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Monday, October 16, 2023

Neil Young Archives Albums Ranked | Ultimate Classic Rock

Neil Young Archives Albums Ranked | Ultimate Classic Rock

Yeah, we know everyone despises lists. 

Best to Worst.  Worst to Best. Greatest to Least Greatest, etc. so bear with us here for a moment as we share something relevant for all of our Neil Young aficionados.

Recall at the end of last year, the posting A Gentle Request From A Beleaguered Neil Young Fan where Neil fan John K. was overwhelmed by the options for holiday gifts?

If ever there was a "good problem", then certainly this is it where we have a plethora of Neil Young Archives Albums to choose from. With limited time and budgets, where might the Neil fan maximize and optimize? Or is this even the right approach?

While definitely some of Neil Young Archives albums are significantly "more essential", nearly all contain relevant, surprising delights.

From Neil Young Archives Albums Ranked | Ultimate Classic Rock:

Neil Young's Archives Series launched in 2006 as Live at the Fillmore East collected a pair of 1970 shows with Crazy Horse from the famous New York club.

Since then, the Archives have grown to include branches dedicated to the live Performance Series (concerts from over the decades), the FOfficial Bootleg Series (famous underground albums that have circulated illegally for years), and the Special Release Series (entire albums from Young's extensive vaults that were never released for one reason or another).

The key component of the series, which was to begin with a multi-disc box set spanning the earliest years of Young's career and then unspool chronologically, has yielded only two era-spanning collections so far. It's still in the mid-'70s, so there's a long way to go.

The individual albums released in the interim – sometimes two or three records are dumped at once; others trickle out at a slower pace – have covered everything from Young's earliest club shows as a solo acoustic act to less-vintage live shows with Crazy Horse, the Stray Gators and his other backing bands from throughout the decades.

Arguably the most interesting finds in the Archives have been the unreleased albums that were replaced by other official works. Records like Homegrown and, especially, Chrome Dreams have been bootlegged and talked about for years. Having artist-approved versions of these classic records has been a highlight of this ongoing series, as you'll see in the below list of Neil Young Archives Albums Ranked Worst to Best.

Note: The box sets add other Neil Young records to the catalog – both live LPs and unreleased studio albums – but this list includes only those recordings that were released as stand-alone albums. 
Full article @  Neil Young Archives Albums Ranked | Ultimate Classic Rock.

More on essential Neil Young albums.

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At 10/16/2023 02:23:00 PM, Blogger wardo said...

Spoiler alert:

Massey Hall and Fillmore at the bottom? Nope.

At 10/16/2023 04:18:00 PM, Blogger Nimrod said...

Massey Hall is literally the album that showed us all just how amazing the archives were going to be. It's the best live album of the 70/71 period by a mile IMHO.

At 10/17/2023 05:45:00 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

Massey Hall at the bottom!!!?! Madness - complete madness - that album was an instant classic on release - agreed Nimrod that is definitely my favourite of those early 70s acoustic live recordings too

Dreamin Man and Toast near the bottom too?!?? - whoever put this together is trolling us!

At 10/17/2023 09:57:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

all of which leads to the overall point that EVERY NYA releases has its own validity.

after going back to read our intro, it doesn't look like we made this point clearly.

it's an exercise in futility to rank anything. something has to be at the bottom but that doesn't mean it's worthless. only that is less stellar than higher ranked items.

we did find the list to helpful if you were a new neil fan and looking for a starting place.

But maybe Massey Hall is the gateway release??

At 10/17/2023 02:13:00 PM, Blogger Gobichou said...

Totaly agree, « Massey Hall » is THE live album from Neil in 1971.
Definitely one of my desert island album with
« Exile on main street » from the Stones and the « Sun sessions » from. Elvis.

