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Monday, September 07, 2009

Archives Comment of the Moment: Those BD-Live Downloads

Harvest Session Track Sheet - April 1, 1971

The Neil Young Archives Comment of the Moment is from D.I. Kertis:
Collecting my thoughts, thus far, about the Archives is a surprisingly challenging task, made all the more daunting by the need to organize them in some fashion before I can present them here. The first thing that comes to mind is the seemingly endless delays of NYA1's s release that we as fans all faced, especially in the six months prior to the release. I have particularly vivid memories of the February release date that fell through. This was a notable source of disappointment for me because my birthday is in late February right around the day the the box set was to be released, presenting a convenient excuse for the monetary splash.

Nonetheless, I was effectively appeased by the release of Fork in the Road in April, which was followed shortly by the news of a new date for Archives: June 2nd, 2009. The anticipation then became comparable to awaiting the release of a summer blockbuster one is particularly looking forward. I spent much of the spring monitoring online criticism of Fork in the Road. I think this was one of several byproducts created by the delay of the first Archives volume: many in the fan community understandably embittered about the repeated postponements of this greatly anticipated and such feelings often spilled over into the reception of interim material. (This is not intended to stir up a hornet's nest, nor to say that FITR is a great album -- it isn't, although I will always maintain that it was *good*, with some outstanding songs.)

The months, weeks, and days leading up to June 2nd were tense and often heated times for Neil's fans. Up to the last minute--even when my Amazon order was placed on either May 30th or 31st--I was unsure as to whether the first Archives volume would actually be released, as I'm sure were many other Neil fans. How could one not be after all the previous delays, even if there images and track lists available?

Another tension-heightening factor was the emergence of the DVD/blu-ray format for the NYA. This startled me quite a bit when I first heard of it: what would be on the DVDs and blu-rays in the way of visuals? The option was not entirely a surprise, however, given Neil's experimentation with DVD as a vehicle for superior audio dating back to about Greendale if memory serves. These releases had regularly been a source of debate amongst fans, not least of all due to the nature of the accompanying visuals: stills, the tape machine playing, the slideshows for Chrome Dreams II, etc.

My understanding of those releases is that the DVDs were obviously designed with paramount audio quality in mind and the format selected was basically a method of making the DVD-Audio listening experience available with a guarantee that it would be compatible to all players, at least within the encoded "region." I think he may also possibly have been testing the waters for the use of a similar format for the Archives releases. At any rate, I went with DVD, for reasons I think clarified in previous posts on here (I have fervent hopes for my home's upgrade to blu-ray by the time Vol. 2 comes around.) I have had my set since the 5th and I still find myself stumbling across new things to enjoy every once in a while.

I am indeed glad that I chose DVD, as it includes a large amount of material I would have missed with the CD edition: the full 236 page book, which can be as entertaining as the Archives discs themselves; substantial amounts of video, including Journey Through the Past; hidden tracks; and the various unannounced extra bits 'n' bobs found in the wonderful virtual "files." and delightful timeline feature. And that's not even mentioning the wholly superior sound. This really is a unique and far-more-than-satisfying experience. Someone had some good ideas and it shows.

On the subject of formats, each has its pros and cons. I am a bit amused by an earlier comment which suggest all non-BD owners are consumed by a blatant vehement jealousy. I can only speak for myself, but the DVD experience has been too wonderful for me to be jealous of anything. I'd have enjoyed the BD live feature, and being able to cruise around the files while the music is playing, and indeed I hope to upgrade to the BD format by the time of Volume 2, but for the time being I feel satisfied.

It is interesting to note, however, that the BD users here on TW seem to me more plagued by technical difficulties than the others. Which makes sense: you're dealing with a cutting-edge format and special programming, not to mention the complications of BD Live. I sincerely wish all the best to those of you dealing with these issues, as I feel I have gotten all the best out of my NYA1 set.

It would be great if everyone could have the NYA experience I've had--no technical or other problems and hours of sheer audio and video entertainment. I have to confess I was bit nervous after reading numerous reports of defective sets, but I was quite pleased to find that my set came with all the correct discs, as well as everything else that was to be included, with no damage to any of it, including the packaging, and only the tiniest spot of easily-removed glue on one of the discs (play remains unaffected by this.) I'm not sure if the problems aren't really as widespread as I've been led to believe or I was just very fortunate.

Either way, I have little complaint with NYA1 and look forward eagerly to the future volumes, whenever they may be released. I also look forward to more new music from Shakey in the coming years.


Thanks -- as always -- D.I.!

More opinions on the Neil Young Archives.

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At 9/07/2009 05:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Archives Vol 1 are, ummm, an Archive, crammed with all kinds of odds and ends - some good, some bad, some interesting things.

if i had to do it all over again, I'd pass on the BluRay player i bought, and the BluRay Archives, and get the DVD set. In my opinion, i wasted a lot of money, given the lack of BluRay Live downloads.

