Rust Never Sleeps

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Rust Never Sleeps
Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps.jpg
Live album by
ReleasedJune 22, 1979 (1979-06-22)[1]
VenueThe Boarding House, San Francisco,
Indigo Ranch, Malibu,
Triad Studios, Ft. Lauderdale,
Woodland Studios, Nashville,
McNichols Arena, Denver,
St. Paul Civic Center,
Cow Palace, San Francisco
ProducerNeil Young, David Briggs, Tim Mulligan
Neil Young chronology
Comes a Time
Rust Never Sleeps
Live Rust

Rust Never Sleeps is a live album by Canadian / American singer-songwriter Neil Young and American band Crazy Horse. It was released on June 22, 1979, by Reprise Records.[5] Most of the album was recorded live, then overdubbed in the studio. Young used the phrase "rust never sleeps" as a concept for his tour with Crazy Horse to avoid artistic complacency and try more progressive, theatrical approaches to performing live.[6]

Background and recording[edit]

The album was recorded in 1978 during the lengthy "Rust Never Sleeps" tour, in which Young played a wealth of new material. The concert tour was divided into a solo acoustic set and an electric set with Crazy Horse. The electric sets, featuring an abrasive style of guitar playing, were influenced by the punk rock zeitgeist of the late 1970s and, provided a stark contrast from Young's previous, folk-inspired album Comes a Time.[7]

Two new songs, the acoustic "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" and electric "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" were the centerpiece of the new material. The solo portions of the album including, "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)", "Thrasher" and "Ride My Llama" were recorded live in San Francisco at the Boarding House between May 24 and May 28, 1978. Two songs from the album were not recorded live: "Sail Away" was recorded without Crazy Horse during or after the Comes a Time recording sessions,[8] and "Pocahontas" had been recorded solo in 1976[8] (original recording without overdubs was released in 2017 on archival release Hitchhiker).[citation needed]}

After his final performance at the Boarding House on May 28th, Young collaborated with the art punk band Devo on a cacophonous version of "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" at the Different Fur studio in San Francisco and, would later introduce the song to Crazy Horse.[9] During the Different Fur studio session, Devo vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh added the lyrics "Rust never sleeps", a slogan he remembered from his graphic arts career promoting the automobile rust proofing product Rust-Oleum. Young adopted the line and used it in his Crazy Horse version of the song, as well as for the title of his album.[10] The lyrics, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." were widely quoted by his peers and by critics.[9]

The electric sets were recorded during the Neil Young/Crazy Horse tour in late 1978, with overdubs added later.[11] Audience noise is removed as much as possible, although it is clearly audible at certain points, most noticeably on the opening and closing songs.

Critical reception[edit]

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[12]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[13]
Christgau's Record GuideA+[14]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[15]
The Great Rock Discography9/10[15]
Music Story5/5 stars[15]
MusicHound Rock4.5/5[15]
Q4/5 stars[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[16]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[15]

Reviewing for The Village Voice in 1979, Robert Christgau called Rust Never Sleeps Young's best album yet and said although his melodies are unsurprisingly simple and original, his lyrics are surprisingly and offhandedly complex. "He's wiser but not wearier", Christgau wrote, "victor so far over the slow burnout his title warns of".[17] Paul Nelson, writing in Rolling Stone magazine, found its first side virtuosic because of how Young transcends the songs' acoustic settings with his commanding performance and was impressed by its themes of personal escape and exhaustion, the role of rock music, and American violence: "Rust Never Sleeps tells me more about my life, my country and rock & roll than any music I've heard in years."[18] Rust Never Sleeps was voted the second best album of 1979 in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll.[19] Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked it second on his own list for the poll, as did fellow critic Greil Marcus.[20] The album also won Rolling Stone magazine's 1979 critics poll for Album of the Year.[21] In a decade-end list for The Village Voice, Christgau named it the ninth best album of the 1970s.[22]

In 2000, Rust Never Sleeps was voted number 240 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums book.[23] In 2003, it was ranked number 351 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[24] Rolling Stone ranked the album at the same position in the list's 2012 edition.[25] In a retrospective review, Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said that the acoustic and electric sides were both astounding.[13] AllMusic's William Ruhlmann viewed that Young reinvigorated himself artistically by being imaginative and bold, and in the process created an exemplary album that "encapsulated his many styles on a single disc with great songs — in particular the remarkable 'Powderfinger' — unlike any he had written before."[12] Rob Sheffield, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), felt that "Powderfinger", "Pocahontas", "Thrasher", and "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" were among Young's greatest songs.[16]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Neil Young except where noted.[26]

Side one
  1. "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" (Neil Young, Jeff Blackburn) – 3:45
  2. "Thrasher" – 5:38
  3. "Ride My Llama" – 2:29
  4. "Pocahontas" – 3:22
  5. "Sail Away" – 3:46
Side two
  1. "Powderfinger" – 5:30
  2. "Welfare Mothers" – 3:48
  3. "Sedan Delivery" – 4:40
  4. "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" – 5:18


with (on "Sail Away")
Crazy Horse (on side two)


Chart (1979) Peak
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[27] 7
UK Albums Chart[28] 13
US Billboard 200[29] 8


  1. ^ "Neil Young Archives". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Crazy Horse - Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  3. ^ Schinder, Scott; Schwartz, Andy, eds. (2007). Icons of Rock: An Encyclopedia of the Legends Who Changed Music Forever. ABC-CLIO. p. 460. ISBN 0-313-33845-0. Retrieved November 27, 2013. ...Rust Never Sleeps mixed acoustic material with squalling, feedback-laden hard rock.
  4. ^ "50 Greatest Grunge Albums". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  5. ^ Mendelsohn, Jason (June 14, 2013). "Counterbalance No. 133: Neil Young's 'Rust Never Sleeps'". PopMatters. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  6. ^ Daniel Durchholz, Gary Graff (2012). Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Updated Edition. Voyageur Press. pp. 112–13. ISBN 0-7603-4411-6. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  7. ^ McDonough 2002, pp. 529–537.
  8. ^ a b "HyperRust chronology". Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  9. ^ a b McDonough 2002, pp. 531–532.
  10. ^ McDonough 2002, pp. 531.
  11. ^ McDonough 2002, pp. 538.
  12. ^ a b Ruhlmann, WIlliam. Rust Never Sleeps at AllMusic. Retrieved 8 May 2005.
  13. ^ a b Kot, Greg (October 21, 1990). "From Rock To Country And Back Again". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: Y". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 23, 2019 – via
  15. ^ a b c d e "Rust Never Sleeps". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Neil Young: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 30, 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  18. ^ Nelson, Paul (Oct 18, 1979). "Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps > Album Review". Rolling Stone (302). Archived from the original on 24 August 2007. Retrieved 12 Jan 2007.
  19. ^ "The 1979 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 28, 1980). "The Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll (Almost) Grows Up". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  21. ^ "Albums Of The Year And End Of Year Critic Lists". Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  22. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 17, 1979). "Decade Personal Best: '70s". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
  23. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 110. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  24. ^ Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "350 | Rust Never Sleeps - Neil Young and Crazy Horse". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  25. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  26. ^ Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Rust Never Sleeps (Reprise Records, 1979).
  27. ^ " – Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps". Hung Medien. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  28. ^ "Neil Young". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  29. ^ "Rust Never Sleeps - Crazy Horse, Neil Young". Allmusic. Retrieved November 27, 2013.


External links[edit]