Recorded at various shows during Neil Young and Bluenote Café's 1988 tour, this superb live set documents one of Neil's most funky and heartfelt periods, featuring 7 unreleased songs - "Soul of a Woman," "Bad News Comes to Town," Ain't it the Truth," "I'm Goin'," "Crime of the Heart," "Doghouse," "Fool for Your Love," - and a searing 19+ minute version of the immortal "Tonight's the Night" at The Pier in New York City. It was a wild night. Neil Young is famous as a man who is going to do what he wants, and he's willing to pounce on a moment's inspiration and run with it if it pleases him. In 1987, Young decided he wanted to set aside rock & roll for a while and play the blues, and that's just what he did. He recruited his longtime musical partners Crazy Horse (Frank Sampedro on keys, Billy Talbot on bass, and Ralph Molina on drums), added a six-piece horn section (led by Steve Lawrence on tenor sax), and called the new band the Bluenotes, hitting the road with the new act in late 1987.
Old folkie that he is, Neil Young harbors a soft spot for songs as protest, and The Monsanto Years is full of them. Where he often railed against war, here the purported target is the agricultural company Monsanto, a firm that, among other things, specializes in genetically modified crops, but Young uses that as a pivot to rage against all manner of modern outrages. Apathy among the populace, avarice among corporations, and cultural homogenization provide the throughline on The Monsanto Years, and while the weathered hippie takes some time to lay down his electric guitar and breathe, this isn't a mournful album like Living with War, his W-era missive.
Following the triumph of Rust Never Sleeps, Hawks & Doves benefited from the enormous critical goodwill Neil Young had amassed, though fans and critics nevertheless were baffled by its set of obscure acoustic and country-tinged songs.
Having re-established his reputation with the musically varied, lyrically enraged Freedom, Neil Young returned to being the lead guitarist of Crazy Horse for the musically homogenous, lyrically hopeful Ragged Glory. The album's dominant sound was made by Young's noisy guitar, which bordered on and sometimes slipped over into distortion, while Crazy Horse kept up the songs' bright tempos…