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[Rock] Neil Young

Patrick Donnelly

Young’s latest effort is a sequel to a record he cut in 1977 but never released, thus delaying the popularity of such future NY classics as “Powderfinger” and “Like a Hurricane.” But in branding this a sequel, Young is sending a signal to his fans that he’s back at his stony ’70s peak.

There’s a lot to like here. The disc opens with “Beautiful Bluebird,” a wistful tune about a lost lover, driven by banjo and harmonica that recall the best stuff off Harvest. “Ever After” ambles along a dusty road with soulful harmonies and a haunting pedal-steel shadow. And “Dirty Old Man” is a bawdy rocker that showcases Young winking at his cranky, crusty image.

The centerpiece is the 18-minute epic “Ordinary People,” which the typically iconoclastic Young released to radio as a single in early September. Only the most adventurous late-night FM DJ needing a cigarette break would dare give it a spin, and that’s too bad, because with its wicked brass-knuckle hooks and populist theme, it’s the most memorable cut of the lot.

There are a few odd moments here, like the children’s choir supporting the disc-closing “The Way,” but most Young fans will find the 30 years worth the wait.

Neil Young

Chrome Dreams II

***1/2

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