Neil Young

Neil Young Archives Volume 1, Packaging

I like Neil Young, but I doubt I would sit and listen to this entire box set end to end. I’d probably take my favorite MP3 tracks and drop them into various play-lists and set it random. The music isn’t what this post is about though. This is a post about the amazing packaging designed by Gary Burden and Neil Young.

The long-awaited Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 is a deluxe set conceived as a time-capsule of Neil Young’s musical and personal journeys from 1963 to 1972. The Blue Ray version of the Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 is by far the most comprehensive and interactive box set ever done. The design was originally meant to be a box that could house 10 CDs, a poster, the stash box, and a book. But, as the designers worked with Neil Young’s archivists they found more and more material, which led to the idea that the “box” could be more than a box.

The elaborate box contains multiple discs, and depending on which version you buy  standard DVDs or Blu-ray discs. A replica of Neil Young’s revealing personal journal with a faux embossed leather cover and a “stash” box (with reproductions of marijuana seeds in the corners).

Thick black lettering, which is intended for store display of the packaging, wraps the outer box. When the box sets are placed side-by-side on the display the lettering spells “Neil Young”.

Malibu, California-based Gary Burden and Neil Young have been collaborating on his album cover art for more than 40 years and are currently at work on Volume 2. The design of Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 has been nominated for a 52nd Annual Grammy Award in the Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package category.

“Neil and I first started talking about an unabridged box set of his life and music in 1989. But, as we started collecting materials we realized that we would have to break his project down into periods.  There was just too much — too much music, too much history.  And this archive began to take on a life of its own.  With each year that passed, there was that much more that we found, that much more new stuff to include, that much more that could be done from a technology standpoint.” Gary Burden

The stash box.

Anyone who grew up in the 60’s or 70’s will understand the significance of the stash box.  It is another way that Burden  pays homage to the times through the overall concept of the packaging.  “I wanted to include a pack of rolling papers and a lighter, but that wouldn’t fly. But we did manage to print a few forgotten seeds in the corners though”. The wood grain design inside the stash box is acts as a container, fitting the entire Archives box into a wooden frame.  Inside the main box the stash box hidden in the base and contains a replica of a Whisky A Go Go “speaking pad,” a bonus Sugar Mountain Live at Canterbury House 1968 CD & DVD, and a card that can be used to download MP3s of all the audio tracks from the Archives website.

The discs.

The design of the DVD box mirrors the design of the external packaging for the Archive box. The DVD box has a newspaper background and the thickly painted black letters that spell out NEIL just like the external box does. On the back side of this is a Black and White close-up shot of Neil in jeans that has been colored in by hand to enhance the vintage look. Inside this box are 10 DVDs that tell Neil’s life from 1963 – 1972. The photos on each sleeve come directly from Neil Young’s past and correspond to the music and times covered by each DVD.  Burden once again worked newspaper into these discs, too.

An interactive timeline feature, presents an in-depth overview of Young’s life and career, on both the Blu-ray and DVD editions, The Timeline on the Blu-ray edition is enhanced with BD Live™ capability, which enables users to download additional content to their players or to an external hard drive. Completing Volume 1 in the Blu-ray and DVD editions is Young’s acclaimed first film, Journey Through The Past, which is presented for the first time since its original theatrical release in 1973. Each disc features HD picture transfer, audio presented in both DTS-HD 5.1 surround and stereo 24-bit / 96 kHz PCM, plus archival materials.

The poster.

The poster designed by Toshi Onuki, the Creative Director of Total Media Group organizes the information in the Neil Young Archives Vol. 1.

The journal.

Burden based the 236 page journal on Neil Young’s original leather bound journal it is included in the Archives because according to Burden, “a journal is so private and also so telling”. The journal, contains rough lyrics, maps of Neil’s travels, newspaper articles, old family photographs, sketches, notes, phone numbers and so much more.

The journal is a true representation of Neil Young’s journey. It has been meticulously crafted to feel and appear like Neil’s original hand tooled journal. It is an inked, and engraved journal without it actually being leather. Burden worked with various material suppliers from around the world before he found Roswell Book Binding in Phoenix. Roswell had the cover substrate handmade in Mexico and then silk-screened the substrate to match the colorization and texture of Neil Young’s original journal from the 60’s. The result is a look that appears to be a worn and aged leather book cover. Mohawk “Via”, was used for the pages in order to stand up to the heavy amounts of ink that applied to achieve a look as close to the original journal as possible. Every detail is captured down to every coffee stain and smudge.

This is an outstanding piece of package design. Even if you are not a Neil Young fan, this is the kind of collection you would want to add to your collection simply because it is so beautiful to look at. The cost is $299.00 for the Blue-Ray edition and $199.00 for the standard DVD edition.

photo courtesy of kealy j

photo courtesy of kealy j

photo courtesy of kealy j

photo courtesy of kealy j

photo courtesy of kealy j

photo courtesy of kealy j

photo courtesy of  kealy j

photo courtesy of kealy j

photo courtesy of kealy j

photo courtesy of kealy j