Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1 – Blu-ray music, 10 Discs – 1963-1972 – (9 discs holding total of 128 tracks with 12 more “hidden”) Disc #10 is original Theatrical release of the 1973 film, Journey Through the Past – Reprise

by | Jul 3, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1 – Blu-ray music, 10 Discs – 1963-1972  –
(9 discs holding total of 128 tracks with 12 more “hidden”)  Disc #10 is original Theatrical release of the 1973 film, Journey Through the Past – 24-bit/ 192 kHz Stereo PCM- BD Live –1920 x 1080 HD Video- DTS-HD 5.1 Surround – Reprise ****1/2:

(Artists include Neil Young, The Squires, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and Neil Young with Crazy Horse)

Besides Bob Dylan, no other single rock artist can match the recording output of the inimitable Neil Young. Young has gone through similar stages as Dylan, from pop singer to country and grunge electric rock. Like Dylan, Neil has a fervent fan base who has followed his journeys for over 40 years. Dylan’s output has been prodigious and he continues to tour and record. However, with the release of this mega Blu-ray 10 disc set, Archives, Vol. 1, Young has even outdone Dylan. Perhaps, it may be more appropriate to say that Neil WILL outdo Dylan in scope, as this edition of Archives covers only the first nine years of Neil Young’s recording career, with the first two years being with the relatively unknown band, The Squires, followed by three tracks with Comrie Smith. It wasn’t till Young came to California and hooked up with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay and the rest of Buffalo Springfield in 1966 that Young’s talent and charisma became recognized.

No band or partner could hold Neil back, whether it be Buffalo Springfield, or Crosby, Still, and Nash. For CSN & Y fans, the perfection of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s harmonies, though magical, could not match the rush that Neil Young brought to this super group. When Neil would leave, it would only be a matter of time that the public and the band’s pocket books demanded that Neil come back into the fold to amp up the energy and creativity that Young brings to the table with his involvement with CSN & Y.

In reviewing this, the first edition of what is sure to be a massive undertaking in chronicling Neil’s career, (as we have another 35+ years to potentially experience in both high definition sound and video), Young has created a monster. His legion of fans have been just teased with what will likely follow. Neil has embraced the high tech possibilities of the Blu-ray format to present a mind-boggling amount of material at just the beginning of his career-a career that covers two generations.

Let me count the way: Archives, Vol. 1, contains nine multi-media discs which contain 20 feature videos, film clips and trailers. In addition we can view interviews, radio spots, and the unique “raps” that Neil in his shy charm used to introduce the acoustic, solo concerts early in his career. For his adoring fans, these “visits with Neil” were precious even though the comments are often trite and childish. It was Neil letting us into his life before he began singing the timeless Sugar Mountain, Cowgirl in the Sand, I Am a Child, Cinnamon Girl, and numerous others that helped define our connection with the fragile man with long hair and high reedy voice like no other. His appeal was surreal as the aura he set was addictive.

Archives, Vol. 1 uses a multi-media file cabinet format to scroll through as you listen to the tracks that bring back so many memories to those of us born in the 50s and 60s. You can view manuscripts, archival photos, lyric sheets, and an interactive time-line. For those with Blu-ray units that feature BD Live, there is the opportunity to add to the track list even more material that Neil is making available for download through the internet. Extra goodies included to sweeten the pot include a digital download card to access MP3 files of the 128 tracks, a 236 page hardbound book with even more archival material, and a fold out Archives poster.

Special mention must be made of the incredible sound that is provided in ultra high lossless resolution. In surround sound, you are brought into the mix with concert quality, warm SACD-like richness. The premium charge for this Blu-ray set does not come cheap as the list price is $399 – however, it is being sold online in the $240 range  – which if you are a true “Youngaphile” is well worth the purchase price.

Audio and video highlights abound and include many unissued Buffalo Springfield tracks as well as Neil Young’s late 60s album issues in sumptuous sound. Disc 3 is all from Live at the Riverboat (Toronto 1969), all previously unreleased. Young collectors may have some of this and other unreleased live material on bootleg albums, but the sound quality here is vastly superior. For those that prefer Neil in an electric setting, Disc 5 provides six extended jams with Crazy Horse live at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East. Live at Massey Hall from 1971, recently released on CD, is also included here. Special treats like hidden tracks and “Easter eggs” reveal unexpected treasures like Young discovering a bootleg while shopping in the early 70s and removing it from the record shop.

As you can see, Archives, Vol. 1 is the beginning of an autobiographical project, where Neil shares both his musical and personal life with an audience that eagerly awaits entrance into his world. Sure, you can view it as an ego trip, but for those of us – myself included -who have followed Mr. Young into our nearing retirement phase of life, it is a chance to revisit our youth when listening to Neil made things feel “right,” and we felt in sharing his changes in musical taste that we too could change ourselves into whom we had hoped to be.

With upcoming future volumes of Archives covering the 70s through possibly the 90s, we can continue OUR journey through our past. We may not have met our goals for ourselves, but following Neil’s journey we can marvel at an artist who has always marched to his own beat, changing musical genres at times, but always remaining “our Neil.”

– Jeff Krow

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