Monday, March 12, 2007

John Peel on Neil Young

Came across this article which was originally published in Sounds back in the day. I like it because it shows that John Peel had an appreciation of a relative mainstream artist albeit one of the all time greats. It is interesting also that Zuma was so highly rated by Peel. He also name checks Little Feat, another great band, while Lowell George was still with them.

A boy named Zuma?

Barcelona 0, Liverpool 1

I'M SORRY. I know this isn't a football paper. Now which of you typed that then? Come on, I'm not fooling with you. I want to know. You're not leaving the room until one of you owns up and that's that. Was it you, Vendrome? You, Frobisher? Erg-XL2? How about you, Gilhooly?
I'm serious, you know. Just because our boys go over to foreign parts and whack a posse of overblown strutters about rather severely, there's no cause for wasting valuable space that could be devoted to useful Kraan tour dates or an interview with Steve Harley.
Since we had all that trouble about saluting and standing to attention when I entered the room, I've not been into the Sounds offices. My copy is carried from my desk to the printers by a team of highly trained runners, and this system means that I don't actually have to socialise with the oafs and cutpurses who work for this great organ.
Unfortunately this also means that I often have no knowledge of what they have written about the major events of our time. For example, the appearance in the night skies over London last week of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Many years ago, when I was still King of Thrace and my armies ~ were pouring into Saxony, or, as it is known today,
Wolverhampton, I compared a certain concert at the Orange Hall (1 think that's what it was called. Something to do with citrus fruits anyway in San Bernardino. Are you still with me? Well, the stars of the night were the Byrds, who were so devastingly unpleasant that I still have difficulty in enjoying their work, and they were supported by the Dillards and yer Buffalo Springfield.
Anyway I recollect chattering away at young Neil Young (as he then was) for some minutes and being told that this was the first proper concert the band had played.
A few years later and back in London the very same Neil Young came round, propelled by a dynamic record company wallah, to Peel Acres, which was then sited on the edge of the capital city's faecal Regent's Park. They stayed for an hour, in the course of which Neil said not a word. I think he was impressed by me though.
Regardless of all of this, if you broke into my car - and I'd rather you didn't - you'd discover lying between the front seats a very battered 8-track of Neil's 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' - one of the ten greatest LPs of all time. We used to have 'After The Goldrush' too but this vanished a year or so ago and we never replaced it.
Through 'Harvest', 'Journey Through The Past', 'Time Fades Away', and the various adventures with Crosby, Stills and Nash, our interest waned. Neil Young seemed to have become a Star and to be doing what Stars do.
But then, uh-uh, along came 'On The Beach' and we stirred lazily beneath the sun-lamp and took interest. So he's not dead, we thought to ourselves. That there was still life in the old feller was confirmed by 'Tonight's The Night', but none of this prepared us for the superiority of 'Zuma'.
Hell, if I didn't know that he'd get duffed up in school for it, I might call our next offspring Zuma. Well, you can't call a child 'Wish You Were Here', 'Five Live Yardbirds' or 'Desire' can you? '.
Although my brother Alan claims to be planning to call his next Flook, so I guess anything can happen.
Anyway, even the excellence of 'Zuma' was eclipsed by Neil Young and Crazy Horse live in Hammersmith. The first half, during which Neil played acoustic guitar, banjo, and looked as though he might keel over and expire right there on stage, was mainly interesting only. Some tried and true favourites engagingly sung, to be sure, but there was an atmosphere of impending doom about it all.
In the second half Neil looked a different man, not the decaying superstar on the verge of narcolepsy, not the money-spinner running through a few numbers for the benefit of serried ranks of accountants, but the devastatingly accomplished musician playing with people he knows and trusts, still slightly nervous of a big audience, still slightly abashed at demonstrating so publicly his special skills.
When Neil Young played guitar with Crazy Horse last Monday night you knew you were hearing something very special indeed - and if other people tell you differently then they're fools. I wrote 'devastatingly accomplished' up there somewhere. Devastated is how Pig and I felt as we walked away from the Odeon. Not since Little Feat at the Rainbow have I been so exhilarated by a performance.

John Peel - Sounds April 10, 1976

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