Revisiting Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s ‘Re•ac•tor’ at 40

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Revisiting Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s ‘Re•ac•tor’ at 40

neil young
Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Photo by THIERRY ORBAN/Sygma via Getty Images.

We’re revisiting Neil Young’s 11th studio album, his fourth with Crazy Horse, Re•ac•tor which celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. 



Everything got a little weirder in the 80s – even Neil Young. 

There are few musicians on the planet who have dabbled in as many styles and genres as Young but his 1981 album Re•ac•tor certainly announced a new experimental era from the music legend. With Crazy Horse back on board, the album is a dark, grinding and sometimes challenging listen, however, the payoffs, when they come, deliver some top-shelf Neil. 

Recorded at Modern Recorders studio in Redwood City, California and produced variously by Young, Jerry Napier, Tim Mulligan, and David Briggs, Re•ac•tor marks Young’s first foray into New Wave, blending his signature 70s guitar tone with a Synclavier synthesizer, giving us a peek at the embryonic experimentation that would become fully-realized on his follow up album Trans in 1982.  

Neil Young | ’Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze’

The record is highlighted by some more traditional arrangements like Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze, Southern Pacific and the epic eight-minute closer, Shots that hails back to Young and Crazy Horse’s most fiery 70s offerings with luscious layers of distortion-drenched guitars sure to remind you why Neil Young is crowned the Godfather of Grunge.

Neil Young | ‘Shots’

While Re-ac-tor didn't climb high nor stick around on the charts for long it makes for a fascinating listen that draws a line between Neil Young's past and future as an artist facing the dawn of New Wave.  

Revisit Re•ac•tor on streaming below! 


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