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Shakey Pictures: The Films of Neil Young 

Wednesday, Sep 9 2015
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Neil Young's music is an acquired taste, made trickier because the taste changes with every album; few artists have ever been quite so willing to follow their muse, narrow-minded critics and record labels be damned. He's also made a steady stream of films since the 1970s, eight of which are featured in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' Shakey Pictures: The Films of Neil Young. Though not a complete filmography, the series does include three important works from his most difficult period, the 1980s. Directed by Young under his Bernard Shakey pseudonym, his 1982 narrative filmHuman Highwaystars himself, Russ Tamblyn, and Dennis Hopper as denizens of a truck stop near a nuclear power plant staffed by Devo. (And then it gets weird.)Human Highwayfeatures music from Young's controversial albumTrans, a record that also figures heavily in Hal Ashby's 1983Solo Trans, which in turn jumps from acoustic folk to Trans' robotic-techno to the '50s-style rockabilly of Young's follow-up,Everybody's Rockin'.Solo Transwas only released on LaserDisc, which was still more distribution than 1987's Muddy Track ever got. A dark document of his ill-fated tour with Crazy Horse that same year, Muddy Track reveals a troubled time when Geffen Records was suing Young for making albums like the aforementionedTransandEverybody's Rockin'. It's a rough but vital ride through the ditch.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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