Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides, making this one of the more enjoyable copies we’ve heard in quite a while
  • It’s not easy to find copies that get both the quieter, acoustic material and the big, rockin’ Crazy Horse stuff right, but this one did
  • With some fairly quiet passages of music, both sides play about as well as the record ever does – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • 5 stars: “His strongest collection since Tonight’s the Night, its obvious antecedent was Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home, and, as Dylan did, Young divided his record into acoustic and electric sides while filling his songs with wildly imaginative imagery.”

This copy has some of the best Rust Never Sleeps sound we have ever had the privilege of playing. The acoustic guitars are full-bodied and sweet, with lovely, delicate harmonics. The vocals had a natural quality that we didn’t hear on some copies, with no trace of thinness or edginess, yet still present and clear. If you are looking for a copy that gets the folkie stuff right, this is the one.

Play track three, Ride My Llama, to hear the kind of rich, sweet, Tubey Magic to be found on this side. Tubey Magic in 1979? Yes, analog was still alive and well then — this copy proves it. The disastrously synthesized ’80s were on their way but thankfully they hadn’t gotten here yet.

Side two is where the harder-rockin’ electric material can be found, including two of the best songs on the album: Powderfinger and Sedan Delivery. The sound is full and smooth and lively – this side was rockin’ like no other.

Tubey Magic Is Key

This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

The Quiet and The Loud

It’s not easy to find copies that get both the quieter, acoustic material and the big, rockin’ Crazy Horse stuff right, but this one is up to the task.

The album is (mostly) a live recording with minimal overdubs. Crazy Horse is of course widely recognized as one of the all time killer concert acts of its day, so it’s a bit of a shame that most of the copies we played this week made us want to go to sleep. The not-so-Hot copies failed in a number of ways: thin guitars or vocals, overly dry or edgy sound, and insufficient presence, just to name a few. It was the rare copy that made us forget we were listening to a record and allowed us to really get into the music.

Needless to say we had this record playing very very loud. Twenty dB less than it would have been at the live event, sure, at least, but very, very loud for a 18×20 living room in the suburbs.

One of The Better Neil Young Albums

And if you’re a fan this record absolutely belongs in your collection, along with about ten others by the man. Now what other solo artist can you name that has ten or more records to his name worth owning? I’m hard pressed to think of one other than Bob Dylan (and, not being a big Bob Dylan fan, I myself would be quite content with half a dozen, tops). The Beatles and The Stones don’t count, obviously. Elvis Costello comes pretty close, but ten? I can’t get there, with him or anybody else. Neil’s body of work stands alone.

By the way, the CD of Live at Massey Hall 1971 is absolutely amazing, sonically and musically. No Neil Young fan should be without it.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) 
Thrasher
Ride My Llama
Pocahontas
Sail Away

Side Two

Powderfinger 
Welfare Mothers 
Sedan Delivery
Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)

AMG 5 Star Review

Rust Never Sleeps, its aphoristic title drawn from an intended advertising slogan, was an album of new songs, some of them recorded on Neil Young’s 1978 concert tour. His strongest collection since Tonight’s the Night, its obvious antecedent was Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home, and, as Dylan did, Young divided his record into acoustic and electric sides while filling his songs with wildly imaginative imagery.

The leadoff track, “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” (repeated in an electric version at album’s end as “Hey Hey, My My [Into the Black]” with slightly altered lyrics), is the most concise and knowing description of the entertainment industry ever written; it was followed by “Thrasher,” which describes Young’s parallel artistic quest in an extended metaphor that also reflected the album’s overall theme — the inevitability of deterioration and the challenge of overcoming it.

Young then spent the rest of the album demonstrating that his chief weapons against rusting were his imagination and his daring, creating an archetypal album that encapsulated his many styles on a single disc with great songs — in particular the remarkable “Powderfinger” — unlike any he had written before.