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CD Review: Neil Young - Chrome Dreams Two

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Artist: Neil Young
Album: Chrome Dreams Two
Label: Reprise Records
Release Date: October 23, 2007

“An ambulance can only go so fast”, sang Neil Young thirty-three years ago in the stony career meditation “Ambulance Blues.” “It’s easy to get buried in the past/ When you try to make a good thing last.”

It’s kind of funny to think about guys like Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton making records about the perils of aging at a ripe old twenty-eight. But for Neil, it’s been a constant theme, the need to escape what came before while staying rooted to his deepest self. Trace the path of his thirty-three solo albums and each one is a sonic departure from the last. Certain themes come back around, but only after a while.

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Even in his later years, he hasn’t lost the ability to surprise, making unprecedented journeys into Memphis soul on 2002’s Are You Passionate? and the dreaded rock opera format for Greendale a year later. The tranquility and elegance of Prairie Wind gave way to raw anger and power-trio attack on Living With War only eight months after. Even these genre pieces had elements of the unexpected. Has any rock artist ever combined the flavors of Nashville and Memphis so seamlessly as on Prairie Wind's title track? A power trio, plus trumpet and choir? Dude remains a weirdo, and as a result, the most interesting of his senior colleagues.