Neil Young - Archives Vol. 1

A fan's dream package, finally here...
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This has literally made my day. My week. My month. My year. A parcel containing 11 discs has just dropped on my desk and I am smiling from ear to ear.

Neil Young has long promised his Archives set, and has teased his fans by putting its release date back and back and back, claiming he’s perfecting various technologies while busy recording and releasing new albums instead. What I’ve just been blessed with is the mammoth project’s first part - ‘Archives Vol.1 (1963-1972)’. Ten of the discs make up the series, while the eleventh is a preview disc, presumably a short compilation of the best of all of them. (There are no track listings, but I’ve found a web resource that lists them all.)

I’m gonna fly through them and write as I go on what I hear, see and experience. There are worse ways to spend a grey Tuesday…

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Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 – official trailer


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Disc 0 - ‘The Early Years (1963-1965)’

It’s a DVD! Menu page is a great sepia picture of Neil Young and the Squires, Young’s first band in Winnipeg, Canada. You can play all, or go via the Song Selection option, which I've done, taking you to a virtual filing cabinet of the songs filed by year.

First up, 1963’s ‘Aurora’. If you click play, it takes you to a film of the 45 acetate playing, and you hear the Shadows-esque instrumental. Alternatively, you can read the track’s personnel, see photos from the time (with captions), including a great black and white picture from Christmas 1962 that sees young Neil with an all-American short back and sides - long before his trademark hippie-style straight middle parting. You could also click ‘Documents’ and see artefacts relating to the song, including hand-drawn notations, while ‘Press’ throws up local paper cuttings, and ‘Memorabilia’ shows the label of the original vinyl release. It’s a great start, even if the song is largely forgettable, showing absolutely nothing of the Neil Young that was to become...

These treats feature with every song, but it’s wonderful to hear the progression of Neil as a writer and musician across these early pieces. ‘I’m A Man And I Can’t Cry’ tries its hands at Beatles harmonies, and its naive charm of Neil’s matinee-idol vocals gives a fun insight into the direction he was clearly heading... but then diverted down the acoustic road, as demonstrated on the fantastic demo versions of ‘Sugar Mountain’ and ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’, which later was recorded with Buffalo Springfield. There are also links to get the song lyrics so we can sing along! Don’t think that will go down too well in the office, though.

Disc extras include a biography, a detailed timeline of Neil’s formative career - from the Canadian roots to his venture down to the States - a web link, and DVD credits.

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Disc 1 - ‘The Early Years (1966-1968)’

The sound of screams almost drown out ‘Mr. Soul’ as a picture of Buffalo Springfield on stage graces the menu screen. A voice comes over, sternly warning: “The Buffalo Springfield will NOT perform unless you get back to your seat.” The song selection, then, is the wonderful collection of mid-Sixties Springfield tunes penned by Young. This was the group, of course, led by Stephen Stills, whom Neil would later join up with again as part of the super-group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Songs such as ‘Expecting To Fly’ still radiate beauty, and they become so much more special with the extras’ glimpses into their history. More great photos, more fascinating documents. I think I need to keep ploughing through these...

1. Aurora / The Squires – from the 45 RPM single (mono)
2. The Sultan / The Squires – from the 45 RPM single (mono)
3. I Wonder / The Squires – previously unreleased song (mono)
4. Mustang / The Squires – previously unreleased instrumental (mono)
5. I'll Love You Forever / The Squires – previously unreleased song (mono)
6. (I'm A Man And) I Can't Cry / The Squires – previously unreleased song (mono)
7. Hello Lonely Woman / Neil Young & Comrie Smith – previously unreleased version
8. Casting Me Away From You / Neil Young & Comrie Smith – previously unreleased song
9. There Goes My Babe / Neil Young & Comrie Smith – previously unreleased song
10. Sugar Mountain / Neil Young – previously unreleased demo version (mono)
11. Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing / Neil Young – previously unreleased demo version (mono)
12. Runaround Babe / Neil Young – previously unreleased song (mono)
13. The Ballad Of Peggy Grover / Neil Young – previously unreleased song (mono)
14. The Rent Is Always Due / Neil Young – previously unreleased song (mono)
15. Extra, Extra / Neil Young – previously unreleased song (mono)
16. Flying On The Ground Is Wrong / Neil Young – from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set (mono)
17. Burned / Buffalo Springfield – from the album Buffalo Springfield (mono)
18. Out Of My Mind / Buffalo Springfield – from the album Buffalo Springfield (mono)
19. Down, Down, Down / Neil Young – previously unreleased version (mono)
20. Kahuna Sunset / Buffalo Springfield – from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set (mono)
21. Mr. Soul / Buffalo Springfield – from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set (mono)
22. Sell Out / Buffalo Springfield – previously unreleased song (mono)
23. Down To The Wire / Neil Young – from the album Decade (mono)
24. Expecting To Fly / Buffalo Springfield – from the album Buffalo Springfield
25. Slowly Burning / Neil Young – previously unreleased instrumental
26. One More Sign / Neil Young – from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set
27. Broken Arrow / Buffalo Springfield – from the album Buffalo Springfield Again
28. I Am A Child / Buffalo Springfield – from the album Last Time Around

