The third brilliant life affirming Neil Young & Crazy Horse studio LP in a row (after ‘Ragged Glory’ & ‘Sleeps with Angels’), this 1996 album suffered from lack of success due to lack of media interest (it was all late period Britpop rubbish around these parts at the time). When you give it some time you actually realise that it’s a fuzzed out masterpiece showing Neil & da Horse at their rough rockin’ best – dirty and scuzzy and bloody fantastic. Apart from the last track, which is a live track seemingly recorded on a broken cassette recorder inside a bucket of water in the room next door to the concert hall.
As was the case in the mid/late ’90s, this had barely a release on vinyl at all (more a rumour than an actual release to be honest – some studio exec at Reprise read the small print on Neil’s contract demanding a vinyl release and put it out just to shut the old buzzard up) and so is pressed on ultra thin vinyl that sounds way better than it should (less 180gm, more like Dynaflex+).
Nonetheless, this double album packaged in thin card non gatefold sleeve (with a insert that doesn’t really warrant a mention) also includes a non CD track recorded during the ‘Ragged Glory’ sessions – ‘Interstate’ and is absolutely fantastic. It beggars belief why it wasn’t included in the first place, especially as the aforementioned crap sounding live track could’ve been left in the box marked ‘sub standard bootleg shite’.
But that’s Neil for you – doing what the hell he wants how he wants and when he wants, and that’s why we love him. The ragged old goat.
I’m a big fan of dub and a much smaller fan of techno…but put ‘em together as dub techno and I practically fall over with joy and excitement. There’s something about that subtle warmth of the bass and underwater-sounding beats meshing with the colder clinical techno elements that really connects with my synapses. I think it’s all to do with the way my brain is wired as moves me beautifully.
This album is one of my top 5 dub techno releases because it also adds a distinctly melancholy element to the music and I bloody love a bit of sadness in music as I’m a firm believer that happiness is an overrated concept best enjoyed but idiots. (I was a big Joy Division fan when I was 13 so what sort of chance did I have?).
‘Rigning’ is Icelandic for ‘Rain’ and the whole album feels like you are watching the rain from inside when you really need to go out and have fun, but being weirdly contented with your position. Malcolm, my dog, hates going out in the rain and, when I’ve got him ready for his morning walk and he sees the rain he will look up at me in a defiantly sad manner – as if to say “you go, I’m buggered if I’m leaving the house”.
I’d like to think that this is the soundtrack to his thoughts.
In late 1979 I had just started big school and my pencil case was already covered with logos of the Pistols, Clash and Sham 69 when I met another kid of the same age who told me that his favourite band was Devo. The name was vaguely familiar from the pages of Smash Hits but I didn’t know what they sounded like so he lent me this album. I took it home and played it on my dansette (I wouldn’t get a ‘proper’ record player ‘til Christmas ’79) and instantly hated every second of it. The stupid vocals and stupid rhythms and stupid other sounds just irritated the tits off me and I took it back the next day, telling him that I thought it was ‘alright’ (I was still weighing up cool points so didn’t want to pour scorn on it in case it turned out to be something cool).
Fast forward another 12 years or so and a girlfriend moved in with me, which led to the merging of record collections and the reappearance of this in my life. I remember telling her how much I hated it and she begged me to open my mind and try again, sitting me down and putting it on.
2 minutes into the first track I was hit by a thunderbolt and I suddenly got it – I finally understood what they were trying to do and that the staccato rhythms weren’t as stupid as my 12 year old mind had originally thought. The vocals were still pretty damn goofy but at least the keyboard sounds were more enjoyable than they were in 1979
But I still hated it and told her so (I thought their version of ‘satisfaction’, in particular, was one of the most irritating pieces of music in existence). The relationship was doomed from that day on.
Now, all these decades later I actually don’t mind it, although I wouldn’t jump at playing it very often – at some point in time I actually ended up with a copy of my own but, for the life of me, can’t recall where it came from. I still feel the same way about ‘satisfaction’ though.
This particular copy is the bee’s knees/mutt’s nuts/pollock’s bollocks edition of this misunderstood (by me) album –being a gorgeous picture disc in a die cut sleeve with original insert AND original flexi (it’s good to see that Virgin used the least 2 audiophile
methods of playback here – 70s picture discs and flexis didn’t exactly produce
crystal clear playback) all in fantastic condition.
So don’t listen to me – get it yourself and be waaaaaay cooler than me.