Rust Never Sleeps
Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Released: June 1979
Chart Peak: #8
Weeks Charted: 39
Certified Platinum: 2/7/80
Young is joined by Crazy Horse and as a result, rings similar to some of his earlier recordings with the band. Side one is on the mellow side with Young on acoustic guitar and harmonica. Side two is much harder and rocking as Young lets rip on electric guitar. Much of that side comes off as muddled with the acoustic stuff brighter and folkier and more in tune with his successful Comes A Time LP. In addition to Crazy Horse, Nicolette Larson joins in on "Sail Away." Best cuts: "My, My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)," "Sail Away," "Powderfinger," "Thrasher," "Sedan Delivery."
- Billboard, 1979.
For the decade's greatest rock and roller to come out with his greatest album in 1979 is no miracle in itself -- the Stones made Exile as grizzled veterans. The miracle is that Young doesn't sound much more grizzled now than he already did in 1969; he's wiser but not wearier, victor so far over the slow burnout his title warns of. The album's music, like its aura of space-age primitivism, seems familiar, but while the melodies work because they're as simple and fresh as his melodies have always been, the offhand complexity of the lyrics is unprecedented in Young's work: "Pocahantas" makes "Cortez the Killer" seem like a tract, "Sedan Delivery" turns "Tonight's the Night" on its head, and the Johnny Rotten tribute apotheosizes rock-and-roll-is-here-to-stay. Inspirational Bumper Sticker: "Welfare mothers make better lovers." A+
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
- Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.
Like the album that followed it, Live Rust, this is a live album. The difference is that this is a single disc containing all-new material. The songs are among Young's best ever, "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)," "Thrasher," and "Powderfinger," among them. * * * * *
- William Ruhlmann , The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Rust Never Sleeps (1979) and Weld (1991) are two great live albums -- the former a collection of awesome new songs, the latter serving notice of Young's turn-of-the-decade return to form. * * * * 1/2
- Alan Paul, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
Effectively straddling different styles -- the acoustic first side featuring Nicolette Larson complements the vitriol of the electric side with Crazy Horse -- this tribute to the rowdy punk scene of the late '70s gave Neil back his street cred as American's leading iconclast folk-rocker. Some of the llyrics are pure haiku ("it's better to burn out than it is to rust") that became a philosophy and a rallying cry. * * * * *
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
In 1978, Young went on tour with a batch of songs his audience had never heard and got two albums out of it -- Rust Never Sleeps and the double LP Live Rust. Both are essential Neil Young, full of impossibly delicate acoustic songs and ragged Crazy Horse rampages. Highlights: "My My Hey Hey" (a tribute to Johnny Rotten), a surreal political spiel called "Welfare Mothers" ("make better lovers") and "Powderfinger," where Young's guitar hits the sky like never before.
Rust Never Sleeps was chosen as the 350th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
By 1979 Neil Young was celebrating surviving the 1970s with his integrity intact, Village Voice magazine even nominated him as "Artist Of The Decade," confirming him as one of the few stars of his era, along with Dylan and Van Morrison, to make the successful transition.
Young was forging ahead with his solo career on two fronts. A film entitled Rust Never Sleeps premiered in July 1979, comprising concert footage shot the previous year at San Francisco's Cow Palace, but a simultaneously released album of the same title was more interesting. An acoustic side featured Young solo, while an electric side saw him backed by stage band Crazy Horse. The record is bookended by variations on a song, "My My, Hey Hey," which ruminated on the fleeting nature of stardom; it became legendary after Nirvana's Kurt Cobain quoted it in his suicide note.
Acoustic highlights included "Pocahontas," inspired by Sacheen Littlefeather's apparance at the Academy Awards to turn down Marlon Brando's Oscar for his role in The Godfather. (Young had explored the destruction of the Native American peoples on Buffalo Springfield's "Broken Arrow.") "Thrasher" was a veiled commentary on his relationship with Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
The four scorching electric numbers on side two, recorded live but with audience sound removed, kicked off with "Powderfinger," a Western tale, and concluded by a second blast of the album's theme song, entitled "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)." The sound of an artist refusing to burn out or fade away.
- Michael Heatley, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.
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