Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Crosby, Stills Nash and Young 2019

I recently finished reading Peter Doggett's biography of this crazy amalgam of a band. Doggett's take includes a significant backstory that looks at the Byrds, Hollies and Buffalo Springfield that led to this group getting together. Doggett seems to avoid much of the dirt throwing and focuses on things the participants said way back when verses their reconstructed histories, probably for the better. He spreads the blame around pretty fairly between drugs, money, fame and ego. But it seems that mostly ego was to blame for their ragged history. One band, four leaders. That don't work.

Reading the book led me back to the first two records, Crosby, Stills and Nash 1969 and Déjà Vu 1970. They are certainly dated records by now and the hippy vibe is thick. But there's quite a bit of great music, and the thing that struck me most was the exceptional harmonies of Stills, Nash, and Crosby. Just breathtaking harmonies, really special. Also, Steve Stills was a fine arranger and multi-instrumentalist. They were all jerks in their own ways, and they seem to pretty much hate each other now. Doggett spends less time on their multiple attempts to regain their mythic status, and that seems just as well, since their reunion attempts presented music only occasionally as special as those first two records.

The book also got me to explore the 4 CD set Buffalo Springfield 2001. Neil Young put the set together, and I must say he's one irritating guy. Buffalo Springfield released just three LPs between 1966-1968, so it would seem like everything should be there on a 4 CD set. But instead Neil gives us a plethora of demos and early takes, and omits four songs from Last Time Around and also the nine-minute Bluebird that was only ever released on the two-LP Buffalo Springfield compilation from 1973. Additionally, he includes the contents of the first two LPs twice, once during the chronology he presents and again on disc four in their original running order. To release a 4-CD set without all of their released material is just stupid.

Both Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were fun to listen to again, and the book was a good read.

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