Neil Young - Chrome dreams 11
As 'Beautiful Bluebird' swings into view, it seems that 'Chrome Dreams II' is going to be that forgettable kind of Neil Young album that merely does exactly what we would expect, and no more. The song lazily passes by with Harmonica and acoustic guitar, but it ain't no 'Heart Of Gold'. 'Boxcar' arriving afterwards also fails to raise the temperatures. First though, a little history. 'Chrome Dreams' was intended to be a 1977 album release for Neil Young. It was shelved, reportedly after Neil played it for Joni Mitchell who advised against him releasing it, saying it was all over the place. Now, 'Chrome Dreams II' does include a few songs apparently dating back to that period in their origins, yet 'Chrome Dreams' was to have been an entirely different beast. 'Powderfinger', 'Pocahontas', 'Hold Back The Tears', 'Too Far Gone', 'Homegrown' and most famously, 'Like A Hurricane' were all originally slated to appear on 'Chrome Dreams'. These songs , as any Young fan will tell you, eventually appeared in different guises on various releases, some as much as ten years later. Now, that may well be true and maybe the album was 'all over the place' but I like those kind of Neil Young releases. It's that spirit that 'Chrome Dreams II' re-captures well.
We've two songs on the LP that amount to nearly half of the overall running time. 'Ordinary People' is the more convincing of the two, so much so, that it becomes right up there with the Neil Young classics. It's an eighteen minute monster with good lyrics, great soloing from Neil, trumpets sweeping back and forth. It has a mantra like quality and demands to be as long as it is. Now, if it were me, i'd have chopped the first two songs and started the album with the audacious 'Ordinary People', but I guess somebody at the record company thought customers would be put off when checking out the album on the Jukeboxs of record stores up and down the land. Perhaps that's right, but opening with 'Ordinary People' would have made for a stronger start. Still, we're moving in the right direction now as 'Shining Light' is one of those hippie campfire singalongs Neil Young does so well. He tries a similar trick after the fourteen minute 'No Hidden Path', more of which later. Well, 'Dirty Old Man' isa fun grungey little track and 'Ever After' goes for a faint whiff of a country feel. Both these songs are rock solid. 'No Hidden Path' is less a song than 'Ordinary People' was but it fits the album as a cousin or brother to 'Ordinary People', so we welcome it anyway. Then, more sweet relief, 'The Way' almost threatens to turn into a Brian Wilson number at one stage, most welcome.
The children singalong. We all rest, smiling to ourselves in the peace that the old hippie Neil has given us. We're confused, the album lacks cohesion of course, yet this time it's a good, not a bad, thing.
Beautiful Bluebird / Boxcar / Ordinary People / Shining Light / The Believer / Spirit Road / Dirty Old Man / Ever After / No Hidden Path / The Way