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HuffPost Review: Neil Young Archives Volume 1 (1963 - 1972)

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In the world of box sets, it would be impossible to find something better than Neil Young Archives Volume 1 (1963 - 1972). This is truly overwhelming in every sense--sound quality, archival material, previously unreleased recordings, live tracks, old and new interviews and documentaries, image galleries, letters, personal memorabilia, lyrics, lyric manuscripts, biographies, timelines, videos, radio spots, film snippets, interactive elements--seriously, the content and its variations just go on and on. And the news keeps getting better for Neil Young's fans...this is merely the first of at least four more installments of equal quality and integrity covering his remaining recorded history. This ultimate musical experience is being delivered non-traditionally through Blu-Ray and DVD formats at an extremely high audio resolution of 192k/24-bit, its visuals in 1920/1080 high def, with both elements taking full advantage of crushingly superior technology when compared to the meager compact disc.

A quick sidebar: Although the CD variant of Young's endeavor is formidable, in comparison, it's like sitting Tony Stark's clunky gray body armor next to its shiny, red and gold, full-throttle upgrade. Archive's release absolutely should stimulate a discussion on how the geriatric CD format finally has been made obsolete, and this new approach is something the music business could employ on a wider scale to re-invigorate itself (getting back on the horse after its unsuccessful attempt at an upgrade during the SACD/DVD-A war). This box isn't just important in the context of Neil Young's career; the music biz has been handed the prototype of a unique concept that could create a new business model. The question is, can the ol' dog learn a new trick?

Getting back to Archives, this superb assembly of recordings from Young's most fertile creative period--one that begins in Winnipeg with The Squires, and moves through virtually every solo classic (in one form or another), as well as Young's stints in Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse, and, of course, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young--thoroughly gathers its history, both sonically and visually, like an autobiography. Archives also can be perceived as a journal of its era due to its interviews (including David Crosby and other friends and contemporaries), photo galleries, historical performances (such as Filmore East and Woodstock recordings), and the inclusion of Young's obscure, first film, Journey Through The Past, that is presented in 96k/24-bit, 5.1 DTS surround sound. Its compelling 236-page hard cover book includes endless photos, 45 and album label shots, archival notes, and limitless details. Across the ten discs, quick "filing" screens shuttle you along the content, and there are hidden gems lurking about for the adventurous.

We have to stop here because, quite frankly, words don't do it justice. If you like this artist, go buy this box. It will bring joy to your life for weeks since you will never get through it in your first few sittings. Despite scores of excellent, high concept, minutia-driven collections, or even Grammy-winning box sets released over the years by some of our greatest artists, and regardless of if you like or dislike the music of Neil Young, nothing comes close to what Archives achieved. And that's not an exaggeration. Let's just call this what it is--the best box set ever made. Surely, Bob Dylan, Nirvana, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, The Rolling Stones, and other musical icons deserve this treatment as well. Thanks to Archives, they just might get it.

Tracks:

Disc 00 - Early Years (1963 - 1968)
Aurora - The Squires - from the 45 RPM single (mono)
The Sultan - The Squires - from the 45 RPM single (mono)
I Wonder - The Squires - previously unreleased song (mono
Mustang - The Squires - previously unreleased instrumental (mono)
I'll Love You Forever - The Squires - previously unreleased song (mono)
(I'm A Man And) I Can't Cry - The Squires - previously unreleased song (mono)
Hello Lonely Woman - Neil Young & Comrie Smith - previously unreleased version
Casting Me Away From You - Neil Young & Comrie Smith - previously unreleased song
There Goes My Babe - Neil Young & Comrie Smith - previously unreleased song
Sugar Mountain - Neil Young - previously unreleased demo version (mono)
Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing - Neil Young - previously unreleased demo version (mono)
Runaround Babe - Neil Young - previously unreleased song (mono)
The Ballad Of Peggy Grover - Neil Young - previously unreleased song (mono)
The Rent Is Always Due - Neil Young - previously unreleased song (mono)
Extra, Extra - Neil Young - previously unreleased song (mono)

Disc 01 - Early Years (1966 - 1968)
Flying On The Ground Is Wrong - Neil Young - from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set (mono)
Burned - Buffalo Springfield - from the album Buffalo Springfield (mono)
Out Of My Mind - Buffalo Springfield - from the album Buffalo Springfield (mono)
Down, Down, Down - Neil Young - previously unreleased version (mono)
Kahuna Sunset - Buffalo Springfield - from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set (mono)
Mr. Soul - Buffalo Springfield - from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set (mono)
Sell Out - Buffalo Springfield - previously unreleased song (mono)
Down To The Wire - Neil Young - from the album Decade (mono)
Expecting To Fly - Buffalo Springfield - from the album Buffalo Springfield
Slowly Burning - Neil Young - previously unreleased instrumental
One More Sign - Neil Young - from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set
Broken Arrow - Buffalo Springfield - from the album Buffalo Springfield Again
I Am A Child - Buffalo Springfield - from the album Last Time Around

