Neil Young :: Archives Vol. 1: 1963 -1972

neil-archive-yesHere’s the thing about the first installment of Neil Young’s Archives project: only the obsessive will care, and with the (variable) price point, care enough to pony up the cash to purchase.   This was never intended to appeal to the casual fan and/or newbie.   Now that alone isn’t revelatory, but when one considers the amount of previously released material included, and how long the archives have been in the works (and repeatedly delayed), it is understandable how its release has come off as anti-climatic in some fan circles. Granted some of this derision is splitting hairs, but I also believe some of it is due to the information age we find ourselves in versus had the set been issued, say, 10-15 years ago. The enormous online proliferation of bootleg recordings and videos, and the relative ease of obtaining them, has in turn rendered the archives less essential.   Not entirely de-fanged, mind you, but much less engaging than it would have been prior to YouTube, P2P, blogs, bit-torrent, etc.

So, with that caveat out of the way, let me slip in fan mode and state for the record that the (DVD version) is pretty fucking great.   A notoriously uncompromising artist, Young has created an archival project grander in depth and scope than most anything seen before related to music.   It’s obvious the curation of the set was painstakingly labored over with every attention paid to detail.   Those who want to get their hands dirty in the minutiae of it all are sure to be kept entertained for days (weeks?) on end with never before seen photographs, old lyrics sheets, notes, concert footage and interviews.  It is simply a massive undertaking.

Broken up into various eras the discs span Young’s early days in Canada, busking acoustically and with The Squires, following him on down to California hooking up with Buffalo Springfield, CSN&Y, Crazyhorse, and of course solo.   Completests will immediately notice the addition of tracks already widely available on other box sets (e.g. the Springfield), but having the material presented here in this Neil-centric universe feels like a nice fit.  Again, you can’t please everyone.  Having said that, my hopes are that the next volume of the archives do not include entire discs of previously released material (Live at Massey Hall, Live At Fillmore East), and instead focus on rarities such as the still un-reissued Time Fades Away album.   Now that there is a working blueprint for the layout of the archive releases, the possibilities for the depth and breadth of future content is pretty exciting. We shall see.

It is also worth noting there are options available for those uninterested in the aforementioned minutiae found on the DVD/Blu-ray editions.   An audio-only version of the archives is available as a CD package as well as through various digital distributors.   This digital availability should especially appeal to those who have previously purchased Neil-related sets who simply looking to round out what they are missing.   Below are a couple of favorites; one track you’ll find in the archives set and one you won’t. And if you haven’t seen this video, do so immediately

MP3: Neil Young :: Medley: The Loner/Cinnamon Girl/Down By The River (4 Way Street)
MP3: Neil Young :: Cowgirl In The Sand (3.6.70)
Purchase: Neil Young’s Archives :: Vol. 1: 1963 -1972

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8 thoughts on “Neil Young :: Archives Vol. 1: 1963 -1972

  1. Thanks much for the post, and your comments on the Archives. I think you hit the nail exactly on the head, and do probably speak for the majority of us crusty Neil fans as to the merits and drawbacks of the release (particularly that infuriating inclusion of the recent live releases in their entirety). Such is life. If one doesn’t feel like dropping many dimes on the set, it’s easy enough to download whatever Crazy Horse/ Stray Gators material you’d like (and there’s quite a bit that’s worth every cent), and catch up with the video material at some point. Very much looking forward to it….

  2. Bought the audio only because of my budget. Will upgrade down the road to the DVD set. Little disappointed by the lack of rarities but there’s a lot of great stuff on there. Anyone want to post some of that Stray Gators audio?

  3. I’ve been on a Neil Young kick since I caught the American Masters show on PBS last week. I made 3 pretty good compilation CDs and now it looks like a 4th is in order. Thanks a lot….

  4. i have been on the fence about buying the cd version of the archives. I have most of the available material either on cd or lp but it would be nice to have some of the rarities included and to have cd versions of what I only have on LP. What may put me over the fence is the quality of the liner notes/ booklet included in the set… Can anyone tell me if the booklet contains interesting and detailed liner notes? Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.

  5. The booklet contained in the cd version is very bare-bones. If you buy the set expecting anything close to the book included in the DVD/BR set, you will be sorely disappointed. It’s pretty much track details for each disc. No pictures or interesting details. Gotta say, the cd version seems very much like an afterthought.

    That said, I am still playing the hell out of it. There are enough unreleased goodies to keep me happy. These days I don’t wanna listen to anything but NY!

  6. @xtianDC, yeah, good point. I think originally there was to be no CD version at all until fans complained and it was thrown together last minute to placate.

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