Recorded live during Neil Young's recently concluded tour, Road Rock Vol. 1 presents one of rock's most influential and enduring singer-songwriters at his very best. From an overpowering 18-minute version of "Cowgirl In The Sand" to the previously unreleased "Fool For Your Love," from a classic rendition of "Tonight's The Night" to a duet with Chrissie Hynde on "All Along The Watchtower," Road Rock Vol. 1 rocks and rules the road.
This souvenir from Neil Young's Y2K Music in Head tour shines brightest when it reaches what in a vinyl world would have been side two's opening cut: "Words" starts out as a reminder of the depth and genius of Young's Harvest album, and then grows, over the course of its 11 minutes, into a fractured waltz that shows just how nicely a bunch of good old boys and girls can breathe new life into classic rock. Instrumental demons Donald "Duck" Dunn, Spooner Oldham, Jim Keltner, and Ben Keith (along with the Young family backup singers, sister Astrid and wife Pegi) perform similar miracles on "Tonight's the Night," "Cowgirl in the Sand" (18 big minutes!), and a crowd-pleasing "All Along the Watchtower" featuring tour-mate Chrissie Hynde. The shorter cuts are less remarkable, from the previously unreleased "Fool for Your Love" to a draggy "Motorcycle Mama" that barely warrants its four minutes. But when Young and company crank it up on the open highway, rock doesn't get much better than this. -Bill Forman