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Disc 2 - ‘Topanga 1 (1968-1969)’

Named after the Los Angeles canyon where Neil and many other musicians lived, this disc compiles the demos and songs that made up the beginning of his solo career. An alternate version of ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ begins proceedings. The ‘Press’ section of ‘The Old Laughing Lady’ has a page excerpt from a magazine interview with Neil, the headline of which reads: “Tea fan seeks mate - must own phonograph and be free to travel.” One click and you zoom in to read the text. Fabulous. Album versions of ‘Down By The River’, ‘Cowgirl In The Sand’ and ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ are just as fresh and lovely to these ears as anything I’ve heard today.

1. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere / Neil Young – from the stereo promotional 45 RPM single-second pressing
2. The Loner / Neil Young – from the album Neil Young
3. Birds / Neil Young – previously unreleased version
4. What Did You Do To My Life? / Neil Young – previously unreleased mix
5. The Last Trip To Tulsa / Neil Young – from the album Neil Young
6. Here We Are In The Years / Neil Young – from the album Neil Young–second version
7. I've Been Waiting For You / Neil Young – previously unreleased mix
8. The Old Laughing Lady / Neil Young – from the album Neil Young
9. I've Loved Her So Long / Neil Young – from the album Neil Young
10. Sugar Mountain / Neil Young – previously unreleased stereo master
11. Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
12. Down By The River / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
13. Cowgirl In The Sand / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
14. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

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Disc 3 - ‘Live At The Riverboat (1969)’

Video footage of the queue, the venue and the assembled crowd build up to the venue. You can also hear him taking to the stage - to near silence. I’ve clicked on Song Selection again. There is no video of the performances; instead there is a visual accompaniment to the live recording. It’s very intimate - Neil is talkative, personal and sounds great. The Riverboat, which is in Toronto, is treated to eleven solo and acoustic tracks. Extras include black and white photos from the event, handwritten notes and lyrics, press clippings, plus ‘Riverboat Raps’ - Neil’s rambling monologues from the gig in one handy nine-track solo!

1. Sugar Mountain / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
2. The Old Laughing Lady / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
3. Flying On The Ground Is Wrong / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
4. On The Way Home / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
5. I've Loved Her So Long / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
6. I Am A Child / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
7. 1956 Bubblegum Disaster / Neil Young – previously unreleased song
8. The Last Trip To Tulsa / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
9. Broken Arrow / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
10. Whiskey Boot Hill / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
11. Expecting To Fly / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version

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Disc 4 - ‘Topanga 2 (1969-1970)’

This late-Sixties collection introduces Crazy Horse, Neil’s incredible backing band, and covers the demos for his masterpiece ‘After The Goldrush’, and his contributions to CSN&Y’s ‘Deja Vu’ album. The songs, again, are alternative mixes, unheard originals, and insightful demos.

1. Cinnamon Girl / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
2. Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets) / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
3. Round And Round (It Won't Be Long) / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
4. Oh Lonesome Me / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – previously unreleased stereo mix
5. Birds / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – from the 45 RPM single (mono)
6. Everybody's Alone / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Previously unreleased song
7. I Believe In You / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – from the album After The Gold Rush
8. Sea Of Madness / Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – from the original soundtrack album Woodstock
9. Dance Dance Dance / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – previously unreleased version
10. Country Girl / Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – from the album Déjà Vu
11. Helpless / Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – previously unreleased mix
12. It Might Have Been / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – previously unreleased live version

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Disc 5 - ‘Live At Fillmore East (1970)’

As previously released, this six-track document of Neil at the beginning of the Seventies finds him touring the ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ album with Crazy Horse, featuring guitarist Danny Whitten. It’s notable that this was the last tour Whitten came on. He died of an overdose in late 1972. The songs are accompanied by so many photos from the event. It would be amazing to see filmed footage of this, but sadly there is none.

1. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
2. Winterlong
3. Down By The River
4. Wonderin'
5. Come On Baby, Let's Go Downtown
6. Cowgirl In The Sand

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Disc 6 - ‘Topanga 3 (1970)’

More songs from the canyon, this time revealing alternative versions of selections from ‘After The Goldrush’ alongside proper album versions. There aren’t so many extras on here aside from various lyrics and handwritten manuscripts, however this disc is valued for the solo piano version of ‘See The Sky About To Rain’, recorded live at The Cellar Door in Washington, DC in 1970.

