Sleeps With Angels

Sleeps With Angels Album Cover

Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Review by Musician magazine

Neil Young News

Sleeps With Angels -- Reviewed in Musician magazine (October 1994) by Bill Holdship

It's a little like San Francisco weather: If you don't care for Neil Young's musical style at any given moment, wait a while and it'll change.

Generally, a new album with Crazy Horse has meant a hard rock'n'roll outing, but *Sleeps with Angels* might be the closest thing we get this side of *Decade II*, to the best of all the various "Neils" together or one package. As young once said of *Ragged Glory*, but which applies more here, "It's heavy and light." It's also great.

Beginning with 1975's *Tonight's the Night*, each Neil Young & Crazy Horse album can be viewed as a statement on the condition of rock'n'roll culture -- or at least hippie romanticism in the face of ridiculous odds. Since this one came together in reaction to the death of Kurt Cobain (who quoted Young in his suicide note), you just know this has to be good.

He's even written a *train* song this timearound, and all the other fave themes are here, too -- the randomness of mortaility ("Driveby"), the car as American metaphor ("Trans Am"), environmentalism ("Piece of Crap"), spiritual decay ("Safeway Cart"), a weird American nationalism ("Western Hero") and the world as moral vacuum...Real fun, eh?

But considering that the title track was writtenspecifically with Cobain in mind (one wonders what Ms. Love will think of the lyrics, although they could also be about a fan -- that's the beauty of it), half the fun here is wondering if the intro riff to "Sleeps with Angels" is consciously *supposed* to sound like T. Rex's "Bang-a-Gong." Or why he quotes (musically) from the Eagles (a favorite interview target for Young) and Iggy Pop (lyrically) on "Safeway Cart."

Or if the beginning of "Piece of Crap" is *supposed* to make you think of the Stones. Of course, you could -- *he* could -- simply say this is reading too much into it. That divinely inspired genius guitar-playing is what really makes this album great, even if it's relatively subdued compared to that of *Ragged Glory* (it takes six tracks before he *really* kicks in, and on a fairly soothing tune at that -- the haunting "Change Your Mind").

Nevertheless, *Sleeps with Angels* captures that simplistic primal beauty (read: r'n'r) that Eagles Glenn Fry once described as Neil Young's "demo tapes." Along with his crazy-but-he-knows-it demeanor, it's that quality that most allows Young to remain a spokesperson for *all* rock'n'roll generations. Kurt Cobain got away with writing a song called "Dumb," but only Young can write asong called "Piece of Crap" and have it really mean something.

--Bill Holdship

Funny sidenote: A few months ago, *Musician* mag reviewed the rereleases (TFA, OtB, etc.) despite the fact that the reviewer obvisouly didn't have the cds to review! Anticipating the re-releases,he must have just listened to his old LPs and wrote the review from that.

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