Crazy Horse is also Neil Young's on-again-off-again backing band, since Everybody Knows this Is Nowhere in 1969.

They existed before Neil came along, under the name The Rockets (hence the title of "Running Dry (Requiem tor the Rockets)" on Nowhere). They released a nifty self-titled album in 1968 (in print), at which point they appear to have been constituted as follows:
Bobby Notkoff   Violin
Leon Whitsell   Guitar
George Whitsell   Guitar
Danny Whitten   Guitar
Billy Talbot   Bass
Ralph Molina   Drums

The lineup that originally played with Young was Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot, and Danny Whitten. Notkoff shows up for a song or two on Nowhere. Whitten died in 1973 of a heroin overdose, and was replaced temporarily by Nils Lofgren on Tonight's the Night; later, he was permanently replaced by Frank Sampedro.

Crazy Horse has released several albums without Neil. The best of them was Crazy Horse (1971), which is AFAIK still in print and well worth finding; it features a take of the Whitten/Young classic "Come on Baby Let's Go Downtown" (here titled "Downtown") which is very different from the fierce live version on Tonight's the Night. There are other gems as well, some written by Whitten; "I Don't Want to Talk About It" has been covered poorly by musical magpie1 Rod Stewart among others. Jack Nitzsche and Nils Lofgren both played on Crazy Horse and contributed some songs. Nitzsche's "Gone Dead Train" is a killer. It may not be a landmark, but it's a solid, enjoyable, well-crafted message from 1971: This is where rock and roll was at in those years: A bunch of guys got drunk and made a record and somebody released it. It's a good thing. As on all records made at that time and most of them since, Ry Cooder is in there somewhere.

I've got a couple of their later attempts, and they're just not worth the trouble. After Crazy Horse, their records are generally Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina with one or more random guitarists, singers, etc. The guests always seem to write all the songs, with predictably unpredictable results: It's essentially a different band each time. On Loose (1972), ex-Rocket George Whitsell plays guitar, sings, and writes most of the songs; I haven't gotten my hands on that one yet. It's on order; I'll update this in a week or three when/if it arrives (much later: I got it. It's not bad at all. It's at work, I'm at home; I'll do a separate review/writeup on it real soon now, I swear . . . that and a mess of marginal quasi-legal Stooges and Modern Lovers live/demo/rehearsal/etc. records)

Left for Dead (1989) is mostly a crude attempt at heavy metal or something, with (bizarrely) ex-Rain Parade guitarist Matt Piucci (what the hell gave them that idea?!) filling in for Sampedro. There are a few brief moments of mindbending Piucci-ish psychedelic goodness2 tucked into odd corners, but it takes a lot more than that to make a pig sing. Crazy Moon (1978) made so little impression on me that I can't say anything meaningful about it.

Crazy Horse, 1971
Produced by Jack Nitzsche and Bruce Botnick, engineered by Bruce Botnick
  1. Gone Dead Train   (Russ Titleman/Jack Nitzsche)
  2. Dance, Dance, Dance   (Neil Young; later re-lyric'd as "Love Is a Rose")
  3. Look at All the Things   (Danny Whitten)
  4. Beggars' Day   (Nils Lofgren)
  5. I Don't Want to Talk about It   (Danny Whitten)
  6. Downtown   (Danny Whitten/Neil Young)
  7. Carolay   (Russ Titleman/Jack Nitzsche)
  8. Dirty, Dirty   (Danny Whitten)
  9. Nobody   (Nils Lofgren)
  10. I'll Get By   (Danny Whitten)
  11. Crow Jane Lady   (Jack Nitzsche)
Ry Cooder plays bottleneck on "Dirty, Dirty", "Crow Jane Lady", and "I Don't Want to Talk About It". Gib Gilbeau plays fiddle on "Dance, Dance, Dance".

The Rockets, 1968
Crazy Horse, 1971
Loose, 1972
At Crooked Lake, 1972
Crazy Moon, 1978
Left For Dead, 1989

1 As in, "collector of shiny things he doesn't understand", like for example Tom Waits' "Downtown Train".

2 Bottleneck with crunchy distortion and short loud delay, mmm, yum.