Album #444 – Rust Never Sleeps

Album #444

I used to get confused between Rust Never Sleeps and Live Rust, the live album Young released around the same time. The difference: Live Rust is a live album, Rust Never Sleeps is not. Rust Never Sleeps was a comeback of sorts for Neil Young. It was recorded live, with the exception of two songs, but with the audience noise barely audible and several overdubs done in studio afterward. This was common on many live albums released in the 1970s. It was this album that gave Young the nickname, the Godfather of Grunge. Young’s song Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) clearly demonstrates a change in his sound. Young was clearly influenced by New Wave and Punk music, including Devo. Mark Mothersbaugh of that group was the inspiration for Hey Hey, My My. In fact the line, it’s better to burn out than to fade away, has been quoted by many including Nirvana’s Kurt Kobain in his suicide note. Young even alludes to  Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols in the song. Side one of Rust Never Sleeps is acoustic, beginning with an acoustic version of Hey Hey, My My, subtitled Out of the Blue. Some of Young’s most powerful and well written songs are included such as Thrasher, Pocahontas and Sail Away (featuring the late Nicolette Larson on backing vocals). Side two is electric  and showcases not only Young’s new, harder edged sound but also the musical strength of his backing band Crazy Horse. Rust Never Sleeps represents the formula for a typical Neil Young live show: Mostly electric with an acoustic set in the middle. Young is one of the few rockers who can do both electric and acoustic performance extremely well. Rust Never Sleeps has become one of my favorite Neil Young albums because of this. Other highlights include: Powderfinger and Welfare Mothers. Overall, I give Rust Never Sleeps, 5 out of 5.

Next: Entertainment! by Gang of Four

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