Thursday, June 04, 2009

Neil Young Finally Comes Through

Neil Young has seen the light at the end of the tunnel and released his Archives Vol.1 box set . This is what the fine writers at USA Today had to say...nobody gave me one to review so I have to rely on the big wigs for some perspective:

By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The harvest is in. After more than 20 years of plots, plans, pursuits and promises, the first installment of Neil Young's multimedia library has arrived.
Neil Young Archives Vol. 1: 1963-1972, in stores today, compiles every song he wrote and recorded in that period, plus all significant performances, amplified by copious personal photos, documentary footage, studio notes, letters, film trailers, radio spots, diary entries, press clips and handwritten lyrics.

Wildly understating its breadth, Young says, "It's like a scrapbook."

The set is on Blu-ray, DVD, CD and as a download, the latter two considered least desirable by Young, notorious for his high-fidelity obsession and aversion to digital sound.

The 10-disc Blu-ray version ($300) is widely considered a game-changer in both tech and music realms. Rolling Stone calls Archives, the first in a series of five, "the high-water mark for box sets. ... It's built for fanatics, yet the goods could make a fanatic out of anyone." The interactive, endlessly updatable Blu-ray edition "sets the bar at a level even the keepers of the Fab Four's legacy will be challenged to match," the Los Angeles Times says.

"Talk about giving you bang for the buck," says Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times pop music critic. "I don't know if everyone wants the postcards he sent to his mom in Canada, but, boy, he's giving you everything. The music sounds incredible, and it's not like he'll sell it to you again in three years. Contrast that to The Beatles and Elvis, who repackage the same product over and over."

Seated in manager Elliot Roberts' office, Young manipulates a PlayStation controller as he eagerly conducts a 90-minute demo.

"We keep giving you gifts," says the rock veteran, in jeans, a Fender T-shirt and sandals. He locates hidden tracks and downloadable updates along an interactive timeline. Hearing 1963 instrumental The Sultan, he says, "The world wasn't quite ready for my voice."

A collector of cars and toy trains, Young, 63, was meticulous about hoarding and cataloging his recordings and ephemera. Music and artifacts weren't the hurdles repeatedly delaying Archives' release.

"It was always the technology that stopped us," he says. "When we started in the '80s, we were waiting for DVD. We thought DVD was the ultimate. But we discovered you couldn't browse and listen at the same time.

"That's the beauty of Blu-ray. You can surf around while the music's playing. That's the way it used to be when you listened to an album and read the liner notes. Now it's deeper. You can easily get lost in this."

Young's reach initially exceeded Blu-ray's grasp. "We worked with Blu-ray's design group on the standards," he says. "We said, 'Why can't we do this?' They said, 'Maybe we can,' and they'd write it in the program."

Immersed in the second volume, which is expected in two or three years, Young also has mapped out the third and fourth and continues to mine sources for buried nuggets. He was dismayed to discover the BBC had destroyed several early Young performances. But his search for rare Buffalo Springfield concert footage turned up a Hollywood Bowl show, and a hi-res version of Mr. Soul soon will be available as a Blu-ray download.

"There are so many great artists I'd love to see fleshed out this way, like Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan or Kurt Cobain," he says. "You could do a Renaissance painter, the Civil War or the evolution of recorded sound. It's like a virtual encyclopedia."

What did graying Young learn about young Young during Archives' construction?

"I was surprised by some of my decisions," he says. "I moved away instead of exploring some things more. I write it off to moving so fast I couldn't see what was in front of me."

The set's illuminating timeline excludes personal matters, though there's plenty of career drama, he promises.

"The most depressing point is when CDs come along," he says. Blu-ray, which holds up to 60 times as much digital data as an MP3, "is the highest-resolution clarity available now. Ultimately, we'll go to something better. Analog and tubes and gas may seem like a step back, but I still believe it's more human."

All I'm going to say about this is Fathers Day is just around the corner and you are all my children...........


  1. Thanks for posting this article. It is pretty exciting! We (Total Media Group) got to work on the archives - the creative and art direction for all 3000 menus etc.... our Art Director, Toshi Onuki, has started writing about the experience. You can check it out at - check out the Project Spotlight Section. We've just started posting, so check in weekly!

  2. This sounds like an excellent collection to get into!