Crazy Horse

Left for Dead

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In 1987, Crazy Horse mainstays Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot had a falling-out with their perennial employer, Neil Young, who, in his mercurial way, had decided to organize a horn-filled R&B band called the Bluenotes. Crazy Horse guitarist Frank Sampedro stayed on with Young to play keyboards, but drummer Molina and bassist Talbot were not part of the new ensemble. They responded by organizing yet another new lineup of Crazy Horse. Left for Dead, the fifth Crazy Horse album in 18 years (and the first in 11), its title seeming an unmistakable allusion to the treatment received from Young, is also the fifth Crazy Horse album with a different frontline of musicians. Molina and Talbot are in place as ever, but there is a new lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and primary songwriter, Sonny Mone, and a new lead guitarist, Matt Piucci, formerly of the Rain Parade. Nevertheless, the style of the music much of the time strongly recalls Neil Young & Crazy Horse, particularly in the 1975-1987 Sampedro era. The opening tracks, "Left for Dead" and "Child of War," very much display the harsh, guitar-heavy approach of Young with Crazy Horse, albeit without Young's distinctive voice and lyrics. Mone, like Young, has a high, strained tenor, but it couldn't be mistaken for Young's, and of course his songwriting ability usually doesn't approach Young's, even though he is clearly influenced by Young. (For example, he borrows the phrase "Tin soldiers and Nixon" from Young's "Ohio" for "World of Love.") But the melodic, mid-tempo "I Could Never Lose Your Love" easily could be mistaken for a Young composition. And the primitive production (a press release admits that the disc sounds "like it was recorded in a mine shaft"), with lots of distortion and echo, also has that live-in-the-studio, warts-and-all Young & Crazy Horse feel. Thus, not for the first time in its career, Crazy Horse has made a Crazy Horse sound-alike record, which may be the fate of a "band" that is really just a rhythm section, or, to put it another way, a bunch of different bands playing in similar styles under one name.

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