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Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps (1979)

August 26, 2013

[Album 229/1001]220px-Neil_Young_Rust_Never_Sleeps

Although not completely live (2 tracks are studio recordings), 7 out of 9 tracks still represent a solid majority.  Considering studio albums with a bonus live track tacked on are still classified as studio records, by the same logic, Rust Never Sleeps can be suitably categorized as live.

Though listeners would be forgiven for thinking the full record was created in a studio.  In some live recordings, audience applause is artificially (and in my opinion, unnecessarily) augmented.  I quite enjoy how Neil & co. went the opposite way here: they made the effort to reduce/remove audience noise wherever possible!    

For better or worse (mostly better), talk about influential:

My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
Long before the shudder-inducing hashtag #yolo (or more grammatically appropriate, #yloo, as otherwise it suggests that living is the sole thing you will ever do on merely one occasion), the song’s third line, “better to burn out than to fade away” was a popular credo.  A credo appropriated musically by artists like Def Leppard (Rock of Ages) and tragically by Kurt Cobain.

Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
Layla may still be the best song with two distinct electric/unplugged variations but the bookends of this record are in the conversation.  Considering this song has been…
– covered by groups as diverse Oasis & System of a Down
– cited as the blueprint for a huge REM single
– a sound template for late 80s/early 90s groups like Dinosaur Jr. & Sonic Youth
…Young needn’t worry that “once you’re gone you can’t come back” as his impact should continue to be felt indefinitely.

Powderfinger
Remember the early 00s song, My Happiness?  Written by the Australian group, Powderfinger.  Bonus marks if you can guess the etymology of the band name.

Rust Never Sleeps
I remember years ago Neil Osborne of 54-40 compiled a list of the top 10 Canadian albums of all-time.  I can’t recall the order but all 10 had something in common: all 10 had the words ‘Neil Young’ somewhere in the artist name. 

I hadn’t fully appreciated Neil’s impact on future CanCon.  After listening to the acoustic side one and the electric side two of Rust Never Sleeps, it’s clear that most of my favourite Canadian acts were (and still are) Neil Young fans.

So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  I can’t say I was a huge fan before the 1001 project but after yet another strong effort, Neil Young’s stock is definitely on the rise.

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From → 1970s

14 Comments
  1. Definitely the best…and most essential…of Neil’s live albums. I remember many songs from this album getting significant FM radio play at the time of its release, and although I wouldn’t become a big fan until years later, this was really my introduction to his music. Not a bad way to “meet” Neil.

  2. Love this record….but I have an unnatural and creepy (outlawed in 14 States) kind of love for “Live Rust”. The version of “Cortez the Killer” on that, I still consider one of the finest performances in all rock music. I know we are largely talking about the same ice cream in a different package so have no argument with the way you went on this.

    • I suppose the 1001 editors couldn’t include his whole discography (though Young makes at least 9 appearances in one form or another!) – I’m interested to hear Live Rust to see if I would have included that one instead.

      • No worries dude…I know as a music blogger that you can’t appease all the quirky fans out there :)…it is just that Cortez changed the way I appreciated music-and live rust was two big delicious scoops of Neil instead of just the one.

      • Just looking at the tracklist for live rust, I always prefer vinyl (of course!) but it looks like this time it’s a must – apparently to make it under the 74 minute mark, the CD’s missing a minute of Cortez’s guitar solo!

  3. Not too much to add here, although I do agree with Rich. And Wayne. Go me!

  4. I screwed up a little with my initial comment when I described it as his best & most essential live album, since I was reading “Rust Never Sleeps” but thinking “Live Rust.” Thanks to Wayne for reminding me about Live Rust, which is phenomenal, and yes…that version of “Cortez…” is definitive. When I did my series on Neil’s discography at he beginning of this year, that was one of several Neil albums that blew me away, and after hearing his other live releases I can confirm that it’s a classic and probably the first “live Neil” anyone should have in their collection.

    Rust Never Sleeps isn’t a top-to-bottom masterpiece, but the best songs are as good as anything he’s ever recorded.

    • Rich – just read your review, I was pleased to see we had a similar experience. The 12-string on Thrasher was quite pleasant, Pocahontas was right up there and the middle of the Crazy Horse side was agreeable but not terribly memorable.

      Even if this one’s not perfect, I find there’s a certain charm to some albums that aren’t top-to-bottom masterpieces – for example The White album. A mess? Check. Some less than spectacular tunes? Yep. Easily in my top 5? See questions 1&2!

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  1. Neil Young – Harvest (1972) | 1001albumsin10years

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