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Neil Young's take on 'Americana' is a love-hate deal

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Reprise Records

••• CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Throughout Neil Young's incredibly diverse career, he has, if nothing else, followed his muse. From early masterpieces and solo outings (like the incredible "Live at Massey Hall") to R&B ("This Note's For You"), the sonic blur of "Weld" and "Arc" and the completely inscrutable "Trans," Neil Young has cut as wide a musical swath as any artist.Period.That said, "Americana" will be another head-scratcher for many fans. Backed by the always-brutish Crazy Horse -- with West Virginia native Poncho Sampedro on guitar -- the 11-song set starts out by manhandling Stephen Foster's "Oh Susannah" into, essentially, a two-chord anthem that barely references the original melody.

And so it goes.Through the pounding "Clementine," the lazy "Tom Dula" and the rolling "This Land is Your Land." Their take of "Jesus' Chariot" ("She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain") is perhaps only eclipsed by West Virginia wildman Hasil Adkins' version.Young and Crazy Horse take a couple pleasant detours with "Gallow's Pole," "Travel On" and West Virginian Billy Edd Wheeler's evocative "High Flyin' Bird" - which might be the disc's best track.I'd prefer to think that Young's "Americana" is not as much about American folk tunes (he includes the seminal - and out of place? -- '50s song "Get a Job" and the U.K. national anthem, "God Save the Queen" -- not the Sex Pistols' tune) as it is a statement about the tortured, over-used genre called "Americana." Either way, it's another chapter in Neil Young's canon that you'll either love or hate.
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