ARTIST: Crazy Horse
TITLE: Crazy Horse
YEAR RELEASED: 1971
CHART ACTION: #84
SINGLES: Dirty Dirty, Downtown
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dance Dance Dance, I Don’t Want to Talk About It
LINEUP: Danny Whitten, Nils Lofgren, Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina, Jack Nitzsche. Ry Cooder was on a few tracks, and Gib Guilbeau played fiddle on a song.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Neil Young’s backing band records its first album, and its only one with Danny Whitten.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Backing bands have had a spotty history in recording their own works, with some being able to construct their own identity, and others sounding like their ‘boss’ with just a different vocalist. Crazy Horse straddled the two on their first result.
It’s hard to separate Crazy Horse from Neil Young, especially as both went through their careers. First, though, with Danny Whitten in control of the band, Nils Lofgren added to help out, and Jack Nitzsche producing and adding piano, they added textural components that weren’t present in most of their Neil Young recordings. Most all of the tracks were originals (with only two Young tracks, both unreleased at the time by Neil), and the original of “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” is here.
While this isn’t as ragged as Young’s work with the band, it’s almost too safe. Perhaps they tried to reign in Whitten, who was already struggling with addiction. It was too late for Danny, as he would be dead in a year. What we are left here is a competent rock and roll record with some of the rough edges sanded off, for better or worse.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Crazy Horse was known as the Rockets before hooking up with Young, and recorded an album in 1968.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: B: Whitten’s a good songwriter, but it’s not as loud and raucous as one would expect. But it’s better than their two 1972 records without Whitten or Lofgren or Nitzsche, which are to be avoided.