Monday, July 13, 2009

Rock of Ages: Neil Young - "Like a Hurricane" (1977)

Neil Young has a beast of a catalog to get through. Skitting through country, classic rock, proto-grunge and folk, the man cannot be held back and refuses to find himself in one niche (take for example the strange beauty of Trans filled with vocoder. Where Young excels is when he let's his guitars unleash a fury that ends up telling the story just as well as his lyrics. Although "Like A Hurricane" may be one of the less deep or poetic lyrically, the real greatness comes from the blistering guitar work. American Stars N Bars is a hodge podge of songs that were meant to be on the never released Chrome Dreams with "Like a Hurricane" being the flagship of these tracks. At a staggering 8 minutes, it's an epic guitar workout and shows Neil Young at his finest behind the electric guitar. The various solo's throughout are backed firmly by his most trusty band, Crazy Horse, who always bring a very firm backbone, even if their playing is a tad sloppy.

The sloppiness is what makes it so good. It was as if it was written and record in a feverish time for the band who were slugging it out with as much energy as they can muster. It's a burst of raw power. Originally recorded in 1975, "Like a Hurricane" was written in the back of Young's car and recorded early on along with the song "Homegrown" which also appears on Stars 'N Bars. Unlike the other tracks on this album, there is nothing country about the song. It's sheer brutal force and uncontrollably erratic guitars are unpredictable. It's a look into the future with Young's work on Rust Never Sleeps and the Dead Man Original Soundtrack. Guitars take on a lyrical quality all their own here and speak more words than Young can howl over the din of distortion. "Like a Hurricane" has had some various re workings, acoustic and on pump organ for Young's MTV Unplugged, but it's the searing guitars that make the song what it is.

Up Next: Television's anti-punk rock guitar epic

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