Monday, February 01, 2010

Broken Arrow

As I perused one of the finer local record stores on Saturday night, another internal debate brewed. This time, it was about the best way to dig deeper into the world that is Neil Young's music. Specifically, his first five albums. There are a few roads to take, but here's the road I'm currently on.

I have liked Neil's music since '92's Harvest Moon. Back when VH1 catered to the "I don't get Nirvana" crowd, videos from this fine album graced its airwaves. Even a fantastic solo concert got some airplay. And I loved his MTV Unplugged special. So much so that I got the CD version of it my freshman year of high school.

But years would pass before I got anything more from Neil. In college I got the phenomenal Decade compilation, but my ears knew the difference between what was remastered and what was not. I was let down that Decade didn't feature any remastering. No matter how much I love an album, I hate to crank up the volume ten times louder than a normal disc. That's just not fun to experience on a long car drive.

Thankfully, Decade has always sounded great on my den's stereo. I've spent many a quiet morning, afternoon, and evening taking things easy while "I am a Child," "Broken Arrow," and "Old Man" play. Recently having one of those experiences just reminded me of how I've always wanted to hear more.

The deal is, it was not until last year that a sizable amount of reissues came out. When the single-disc Greatest Hits came out, I got it as soon as possible. Featuring a dozen or so classics, I hoped to get more, but when the first few albums got reissued, around the same time as the much-craved Archives box set arrived, I was confused as to where to go next.

And frankly, I'm still confused.

I've read Noel's take on the Archives Vol. 1 set and there's plenty to consider. Should I just jump in the deep end and get the massive Blu-ray edition of Archives (with links to download all of the material online), the CD-only version, or just buy the remastered versions of albums like Harvest, After the Gold Rush, and Everybody Knows This is Nowhere? Seems to me that just sticking to the albums skips over some phenomenal stuff that Neil did with Buffalo Springfield and various different live renditions of his solo songs. But also going in with the box set is like getting a ten-course meal when all I really want is a fantastic three-course meal.

So that's where I'm at. As much as I love his work, I can't say the same for making the transition into deeper waters.

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