Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Crosby, Stills and Nash

Growing up as a folkie in the 60's, I was quite enamored by this "super-group" and was very impressed by
their mix of musical talent and amazing vocal abilities. I know that these cats and their egos were a big part of what punk was rebelling against, but I still find this music absolutely listenable.

Opening with Still's ode to Judy Collins, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", this includes just about everything that these cats did from here on - incredible melodies and harmonies, lovely folk/rock music, clever changes and hippie lyrics. I'm not the biggest fan of Nash, compared to the other cats (though, of course, he did some good stuff), so his "Marrakesh Express", although it was a hit that spoke to the times, really does not resonate with me. However, Crosby's "Guinnevere" is a wonderfully lovely piece of acoustic folk, with Nash providing his unique harmonies throughout. Stills does some fine acoustic guitar work in "You Don't Have to Cry" and very cool backwards guitar in Nash's "Pre-Road Downs", one of his better songs, a fun pop number with counter-culture lyrics like "be sure to hide the roaches".

Crosby's "Wooden Ships" (co-written with Stills and Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner - who also recorded it) is an anti-war classic of the times, brought to prominence by its appearance in the Woodstock movie. This is an electric number and while not exactly a rocker, it is a powerful guitar and organ workout. This is offset by Nash's quiet ballad "Lady of the Island" and then Stills' "Helplessly Hoping" and its spine-tingling harmonies. Also highlighted in Woodstock is Crosby's politically-charged "Long Time Gone", another electric number with some excellent leads from Stills and more fantastic, passionate vocals from everyone as they trade leads and perform their patented harmonies. The vinyl closed with Stills' "49 Bye-Byes", an odd, multi-part number mixing a light verse with a strong chorus that became his calling card song (in a stripped-down version) on their tours.

The CD gives us four bonus tracks, a nice acoustic tune from Stills ("Do For the Others"), Crosby & Nash harmonizing on Crosby's "Song with No Words", their version of the Midnight Cowboy theme "Everybody's Talkin'" (actually not as good as the original, though with some interesting twists) and Nash's demo of "Teach Your Children".

Obviously, not for everyone, but fine folk/rock music for those not afraid of acoustic guitars, hippies and their ideals.