Crazy Horse


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The first, self-titled album by Crazy Horse, released in February 1971, was an impressive collection of rock and country-rock material effectively played by a bunch of talented musicians, suggesting that the band would be able to find its place after emerging from the shadow of Neil Young, whom it had backed on his Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and After the Gold Rush albums. Unfortunately, the band that made Crazy Horse no longer existed. Singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist Danny Whitten was gone, as was keyboard player, arranger, and producer Jack Nitzsche, and prominent guest guitarists Nils Lofgren and Ry Cooder also found other things to do. This left bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, who apparently retained the rights to the name "Crazy Horse." But if Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were to drop out of their group and leave it to Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, could you still validly call it the Rolling Stones? Talbot and Molina soldiered on, looking for substitutes for the departed frontline. Singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist George Whitsell, who was once in the Rockets with Whitten, Talbot, and Molina (and appeared with them on their sole, self-titled album in 1968), returned to the fold. In Nitzsche's place is singer, songwriter, and keyboard player John Blanton, and the lead and bottleneck guitar work is provided by singer and songwriter Greg Leroy. Among them, the three newcomers contribute all 13 of the album's songs, with Whitsell chipping in seven. Each of the three is a competent performer, and Loose is a professional effort, constructed roughly in the style of Crazy Horse. In particular, Leroy takes off on some Neil Young-like leads on "All the Little Things" and "One Sided Love," and his bottleneck work on "I Don't Believe It" recalls Cooder. But the material is mediocre, and the result is second-rate country-rock. Poco and the Flying Burrito Brothers do this sort of thing far better, and as far as Neil Young imitators go, America and Matthews' Southern Comfort are far superior. But then, this is Crazy Horse in name only.

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