Neil Young – free world rocker, Vietnam-era icon, godfather of grunge. It is indisputable that his work has inspired millions, and helped shape the entire music industry in the 20th century. Young’s influence spans across decades – from having a whole verse dedicated to him in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s epic “Sweet Home Alabama” in 1974, to being the last thing mentioned in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note, 20 years later.
Fitting, then, that he has released an archive rich with half a century’s worth of material, beginning with his very first single, “The Sultan”, in 1963. To be included in the collection are approximately 10 full unreleased albums, various photos, videos and other forms of media sure to appease any classic rock fan’s tastes.
Young is well-known for unfinished projects, unreleased albums and scrapping material entirely. Perhaps most famous of these is the album Homegrown, which the singer decided not to release. The decision was very much last-minute (even the album cover was finished and can easily be viewed online) but was ultimately made because it was too emotional to put out, and the album itself was too personal and “down” to be made public.
Incredibly, Homegrown and a few other famous unreleased records will supposedly be available soon via this archive, which will be free at first but will later command what Young considers “a modest fee”. The site also includes his latest effort, The Visitor, which became available on 1st December 2017.
Not all the content is ready to be heard yet, especially with earlier material and his work with Buffalo Springfield, likely due to rights being a barrier until Young is given the all clear to use the songs. He also states that the archives will grow as more material is made – “this archive is designed to be a living document, constantly evolving and including every new recording as its made,” he said.
Young has spent years with collaborators crafting and designing the site, which eventually aims to deliver the entire Neil Young back catalogue to the ears of listeners, in the highest audio quality possible – echoing Young’s history of being outspoken on poor digital audio quality and exploitation of music by global organisations.
Article by Connor Winyard