Neil Young

Chrome Dreams II (Reprise Records)

Neil likens Chrome Dreams II, with its mix of Crazy Horse-style guitar thunder and mellow country rock, to After the Gold Rush. In other words, it's the kind of album Young could make in his sleep by now.

Recorded with pedal steel/dobro player Ben Keith, bassist Rick Rosas and drummer Ralph Molina, Chrome Dreams II is the sequel to a 1976 project that was ultimately shelved. It gathers new renditions of previously unrecorded songs spanning the years.

With the search for inner peace being the single unifying theme, II holds together well (though we could've done without the kiddie chorus marring "The Way"). The raging "Ordinary People," an 18-minute chunk of high-intensity social commentary dating from the '80s, is the best thing here.

Young isn't afraid to play the wuss either. There's no trace of his cynicism in "Ever After," which acknowledges the comforting presence of the great beyond. This makes the garage punch of "Dirty Old Man" feel like a well-aimed wisecrack tucked inside what is otherwise an earnest study of a traveler's search for spiritual solace.

 
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