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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Archives Comment of the Moment: Gaining That New Perspective

The Archives Vault
An Undisclosed Bunker Location

The Comment of the Moment is from Soldier, My Ears by D.I. Kertis:
The more I think about it, the more I feel that Archives 1 puts even the most well-known previously unreleased tracks in a new context by presenting them along with all of the memorabilia and archival material that goes with them with this giant anthology of his work from this time period. One can now see each song, previously released or not, in relation to Neil's entire body of work, not just as a song in and of itself or even as part of a specific album released at a particular time. That's one of the things a retrospective release can be most valuable for -- gaining that new perspective of both the art and the artist.

Sometimes retrospectives are done as much for the artist as for the fan. The artist, too, likes to gather his work together and see for himself what he as accomplished so far at times. And I think this might be one such case. I know Neil has talked about the Archives as being something he needs to do for himself as well as his fans. ( I do say "needs", not "needed", lest we forget that what we have so far is only volume one and three or four more --even old Bernard Shakey isn't quite sure--are in the works.) But then I suspect all of Neil's releases are as much for himself as they are for us. Probably more, as a matter of fact.

It will be interesting to see what the future Archives volumes bring, and also how Neil will deal with the issue of not being able to archive everything simply because his career is still very much in motion.

How far will the proposed 4-5 box sets go in terms of chronology? Where will he stop? I guess that depends how far he gets before finishing them all. In the meantime, though, we're safely in the realm of the past. Getting the next couple of Archives sets out should be plain sailing as long as it doesn't take too long.

Thanks D.I.!

More on The Neil Young Archives.


At 10/07/2009 10:08:00 AM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Great observation. I was thinking much the same as I was watching the Live at Massey Hall DVD the other night. I haven't been able to play around with the archives, so the closest I've gotten is this live DVD.

I was struck by a review of the show that they include in the special features section, written by Scott Young (NY's father). It seemed so personal and heartfelt, it occurred to me that this must be very special for Neil, his father writing an article about how strange it felt to see his son performing to a sold-out crowd, and not only how proud he felt, but how it brought back memories of his family sitting around the piano singing together.

And putting in out in this format, and not only floating it into the public consciousness, but organizing all of this material, audio, video, newspaper clippings, radio spots, photos, all detailing intricately the people and places, and the overall experience of the time.

It's the same concept as a photo album; an very personal organization of memorabilia from the past that tells a story of your life and experiences - it just seemed like a glimpse into something very personal.

And as D.I. suggests, it must be for Neil's benefit, even moreso than for ours.

At 10/07/2009 05:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have the Archives, BluRay, and enjoy it but find myself opting to listen to the MP3's, rather than hassle around for the BluRay version. Still, it's cool to get the downloads via BRLive.

ArchivesGuy - months ago you mentioned we'd be getting a download that would knock our socks off. No disrespect, but has that been delivered as of yet? No disrespect, but while i appreciate the BluRay Lives given to us thus far, i haven't been blown away as of yet.

please advise.

At 10/07/2009 06:12:00 PM, Anonymous Marc C said...

i gotta admit,i'm loving the archives....i usually look through a disc a week haha and these blu-ray downloads are just great! real exciting!!

HOWEVER...i must admit the format of the actual box itself is a bit frustrating...the physical qualities of the book made it hard for me to take it out of its compartment at used to have a the top sticking out so i could slide it out,but now its so low inside its compartment i can't even take it out at all! i'm still debating on wether i'll just leave it as it is,or cut a bit of the cardboard out so i can take it out!

regardless of minor details,this thing is great! hopefully the format'll be a bit more durable next time around hah!

-Marc C

At 10/07/2009 08:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

exactly, every BR-live upload gets directly ripped to my mp3 archives version.

Get with the times Neil.

At 10/07/2009 09:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hope navigation improves in future versions of the Archives.

i dont see it being a big seller moving forward, not at these prices.

At 10/08/2009 03:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This might not have anything to do with this topic but...I can't help but look at proposed song list for A Country Store Plays Old Changes that's pictured in Archives book and think "What Mighta Been".

Rancho Relaxo

At 10/09/2009 11:27:00 PM, Blogger D.I. Kertis said...

My Archives comments seem to be popular with Thrasher, which is great. Thanks for broadcasting my thoughts once again. I did want to point out that in sentence one, I meant to say "even the most well-known previously released tracks", "previously unreleased." I suspect the statement makes much more sense in that light.

As Matthew said above, Archives seems like a very personal thing for Neil-- a collection of his work and memories presented to the world. I especially like this scrap book approach as regards the book. God knows I've poured over the book probably as much as the DVDs. It's a great read, even though there isn't that much to actually read. I relish the experience of playing the DVDs, hearing the music in pristine quality, while leafing through the photographs, newspaper cuttings, manuscripts, sheet music, and other memorabilia in the book. The whole thing very much has the feel of being a personal scrap book Neil chose to release, which I like a lot. I think liner notes would have been an error. These editorials, especially when written decades after the recording of the music, give an unsatisfying kaleidoscopic view of the history, and often a rose-colored one at that. I don't need some polished professional writer to tell me how great Neil Young is-- I already know that and so should everyone else investing in this product. Neither do I need history tainted by retroactive perspective and praises bought by commissions. That probably sounds harsh, but really most historical liner notes I have read in various releases have seemed to specialize in spoon-feeding the reader history and background information while heaping hollow praises on the subject and taking as many opportunities as possible to advertise other products. I much prefer what Neil has done with the Archives book-- presented the artifacts, allowing them to tell the story without the bias of any contemporary perspective and without insulting the reader's intelligence by spoon-feeding them everything, instead leaving them to appreciate the events related through their own uninhibited mental faculties. The book thus succeeds in being both entertaining and interactive, much like the Archives discs themselves.

At 10/09/2009 11:44:00 PM, Blogger D.I. Kertis said...

I'd also like to throw a word in on this seemingly interminable issue of the BD Live downloads. Granted, as a DVD owner, I am coming at this from somewhat of an outsider perspective. To be perfectly honest, with the enormous amount of material already on offer in the set, I'm surprised people started clamoring for the updates so soon after the release. Don't you want to get through everything that's already there before adding more? And I guarantee you need to play these discs several times before you find all there is to enjoy. Were I a blu-ray owner, I'm not sure I'd expect frequent Live updates. It takes time to get these things right--as proven by Neil taking a good couple of decades to even release the box set--and Neil does have other things to do: Trunk Show, Archives Performance Series, tours, the LincVolt, and hopefully more new albums and the additional Archives volumes over the next few years. You're up to 4 downloads now, right? That's almost a download a month, unless I'm wrong (which, admittedly mathematics is not my strong suite), which seems like an OK pace to me. You also have to figure that, if Neil wanted to release something in the box set, he most likely did--when you've assembled a ten DVD/blu-ray set, I'm guessing length isn't a huge issue for you. So I suspect the Live feature may be used to release material discovered over the course of years let alone months, rather than as a means of putting out oodles of material Neil randomly withheld from the box set.

My best advice to anyone worrying about additional downloads is simply this: relax. Enjoy what is. I'm sure more is on the way. If you need further reassurance, think of it this way: has Neil ever NOT been productive?


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