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Neil Young and Crazy Horse - World Record (Album Review)

Friday, 18 November 2022 Written by Craig Howieson

Photo: Joey Martinez

Time can take an immeasurable toll. The passing years have the ability to dull the senses, and dampen fires that once burned brightly. It can be all too easy to become complacent, to allow each day to roll into the next. 

You would be forgiven for thinking Neil Young might just phone it in on his latest album. After all, ‘World Record’ is his 42nd LP, and 15th with some version of the freewheeling Crazy Horse in his corner. In fact, many would argue that at this stage of his career he has earned the right to throw some chords and a melody out into the ether without too much consideration.

But that’s not his style. On what could have been a half-hearted cantankerous diatribe, we find Young, Nils Lofgren, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina in rude health, and as passionate, challenging and driven as ever.

Recorded live, as is now the norm for Crazy Horse, and with Rick Rubin on co-production duties alongside Young, the record feels as though it could have been plucked from any of the finest periods of his own archives. 

The years have also done little to extinguish Young's fiery spirit. A committed environmentalist and conservationist, ‘World Record’ plays out like a love letter to Earth, while simultaneously driving home the message that there is still time to make a change if we act now. 

Musically, too, Young's willingness to explore remains firmly intact. Clocking in at over 15 minutes the bluesy hustle of Chevrolet starts to overstay its welcome, but even that is hard to hold against him, especially given the curve balls he serves up elsewhere.

At points he channels the naked vulnerability of Daniel Johnson. On Walkin’ On The Road he writes from a place of trepid isolation, somehow managing to escape the confines of his own fears to channel a secret message directly to you. While pump organ swells and harmonica take the place of Johnson's Casio keys the same no frills approach prevails, providing a stark reminder that Young is unique among his peers in how unguarded he allows himself to be. 

Finding Young's passion for all the facets of his life undimmed after all this time provides hope for us all. On ‘World Record’ he remains a positive, defiant force, and above all, utterly charming.

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