But i guess i'll have a head start when Vol. 2 is released.

On a scale of 1 to 10, i give it a solid 5.

At 9/07/2009 05:53:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

Hi Anon,

Guess what?

You've also wasted a lot folks time coming here everyday complaining about the lack of downloads. You managed to get this comment up within minutes of posting.

You do seem to follow things rather closely for something that troubles you so.

As has been suggested by others, why don't you put your box up on eBay?

Maybe someone else will enjoy.

We're all so very sorry for the pain Neil has inflicted on you.


peace & love

ps - why don't you tell us what's in the bottom of p. 87?

At 9/07/2009 06:12:00 PM, Anonymous ShittyHorse said...

Hear Hear! DI. I too have the DVD set and I couldnt be happier! I listen to the Archives on my MAC and IT LOOKS AND SOUNDS WONDERFUL! Its hard to imagine it sounding much better. I too wasn't in a rush to go out an buy a Blu-ray player. BD live and Blu-ray is still developing and my thinking is by Vol.2 the technology will have changed and who knows? Maybe everyone will need new technology to view vol.2. It goes to show, Ya don't ever know. Watch each card ya play and play it slow. In any case, the point made about us DVD users being so super "jealous" of the Bluray users is laughable (I read that too DI) Franky, "who gives a shit, who give a fuck?" Seems to me some blu ray user likes to brag and flaunt his or her wares. Do you think we really care? I'll have up dated technology by the time Vol.2 comes I still have the Preview disc Neil sent out in the drawer on my Archives. So whenever I choose to get a blu-ray I'll get all the downloads as well. This is not a big deal. Blu-ray is not going anywhere- and neither are the Archives. You are not a member of some elite club. I too have read and heard the most complaints coming from the blu-ray buyers. I pre-ordered my DVD Archives and it came a day early and I've been viewing it ever since, with out a single glue, no funky jimmy-jam to hook up, no missing discs. I couldnt have asked for a better experience.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the Archives Vol.1 a 12
Great job Neil and Team. Keep up the good work for Vol.2 can't wait.

P.S. I thought Fork in the Road was a great album. Listen to it a few times....really!

At 9/07/2009 06:15:00 PM, Anonymous ShittyHorse said...

ooo-oooh (hand-raised) I know! I know!

At 9/07/2009 08:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like the Archives, but don't love them.

i bought DVD. Pricey. but overall i like them

At 9/07/2009 08:43:00 PM, Blogger D.I. Kertis said...

Thanks, Horse
Technology is certainly an ever-evolving and it is possible that, in the near future, something will come along to will supersede blu-ray. I assume Neil et al will keep up with the changing technology and adapt as necessary/Neil sees fit (one and the same in this case.) After all, Neil has dealt with the rigors of changing technology before: having all of the material he first put out on vinyl rereleased on cassette, CD, etc. So he should be no stranger to the process of updating. On that note, changing technology has had its negatives and positives: CD, for instance, was a long time coming and when it did arrive it took many years for it to reach the standard it has now achieved-- listening to the 1990 CDs of Neil's catalogue will attest this. It is also probably costly to master and rerelease things in new formats. On the other hand, audiocassette, CD, and now digital downloading have made the distribution of music a more flexible thing: CDs can hold a lot more than LP records, allowing for longer albums with more songs or just more complex arrangements. Some of Neil's better albums of the last few years have been the longer ones, which he likely wouldn't have considered before the days of CD. He never had any double studio albums until he started doing vinyl printings of records like Chrome Dreams II. So this has allowed for greater artistic flexibility and experimentation with formats and boundaries, which it is always a good thing for an artist to be able to do. The "album" format, established by LP records in the '50s, is a great thing that allows artists to assemble specific songs that either blend or contrast strikingly to make an artistic or personal statement. Again and again, Neil has shown his awareness of the value of this medium through thoughtful song selection, sequencing, and packaging so that each album, as an individual entity, creates its own effect. Neil's music can be appreciated completely individually--song-by-song--in the context of an album certain songs are grouped, or, as the Archives have proven, as one large whole not assembled into specific groups, but simply as one large chronological retrospective. Each option has its perks and drawbacks. The album is particularly interesting because in this format the songs, as assembled, make a particular statement as to the artist's feelings when he created and bundled them together and his purpose in doing so. Sadly, this format may soon be a thing of that past. That is one of two problems I see with the coming age of digital downloads: that this wonderful artistic format we now have, known as the album, will be erased by it. The other is the issue of insuring quality audio. Other than that, digital downloads can be and, in my opinion, are a great thing:
For better or worse, we live in a society that demands we be constantly on-the-go with little time to stop and devote time solely to appreciating art. Downloadable music, that you can put on a device you carry around with you and listen to through headphones, is as far as I am concerned a great way to make music available to enjoy in a portable manner. I know digital downloading and MP3s catch a lot of flack hereabouts I really think if the sound quality can be held to a good standard, this will be a workable format. It's a shame about the formatting bit, but if that's what it takes for artists to continue distributing their work and for the public to keep enjoying it, it would be worth it to work around this. Downloading sites do continue to offer material to purchase in the format of albums, after all. For now, however, all of these concerns remain with the past, not the present. It's best not to be distracted by the possible until it becomes the actual.

