Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Neil Young (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, harmonica, piano); Poncho Sampedro (vocals, electric guitar); Billy Talbot (vocals, bass, tambourine); Ralph Molina (vocals, drums, percussion).
Engineers: Greg Archilla, Tim Mulligan.
Recorded at Plywood Analog, Redwood City, California and live at Old Princeton Landing, Princeton-By-The-Sea, California.
All tracks have been digitally mastered using HDCD technology.
BROKEN ARROW was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.
Personnel: Neil Young (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, piano); Frank "Poncho" Sampedro (vocals, electric guitar); Billy Talbot (vocals, trombone, tambourine); Ralph Molina (vocals, drums, percussion).
Audio Mixers: Greg Archilla; Neil Young.
Recording information: Old Princeton Landing, Princeton-by-the-Sea, CA (03/21/1996-04/17/1996); Plywood Analog, Redwood City, CA (03/21/1996-04/17/1996).
Photographer: Larry Cragg.
BROKEN ARROW is the third straight album on which Neil Young has splattered loud electric-guitar notes all over his folk-rock melancholy. You'd have to go back to Young's amazing mid-1970s records to find a similar streak, and you'd have to go back just as far to find Young in a groove this consistent, this good. In his '90s incarnation, Young seems to be upping the ante each go-round. It's as if he's completely enveloped in his own noise, and taking great pleasure in seeing just how much he can get away with. The first three songs on BROKEN ARROW are nearly a half-hour long between them, and they reach that length through long, scratchy, meandering solos that evoke both jazz and punk-rock (think Sonic Youth) in their simultaneous bid to be transcendent and noisy. In "Loose Change," Young solos for a miraculous six-and-a-half minutes over a single chord.
By the end of the third song, Young appears emotionally spent, desperate to break the mood. The second half of BROKEN ARROW consists of comparatively light and compact electric folk-rock songs, a cosmic acoustic number and an odd little live recording of bluesman Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do." It's a potpourri that belies the strength of songwriting and performance that this wayward rocker has carried into middle age. "I'm still living the dream we had/For me it's not over," he sings over a haze of guitar distortion in "Big Time." At age 50, in fact, he sounds as if he's just starting.
Rolling Stone (8/8/96, p.58) - 3 Stars (out of 5) - "...BROKEN ARROW has the same tossed-off feel as HAWKS AND DOVES or RE*ACT*OR, as if Young took the eight tracks he'd been reviewing one particular day and decided they would be his new album....there's a detectable level of comfort in the playing, of moves learned and responses expected..."
Entertainment Weekly (7/12/96, p.58) - "...as the album simmers down and the full effect of his alternately world-weary and dreamy imagery kicks in, you get a better idea of the hard-rocking evanescence he's going for..."
- Rating: B
Q (8/96, p.122) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...verses are short and solos are long, riffs end in sonic pile-ups of feedback, and there is at least one tune where the ghost of Hank Williams is pumped full of steroids and sent staggering blank-eyed and drooling across the fields....top stuff..."
Musician (9/96, p.86) - "...Charming, loopy, slightly dark-hued, and exhibiting pronounced symptoms of musical schizophrenia,...[BROKEN ARROW] is a warm return to various forms and formats....the reappearance of Crazy Horse is especially welcome....Young is at his most mercurial..."