NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE -- Broken Arrow (Reprise)

The ever prolific Neil Young, has just released a new CD with longtime bandmates, Crazy Horse. While it's not a great CD, it's infinitely better than his last - the awful 'Dead Man' soundtrack. Things do get off to a good start though. The first single from the album, "Big Time", is classic Neil. The performance is excellent, both musically and lyrically. From there, things take a temporary turn for the worse. "Loose Change" drags on forever and never really goes anywhere. What should have been a four minute song at the most, meanders on for almost 10 minutes. "Slip Away" is another one of those tunes where Neil just doesn't know when to stop. There's no real melody or song structure, and his soloing on the track rambles aimlessly.

One of the best songs on Broken Arrow is "Scattered". Neil sings in a much lower register than usual, and it's a welcome change of pace. The song has a great hook (you'll swear you've heard the song before), and includes some tasteful guitar solos. The lone acoustic track, "Music Arcade", features more 'low' vocals from Young. The first time I heard this song, I thought for sure that someone else was singing. It doesn't sound like Neil's voice at all.

The surprise track on the new CD is a raw performance of the Jimmy Reed classic, "Baby What You Want Me To Do". Recorded live with a single microphone at one of his recent California club dates, the song sounds like you're listening to a bootleg. You can hear conversations and all the regular barroom sounds as if you were actually there. Aside from the last song, the sound quality on the CD is excellent - much better than the muddy sound of Mirror Ball. When you compare Broken Arrow to the rest of Neil's vast catalog, it's really not one of his better CDs. It's not bad, but it's no day 'On the Beach' either.

© 1996 Steve Marshall