Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Re*ac*tor (1981)
Funnily enough Re*ac*tor was one of the first Neil Young albums I bought on vinyl; bought because I heard it was awful. It sat on the shelf for a while and I couldn’t bring myself to actually listen to it. I love Neil with Crazy Horse so I wanted to believe it was good. But when I finally got to playing it Zuma and Ragged Glory it was not. All I could remember from it was nine minutes of interminable meat moaning (the song T-Bone). One night a friend came around and we were pretty ripped; had been on it for some time that evening, out at a gig and such and we decided to give the record a spin, determined to make it all the way through. We tuned it out pretty quickly, just babbled over it and then when we flipped it to side two we got the drunken-giggles as we heard Neil all but flipping his finger over his lips like a baby (the song Rapid Transit). When Re*ac*tor was issued on CD in 2003 I was working in a music store and the rep (back when there were those) gave me her copy. I was far more interested in learning up On The Beach, obviously. But I hung on to the CD of Re*ac*tor because, well, why not. I never really gave it another thought. It wasn’t as horrific as, say, Landing On Water but it wasn’t great. It was better, too, than Life, but it was low on the list of Neil Young albums. No need to defend it. Then, just this weekend, I dig it out and give it a spin or two because set lists from the current NY/CH tour suggest that Opera Star, Re*ac*tor’s opening track, is often part of the bill. So I’m going to give it another chance. And of course it’s not a great album – still. And all the usual comments apply, it’s harmless big dumb rock/plodding Crazy Horse stuff and it’s either ghastly or not quite ghastly in most cases and lyrically it’s poor/uninteresting/uninspiring. But, I dunno now – you see this is just the pre-concert-prep talking, I know that, but I’m kinda digging it. I’m kinda going into bat for
Re*ac*tor now. I still laugh at the bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb-bit in Rapid Transit but Opera Star is pre-grunge/post-punk loveliness/rawness, a damn fine rocker – and much of the album feels like a not-quite-as-good-as-Sedan Delivery-attempt-at-writing-companion-pieces-for-Sedan Delivery. Southern Pacific, Motor City, Shots. I might be over this in a day or two but I’m feeling charitable, I reckon Re*ac*tor is okay you know. And I’m happy enough to be the only one thinking that. That’s okay.
Sample Track: Surfer Joe and Moe The Sleaze
The Vinyl Countdown is a document of every LP I listen to, brand new discoveries and old-old favourites; extremely pre-loved, previously abandoned or with the shrink-wrap having just been removed it’s all here at The Vinyl Countdown