Music Review: Neil Young's Chrome Dreams II

by Vincent Lee
Special to iVoryTowerz

Throughout Neil Young’s career he has shown a penchant for announcing new albums and then simply not releasing them. Homegrown, Chrome Dreams, a live Bluenotes album, and Times Square are only a few of his albums that haven’t seen official release. Some songs off these unreleased albums have come out on other releases from Young. However, many of them still remain unheard.

For Young’s latest album, he has released a trio of these older songs, along with seven new tracks. He’s dubbed the creation Chrome Dreams II, a sequel of sorts to one of his previously unreleased albums.

Unlike Young’s recent albums, Chrome Dreams II doesn’t feature a specific theme or focus. Rather, it functions strictly as a collection of songs with varying styles. The first three are culled from Young’s back catalogue, each ranking among the best of his unreleased material. The highlight of these, however, is undoubtedly “Ordinary People.” An 18-minute song from the days when the Bluenotes backed Young, it alternates between powerful narrative and equally powerful guitar and saxophone solos.

The next seven songs are new material. None are new in a stylistic sense. And why would any listener expect them to be? Young seems to have explored his persona thoroughly in the past four decades. Four of these seven are softer songs. None are anything especially noteworthy, but they still remain solid. The other three recall vintage Crazy Horse, a sound Young has not created in some time. The best of these is another epic song, running 14 minutes and entitled “No Hidden Path.”

Young has not had a song this dynamic and this driven since his 1977 guitar assault “Like A Hurricane.” Many bands make mistakes by unnecessarily lengthening songs to the point that they become boring. Young makes no such mistakes with this song. Though it does run for quite some time, “No Hidden Path” moves with perfect pacing, never leaving the listener disinterested.

Chrome Dreams II is one of the better albums Young has released in the past two decades. Loyal fans should enjoy it — at least more so than the heavy-handed Living With War or the lazy-sounding Prairie Wind. Casual rock fans should also find enjoyment and interest, not because the album represents another Young classic in the vein of After The Goldrush, or even the original Chrome Dreams, but because it’s very simply a solid addition to Young’s enduring legacy.

(The photo shows Neil Young performing with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 2006 near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; the photo is by Adrian M. Buss and is used with a GNU Free Documentation License. Young's tour supporting Chrome Dreams II takes him to Seattle to play a concert on Tuesday, Oct. 23, the day the LP is officially released. To see Young play "I Am A Child" from the music documentary Rust Never Sleeps, please check below. Currently, iTunes is bundling a live version of "I am a Child" with selections from Chrome Dreams II.)

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inowpronounceyou said...

What I wouldn't give for a weekend with full access to his private archives recordings! Thanks for the head's up on this album.

Rick Rockwell said...

You are most, welcome, on Vincent’s behalf, “inowpronounceyou.”

From another source, one of our readers, Will in New York, sent us a list of URLs for some of the songs on Chrome Dreams II.

Enjoy these:

”Dirty Old Man”;

”The Believer”;

”The Way”;

”Spirit Road”;

Finally, you can go hereto find more Young videos.

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