Plenty of discussion on last week’s Neil Young blog, and also, more fractiously, over at Thrasher’s Wheat, about the value/usefulness/etc of “Archives”.

Plenty of discussion on last week’s Neil Young blog, and also, more fractiously, over at Thrasher’s Wheat, about the value/usefulness/etc of “Archives”.

A lot of the heat seems to revolve around definitions of “unreleased songs”, and whether that means unreleased recordings of known songs, or songs that have never been previously released in any form.The debate reaches a highpoint of sorts on Thrasher’s Wheat when one persistent critic suggests, “if you read the Uncut Blog, the author states that there is only one notable unreleased song worth listening to – ‘Everybody’s Alone’. Neil Young has committed the greatest fraud in the history of music.”

Blimey. That made me re-read my original post, and check that I called ‘Everybody’s Alone’ “the one really essential unheard song on the whole set” – not the only one worth listening to, quite. It strikes me, thinking about this some more, that the whole debate calls into question the main point of boxsets like this. Should we really expect most unreleased material to stand comparison with the best work of, in this case, Neil Young? Or should we see them more as historical research tools, where the unreleased songs are most more interesting as contextualising evidence rather than stand-alone tracks?

If it’s the latter, maybe that makes these sort of projects a luxury too far for all but the most forensically-inclined fans. Or maybe they should buy a few of the “Archives” CDs separately – starting, maybe, with the Riverboat live show. Or, again, perhaps they should wait for “Volume Two”, which should theoretically have a wealth of unheard stuff on it; the odd lost album even? Tricky questions, but I’m having fun with it.

Anyhow, on to the generally new and unheard records we’ve played over the last few days. Special attention, I think, to the new Six Organs Of Admittance album, and I guess you should also know that amidst a lot of quite dodgy stuff on it, “Palermo Shooting” (the soundtrack to the new Wim Wenders film)includes a couple of new Grinderman tracks and an unreleased Bonnie Prince Billy & Matt Sweeney song.

1 Sonic Youth – The Eternal (Matador)

2 Miles Davis – Sketches Of Spain: 50th Anniversary Legacy Edition (Legacy)

3 Woods – Songs Of Shame (Shrimper)

4 Six Organs Of Admittance – Luminous Night (Drag City)

5 Mark Kozelek – Lost Verses – Live (Caldo Verde)

6 Various Artists – Legends Of Benin (Analog Africa)

7 Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound – When Sweet Sleep Returned (Tee Pee)

8 The Lemonheads – Varshons (Cooking Vinyl)

9 Funkadelic – Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On (Westbound)

10 Woebot – Woebot (Hollow Earth)

11 39 Clocks – Zoned (De Stijl)

12 Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown (Warners)

13 Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um: 50th Anniversary Legacy Edition (Legacy)

14 Various Artists – Palermo Shooting (City Slang)

15 Sir Richard Bishop – The Freak Of Araby (Drag City)