Neil preps “Archives Vol. 2″

Just one day after the sad news of collaborator Ben Keith’s passing comes the tremendously awesome news that Neil Young is getting close to releasing the second volume of his decades-in-development Archives box set project.

The eight-disc Volume 1 box came last year, loaded with unreleased studio and live tracks dating from Neil’s humble beginnings as an aspiring Winnipeg surf rocker through his 1972 commercial peak following the release of the iconic Harvest. Archives Volume 2 (release date not yet set) promises to contain even more unreleased material than Volume 1, this time from the decade following Harvest, 1972-1982.

For Neil Young neophites out there, this was a tremendous period. Ever since the success Harvest, Neil has railed HARD against being labeled as the polished singer-songwriter of “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man”. And with a vitriol like no other since Dylan went electric in ’65-’66, Neil put his money where his mouth was in the 70’s by releasing whatever the fuck he felt like, whenever he felt like it. Perhaps the most notable example, which I touched on in my post yesterday, was his decision to release a poorly-recorded live album of unreleased songs and shitty hand-written titles as the official follow-up to Harvest. (Here’s hoping that with Archives Vol. 2, Time Fades Away will finally see it’s FIRST CD release!!)

During this period, Neil was also notorious for recording entire albums — usually in some variant on the acoustic Harvest style — only to scrap them completely prior to release. The two most famous of these were called Homegrown and Chrome Dreams. Most of the songs that were to be on these albums (including “Like a Hurricane” and “Powderfinger”) ended up on other late-70’s Neil Young releases, though typically in altered, overdub-laden versions.

The news today confirms that the original versions of both Homegrown and Chrome Dreams will finally see release as part of Archives Vol. 2, as will a third studio artifact I was not aware of (called Oceanside-Countryside) and a live album (Odeon-Budokan Live). Prior to release of the box set, these four albums will be sold separately as part of the NYA Special Release series.

Here’s hoping that a couple of the more famous mid-70’s bootlegs also get a cleanup and release. I’m thinking especially of the ’73 club tour  that featured then-unreleased Tonight’s the Night material:”Now here’s a song you’ve all heard before!” Neil would declare to the audience, readying them to hear “Cinnamon Girl” when actually the band launched into a dreadfully repetitive  version of “Tonight’s the Night” — the second time the song had been played that night!

Also, the 1974 show at The Bottom Line, NYC (a boot affectionately traded as Citizen Kane Jr. Blues) contains invaluable early versions of the On the Beach tracks “Ambulance Blues”, “Revolution Blues”, and “Motion Pictures.”

Alright, enough Neil Young geekery!


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