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Jawas, Woodstock, and
amps:
Rust has it all

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Rust Never Sleeps (Sanctuary)
Director: Bernard Shakey

By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor

Spaceships, Jawas, Woodstock and oversized Fender
amps don’t usually come to mind all at the same time.
But Neil Young forever linked these seemingly
unlinkable objects in 1979 in
Rust Never Sleeps, his
overdrive/distortion/science fiction classic.

Young is at his best when he’s at his most eccentric,
and by the late ’70s, he was feeling pretty out there.
Having recently released
Decade, a three-record
retrospective, and
Comes a Time, his quietest and
most commercially successful album in years, Neil
was feeling a little antsy and wanted to make a
statement to keep people guessing. So, why not follow
up a country-ish album with one of the loudest tours
this side of the Who that anyone’s ever done?
So we have the groundwork for
Rust Never Sleeps.
Add in his honoring his new fascination with
Star Wars
by dressing up his roadies as “Roadeyes,” an obvious tribute to the Jawas, and his lampooning of Woodstock
by running their stage announcements (despite what you may hear on the DVD or the vinyl companion
Live Rust,
it didn’t rain on October 22, 1978 at the Cow Palace in San Diego, Calif.).

Critics were split on the results. Some found it indulgent, others breathtaking and daring. Myself? I didn’t much
care for the extra stuff, like the giant tuning forks or Dr. Decibel coming in from the sky, but it doesn’t really matter.
What does is the music, and it’s Young Neil at his loudest and hairiest.

Young begins with “Sugar Mountain,” the acoustic ballad he wrote on a very early birthday — I believe 19 or so.
He stretches out for another few acoustic songs, including “Comes a Time” and “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the
Blue)” before rearing back and letting it all hang out with Crazy Horse. “When You Dance, I Can Really Love”
kicks off this portion of the show, and I imagine it must have been deafening that night in San Diego. “The
Loner,” “Cinnamon Girl” and “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” continue this feeling. Neil Young can pound out the
ugliest, most awesome noises from his Old Black Gibson guitar, and Crazy Horse pounds out the sludgiest
rhythms known to man behind him. He and his band are one of the most beautiful, most terrifying combinations
ever.

The cherry on the top is the encore. After the credits, set to Chuck Berry, DVD viewers get a true encore, a mean,
mean reading of “Tonight’s the Night,” which gets my vote as the definitive version of this song. It’s pounded out
with Young’s vocals sounding especially spirited and intense, and, once again, there’s Crazy Horse pounding
away behind him. It’s a fitting way to leave the audience, both live and at home, wanting more.

The DVD edition of this doesn’t offer too much in the way of extras — a cool menu, lyrics, etc. — but it’s not
needed. The sound is top notch and the picture is grainy by design. It might be Neil Young’s defining moment,
but that’s a rather bold statement to make (his
On the Beach and Sleeps with Angels records could also be
career-defining).

In the end, this serves as a brilliant time capsule into Neil Young’s art, circa 1978. Young still refuses to fade
away, and the Horse burn brightly behind him to this day. This is just proof that they always have.
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