Release Date: Jun 2, 2009
Record label: Reprise
Genre(s): Rock, Singer-Songwriter
"Idon't know that I have much to hide," Neil Young notes in a 1971 home movie included on Archives Vol. 1. "Other than being a rich hippie ... " Young certainly doesn't hide much in this giant monument to himself, the first of several pyramids this rock pharaoh is assembling to enshrine his legacy ….
Not already under Neil Young's spell? Then you weren't considering buying this almost mythically rumoured massive 10-disc collection of music and more, decades in the works. [rssbreak] But if you're a fan of the Red-Flannelled Phenom, you need this stunning examination of this amazing Canadian. And don't settle for the CD version. (Got that, Toronto Star?) Invest in the DVD or Blu Ray that are full of hidden and not so hidden video, interactive timelines, lyrics, bios, band lineups and tons of Young detail that never seems like too much.
This level of detail may suggest the one serious flaw in Archives: it cannot be taken casually. It demands complete, undivided attention, requiring users to dig as deep as they'd like, and it's no stretch to say that it could take a week or two to discover everything here. Also, the set comes so tantalizingly close to being complete, it's a major irritation to have one song lopped off of each the albums; surely, the extra storage space on DVD and BluRay could have allowed for complete runs of Everybody, Gold Rush, and Harvest.
Archives arrives - a staggering 23 years after Neil Young first started talking about it - heralded as "the most ambitious artist collection ever produced". Indeed, so ambitious is it that Young has written an open letter to his fans: reasonable as ever, he suggests they all immediately buy Blu-ray players, the better to enjoy its 10 discs of music, film footage, interview clips and reproduced memorabilia. "It is not going away," he warns.
Obsessives expecting a trove of ?unheard songs might be disappointed in this endlessly delayed eight-CD set. There’s only a smattering of truly new material on Archives, some of it more interesting than essential. Elsewhere, ?previously released studio and live ?performances dominate, along with ?alternate takes, different mixes, and other odds and ends.
In the wake of Bob Dylan's successful 1985 expanded anthology Biograph, it seemed like every rock artist of note was lining up for CD box-set canonization. And true to his reputation as a futurist, David Bowie tried to outdo them all with 1989's Sound + Vision, which supplemented the usual greatest-hits-plus-rarities format with a bonus disc of visual content that would showcase the glorious new CD-Video format. There was only one problem with his attempt to revolutionize the box set: no one knew what the hell a CD-Video disc was, let alone owned any kind of device that would allow one to view it.
Everybody knows this is a scam"Cough up the bucks,” Neil Young sings on his latest album Fork in the Road, which is exactly what you have to do to purchase his mammoth, 10-disc Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972). The DVD version will set you back $200; the Blu-ray version $300. So much for free love, or free anything.