Photo: Julie GardnerNeil Young is renowned for being prolific, but he really has outdone himself in 2012. After reigniting his collaboration with his frequent backing band Crazy Horse early in the year, the folk-rock legend released two brand-new studio albums in the span of about five months.
The first was an album of traditional cover tunes titled Americana that arrived in early June, while the second is a double-disc collection of all-original material called Psychedelic Pill, which hit stores on October 30. Speaking recently with ABC News Radio, Crazy Horse guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro says it's "really exciting to have two records out," while admitting that he is particularly proud of Psychedelic Pill.
"[It] is the first album I feel that we've done in years and years, maybe over 10 years or 15 years, that really is worthy of being a great Crazy Horse record," he declares.
The album captures Young & Crazy Horse in thunderous form, and is noteworthy for the extreme length of several of the tunes, three of which exceed the 16-minute mark. The record kicks off with the 27-plus-minute opus titled "Driftin' Back," which finds Young musing about the poor quality of MP3s and some other, apparently random topics.
Sampedro explains that the epic tune was the first track the group worked on after recording Americana and, not surprisingly, it emerged out of an extended jam.
"It was the first time since we got together in nine years as a band that we just jammed," he revealed. "I think that was just something we all had to do, because we missed it so long -- and we just kept playin' and playin'."
He added, "It's long and lengthy," but, he said, "That's who we are, that's what we do best. We could play forever if people let us."
Poncho also chooses "Ramada Inn" and "Walk Like a Giant," Psychedelic Pill's other two supersized tracks, as standouts for him.
"'Ramada Inn' is a song that just touches my heart," he explains. "So many people I know, including myself, have gone through different situations with relationships and breaking up and not knowing how to answer tough questions and, it kind of just talks about all that."
As for "Walk Like a Giant," the guitarist says he enjoys playing that tune in concert because of its improvisational nature.
"We're painting a picture with sounds and it's different every night," he notes, adding, "You never know if it's gonna be short, long or extra long, or what it's gonna sound like, and that's pretty exciting."
He's also fond of the title track, which happens to be the shortest cut on the album. "It's just a happy, good-time song," he says. "It's nice to remember that people just want to dance and have a good time."
Young & Crazy Horse will soon be winding down their 2012 itinerary in support of Americana and Psychedelic Pill. Their current North American trek wraps up on December 4 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Knowing Young's tendency to unexpectedly change gears, Sampedro says he wouldn't be surprised if the singer/songwriter decides to take another break from working with Crazy Horse soon, but he hopes that doesn't happen.
"We're just really starting to gel as a band and we're getting better and better," Poncho maintains. "And hopefully he has some new material [so] that we could maybe even record another record. That would be fun for me."
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio