Archives Comment of the Moment: Soldier, My Ears
The Archives Comment of the Moment is from NYA Review by D.I. Kertis:
I have been enjoying Archives set greatly for the past month and 1/2 or so. I've "only" got the DVD set, but even then it's more than satisfying: the sound quality is mind-blowing after those early '90s CD "remasters" ; there's plenty of great music, including some really worth while rarities and unreleased tracks; and all sorts of excellent bonus material to go through. That about sums up my experience thus far.
You mentioned some of the video on the North Country disc. I've really enjoyed that, too: footage of Neil recording A Man Needs a Maid and There's a World (the latter the only representation of that recording included in the Archives, which, along with the version of Words from Journey Through the Past, means that Out on the Weekend is (I believe) the only track from Harvest not represented on NYA1 at all) and Neil and the Stray Gators recording Are you Ready for the Country? is absolutely priceless.
It's also quite remarkable what a difference the improvements in sound quality have made in some cases. Take Soldier for instance. I had been relegated to the edited version on Decade, in early '90s CD masters quality at that. So imagine my joy when I played Solider on the Archives and felt like I was sitting in the room with Neil as he was playing, rather than pressing my ear onto a glass leaned against the wall of the next room. Soldier being such a great (yet somehow forgotten) number, it's nice--to say the least--to be able to listen to it in audio quality that does it some semblance of justice.
There are also the stills. I haven't actually counted, but it seems there must be hundreds. I might be a bit odd, but I think looking at still photographs, which capture a particular moment in time, is tremendously interesting. And of course nothing beats Neil sitting in the field outside the barn at Broken Arrow Ranch, with a can of beer in hand, offering commentary as a recording of Words is played back. That was great-- especially Neil talking about the natural echo and then the camera guy moves closer so we can hear it better. Then there's the prelude to the North Country menu with Neil in his jeep, which reminds of me old home movies my grandfather took, where all you can here is the projector running!
Elsewhere you get SN&Y playing acoustic version of After the Goldrush tunes live, or Neil playing absolutely fantastic solo, acoustic-guitar only versions of The Loner and Cinnamon Girl, which really gives those classic electric numbers a new angle. Or going back to the beginning, Neil mailing himself the sheet music of his first compositions for copyright purposes...
The entertainment the Archives can provide really seems endless at times.
More commentary on The Neil Young Archives.