Happy Anniversary: Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Rust Never Sleeps

Thursday, July 2, 2015
Happy Anniversary: Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Rust Never Sleeps

36 years ago today, Neil Young and Crazy Horse released an album which answered the question, “When is a live album not a live album?” The answer: when you record it live and then go on to do everything in your power to remove the sounds that usually accompany a live show.

First of all, in referring to this as a live album, you have to set aside the tracks “Pocahontas” and “Sail Away,” which Young recorded in 1975 during the sessions for his 1978 album, Comes a Time. If you've noted the amount of time between recording and release, then you may understand why Young was so blasé when it came to promoting that particular album, telling Cameron Crowe in a 1979 Rolling Stone interview, “I hear it on the radio and it sounds nice, but I'm somewhere else now. I'm into rock & roll.” As a result, Young embarked on a tour which he dubbed “Rust Never Sleeps” - a phrase he first heard from the members of Devo, of all people - and decided that, after having been relatively relaxed for the past few albums, it was time to get back to rock 'n' roll.

Recorded at various times and venues between 1978, the material on Rust Never Sleeps was unabashedly manipulated, with plenty of overdubs added after the fact, but it hardly mattered: Young was up front about the sonic tweaks, and critics loved the material far too much to care about the adjustments that had been made in the studio. The bookends of “My My, Hey Hey” - it opens with “Out of the Blue” and closes with “Into the Black” - are both absolutely amazing, but the material housed between them is almost as strong, hence the album's regular appearances on best-of lists…and that's not only for the '70s, it's for all time.

Yes, it's just that good.