Thursday, March 09, 2006

Neil Invents The "Box Set"

OK, OK, so it didn't actually come in a box...

However, DECADE (1977) was a triple-album retrospective that also included multiple unreleased songs and/or alternate versions of songs. Neil Young, along with Tim Mulligan and David Briggs, compiled the tracks. Neil also included liner notes about each and every song. Some referred to when/where/how the song was written ("Harvest - Written in London in 1971 and cut in Nashville that year. My favorite record from Nashville."). Some were more impressionistic ("Heart Of Gold - This song put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there."). Very interesting reading indeed...

Here's the incredible 35-song line-up (All selections written by Neil Young):

Side 1:
Down To The Wire (2:25)
Burned (2:14)
Mr. Soul (2:41)
Broken Arrow (6:13)
Expecting To Fly (3:44)
Sugar Mountain (5:43)
Side 2:
I Am A Child (2:17)
The Loner (3:50)
The Old Laughing Lady (5:35)
Cinnamon Girl (2:59)
Down By The River (8:58)
Side 3:
Cowgirl In The Sand (10:01)
I Believe In You (3:27)
After The Gold Rush (3:45)
Southern Man (5:31)
Helpless (3:34)
Side 4:
Ohio (2:56)
Soldier (2:28)
Old Man (3:21)
A Man Needs A Maid (3:58)
Harvest (3:08)
Heart Of Gold (3:06)
Star Of Bethlehem (2:46)
Side 5:
The Needle And The Damage Done (2:02)
Tonight's The Night - Part I (4:41)
Tired Eyes (4:33)
Walk On (2:40)
For The Turnstiles (3:01)
Winterlong (3:05)
Deep Forbidden Lake (3:39)
Side 6:
Like A Hurricane (8:16)
Love Is A Rose (2:16)
Cortez The Killer (7:29)
Campaigner (3:30)
Long May You Run (3:48)

[The CD version maintains the same song sequence, consolidated on two discs, with Sides 1-3 on Disc 1; Sides 4-6 on Disc 2.] This is an excellent cross-section of Neil's early career. Of course, I could still spend days arguing which songs should or should not have been included. For example, it's a bit heavy on Buffalo Springfield while including nothing from the TIME FADES AWAY album. I mean "Broken Arrow" over "Don't Be Denied", come on!

But, that's probably why I never bought this on vinyl. I was too busy collecting each and every album. That's just my nature. When I get this into something (e.g., Neil's music), I just have to have it ALL. However, I couldn't convince myself that the unreleased songs were worth the hefty, triple-LP sticker price. Eventually, though, the compact disc was invented (the perfect opportunity to finally buy DECADE)! This was a great purchase for me, because DECADE is a fantastic way to have easy access to a huge sampling of Neil's best work. Plus, buying DECADE gave me ownership of the unreleased stuff I'd been missing, such as "Winterlong". And, now I have "Ohio" and "Helpless" on CD (Lord knows I wasn't going to buy any CSNY on CD anytime soon).

Bottom line: If you're a huge Neil fan, but have the early stuff on vinyl, then DECADE on CD is perfect. But, is DECADE the "essential" starting point for new Neil fans? I've read elsewhere that it is. However, in most cases, you can now get the GREATEST HITS (released in 2004) and LIVE RUST both for less than DECADE by itself. Now, this GH + LR option will not give you any true Buffalo Springfield recordings. Oh well, plenty of time for that later. Plus, I like the LIVE RUST version of "I Am A Child" (and "Sugar Mountain", for that matter) better. It will give you the two CSNY songs. It will also get you the LIVE RUST versions of "Lotta Love", and the RUST NEVER SLEEPS songs, which came out after DECADE. Plus, GREATEST HITS has "Rockin' In The Free World" and "Harvest Moon", too.

By the time you've listened to GREATEST HITS and LIVE RUST, you should know if you're into Neil. At that point, you can go back for the under-represented classics (ON THE BEACH, ZUMA, etc.). Hey, it's just a different option I came up with. If you do buy DECADE, I'm certain you will NOT be disappointed! Oh, and for the 2nd day in a row, let me put in a plea to Neil himself. Neil, if you're reading this (which I'm most certain you are not, but I still have to try), I saw you on The Daily Show last night. You were a great guest. Humble and hilarious. It was perfect. Now, release the f-cking Archives, PLEASE!!!!!!


Post a Comment

<< Home