I'll believe it when I have them in my grubby little palms,but it's said that the first ten disc volume of the Neil Young Archives is tobe released this week. Oops! Just got word it's now pushed to late May or early June! Having been thwarted so many times in the past, thisproject has Chinese Democracy written all over it. Except we expect thisto be of higher historical value and greater overall musical quality. And tothink it's only the first volume! Which means there could be dozens of futurereleases of similar size. Who says the economy is falling? Sell your kids! NeilYoung is archiving.
Now, Elvis Costello has been over-archiving for years,re-releasing his albums so many times that even his most ardent supporters havethrown their hands in the air and asked him to STOP! In the name of showing thefans a little respect. Bonus cuts are fine, but when you already own half ofthem, well, it's time to just release the live stuff as a live album and not aspart of an album you already own. At least Pearl Jam and Tori Amos have made theirconcerts available without having to buy the studio album for the fifth time.
And Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash have new albums and boxedsets so often that there are now boxed sets of the boxed sets. And the Doorshave more compilations and live albums than they do actual studio releases:it's like six vs. 200.
But for every artist who's ever had a boxed-set, there'sanother who's been dragging their toe-tapping feet. It's either a legalissue--who owns these things anyway?--or someone's trying to get the timingright! Despite what you may read about music being free these days, it's stilla business and artists need to make money in order to buy that island in the Bahamas. Orthat condo in Dubai.
The truly struggling artists have turned to selling T-Shirts.
Anyhow, leafing through the different catalogs of majorartists, I noted 25 who would be ripe for the pickings, who have enough of anaudience base to make a boxed-set of outtakes worth considering. Granted, someare personal faves--it's my blog after all, I should get some say--but othersare from a purely mercenary view. Cash in while there's still cash to be had.The way things are going, I'm starting to think that I should've saved myConfederate money!
Now, sure, we can list our "Wish List." But while I wouldlove for there to be a four-CD Nick Drake collection of A-list outtakes, I alsoknow it won't come to pass. It doesn't exist. So I left it off. But everyonelisted below SHOULD have something to give their fans. And, if not, what theheck have they been doing all these years?Michael Jackson: As the most successful popularattraction of the 20th Century you'd think he'd have an entireindustry devoted to promoting his music. But instead he likes to stay at homeand be weird.
24) Fleetwood Mac: After seeing Mr. Buckingham on oneof those VH-1 Classic Rock Albums shows and seeing the intricacy of his work,I'm calling for an all-out release of the band's outtakes. Surely, he's thrownaway some damn fine ideas and it would be "nice" to see how it was all puttogether.Tom Waits: Yes, he put together Orphansbut that only collects the later years and Tommy boy has been at it fordecades. Surely, there are more live tapes for us to handle. More studioouttakes and lost demos...You'd think a guy like Waits would get on this, sincehe likes to control his image and career. Remember Tom, Time Waits for no man.(What does that even mean?)
22) Brian Eno: Fact:Brian Eno fans would buy a boxed set of the man farting. Some critics contendthey already have. While there have been Eno boxes in the past, there needs tobe one that comes with a 200 page instructional book to explain how tolisten to the albums.U2: Yes, they've been issuing their albums withbonus cuts as anniversary editions, but the stuff that would really bedesirable to fans and history buffs would be an Eno-led collection where youcould hear how Achtung Baby! was put together and then I guess some livestuff to show how they did it live...they have the sales figures to back up sucha project. Get to it, Bono!
20) Bob Dylan: I know Dylan's had an entire "BootlegSeries" dedicated to him and that No Direction Home soundtrack includedstuff that shocked everyone. But where's the boxed set that really brings itall back home without having to sift through the Slow Train Comingouttakes or the "Live With Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers" tour. As lovely asit is to see the man having a latter day renaissance, it'd be even nicer to betreated to every outtake from Highway 61 Revisited and Blood On TheTracks and leave the Knocked Out Loaded sessions for another time.AC/DC: The band is still so hugely popular thatit would be to their advantage to scrape around and find more vintage footage.Sure, they've issued what they can, but don't you get the feeling thatsomewhere they're hiding even more of it? Granted, everything they dosounds the same, but that's why people like it. People don't want 52 flavors,they want the one that tastes good.
18) Prince: Everyone knows this guy records moremusic than even the guy from Guided By Voices but only issues a third of it, ora tenth...and surely there are outtakes from his prime era (that would be thelate-'70s to the late '80s) that fans would devour in seconds and it could allcome in an elaborate purple velvet box that people would own if only to sleepon.Bruce Springsteen: Considering that he recordsabout five albums worth of material for every one he releases, he should haveat least FOUR boxed sets out by now. The word is he's going to put together a Darkness On The Edge Of Town Anniversary Edition when he finds the time. Hopefully,his people will find more than time and track down the best live tapes of the'78 tour and maybe some film as well. They need to get this one done rightbecause it will be too late by the time they get to that Lucky Town retrospective.
16) Black Sabbath: Ozzy Osbourne continues to outsellhis youngest counterparts by an alarming margin. So imagine what could be hadif the band would issue live recordings from the 1970s. It would go over like aLed Zeppelin. And those guys finally relented! Face it, if you can go over to awebsite like Wolfgang's Vault (www.wolfgangsvault.com) and find cool shows toexperience, then there has to be a way for the band to get that material to usin a way that makes us pay for it and gives us shiny photos to look at as well.The Beatles: Yes, they issued those BBCRecordings and that 3-Volume Anthology. But how about the Shea Stadium concert?The Clash found their tapes.
