Around here, there seems no middle ground when it comes to Neil Young. People either love his music or they hate it. In a recent, informal survey of co-workers, I’ve yet to meet someone who’s responded with ambivalence. For an artist this far into an incredible career, I’d take that as a compliment, were I him. There’s passion on both sides of the fence. If people just shrugged, it’d be all over, man.
I think it was in one of Dave Bidini’s books, about how the Rheostatics tell everything about what kind of person you are (or whether you’re worthy of hanging out with at all) based upon which Neil Young record is your favourite. I think about that often when I play this, my favourite Neil Young record. Not that I worry about being judged by the Rheostatics. I mean, like I care. Nor do I judge other people like that (most of the time). But that idea stuck in my head anyway. So there.
Don’t get me wrong, there are great Neil songs on every one of his records (now, I don’t think Decade would count in these “favourite album” considerations, despite how awesome it is. We’re talking albums here, not compilations). I am aware that Neil Young fans are rabid, loyal and vocal. That’s cool. Anybody reading this will have their own thoughts and opinions, their own adamantly-held belief that some different record than this one is his best or their favourite, and that’s cool too. He’s done a ton of great stuff, no argument from me.
But for my money, Ragged Glory is solid gold from start to finish. The whole thing has heart and soul, piss and vinegar, strength and love. It’s edgy and cantankerous and it can spit forty feet. The guitars are huge and the songs chug along in that way that only he and Crazy Horse can muster. Meandering solos, fuzz and twang, it’s all here. Try it in a good stereo, at top volume… it kicks ass.
This is not just an album, it’s a tour de force.