Days" has a  relaxed feel that hints of something like the classic "Winterlong", a personal favourite deep-ish cut. This is followed by an old school stomper, "Help Me Lose My Mind" which, along with "Shut It Down", veers a little too closely to bad "preachy" Neil.

"Green Is Blue" is just beautiful with sumptuous vocals and some of the best instrumentation of the album, whereas "Rainbow Of Colors" is probably the best track on the album with a great message that isn't overly hectoring even if the melody keeps tricking me into thinking it is going to become "Brothers In Arms"
Life with third wife Daryl Hannah is obviously good for Neil, as "Eternity" and "I Do" illustrate, with "I Do" the better of those two songs. 

Overall this is by far Neil's strongest original album in a very long time and with a little judicious editing could have been even better. However Neil owes us nothing given the many classics he has turned out over the years, and the fact that he still has something as good as this in him at the age of 73 is fantastic. Hopefully there will be a few more yet.

"You might say I'm an old white guy, I'm an old white guy.........."


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