on June 2, 2009
This is a review of blu-ray set that I received today.
Yes, it was expensive (right now about $279 for the blu-ray version for Archives Vol. 1). But, for the hardcore Neil fans, it just may be worth it.
If some people are confused, the blu-ray set comes with 10 discs. The discs contain songs from 1963-1972 that you can listen to while browsing through the archives: an interactive vault where you can look at photos, lyrics, press releases, letters, etc (while you are still listening). There are lots of video clips throughout the discs as well. The songs are studio tracks, live stuff, alternate mixes, previously unreleased stuff etc. Some songs you may already have, but keep in mind they have never ever sounded this good. Not just a minor upgrade, but this stuff is mind blowing. All in all (without including the downloadable content and easter eggs/hidden stuff), there are 128 songs including 43 unreleased and 13 "never before heard."
The 10 discs:
-Three of those discs are live shows (Live at the Riverboat 1969 which hasn't been released yet, and then Live at the Fillmore East 1970 and Live at Massey Hall 1971 which have previously been released but just on CD in the past few years. But, these discs aren't really the same. They, of course, have the hi-def audio and all the special stuff like photos, press release stuff, bios, and more. For the Massey Hall disc, there is video footage that accompanies the audio, home video stuff of neil and murky but awesome video clips of the show itself).
-Six of the other discs have songs that are either unreleased, previously released in some cases, alternate mixes, or live. With each song, you can browse the archive. There are even more special features too, on each disc is a continuous NY bio and timeline as well.
-The last disc is Neil's old film Journey Through the Past.
The set comes with a 200-something page coffee table book (although not hardcover)with pictures, lyrics, etc as well. A thin but very long (4 feet or more) poster comes with the set as well, it looks like a big file cabinet with the song names written on the folders. Lastly, there is a special box that contains a card to download mp3s of all the songs, a physical copy of the CD version of Cantebury House-Live at Sugar Mountain, and a little note pad thingy.
I don't think anyone can really argue about the quality of the music, but some might be confused about what is in it actually or hesitant to buy, especially the blu-ray version.
There is a cheaper DVD version (you can't listen to the songs while browsing at the same time). Also, with the blu-ray set, you can get updates. Today for example, I put a disc in and was able to download a new (well... very old, of course) song that wasn't included already. As Neil said, as they find more stuff, they will update it and send it to us to download. Very cool. You can't do this with the dvd or CD version. The CD version is just cds of discs 1-8. with the Cds, The early years tracks have been put onto one disc and it doesn't include Joureny to the Past. The dvd version does have it.
There is days worth of stuff on these blu-ray discs. Easter eggs and special features that I haven't even gotten to yet. If you can afford the package, it's worth it.
Lastly, here's some technical stuff from Neil's site about the archives:
"Audio in the Blu-ray edition is presented in ultra-high resolution 24-bit / 192 kHz stereo PCM state-of-the-art master quality sound, while audio in the DVD edition is presented in high resolution 24-bit / 96 kHz stereo PCM audiophile quality sound. The CD edition is presented in standard resolution 16-bit / 44 kHz stereo PCM CD quality sound.
Each of the 10 Blu-ray discs feature 1920x1080 high definition picture quality while the 10 DVD discs have 720x480 standard definition picture quality."