This discograpjhy analysis is written by contributor JT of Perth, Australia. Follow him at @thesonofnoone on Twitter.
Dead Man (1996) Spotify
1) 'Guitar Solo #1'
2) 'The Round Stones Beneath the Earth'
3) 'Guitar Solo #2'
4) 'Why Does Thou Hide Thyself, Clouds...'
5) 'Organ Solo'
6) 'Do You Know How to Use This Weapon?'
7) 'Guitar Solo #3'
8) 'Nobody's Story'
9) 'Guitar Solo #4'
10) 'Stupid White Men'
11) 'Guitar Solo #5'
12) 'Time For You to Leave, William Blake'
13) 'Guitar Solo #6'
ALBUM RATING: 7.0
VERDICT: OK, so this is a different kind of review. I'm not going to do a track-by-track rundown because, as Neil would say in a live album to be released a year from then, "It's all one song". Some people I know seem to think this is slight in some way, some seem to think that it is only a curio and others think it's just useless.
I'm not one of those people.
Here's where I might get controversial. Neil's most adventurous playing, somewhat unlike the Neil Young we've gotten to know, is found here on this soundtrack. One of these days I might go as so far as to say that this album contains the best guitar playing of Neil's career. It certainly contains one of his best guitar passages, and that's the main riff which winds its way through the album. One can only think and wonder how awesome this could've been for Neil to take the inspiration he had here and put it on a 'normal' Neil Young album (if such a thing has ever existed).
As it is, it's great, but not something I reach for very often. But that doesn't mean I don't cherish the listens when I let it ring out from my speakers.
Broken Arrow (1996) Spotify
1) 'Big Time' - Masterpiece #37. I love this song for the groove, for the melody, for the fact that Neil's back with the Horse. I love it for the sentiment, for the great guitar playing and for the line "dancing in the sunset hues". I love the chorus and I love the fact that hardly anyone rates this album at all. Fine, you go ahead and think that. The lucky few of us who think this is criminally underrated can sit here and drive along the coast, windows down with this song blaring forth. "I'm still living the dream we had, for me it's not over". How can you not love this song? 10.0
2) 'Loose Change' - Crazy Horse turned up to the max, with Neil blowin' on the ol' harmonica? Fantastic. This lumbering song never fails to make smile. The second of three epics that open the album, this is the least known of the three. Hardly played live, and that's a shame. I can picture it as a show opener - completely different to the way 'Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)' has been used (which is like a powerful punch to the stomach)... this one could've been the loose opener used to get everyone (band, audience) in their groove. Pity, because Neil will never play this again live. 8.0
3) 'Slip Away' - The last of the three lengthy tracks that open us up, and my least favourite. Not sure why, but this has never gelled with me the way 'Bit Time' and 'Loose Change' have. Kudos for Neil trying something different (it's unlike any other Crazy Horse song), but to me it just doesn't get where it wants to go. Neil obviously thought so, because he played it throughout his 1996 tours with Crazy Horse. 6.5
4) 'Changing Highways' - Neil puttin' on his train conductor's hat again! Seriously, Ralph's insistent beat is as high in the mix as anything Jack Irons did on Mirror Ball, but such is the song - it works. At only two minutes (and change), this is short but fun. 6.0
5) 'Scattered (Let's Think About Livin')' - The true forgotten song from this album. At least it would appear onYear of the Horse. Neil reaches out and grabs the tone from Dead Man, taking on us on a pretty cool trip. "I'm a little bit high, I'm a little bit low... hear your name wherever I go". If I were in a Neil Young cover band, I'd insist this were on the setlist each and every night. Not because I think it can compete with 'Revolution Blues' (another must-play) or anything like that, but mainly because I'd want as many people as possible to hear it and think it was as cool as I do. 8.5
6) 'This Town' - Not the best song on the album. Sounds like the fragment of what could become a very good song, but Neil really doesn't go too far with it. Interesting guitar solo (read: different for Crazy Horse, but good), but not much else to write home about. 5.0
7) 'Music Arcade' - Wow. In four minutes and one second, Neil manages to capture everything that he would fail to capture in Silver & Gold, and that's the quiet, hushed acoustic sound. Sounding as though he's almost not trying, Neil proves to us that the true inspiration comes when you're not trying to write your greatest song, not trying to capture a particular sound. All you need is to sit down alone at the end of the day and sing what comes from your heart. Neil's great, lost acoustic track. 9.0
8) 'Baby, What You Want Me to Do?' - Any song where Poncho gets to take a solo is OK in my book. Sounds worse than some of the bootlegs I have, but that's not too bad, considering the noisy bar atmosphere suits the song and the performance (which isn't going to win awards). Not sure what Neil was trying to do by putting this here, especially as the album closer, but no one ever said the man was routine. 5.5
ALBUM RATING: 7.5
VERDICT: Neil's last very good studio album. There are a couple of slight things here, and the Jimmy Reed cover is bizarre, but the album works. Feels like more of a cohesive album than some of his more lauded works. Also, shows that Neil's production skills with the Horse were up to the challenge after Briggs' death. Pity he hasn't chased this sound since. One of Neil's last masterpieces opens the album, and there's some sorely missed gems throughout as well. No idea how this got the bad reputation that it's gotten. But then again, that just makes me think that people haven't 'gotten' the album yet and it's only a matter of time.
NEXT: And the winner is... Favorite Trick!!