Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Neil Young: Freedom [Reprise, 1989]
For years it seemed pointless to wait till he found his bearings--his bearings in relation to what? Maybe he still had terrific albums in him, but history had passed him by--his saving eccentricity was no longer an effective weapon against the industrialization of pop, which had to be ignored altogether or taken to the mat. So apropos of nothing he comes up with a classic Neil Young album, deploying not only the folk ditties and rock galumph that made him famous, but the Nashvillisms and horn charts that made him infamous. In addition to sad male chauvinist love songs, it features a bunch of good stuff about a subject almost no rocker white or black has done much with--crack, which seems to have awakened his eccentric conscience (though I bet a Yalie as opposed to cowboy president helped). Does this terrific album mean he's found his bearings? I doubt it. But I no longer put it past him. A