Neil Young has been prolific in recent years, releasing material from his vaults in the form of early concert performances and new material.
Chrome Dreams II is a mix of newly recorded versions of songs written in the ’70s, and recently-written songs. Stylistically, it stays close to Young’s vision – which is to say he’s all over the map. Most of the cuts have the acoustic resonance of his earliest and best-known songs, from the Harvest, Prairie Wind, or Harvest Moon periods, with unamplified guitar with banjo and mandolin accompaniment. A few veer into amplified bombast and lengthy solos of the Crazy Horse incarnations.
But mostly, Young is comfortable here with regular contributor and multi-instrumentalist Ben Keith and several Crazy Horse longtimers. These are slow-to-medium tempo songs of introspection, searching, and longing, all consistent themes in the Young oeuvre. The standout cut, “Ordinary People” is an 18-minute paean to regular folk, but may simply be too long for non-fans to relate.
Fans will love Chrome Dreams II, and may compare it to Neil’s best, even knowing as they do that you get what you get from a Neil Young record. There’s good and not-as-good, but seldom bad. This one is mostly good, and no bad.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.