Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Way Down in the Rust Bucket [Reprise, 2021]
To the best of my digitally enhanced recollection, this is the first electric live Young we've had since the dull 2016 Promise of the Real placeholder, and hey hey, it's "with" his signature band Crazy Horse (though 1974's Time Fades Away with the Stray Gators remains the live Neil to top: "Don't Be Denied," undeniable). The hook-concept-gimmick-rationale is that it's but an unfettered bar gig cut shortly after a revved-up Young celebrated his escape from the well-tailored embrace of David Geffen by returning to Reprise with the Pazz & Jop-topping 1990 Ragged Glory. As a result, however, it reprises more than half of Ragged Glory, and while Young's solo on the "Country Home" opener does actually improve on the studio version, it's still too bad the guys weren't feeling loose enough to pull more classics out of the boss's ratty old canvas songbag. Turns out, for instance, that "Bite the Bullet," the pick hit on 1977's American Stars 'n Bars, is more convincing sans Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson as the backup Bullets. And by the way, did you know that a clitoral vibrator is called a bullet? I sure didn't until Neil's lip-smacking live "I love to make her scream/When I bite the bullet" inspired some research. Be careful with your teeth there, fella. A-