We never thought we would see the day. On June 1st, if everything goes according to plan, Neil Young will release the mammoth, 10 disc, £200+ box set called Archives. It’s been over 20 years in the making.
We first heard about this box set in a Mojo interview from 1995 (issue 25, those playing at home). That issue explains that Archives started life as Decade II (the follow-up to the almost flawless 3 LP compilation of Young’s early works), but quickly ballooned to a 20 CD set. Also in that article, Young claims “confidently” that the first volume would be out in…1996.
Years of waiting ensued. Every few years, and in just about every interview, Young would claim a release date. But nothing ever saw the light of day. Until now.
A year back, however, the biggest controversy of the project hit – there would be no CD version. Initially, it was to be only two versions, either 10 DVDs or 10 Bu-Rays.
Fans went into an uproar. Was Young being elitist? Who even had an expensive Blu-Ray player? On one hand, it seemed like Young was making a set for his baby boomer crowd only. On the other, he stands by the quality of Blu-Ray. He’s always been a stickler for sound quality, and the interface is supposed to be mind-blowing.
We were mainly worried about how we were going to rip the 10 Blu-Ray discs, but we’re sure some clever person will do it and put it all over the internet. This is what will inevitably happen when you don’t give people what they want. But in the end, Young relented, and a third, 8 CD version is also due. Mp3s will come with the DVD and BR versions.
So what is on this thing? No less than Young‘s entire career up to 1972, up to and including tracks from his blockbuster album, Harvest. 3 previously released live albums as well as all the great tracks and singles from those 70s albums, various collaborations from the era (CSN, Buffalo Springfield). Plus a full disc of teenage Neil in high school bands and a DVD of the unreleased concert film, Journey to the Past.The packaging looks amazing, and mad. The booklet reports to have lots of home photos and notes, and every bit of the blu-ray and DVD is packed with photos, info, posters and a lifetime of memorabilia.
So, we love this because it’s so ambitious. Has anyone even remotely tried something on this scale? We love Mr Young, he’s a true artist, and by that we mean he just doesn’t give a fuck about us. He follows his heart.
Yet – we are torn. We have so many of these tracks. We don’t listen to music on DVD, we don’t own a Blu-Ray (only just beginning to believe in it), and it seems almost worthless on CD. It’s also very expensive. And there’s 3 more volumes to come!
Finally, as is our way of thinking here – is this the future? We hope not. Few artists could pull it off (Dylan? Springsteen? Paul Simon?). Plus, we could not afford it. We waited so long – now we’re almost dreading the day.
Links and previews after the break
The great Neil Young new site, Thrasher’s Wheat, has a nice summary of Archives news – http://www.thrasherswheat.org/2009/01/archives-roundup-trick-of-disaster.html
Official site for Archives – http://www.neilyoung.com/archives/
Video previewing the interface that comes with the DVD and Blu-Ray