Ed. Note: Please check out Rocks Off's Facebook page at 4 p.m. SHARP today to find out how to win the two Neil Young tickets we're giving away. Remember, you must "like" us to win (hint hint). But for now, enjoy "Classic Rock Bob" Ruggeiro's review of the latest addition to the sagging Shakey bookshelf... Neil Young - Long May You Run: The Illustrated History By Daniel Durcholz and Gary Graff
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Forget Madonna, David Bowie or Lady Gaga as icons of musical reinvention. They've got nothing on the cranky Canadian who was once famously sued by his record company for delivering albums that didn't sound like himself. From the Squires and Buffalo Springfield to CSNY, solo outings, Crazy Horse, the Stray Gators and a dozen other musical metamorphoses, fewer artists have stayed true to their own vision - critics, fans and even band members be damned - than Neil Young. Young's Houston show Friday at Jones Hall will undoubtedly present material that winds through his nearly 50-year career, and we can think of no better post-concert journey through the past than this lush, lavish, insightful and celebratory coffee-table book. While many books of this sort are heavy on familiar photos with precious little text, Long May You Run is quite the opposite. The more than 250 images include such rarities as Young with a date at a high school dance, covers of his father's YA hockey fiction titles, and an ad for the original Buffalo Springfield steam engine company. For good measure, throw in dozens of concert and informal shots, record covers, and a slew of gig posters, including one for a 1991 gig with Crazy Horse at the Summit and a 1968 Springfield gig at "Liberty Hall" - though Houston is not mentioned on it. But what really makes this tome worthwhile is the deft writing of Durcholz and Graff. Though the quotes from Young and scores of others are clip-jobs from previous sources, the pair of seasoned music journalists deftly weave the narrative, embracing both the general story of Young's life and music and enough uncovered nuggets to please the hardcore fan as well. While Jimmy McDonough's authorized/not authorized doorstop bio Shakey is still the gold standard for measuring the man and his music on the written page (in typical fashion, Young wholly participated in its writing, only to sue the author to attempt to stop publication later in the game), Long May You Run is right behind it and, in some ways, even superior in terms of total impact. Voyageur Press, 224 pp., $30.