Heralded on its release in 1975 as a long awaited "return to form" by those yearning for another "Harvest", "Zuma" is a much richer and wilder album which, on the way, showcases Neil Young's music in all its mercurial, often brilliant but rambling glory. Veering from the heavy metal grunge of "Drive Back", through the searingly powerful, wonderfully controlled guitar-work on "Cortez the Killer", the bizarrely addled incantations of "Barstool Blues", the foot-tapping country of "Lookin' for a Love", to the perfect MOR harmonies of "Through My Sails", it exemplifies what's made him so good but so frustratingly difficult to follow. And, up there with any of his better recordings, it's not only essential for any Neil Young fan but an excellent "next step" for anyone wanting to explore beyond "After The Goldrush", "Harvest" or his "Greatest Hits" albums.
Four stars then? Well yes, but not enough, because in here is a hidden gem... an outstanding, perfectly formed track that sums up what makes Neil Young worth the effort. Rarely played and missing from virtually all of the "Best of" lists of his songs it is, for me at least, one of the most quietly beautiful, ecstatically reflective and unforgettable pieces of acoustic music ever made. "Pardon My Heart"... worth the price of the album on its own.