Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Album Review: Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Toast

Neil Young and Crazy Horse 
** out of *****

Back in 2000-2001, Neil Young and Crazy Horse were searching for a sound and tried out some different offerings after Young had spent some time in Argentina. One effort evolved into the album Toast which was ready to go and then shelved by Young. Now it receives its official release as Volume 09 of Neil Young Archives' Special Release Series.

Notoriously following his own muses to an almost insane degree, Young moved on from the album to release Are You Passionate?  instead, which contained some songs from Toast, but overall went a new way with Booker T & The MG's replacing Crazy Horse mixed results. Now Toast has been released as a 'lost album' and while it is interesting, it is far from a must hear as Young and the Horse wander about a bit aimlessly 

The opening "Quit" is backed with a very sweet groove as the Horse bang around behind pretty guitar lines and female backing vocals. Unfortunately, the end result doesn't go anywhere all that impressive, a common theme on the album, as the band is trying things out instead of finalizing concrete ideas. That feeling of demo/scattered ideas also comes into play on "Going Home" which uses piano and lyrics around General Custer and Indians in a disheveled manner. 

Better is the punkish grunge riffs of "Standing In The Light of Love" feeling like a loose take on some classic Crazy Horse style rocking, which works. The group also comes together on "How Ya Doin'?" which has a melancholy feel and affecting lines acting as the one track that digs into Young's feelings at the time. 

More often though the group seem to be in tryout mode. "Timberline" is bumping with searching feeling and repetitive pump organ while "Gateway To Love" is long and weird with Latin rhythms and riffs. "Gateway To Love" uses buried guitar solos in the mix and never catches fire; these tracks could eventually evolve into something, but never truly do. 

Same with the elongated closer "Boom Boom Boom" as the effort has some very interesting ideas such as the trumpets which work well, especially when they are soloing, but the overall effort is plodding with no clear direction.  

Young has mentioned this album is akin to his classic Tonight's The Night, however where that album has a darkness and powerful feeling, Toast is adrift and much duller. Young may have been having marital problems or other issues, but they stay aloof here as he and Horse play around but never fully commit on Toast.
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