Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Saturday, June 8, 2013

100 Records That Shook The World, #22

Rust Never Sleeps (LP)

Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Rust Never Sleeps is an album by Neil Young and Crazy Horse released in 1979. The bulk of the album was recorded live at San Francisco's Boarding House and during the Neil Young/Crazy Horse tour in late 1978, with overdubs added. Audience noise is removed as much as possible, although it is clearly audible at certain points, most noticeably on the opening and closing songs. The album is half acoustic and half electric, opening and closing with different versions of the same song; "Hey Hey, My My".

The album won the 1979 Rolling Stone Critics Poll for Album of the Year. In 2003, the album was ranked number 350 on the same magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The LP marked a major shift in artistic direction for both Young and the entire music industry. "Rust Never Sleeps" signalled Young's recognition that that there was new force in music -- namely punk -- and that the face of Rock'n'Roll would never be the same again.

The album also represented a conscious recognition that Young's music had to evolve or he would become extinct. The lyrics of songs like "Hey Hey, My My" with the chorus "Rock'n'Roll will never die" signify Young's desire to remain a vital part of the music scene. Even the album's title phrase "Rust Never Sleeps" embodies the spirit of punk music and the embrace of the new at the expense of the old. Much as The Who sang "Hope I die before I get old", Young is saying that he would rather "burn out than fade away".

The opening acoustic track "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" and the closing electric track "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" continue a theme of bookending albums with a "plugged" and "unplugged" version. Young pioneered this approach with the bookends of 1973's Tonight's The Night with the title track which opening acoustic and concluding electric. This unplugged and plugged approach was used again on 1989's Freedom's "Rockin In The Free World". The unplugged theme would later become a phenomenon in the 1990's with MTV's Unplugged series where artists showcased their "acoustic" versions of well known electric hits. It was considered quite novel back in the day. Of course, Neil had moved on by then and when he was asked to perform on MTV's Unplugged, a running joke was that Neil would probably plug in his acoustic tunes.


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