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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

ZUMA

My brother and I both blogged Neil Young's "On The Beach" last week, and as I prepare to venture out to the beach today, I'm listening to Neil's 1975 release "Zuma". Despite being named for a famous beach, "Zuma" has little in common with "On The Beach" other than they are both under-appreciated fan favorites. Where "On The Beach" is introspective, thoughtful, quiet, and sparse; "Zuma" is loud, abrasive, thrown together, and much more dense. Where there seems to be thread of commonality on "On The Beach", "Zuma" is all over the map. But that's okay, in fact it's very okay. On Zuma we have the first recordings of a reformed Crazy Horse, with the appearance of Frank Sampedro replacing the departed Danny Whitten. On this record the Crazy Horse that we know and love today was born. Neil has often touted his band as being the world's second greatest garage band, and it's that ethos that is presented here on "Zuma". The fidelity is low, the musicianship is less than note perfect, but the over all feel is glorious, as are the songs. "Barstool Blues" is one of my all time favorites, as is the sprawling "Danger Bird", and there's the classic "Cortez The Killer".
"Zuma" at times feels peiced together, as if the record company was calling, and Neil gave them what he had on hand, odds and ends from other sessions. While this is not the case entirely, the inclusion of a discarded CSN&Y tune, "Through My Sails", and the randomness of the track's offered gives the listener the feeling that the album was made during a time of great change for Neil. I liken it to Frank Zappa's "Zoot Allures" in the sense that it was the end of something or the beginning of another, and a great album for reasons that usually don't provide such results.

Comments:
Not relevent to the Niel Young aspect of your post, but I just listened "Zoot Allures" for the first time in ten years and can't believe that I waited so long to revisit it. It is now in heavy rotation in my car (my system involves keeping a max of six CD's in my cart and cycling them every week). While some of the lyrical subject matter is dated, it is a very good thrown together record. "Wind up working in a gas station, pumping the gas every night..."
 
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