At 10/18/2023 01:46:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Not directly related, but I came across this audience video and wanted to share:

Neil played A Dream that Can last live in concert for this time on his summer 2023 west coast solo tour. Shaky camera but a wonderful, simple performance on piano. Note also that Neil introduces the song with a short remembrance of David Briggs. Wish I could have made it to one of these shows. Neil’s small eSWA is a genuinely brilliant album, not to mention being Briggs’s last. A Dream that can Last is a perfect ending to the album, but also a beginning. It’s always bittersweet for me, reminding of loved ones, friends, classmates etc. who left before their time.

For those of a literary disposition, this song reminds me of the late 14th century poem Pearl, written in Middle English by an anonymous poet. You can find various modernized translations online (think “Canterbury Tales”—it’s English but you’ll probably be lost without at least a good glossary). In the poem, a spirit of a young girl takes the narrator on a brief journey to Heaven. It’s religious allegory so ymmv in that sense, but the clever and touching part is that the divine emissary is a beloved child, the narrator’s own “Pearl”, who implicitly passed away before the beginning of the poem. Very sad, yes, and some may say it’s maudlin. I can only reflect that such poems have helped me to live with the reality that similar tragedies do happen.

Btw, I consider myself spiritual but not religious, and have found this kind of inspiration in texts from many traditions; like Neil sings, “Please excuse my religion… I might be a pagan.”

Aside from all that, I’ve been working on a few NY playlists during spare time, some limited to a certain period and others drawing from different times. Can share more later if there is interest. As a taster, I have grouped my favorite Harvesters live cuts into an EP of sorts— 1. Amber Jean 2. Grey Riders 3. Bound for Glory 4. Back to the Country 5. Flying on the Ground 6. Southern Pacific. Some great performances from this time, just a pity the country music idiom is hit or miss with me in terms of songwriting. I’m thinking of expanding to album length with other Geffen era cuts (vocoder, Shocking Pinks, LOW) and maybe a couple of Bluenote tracks. This one is ambitious given the volume of songs and range of styles!

At 10/18/2023 01:49:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Edit: meant to say Neil played ADTCL live for the first time on the recent tour.

At 10/18/2023 01:54:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Last part: I’m going to avoid posting on mobile from now on, at least until I can turn off predictive text. Too many typos. As to the list, Homegrown and Toast would come tops for me. Haven’t listened to the early live albums in a hot minute, but Massey and Canterbury House are both special to me. Can’t wait for Johnny’s Island, Alchemy and the 2001 Horse tour recordings

At 10/18/2023 06:33:00 PM, Blogger tomatron said...

If I tried to rank all the Archives releases, I’d never finish, would probably update the ranking daily. But how about this? A ranking of Neil’s officially releases covering the late 70 to early 71 shows:

6. Young Shakespeare. Great singing, but too short and hissy tape. Rather watch the film.
5. Royce Hall. Legendary concert. The source for classic album tracks, but this detracts from it as an album. Some songs feel a bit rushed. Songs out of order, but the full concert file is an improvement.
4. Massey Hall. Great debut of new tunes with excellent acoustics. Neil sounds mad at a photographer though, back pain and edgy vibes that clash with the pretty sound.
3. Carnegie Hall. Amazing runtime with so many songs, but most of the Harvest-era tunes would be written soon after this show.
2. Cellar Door. Standout intimate performances before Neil hit the huge venues on his solo tour. Notable for the giddy addition of the grand piano, which sounds like it takes up the whole room.
1. Dorothy Chandler. Definitive Official Bootleg Release for a tour-defining victory lap in L.A. Throughout these other shows, hear Neil try to get the crowd into Sugar Mountain with him, and almost succeed each time. Then listen to him nail it here at the end of the tour. Never heard him so laidback as on this record. And here we have the new implementation of harmonica, warmed up for a superlative Heart of Gold.

At 10/20/2023 08:04:00 AM, Blogger Ron said...

I always find it interesting to read these sort of lists particularly the comments on individual albums and this article was no exception. The first thing that struck me was just how many archives releases there have been - I hadn't ever counted them up before. The second thing was how long it is since the first archives release - how time flies.

