30 Years Ago: Neil Young’s ‘Decade’ Album Released
In a way, Neil Youngâs âDecadeâ â the three-LP, career-spanning retrospective that came out on October 28, 1977 â was rockâs first box set.
Before âDecade,â which gathered songs from Youngâs early days with Buffalo Springfield through his most recent solo album, compilations were basically greatest-hits sets that collected a dozen or so of an artistâs most popular cuts. The âDecadeâ set wanted to tell a story. In essence, itâs a musical biography.
Starting with âDown to the Wire,â a previously unreleased Buffalo Springfield song (how many best-of albums do that?), âDecadeâ traced Youngâs development over his first 10 years. In addition to key album tracks (âDown by the River,â âCortez the Killerâ) and singles (âCinnamon Girl,â âHeart of Goldâ), the album included songs Young recorded with both Crazy Horse and Crosby, Stills & Nash, live tracks and several unreleased songs and mixes.
âDecadeâ remains Youngâs sturdiest compilation, even though it covers less than a quarter of his career. Some of the songs arenât available anywhere else, like a live B-side version of âSugar Mountain,â an edited âSoldierâ (from the otherwise dismal âJourney Through the Pastâ) and a more scorching take of the âAmerican Stars âN Barsââ favorite, âLike a Hurricane.’
Young handpicked the songs included on âDecade,â which, for the most part, chronicled every step of his career at that point (all but a couple of his solo albums were represented). His current âArchivesâ series â which so far has yielded only one collection that stops at 1972 â will eventually replace âDecadeâ as Youngâs definitive history. But for 30 years itâs served as the most meticulous document of his most fertile period.
Watch a Live Version of Neil Young’s ‘Like a Hurricane’