One of the more embarrassing moments of my musical growing up was deciding (at some point in the early 80s) that I’d rather own a copy of Kiss Alive II than Neil Young and Crazy Horse‘s Live Rust and so a savvy school mate exchanged his woeful album of clown metal for my copy of this album. I haven’t heard it since and over the years of not listening to it Live Rust has got better and better in my head. Better than the copy of Arc/Weld I have but rarely listen to. Whenever I hear Cortez The Killer or Powderfinger or Like a Hurricane it’s the Live Rust version that I compare it to…all those songs are there and good enough on Weld but not really the same.
I bought my copy of Live Rust in one of the big record shops in Oxford Street (probably HMV) with my birthday money on a trip into town with my parents. It was probably the same year when I got my own record player (it was white). We’d had a copy of Harvest kicking around the house but somewhere I had heard that Neil Young was more than acoustic folkiness and that I should check out that area of his work. Buying this album was an effort to address that (even if the first half of the album is that familiar acoustic folkiness).
So how does it hold up after 20+ years of not hearing it? Well…the album still sounds incredibly familiar (although I had forgotten those odd Woodstock bits dropped in) so I guess I listened to it a lot when I did own it. The second half in particular had me feeling strangely nostalgic. It made me realise that despite having spent very little time with Mr Young in the intervening years there was still something that bound me to him. I feel no desire to rush out and fill the gaps in my collection, on the contrary I feel confident that I could live with listening to just this one album once or twice every ten years or so – not because its “the best” or “archetypal” but becuase it’s comfortable it’s an album that I feel belongs to me…only it doesn’t it belongs to someone else…Kiss Alive II belongs to me.