Neil Young’s Online Archives Are Live and Free Right Now
You really do need to check it out.
This is big news – not just because Young is one of the best and most prolific singer-songwriters of the rock 'n' roll era, but also because Young is notorious for starting projects without completing them. Back in 2009, he released the long-awaited first volume of his career-spanning archive sets, The Archives Vol. 1 1963–1972, an 11-disc box that was first announced in the '90s. There's still no word on when, or if, subsequent volumes will ever come out.
Young has also recorded and shelved many albums over the years. Just a few months ago he released Hitchhiker, an acoustic album that he recorded in 1976 and which sat unreleased for more than 30 years. Dig deep in the new Neil Young Archives online, and you'll find a list of a dozen unreleased albums that span 1969 through 2001, though none of them seem to be accessible right now. But based on some of their titles – 1974's Homegrown, Chrome Dreams from 1976 and a live album from 1973 with Crazy Horse – some long-lost gems are among the future offerings.
Some other selections aren't available now either, like the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young songs and the Buffalo Springfield tracks not written by Young, but presumably these will eventually go live once rights are sorted out. Young notes on the site that "it is not yet complete as we are still adding a lot of detail to the older recordings.”
Either way, it's an impressive endeavor for both casual and devoted Young fans. “We developed [the archive] to provide fans and historians with unprecedented access to all of my music and my entire archive in one convenient location,” Young writes in an intro. "This archive is designed to be a living document, constantly evolving and including every new recording as it is made."
In addition to all of the great material found here – every great Young album from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere to Psychedelic Pill is online, as are all of the not-so-great ones – there are photos, videos, song credits and more, all laid out in a cabinet that chronologically flips through Young's entire catalog or via a timeline.
The site boasts great sound too, which is part of its purpose: to promote Young’s Xstream streaming platform. He also has a new album out today, The Visitor, which is available to stream on the site. Young will mark the opening of the Archives with a live stream of a concert tonight from his hometown of Omemee, Ontario.
Best of all, it's free for the time being. Eventually, Neil Young Archives will become a subscription-based site, so you should spend every single minute this weekend exploring it.