Disc 02 - Topanga I (1968 - 1969)
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - Neil Young - from the stereo promotional 45 RPM single-second pressing
The Loner - Neil Young - from the album Neil Young
Birds - Neil Young - previously unreleased version
What Did You Do To My Life? - Neil Young - previously unreleased mix
The Last Trip To Tulsa - Neil Young - from the album Neil Young
Here We Are In The Years - Neil Young - from the album Neil Young - second version
I've Been Waiting For You - Neil Young - previously unreleased mix
The Old Laughing Lady - Neil Young - from the album Neil Young
I've Loved Her So Long - Neil Young - from the album Neil Young
Sugar Mountain - Neil Young - previously unreleased stereo master
Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
Down By The River - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Cowgirl In The Sand - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Disc 03 - Live At The Riverboat (Toronto 1969)
Sugar Mountain - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
The Old Laughing Lady - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
Flying On The Ground Is Wrong - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
On The Way Home - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
I've Loved Her So Long - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
I Am A Child - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
1956 Bubblegum Disaster - Neil Young - previously unreleased song
The Last Trip To Tulsa - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
Broken Arrow - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
Whiskey Boot Hill - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
Expecting To Fly - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version

Disc 04 - Topanga II (1969 - 1970)
Cinnamon Girl - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets) - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Round And Round (It Won't Be Long) - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - from the album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Oh Lonesome Me - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - previously unreleased stereo mix
Birds - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - from the 45 RPM single (mono)
Everybody's Alone - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - previously unreleased song
I Believe In You - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - from the album After The Gold Rush
Sea Of Madness - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - from the original soundtrack album Woodstock
Dance Dance Dance - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - previously unreleased version
Country Girl - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - from the album Déjà Vu
Helpless Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - previously unreleased mix
It Might Have Been - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - previously unreleased live version

Disc 05 - Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Live At The Fillmore East (New York 1970)
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Winterlong
Down By The River
Wonderin'
Come On Baby, Let's Go Downtown
Cowgirl In The Sand

Disc 06 - Topanga III (1970)
Tell Me Why - Neil Young - from the album After The Gold Rush
After The Gold Rush - Neil Young - from the album After The Gold Rush
Only Love Can Break Your Heart - Neil Young - from the album After The Gold Rush
Wonderin' - Neil Young - previously unreleased version
Don't Let It Bring You Down - Neil Young - from the album After The Gold Rush (first pressing)
Cripple Creek Ferry - Neil Young - from the album After The Gold Rush
Southern Man - Neil Young - from the album After The Gold Rush
Till The Morning Comes - Neil Young - from the album After The Gold Rush
When You Dance, I Can Really Love - Neil Young with Crazy Horse - from the album After The Gold Rush (first pressing)
Ohio - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - from the stereo 45 RPM single
Only Love Can Break Your Heart - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - previously unreleased live version
Tell Me Why - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - previously unreleased live version
Music Is Love - David Crosby, Graham Nash & Neil Young - from the album If I Could Only Remember My Name
See The Sky About To Rain - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version

Disc 07 - Live At Massey Hall (Toronto 1971)
On The Way Home
Tell Me Why
Old Man
Journey Through The Past
Helpless
Love In Mind
Suite: A Man Needs A Maid / Heart Of Gold
Cowgirl In The Sand
Don't Let It Bring You Down
There's A World
Bad Fog Of Loneliness
The Needle And The Damage Done
Ohio
See The Sky About To Rain
Down By The River
Dance Dance Dance
I Am A Child

Disc 08 - North Country (1971 - 1972)
Heart Of Gold - Neil Young - previously unreleased live version
The Needle And The Damage Done - Neil Young - from the album Harvest
Bad Fog Of Loneliness - Neil Young with The Stray Gators - previously unreleased version
Old Man - Neil Young with The Stray Gators - from the album Harvest
Heart Of Gold - Neil Young with The Stray Gators - from the album Harvest
Dance Dance Dance - Neil Young - previously unreleased version
A Man Needs A Maid - Neil Young with the London Symphony Orchestra - previously unreleased mix
Harvest - Neil Young with The Stray Gators - from the album Harvest
Journey Through The Past - Neil Young with The Stray Gators - previously unreleased version
Are You Ready For The Country? - Neil Young with The Stray Gators - from the album Harvest
Alabama - Neil Young with The Stray Gators - from the album Harvest
Words (Between The Lines Of Age) - Neil Young with The Stray Gators - from the original soundtrack album Journey Through The Past
Soldier - Neil Young - previously unreleased mix
War Song - Neil Young & Graham Nash with The Stray Gators - from the 45 RPM single (mono)

Disc 09 - Journey Through The Past - A Film By Neil Young
Available for the first time since its original theatrical release in 1973
In 5.1 DTS surround sound and stereo
Includes rare performance and documentary footage of Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and scenes from the recording of the Harvest album featuring Neil Young with The Stray Gators