I'm glad you've enjoyed your Archives set as much as I have. I hope other fans who have dealt with frustrating difficulties are also able to attain this experience as well. In the meantime, I greatly anticipate Archives 2 and any other projects Neil may take on.

And I think might also listen to to FITR again soon...

At 9/07/2009 11:47:00 PM, Blogger Doonerak said...

I went BD solely for the BD-Live feature. I went in knowing that BD, as a format, may die a premature death. The folks without the BD sets should be agnostic to this whole discussion, right? In the end, they may be the ones proven to be the smart spenders. But then again, they could be missing out on a lot. We just don't know for sure.

What I do know is the DVD folks are liberated from the concerns stated in these threads. Unlike me, they didn't pop their disk in 10 times this weekend....

Not sure who is saying DVD owners are jealous, but that is a preposterous notion. We all make our bets and live with them.

At 9/08/2009 06:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FINALLY a BluRayLive download from Neil. THANK YOU!

Neil never sounded so good!

At 9/08/2009 10:13:00 AM, Blogger Archives Guy said...

A false report from Anon., though I'm sure he thought he was quite clever.

There is no new download today....soon, but not today.

thanks for your patience.

-Archives Guy

At 9/08/2009 11:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the Anon who posted about finally getting a BluRay Live download.

Well, it's true - sort of. I got the first one of the Squires when i first got my Archives set....but somehow i lost internet connectivity (it connected to a rogue wireless AP), and i didnt have a download for months. I reset the connection, and got Here We Are In the Years last night.

Sounds awesome!

At 9/08/2009 12:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do I start?..

I purchased my Bluray NY Archives through amazon to support Thrasher.. Then discovered I could of got a Squires 7inch vinyl if I went through Neil... oh dear I missed out on that one.. but hopefully helped Thrasher!?

Other than that I'm STOKED on it.
Not just satisfied with whats on the disc's, BD Live or even the box itself.. It's more on what's to come.. how can anyone think that that's it with Vol 1!???.. 20 odd years this has been in the making.. you know it's almost as old as me.

Neil is known to keep a lot of things such as audio and video private, either for himself or this gigantic project which no one has done or even have enough work to make it worth while buying!

So I don't expect Neil to put all those downloads in one go or over a short period of time, otherwise it would not be a good Live experience.. I wanna put my disc's in one day and find something new.. then down the line something else.. wheather that's a good year from now or more!

Volume 2 is in it's first stages.. this period will be golden! All those tortured years of work.

Dreamin' man is coming round the corner.. whats he doing messing the order up.. eh? but it's very Neil and I love it.. Now the archives is here everyone is predicting whats coming next in chronological order.. and this addition is a good surprise..Neil is keeping you on your toes and everyone loves a surprise.
Plus he's so diverse it's nice to listen to different periods of neil rather than just rinse out the early years.

Overall .. NY Archives Volume 1 is a sucess with more to come and i know it!..It's just a feeling tho.

I have all my faith in Neil & his team to deliver the goods!
They alway's do and will.
I know I'm young and havnt been waiting for the archives for 20 odd years but just a passionate as rest of you:)

Archives is just as satisfying as vinyl.. you get to take time out and appreciate what it offers.

I'll shut up now.. BLU RAY RULES!


At 9/08/2009 08:36:00 PM, Anonymous ShittyHorse said...

The important thing here, and I think Neil and his team would totally agree, is the music. The depth, and soul on these recordings has always been there- vinyl, cassette, CD, and yes even MP3 but now they really shine, they are in the room with you, and so warm, one must open a window- as they were meant to. Thank God someone still believes that music (of all things!) should sound GOOD! Neil is right, his day is still coming! I've heard CD buyers RAVE at how good the archives sound. So all of us who were able to purchase the Archives, in any format, in this economy should be thankful.
Also, now other greats are following Neil's example-(again!) Tom Petty's new box set has his tunes on a Blu-ray- hats off to Neil and the Archives he says.
The Beatles re-mastered
Neil is right- music should sound good. In the years to come we will see more artists (and fans) really caring again how their music sound. Thank You NEIL!


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