Rust Never Sleeps
|Rust Never Sleeps|
|Live album with studio recordings by |
Neil Young with Crazy Horse
|Released||June 22, 1979|
|Venue||The 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
|Producer||Neil Young, David Briggs, Tim Mulligan|
|Neil Young chronology|
|Crazy Horse chronology|
Rust Never Sleeps is the seventh album by Canadian American singer-songwriter Neil Young and American band Crazy Horse. It was released on June 22, 1979, by Reprise Records and features both studio and live tracks. Most of the album was recorded live, then overdubbed in the studio, while others originated 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.
The album peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 album chart and spawned the hit single "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" that peaked at No. 79 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also included one of Young's most popular and critically acclaimed songs, the enigmatic "Powderfinger". The album, along with Young's 1990 release Ragged Glory, has widely been considered a precursor of grunge music with the bands Nirvana and Pearl Jam having cited Young's heavily distorted and abrasive guitar style on the B side to this album as an inspiration.
Background and recording
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. 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 acoustic 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, and "Pocahontas" had been recorded solo in 1976 (original recording without overdubs was released in 2017 on archival release Hitchhiker).
The B side opens with "Powderfinger," whose enigmatic and evocative lyrics about a family's confrontation with authorities have never fully been explained by Young, and ends with the anthemic "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" with the defiant lyrics, "Rock and Roll can never die." After his final performance at the Boarding House on May 28, 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. 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 Mothersbaugh's lyrics and created a new version of the song with Crazy Horse. He also adopted Mothersbaugh's lyrics for the title of his album as a metaphor about the hazards of complacency on his music career and the need to keep moving forward. The lyrics, "It's better to burn out than fade away", were widely quoted by his peers and by critics. In a 1980 interview with David Sheff from Playboy magazine, John Lennon was dismissive of the lyric and the song's reference to Johnny Rotten for what he interpreted as worship for the dead saying, "No, thank you. I’ll take the living and the healthy." In 1994, Kurt Cobain quoted the lyric in his suicide note.
The electric sets were recorded during the Neil Young/Crazy Horse tour in late 1978, with overdubs added later. Audience noise is removed as much as possible, although it is clearly audible at certain points, most noticeably on the opening and closing songs. The 1978 tour featured an abrasive style of guitar playing influenced by the punk rock zeitgeist of the late 1970s that Young saw as a wake up call for a rock music world which, in his opinion had become predictable and overdone. The electric sets provided a reenergized response to the punk rock revolution and, were in stark contrast from Young's previous, folk-inspired album Comes a Time.
|Christgau's Record Guide||A+|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Great Rock Discography||9/10|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||10/10|
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". 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."
Rust Never Sleeps was voted the second best album of 1979 in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll. Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked it second on his own list for the poll, as did fellow critic Greil Marcus. The album also won Rolling Stone magazine's 1979 critics poll for Album of the Year. In a decade-end list for The Village Voice, Christgau named it the ninth best album of the 1970s.
In 2000, Rust Never Sleeps was voted number 240 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums book. In 2003, it was ranked number 350 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Rolling Stone re-ranked the album at 351 in the list's 2012 edition, and later at number 296 in the 2020 edition. In a retrospective review, Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said that the acoustic and electric sides were both astounding. 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." 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.
All tracks written by Neil Young except where noted.
|1.||"My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)"||Neil Young, Jeff Blackburn||3:45|
|3.||"Ride My Llama"||2:29|
|9.||"Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"||5:18|
- with (on "Sail Away")
- Nicolette Larson – vocals
- Joe Osborn – bass
- Karl T. Himmel – drums
- Crazy Horse (on side two)
- Frank "Poncho" Sampedro – electric guitar, backing vocals
- Billy Talbot – bass, backing vocals
- Ralph Molina – drums, backing vocals
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||8|
|US Billboard Top LPs & Tape||8|
|UK Album Charts||13|
|Canadian RPM 100 Albums||28|
|Dutch Album Charts||19|
|German Album Charts||59|
|Finnish Album Charts||9|
|New Zealand Album Charts||7|
|US Cash Box Top 100 Albums||9|
|US Record World Album Chart||13|
|1979||"Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"||Billboard Pop Singles||79|
|US Cashbox Singles||94|
|US Record World Singles||72|
Year End Chart
|1980||Billboard Year End Chart||78|
|1979||Cashbox Year End Chart||43|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||60,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Concert film of the same name
A film of the same name was released on 15 August 1979 in the US, featuring the October 22, 1978 concert performance at the Cow Palace.
- Sugar Mountain
- I Am A Child
- Comes A Time
- After The Gold Rush
- My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)
- When You Dance I Can Really Love
- The Loner
- Welfare Mothers
- The Needle And The Damage Done
- Lotta Love
- Sedan Delivery
- Cortez The Killer
- Cinnamon Girl
- Like A Hurricane
- Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)
- Tonight's The Night [not present in the theatrical release, only in Video/DVD releases]
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...Rust Never Sleeps mixed acoustic material with squalling, feedback-laden hard rock.
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- Rust Never Sleeps at Discogs (list of releases)
- Film: Rust Never Sleeps at IMDb