1. Tell Me Why / Neil Young – from the album After The Gold Rush
2. After The Gold Rush / Neil Young – from the album After The Gold Rush
3. Only Love Can Break Your Heart / Neil Young – from the album After The Gold Rush
4. Wonderin' / Neil Young – previously unreleased version
5. Don't Let It Bring You Down / Neil Young – from the album After The Gold Rush-first pressing
6. Cripple Creek Ferry / Neil Young – from the album After The Gold Rush
7. Southern Man / Neil Young – from the album After The Gold Rush
8. Till The Morning Comes / Neil Young – from the album After The Gold Rush
9. When You Dance, I Can Really Love / Neil Young with Crazy Horse – from the album After The Gold Rush-first pressing
10. Ohio / Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – from the stereo 45 RPM single
11. Only Love Can Break Your Heart / Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – previously unreleased live version
12. Tell Me Why / Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – previously unreleased live version
13. Music Is Love / David Crosby, Graham Nash & Neil Young – from the album If I Could Only Remember My Name
14. See The Sky About To Rain / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version

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Disc 7 - ‘Live At Massey Hall (Toronto 1971)’

This was previously released in 2007. Seventeen solo acoustic songs taken from all albums so far, including his CSN&Y stuff, but at time of performance, most songs would have been unfamiliar to the audience. From their reactions, you’d never have known. Live sound is supplemented by more relevant photo and video montages. The ‘Archives’ extra on this disc offers three great short videos - ‘The Needle And The Damage Done’ and ‘Journey Through The Past’ from Johnny Cash’s TV show in 1971, the ‘Old Man’ from a 1971 documentary, and then a 1997 clip of Neil going through his archives, discussing photos from the 1971 tour. Each is, of course, brilliant. “These young minds will be our leaders in the future,” says Johnny Cash. How right he was. The ‘Radio’ extra features two recordings, ‘Old Man’ and ‘A Man Needs A Maid’, with Redbeard from 1989.

1. On The Way Home
2. Tell Me Why
3. Old Man
4. Journey Through The Past
5. Helpless
6. Love In Mind
7. A Man Needs A Maid/Heart Of Gold (Suite)
8. Cowgirl In The Sand
9. Don't Let It Bring You Down
10. There's A World
11. Bad Fog Of Loneliness
12. The Needle And The Damage Done
13. Ohio
14. See The Sky About To Rain
15. Down By The River
16. Dance Dance Dance
17. I Am A Child
(all previously released live versions)

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Disc 8 - ‘North Country (1971-1972)’

Cine-film of Neil driving his car through a field starts the disc. The songs within would mostly make up ‘Harvest’. An unreleased live version of ‘Heart Of Gold’ from UCLA 1971 starts - the official version follows later, which, considering it’s probably his most universally loved song, has disappointingly few extras. The disc is mostly album versions, which is a bit of a swizz, but presented so beautifully, who can really argue?

1. Heart Of Gold / Neil Young – previously unreleased live version
2. The Needle And The Damage Done / Neil Young – from the album Harvest
3. Bad Fog Of Loneliness / Neil Young with The Stray Gators – previously unreleased version
4. Old Man / Neil Young with The Stray Gators – from the album Harvest
5. Heart Of Gold / Neil Young with The Stray Gators – from the album Harvest
6. Dance Dance Dance / Neil Young – previously unreleased version
7. A Man Needs A Maid / Neil Young with the London Symphony Orchestra – previously unreleased mix
8. Harvest / Neil Young with The Stray Gators – from the album Harvest
9. Journey Through The Past / Neil Young with The Stray Gators – previously unreleased version
10. Are You Ready For The Country? / Neil Young with The Stray Gators – from the album Harvest
11. Alabama / Neil Young with The Stray Gators – from the album Harvest
12. Words (Between The Lines Of Age) / Neil Young with The Stray Gators – from the original soundtrack album Journey Through The Past
13. Soldier / Neil Young – previously unreleased mix
14. War Song / Neil Young & Graham Nash with The Stray Gators – from the 45 RPM single (mono)

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Disc 9 - Journey Through The Past. A Film by Neil Young

Sadly I don’t have time to sit and devour the whole 80-minute feature. It’s a freewheeling colour documentary with no discernible storyline, but includes fantastic footage of Neil live with the Springfield, with CS&N, and of course solo. I’ll be watching this in full tonight. The Special Features include a photo gallery, memorabilia and press cuttings relevant to the movie.

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Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 – Blu-Ray preview


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It’s all just a little too much to take while sitting at work. This is what I’m going to have to spend my weekend investigating further. This has been an incredible dip into the first part of Neil’s astonishing ongoing project.

Neil Young has proven himself as a unique talent, dedicating himself to following his muse, and this is no exception. It’s been well worth the wait. How long until part two? Who knows...

Read the full review in the July issue of Clash, on sale June 4. You know it will be glowing...

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