From hippie dandy to hippie grandpappy, Neil Young can’t be said to have had the most impactful of visual careers. It might be unkind, but not untrue, to say that half this book focuses on his early years with good reason: he cut a handsome figure for a while. In an early CSNY shot, Young stands resplendent in long, white overcoat, the very epitome of West Coast cool – so cool, in fact, that he still manages to draw your attention away from a nearby David Crosby dressed as a Restoration-era walrus.
As ever, the “Ditch Trilogy” years are the most exciting, capturing a worn-out Neil at his most iconic from 1972- 74. Much else drifts by: Neil looking grungy with a guitar; Neil looking grungy with a guitar in front of a car. It might be for this reason that there’s a bit of a chronology problem, as photos of Young in a frilly dress shirt, all taken from the same photo session, crop up throughout the book with almost wilful perversity (perhaps in itself fitting, given the subject’s own penchant for the wilfully perverse). The 80s corporate look years are fairly whizzed through, but Neil Young in a tie and wraparound shades still stands as one of rock’s most what-the-fuck? incarnations.