Album Info

November 29, 2005
Pop/Rock, Album Rock, Hard Rock

Album Review

Neil Young may not ever allow his Reprise outtakes to be released, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot of equally cool stuff from an orbit near his that can't be enjoyed -- and Rhino Handmade has hit a mother lode with this double-CD set, which offers a lot more than even dedicated Crazy Horse fans may expect. Thanks to their convoluted membership history and a series of label changes, Crazy Horse had one of the stranger release histories of almost any '70s band -- their stuff and, to some extent, their sound are all over the map. Scratchy: The Complete Reprise Recordings makes a strong case, however, for the primacy of the first lineup and their work on Reprise, assembling all of their released work for the label plus the equivalent of an album's worth of outtakes and radio spots, and two tracks by Danny & the Memories, the group that preceded the formation of Crazy Horse by five years or so. The group's self-titled debut album has bounced in and out of print for the last 34 years, but here it's been remastered with the kind of attention that makes it sound like one is hearing it for the first time -- the close sound of the acoustic guitars on "I Don't Want to Talk About It" and the roaring electric instruments on "Gone Dead Train," "Dance, Dance, Dance," and "Downtown" are impressive to these ears, the harder-rocking numbers now displaying the raw power and impact that the group exuded on-stage; the remastering job has undone the inevitable flattening process that went into the vinyl release, so that Billy Talbot's bass, in particular, now gets a killer showcase, and Jack Nitzsche's piano on "Carolay" gets as much play as the massed acoustic guitars that carry the rhythm figure at the center of the song. What's more, the crispness of the sound has brought the singing out in vivid detail -- if the LP could have sounded this bracing and powerful, this band might well have seen the success it deserved. The second half of the first CD is filled out with the tracks off of their second album, Loose; thanks to the ensuing lineup changes that took place, they're a bit of a letdown after the 11 gems from Crazy Horse, though not bad on their own terms -- the group plays from less melodic strength and raw inventiveness, but make up for it with a lot of enthusiasm and positive vibes in their sound, especially on the acoustic numbers such as the gorgeous "One Thing I Love" or "All Alone Now." The real treat, however, is the second disc, which opens with a string of extraordinary outtakes, including the title track -- the outtakes sound incredible and feature exceptional playing, and "Scratchy" by itself is worth the price of admission, 12 minutes of stunning electric interaction; and it's followed by the gorgeous acoustic piece "Dear Song Singer," plus a long version of "Downtown"; the first Danny & the Memories cut, "Can't Help Loving That Girl," was, in its own time, a throwback to early-'60s doo wop style, while the second, "Don't Go," was much more contemporary circa 1965. The set is attractively designed, with separate pockets for each disc and a beautifully designed booklet with extensive annotation, all in a very practical slipcase-style package. It's a bargain for any fan of this band or any of its members, and worth tracking down.
Bruce Eder, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Gone Dead Train
  2. Dance, Dance, Dance
  3. Look at All the Things
  4. Beggars Day
  5. I Don't Want to Talk About It
  6. Downtown
  7. Carolay
  8. Dirty, Dirty
  9. Nobody
  10. I'll Get by
  11. Crow Jane Lady
  12. Hit and Run
  13. Try
  14. One Thing I Love
  15. Move
  16. All Alone Now [Single Version]
  17. All the Little Things
  18. Fair Weather Friend
  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 Directions
  25. Dirty, Dirty [Alternate Version]
  26. Scratchy [Takes 1-3]
  27. Dear Song Singer
  28. Downtown [Unedited Long Version]
  29. Susie's Song [Takes 1-5]
  30. When You Dance You Can Really Dance
  31. Radio Spot
  32. Can't Help Loving That Girl [Single Version]
  33. Don't Go [Single Version]