14) Sex Pistols: These guys never passed up thechance to make an easy buck. How come they haven't issued a limited editionnumbered copy of their worst moments? With Sid Vicious on bass, they were theworst live act imaginable. Yet, controversial and exciting at the same time.There probably aren't any outtakes, since I'm sure management would'veexploited that by now. But they could improvise. It isn't as if they were everallergic to scamming people.The Who: The Who were a very different band on stagethan on record and it wasn't until Live At Leeds that the kids whostayed home discovered this about their favorite group. Surely somewhere amongthe Lifehouse Outtakes and Townshend's attempt at putting The Bible tomusic, there exists some incendiary live material that would be preferable toanother "reunion" tour.
12) The Stooges: Yes, there's that incredible Fun House box that incorporates everylast burp and wheeze, but they need a box that bridges both the early work atElektra, both mixes of Raw Power at Columbiaand then the mess that is Kill City. While the bootleg quality of somuch of the stuff is in keeping with the band's spirit, it would still be niceto have it all sound a little better just for the heck of it.Mariah Carey: I don't personally want to hear it.But considering how many hits she's had and how many people apparently loveher, I think it's only fair that those people get treated to more of what theywant. And while I'm not aware of any rabid Mariah Carey bootleg industry, who'sto say there wouldn't be one if such a thing were allowed. I don't write thelaws. But if I did, lots of people would be going to jail for the heck of it.
10) Essra Mohawk: According to her bio: "By1969 Essra was recording her second album in L.A. and S.F. for Reprise after MoOstin (then Vice Pres.) discovered her singing at a club in N.Y. and asked heron the spot to come to the label. The result was Primordial Lovers, anLP that received a 5 star review in Downbeat, raves in Mix, andwas stated as being 'one of the best 25 albums ever made' in RollingStone magazine. Unfortunately, these reviews came over a year after therelease of the album and new fans found it hard to secure the LP due to poordistribution and the sale of the Reprise label following the release."
I guess it was like she made an album as good as AppetiteFor Destruction. Let's give her a boxed set and find out.X: They've issued live albums past their primethat are still pretty convincing. That 2002 set was the best I've heard from aregrouped group. No extra string section or back-up singers, just the band. Andthe reissues of their albums have included some cool bonus demos and live cuts,but how's about some real live albums from the early 1980s? No soundboard tapesworth issuing? If the Doors can do it, surely this once Ray Manzarek-sanctifiedproject can!
8) Perry Leopold: One of the 1970s most belovedsinger-songwriters, Leopold hasn't issued what his fans have been insisting onfor decades, a collection of outtakes and live tracks equal to the magic of ChristianLucifer and Experiment In Metaphysics. Everyone knows it's outthere. It's up to us to keep the campaign and the dream alive.The Sisters Of Mercy: Their early singles, "Alice" and "Floorshow" amongthem, the first album, surely some live tapes, the other EPs, and finally thecomeback. Put it all in one place and make it available here in the U.S.where goth never really caught on because we have parts of this country thathave nothing but sunshine and that's just where the entertainment business doesbusiness.
6) Marvin Gaye: I've read stories where journalistswent over to Marvin Gaye's studio and heard music that never made it to thestreets. Gaye was described as an eccentric, a mystery man who created his ownmusical language. From the way the story is told, we've only heard the Cliff'sNotes version of his career thus far. Someone hunt through those tapes.Aerosmith (pre-1979): Sure, they experienced evengreater fame later in their career, but everyone knows a band has a smallerwindow of "prime" time. And even if they were sloppier and completely wastedback then, that's the legacy and more live stuff from the Get Your Wings,Toys In The Attic, Rocks and Draw The Line era would be awonderful addition to everyone's hearth and home...I almost left these guys offthis list, just so I could get a few hundred, "Dude, you forgot Aerosmith"comments...But I'll let the Rush fans shoulder the load this time out.
4) The Jam (live): Of all the bands from the New Waveera, the Jam managed to do quite a bit for a trio. Where the Police turned intoart-rock, the Jam kept it pretty pure and simple with enough musicianship tomake them sound better than your average punk band. If there are any more studioouttakes, fine. But live performances would be their key to immortality. Don'tthey want to live forever?Van Halen (DLR Years): Some of you will want theHagar years. No thanks! We can trade. You take the Hagar years and in exchange,we get a live album of David Lee Roth era Van Halen, along with album outtakeswith lots of Diamond Dave's studio chatter and even those isolated vocal tracksthat have found their way over the web.
2) Van Morrison: He's finally gotten around toreissuing his catalog with one bonus cut here and one live track there. Lastdecade he issued a two-CD collection of outtakes, and now the ultra-fab AstralWeeks Live album has surfaced. But there are still bootlegs floating aroundthat could use sound improvement and considering the length of the man'scareer, there really should be an expansive boxed-set with lots of color photosof the man in his Zorro hat!The Rolling Stones: Considering how good theseguys are with making money, you'd think they'd go back to their catalog andfind outtakes worth rescuing. Years ago I heard an audience tape of their Altamont performance that was pretty fierce and Stonesfanatics can point to any number of performances from the 1972-73 tour thatwould better represent the band than some of the stuff that does see the light.But then I'm sure there are legal issues, since the band doesn't own theirpre-1971 catalog the way they do everything since...and as they say, MoneyChanges Everything.