We are so lucky to have all these albums added to Neil's collection, and some of them are now amongst my very favourite Neil albums - I'm thinking of Rust Bucket, Hitchhiker, Homegrown and Toast in particular. I was very fond of Massey Hall too when it was released but the glut of other live albums from the same period have slightly diminished its uniqueness.

Some of the rankings in the article and in Tomatron's excellent post surprised me slightly, so I am going to have to spend some time listening again to Songs for Judy, Cellar Door and Dorothy Chandler and reevaluate them.

In fact Tomatron's post has inspired me to perhaps set myself a project of listening to all of Neil's live albums in chronological order. Not sure if how long that would take but sure would be an interesting listen.

At 10/20/2023 08:47:00 AM, Blogger N. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10/20/2023 09:42:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Hi everybody. Here are a few thoughts about the first 3 songs from Neil’s new album (as linked to in N’s post, above), which are streaming from today.

I'll start with a possibly controversial opinion:

Neil’s singing here is better (if we define “better” as more nuanced, more textured, more expressive) than it was during periods of the 70s.

Not as powerful or youthful, of course. More fragile. But also more controlled, more worldly, and more like the sound of a man who’s spent 50 years mastering his craft.

So yes, it’s vulnerable, but that’s no bad thing. There’s a warmth and humanity and wisdom to these performances that remind us what singing actually is: a form of communication. The effect here is of Neil whispering softly in the listener’s ear, who in turn leans in enthusiastically. That’s magical.

The concept of this record might not be particularly original — taking inspiration from Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom, for instance. The difference is that Shadow Kingdom is a bit of a dirge. Bob sings well, but it’s the sort of record you put on whilst polishing your antique coffin collection. (Opinion: it works better as an atmospheric film than a record.)

The opening song of Before and After, meanwhile (I’m the Ocean) makes you feel 20 years younger. You feel invigorated, refreshed, inspired.

This is what happens when Neil picks a bloody good song and performs it earnestly and with positive intent. Which is what Neil Young does all the time, of course.

Those looking for a link to the past will find this album reminds them of the Boarding House gigs in 1978. (Sonically, the two sets of recordings are similar due to the combination of 12-string guitar and wireless vocal microphone.)

I’m *not sure* the album cover or the title are particularly creative (and, you might reply, who cares?). And I’m not sure how I feel about the lack of silence between the tracks. Could go either way.

But one thing’s for sure: I’m really looking forward to hearing more.


At 10/20/2023 10:16:00 AM, Blogger Old Black said...

The snippets I've heard sound great, roll on December 8th!

At 10/20/2023 12:15:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Meta Rocker here.

Looks like another Neil releases jumps us ahead to the next new thing. My, aren't we distracted?! Lucky us, as the gems keep flowin' like water washed diamonds in the rough.

@ Scots - bumped your comment to the latest album news

At 10/20/2023 07:31:00 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Wow! I’m The Ocean is a true thing of beauty and sadness - what a way to launch a new live album - Neil’s delivery is so heartfelt, fragile, human - it hit me hard thinking about what’s happening in the world - innocent lives being lost - war rages - the world keeps turning….. - these lyrics feel like the soundtrack of RIGHT NOW….

I can't hear you
But I feel the things you say
I can't see you
But I see what's in my way
Now I'm floatin'
Cause I'm not tied to the ground
Words I've spoken
Seem to leave a hollow sound
On the long plain
See the rider in the night
See the chieftain
See the braves in cool moonlight
Who will love them
When they take another life
Who will hold them
When they tremble for the knife
Voicemail numbers
On an old computer screen
Rows of lovers
Parked forever in a dream
Screaming sirens
Echoing across the bay
To the old boats
From the city far away
Homeless heroes
Walk the streets of their hometown
Rows of zeros
On a field that's turning brown
They play baseball
They play football under lights
They play card games
And we watch them every night
Need distraction
Need romance and candlelight
Need random violence
Need entertainment tonight
Need the evidence
Want the testimony of
Expert witnesses
On the brutal crimes of love

At 10/20/2023 07:34:00 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Anyone heard the new Stones LP???
Highly recommended!!


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