Release Date: Oct 23, 2007
Record label: Reprise/Wea
Neil Young has come up with some nutty album concepts over the years. (Remember when he sang most of 1982’s electronic Trans through a vocoder?) But releasing a sequel to an unreleased record is peculiar even for him. The title of his latest, Chrome Dreams II, refers to Chrome Dreams, a collection that came tantalizingly close to hitting stores in 1977 before Young mysteriously shelved it.
There is a strain of Neil Young devotee that has more in common with the crossword buff than with other music fans. Like those whose week feels incomplete unless they've been driven to distraction by Azed or Araucaria, they thrive on a kind of bewilderment, and bewildering people is one of Young's specialities. Said fans had a rough time in the 1990s, when Young hardly did anything bewildering at all.
Around the time of Harvest Moon, 1992, a long-lost Neil Young acetate surfaced, 1977's Chrome Dreams, shiny with linchpins from Comes a Time ("Look Out for My Love"), Rust Never Sleeps ("Pocahontas"), American Stars 'n' Bars ("Like a Hurricane"), and Freedom ("Too Far Gone"). Seven new songs polish Chrome Dreams II, which glides past Young's well-meaning but flaccid new millennial output – Are You Passionate? (2002), Greendale (2003), and Living With War (2006) – in pulling alongside 2005's Prairie Wind, and near some aforementioned career peaks. The Harvest harp of opener "Beautiful Bluebird" sets a Sunday morning tone, followed by "Boxcar" and "The Believer" in bucolic warmth, but it's the 18-minute "Ordinary People" and slightly shorter "No Hidden Path" that hail CDII as gold-plated Young.