The eleventh studio album by Neil Young, Re-ac-tor was released in November 1981. It was produced by Neil Young, Tim Mulligan, David Briggs and Jerry Napier. It was a step away from the music Young normally did.
1. Opera Star
2. Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze
4. Get Back on It
5. Southern Pacific
6. Motor City
7. Rapid Transit
The sound on Re-ac-tor reminds about the second side on Rust Never Sleeps and Neil Young also plays with Crazy Horse like he did in that case. The quality of the songs is however not close. Re-ac-tor was probably far from that the fans expected or wanted – it is also an indication about that is to come next, Trans.
Re-ac-tor was a strange acquaintance for all who had been listening at Neil Young for a long time. The roaring sound that could be heard on the second part of Rust Never Sleeps and Live Rust had now become less rock 'n' roll and more a collection of sound, best marked by the use of a Synclavier. The excessiveness is best characterized by “T-bone” in which the song repeats, in an annoying fashion, over and over, and by Neil’s peculiar groaning in songs like “Opera Star” and “Rapid Transit”.
The best song on the album may be “Shots”. But in most cases something seems to be missing on this album. It’s been said that Re-ac-tor lacks soul and that are perhaps a good evaluation.
At the time the album was recorded Neil was involved in an Alcoholics Anonymous program, and a motto of that organization was to be found on the book cover written in Latin.