I've pile-drived through a ton of stuff since last update, largely because I've started attacking the URL list in earnest. A lot of it I dumped within a minute. A good amount stuck around, though, and last night I listened through to some stuff I'd kept from a couple months ago--something I almost never do unless I'm replaying something that stuck with me from the beginning, which is always the easiest way to figure out I like it. And most of it hit the trash. One thing that didn't was a hip-hop mix by DJ Rodney Noble called Chispace3, 45 minutes of local Windy City stuff--I have no idea who's on it, haven't looked for a track list, but I like its energy a lot (and toward the end, some of the songs need it: who steals an entire Run-D.M.C. chorus?). Not perfect, but it sounds vital.

The other big listening expenditure has been a box set. I know exactly how extraneous Neil Young's Archives Vol. 1 is, and yes I skipped the two discs I'd already heard (and reviewed, in the case of Live at Massey Hall--also the 1968 show more recently issued as Sugar Mountain, which isn't part of the box, for some reason), and there is a lot of song repetition, but goddamn what riches. The Tugboat concert is you-are-there audience confrontation (the audience barely titters); the albums are heavily represented but reconfigured so thoroughly they take on exactly the kind of weird halcyon flow Young-the-compiler is obviously after, like someone rearranged the family photo album. Is Young rock's greatest melodist?

My previous Young bootleg experience was mostly limited to Rock & Roll Cowboy, a 4CD box from 1994 of live recordings I taped off someone; I went looking for a .rar or .zip and found instead an 8CD thing called Perfect Echo that uses a lot of what's on there already (and some of what's on Archives--five of the six tracks on the 1970 Fillmore East show that was the other previously-released) but goes up to 2001. As with R&RC, this is advantageous because Young is primarily a live musician--over dinner tonight with Robert and Jaq, we talked about how he's got his barn completely set up to record any time he feels like it, which is clearly often. But his sonic perfectionism has nothing to do with getting every note perfect, a la most of his peers, especially as cocaine took hold. He just wants it to sound right while he does whatever. He's committed to the moment, doesn't play stuff he's sick of (apart, I'd guess, from "Heart of Gold" a lot of the time), so a live show is always a good bet. Especially if, as he famously put it, "It's all one song."

Anyway, I'm only partway through Perfect Echo (and disc one of Vol. 4 was unavailable), but it's doing the job for sure. Weirdest moment yet: the flurry of cheers accompanying the beginning of, wait for it, "Ambulance Blues." At an arena. What a strange fucking time 1974 was.

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