|"It's all one song," Neil Young says into the microphone before Crazy Horse launches
into Year of the Horse's opening track, "When You Dance You Can Really Love." As the rest of the songs on the
album unfold, the meaning of Young's statement becomes clear: the spirit, the magic of Crazy Horse transcends
Unleashed in Los Angeles in 1969, Crazy Horse represented the essence of grunge before the word was ever used in
a musical context. The band's long, colorful ride continues because its members have proven to be rock and roll
The current Crazy Horse line-up (with comments by Neil Young):
Ralph Molina (drums/vocals): "Ralph's the quiet one, but he's also very funny. Ralph's steady as a rock."
Billy Talbot (bass/vocals): "Billy's the center in some ways, because he plays ...the big notes. Billy is a sound, a
feeling that's a big part of us."
Frank "Poncho: Sampedro (guitar/vocals): "Poncho brings us strength. He has massive amounts of strength...just an
unbelievable core of strength. When he's there, it's strong.
Neil Young (guitar/vocals): "I always wince when I hear 'Neil Young and Crazy Horse,' because it's really Crazy Horse.
I know it's Crazy Horse."
Together on stage, Molina, Talbot, Sampedro and Young create a churning tribal dance, setting off musical explosions
streaked with fire fury and soul. A prime example is the band's new live double album on Reprise Year Of The Horse.
Though the title is the same, it is not a soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch documentary film on the band. In fact, none of
the 12 songs on the record were drawn from the performances featured in the film. Even "Barstool Blues" "Big Time"
"Sedan Delivery" and "Slip Away" - the only four songs to appear both on the album and in the film - are different
versions. This fact underscores the depth of stellar live material Crazy Horse produced in 1996.
"The essence of what we do is...we play together," says Billy Talbot. "And we express as one."
Young agrees: "For this sound to happen, we've all got to be together. It's hard to describe. We know what's going
on...The older we get, the more we realize how special it is."
From the Crazy Horse anthem "Prisoners of Rock and Roll," to an electrified "Pocahontas," from an epic performance
of the guitar masterpiece "Danger Bird," to explorations of new sonic frontiers during "Scattered" and "When You r
Lonely Heart Breaks," the specialness of the music on Year of the Horse can not be denied. Even when the band
strips its sound down to drums and acoustic guitars for "Mr. Soul" and "Human Highway" (both recordings from the
1996 Bridge School Benefit), the Horse power is still strong.
"I think that they get more into their music than they did five years ago, ten years ago," say Scott Young, Neil's father.
"That's not to put down what they were doing then. It's just that there's an intensity of effort that can't help but impress
itself on the watcher."
"We're very emotional, sensitive guys," says Molina. "We're not chops players. When Neil plays with other guys,
they're more chops players, so you don't get that raw, emotional thing happening."
"The time I've spent with Crazy Horse has been great," says Young. It's just been a wonderful experience to know
people like that, to be able to create things on the spot. You never know what's going to happen next."