Decade is an early example of a box set, cramming 35 great Young songs onto 2 compact discs. Neil Young was incredibly prolific during his first ten years; the songs on Decade draw from fourteen studio albums, as well as six previously unreleased tracks. The album begins with Young’s highlights from Buffalo Springfield, including the previous unreleased ‘Down To The Wire’, while his solo career begins with ‘Sugar Mountain’, a folk song he recorded on his home stereo on his 19th birthday.
Decade peaks with the material from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After the Goldrush, and Harvest, but loses momentum towards the end, as though Young hadn’t gained enough distance from his later material to judge it objectively; for instance, the scratchy ‘For The Turnstiles’ is arguably the worst song from On The Beach.
Decade is a good shortcut to Young’s work – there are a bunch of Young albums that are dispensable if you own Decade, although After The Gold Rush, On The Beach, Tonight’s The Night, and Zuma all have a lot to offer, and Time Fades Away isn’t covered by the set at all. Even if you have all of Young’s albums, Decade is still essential for the handful of outtakes like ‘Winterlong’ and ‘Deep Forbidden Lake’, and Young’s delightful handwritten liner notes.