Not content with churning out new albums and re-visiting his back catalogue with remarkable gusto, Neil Young is now re-releasing his re-releases. While Volume 3 of his Archives remains elusive and the long-delayed Volume 2 finally appeared in 2020 but covered just 1972-‘76, he’s made the peculiar decision to exhume Volume 1.
Originally released as 10 Blu-ray or DVD discs or eight CDs, it’s been unavailable for a decade, but with DVD and Blu-ray commercially unviable, only the eight-disc version makes the resurrection.
Amidst the familiar riches, there are three sparkling live shows including a 1969 solo troubadour’s set from Toronto, where, unusually frisky, Young makes the audience laugh and he admits to being embarrassed by Sugar Mountain. There are selections from Young’s first recorded band The Squires (spoiler: they weren’t great), plus Buffalo Springfield, assorted combinations involving Crosby, Stills and Nash, the ever-splendid Stray Gators, and for one track only – the much misunderstood A Man Needs A Maid – the London Symphony Orchestra.
So what do we learn, beyond his rarely lauded comic timing? Of the 13 songs unreleased in 2009, Everybody’s Alone would have enhanced After The Gold Rush, but more significantly, what must have seemed then like a young buck trying to find his musical feet as he flitted through styles, was in fact seed-sowing for the rest of his career. He couldn’t stay still as a kid any more than he can stay still as a granddad. Some things, even in Neil Young’s ever-changing world, stay the same.