Sunday, 7 June 2009

“The Complete Reprise Recordings 1971-’73” by CRAZY HORSE featuring Nils Lofgren, Danny Whitten and Jack Nitzsche (2006 Warner Brothers/Rhino 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…I Can Tell From Your Eyes That You've Probably Been Crying Forever…"

UK released May 2006 - “The Complete Reprise Recordings 1971-’73” by CRAZY HORSE on Warner Brothers/Rhino 8122-70144-2 (Barcode 081227014421) contains the 1st two albums of Neil Young's backing band CRAZY HORSE along with some excellent session outtakes (it was originally released as "Scratchy" in the USA). Here's a detailed breakdown...

Disc 1 (79:52 minutes):
1. Gone Dead Train [Side 1]
2. Dance, Dance, Dance
3. Look At The Things
4. Beggars Day
5. I Don’t Want To Talk About It
6. Downtown [Side 2]
7. Carolay
8. Dirty, Dirty
9. Nobody
10. I’ll Get By
11. Crow Jane Lady
Tracks 1 to 11 are their debut album "Crazy Horse" issued on Reprise Records RS 6438 in the USA in February 1971 and Reprise RSLP 6438 in the UK in early 1972.

Six album tracks were issued as 7" singles:
1. "Downtown" b/w "Crow Jane Lady" on Reprise 1007 in the USA in March 1971
2. "Dance, Dance, Dance" b/w "Look At All The Things" on Reprise RS 23503 in the UK and Reprise 1025 in the USA in July 1971
3. "Dirty, Dirty" b/w " "Beggars Day" on Reprise 1046 in the USA in October 1971 

The Band for "Crazy Horse" was:
DANNY WHITTEN - Guitar, Lead & Backing Vocals
NILS LOFGREN - Lead Guitar, Background Vocals, Lead on "Beggars Day"
JACK NITZSCHE - Piano, Backing Vocals, Lead on "Crow Jane Lady"
BILLY TALBOT - Bass, Backing Vocals
RALPH MOLINA - Drums, Backing Vocals, Lead on "Dance, Dance, Dance"

RY COODER plays slide guitar on "Dirty, Dirty", "Crow Jane Lady" and "I Don't Want To Talk About It"
GIL GILBEAU plays Fiddle on "Dance, Dance, Dance"

12. Hit And Run
13. Try
14. One Thing I Love
15. Move
16. All Alone Now
17. All The Little Things
18. Fair Weather Friend [Side 2]
19. You Won’t Miss Me
20. Going Home
21. I Don’t Believe It
22. Kind Of Woman
23. One Sided Love
24. And She Won’t Even Blow Smoke In My Direction
Tracks 12 to 24 are their 2nd album "Loose" issued on Reprise MS 2059 in the USA in January 1972 and Reprise K 44171 in the UK. "All Alone Now" b/w "One Thing I Love" was issued as a lone 7" single on Warner Brothers K 14159 in the UK and 1075 in the USA in February 1972.

The Band for "Loose" was:
GEORGE WHITSELL - Vocals, Guitars & Conga
GREG LEROY - Vocals, Guitars
JOHN BLANTON - Vocals, Keyboards, Cello, Harmonica
BILLY TALBOT - Bass & Vocals
RALPH MOLINA - Drums & Percussion, Vocals, Acoustic Guitar

Disc 2 (40:15 minutes):
1. Dirty Dirty (Alternate Version)
2. Scratchy (Takes 1 to 3)
3. Dear Song Singer
4. Downtown(Unedited Long version)
5. Susie’s Song (Takes 1 to 5)
6. When You Dance You Can Really Love
7. Radio Spot
The above 7 tracks include 5 outtakes from the 1st album, a previously unreleased 1973 version of Neil Young's "When You Dance You Can Really Love" (off his 1970 "After The Gold Rush" album) and a 1971 Promo-Only Radio Spot advertising their debut LP.

The reason I've listed both band line-ups is because it goes a long way to explaining why the first album was so good and the follow up so mediocre. On their debut Crazy Horse had three mercurial song-writing talents in Whitten, Nitzsche and Lofgren and even gleaned exclusive song contributions from Neil Young on "Dance, Dance, Dance" and a co-write on "Downtown". The album was rock one minute, folk the next, soulful also in places - in fact you felt that anything could happen with the different styles and talent - a little like the first 2 CSNY albums - mixed up styles yet somehow all slotting together as one cohesive whole. Rod Stewart famously covered the beautiful "I Don't Want To Talk About It" in 1977 and made it a Number 1 (lyrics above), while Dan McCafferty's raspy vocals delivered a stunning rocking cover of Jack Nitzsche's "Gone Dead Train" for Nazareth in 1978. But with the departure of the three powerhouse players and writers, the 2nd LP had seven of its 14 songs written by newcomer Whitsell and came across as very ordinary country rock LP with little or none of its predecessor's flourish.

The compilation was produced by ANDY SAX, the 28-page booklet has great band photos by JOEL BERNSTEIN, a superlative essay by BARRY ALFONSO which features contributions from co-producer BRUCE BOTNICK and band members for both albums, Molina and Talbot. The remastering has been handled by long-time Rhino tape engineer DAN HERSCH and is typically great - warm and clear - better than the Warner Archives CD of the first album put out in 1994.

But the big surprise is the quality of the outtakes - "Dirty, Dirty" is an excellent alternate version, while "Scratchy" features Takes 1 to 3 and lasts nearly 12 minutes - and although the vocals are lost in the mix for a couple of takes, it's still a great listen. "Dear Song Singer" features Whitten on Lead vocals at first with Nils following - it's very pretty.  But the big one is the near eleven-minute unedited long version of "Downtown" which feels like a Neil Yong guitar workout - fabulous stuff. "Susie's Song" is Nils Lofgren at the piano unaccompanied and it's a peach too - like eavesdropping on the formation of a lovely melody. You could probably live without the one minute Radio Spot though...

So there you have it - a rather excellent reissue really and even if it is a bit pricey and that 2nd album a tad patchy - it's highly recommended... 

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Book Series - Exceptional CD Remasters...
Available on Amazon as an e-Book with nearly 300 other reviews (Book 2 of 3 Volumes)...

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