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Christgau Consumer Guide

Neil Young

by Robert Christgau on June 22, 1979


NEIL YOUNG

RUST NEVER SLEEPS

[Reprise, 1979]


For the decade’s greatest rock and roller to come out with his greatest album in 1979 is no miracle in itself — the Stones made Exile as grizzled veterans. The miracle is that Young doesn’t sound much different now than he already did in 1969; he’s wiser but not wearier, victor so far over the slow burnout his title warns of. The album’s music, like its aura of space-age primitivism, seems familiar, but while the melodies work because they’re simple and fresh as his melodies have always been, the offhand complexity of the lyrics is unprecedented in Young’s work: “Pocahontas” makes “Cortez the Killer” seem like a tract, “Sedan Delivery” turns “Tonight’s the Night” on its head, and the Johnny Rotten tribute apotheosizes rock-and-roll-is-here-to-stay. Inspirational Bumper Sticker: “Welfare mothers make better lovers.” 

A+


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