Thursday, June 14, 2018

Buffalo Springfield - Retrospective - The Best Of

Of course, I was familiar with Buffalo Springfield's mega-hit "For What It's Worth", but I was more familiar with the individuals members' later works (especially Stills and Young, naturally) than the other Springfield tracks. This Best Of compilation, originally released in 1969 shortly after the band broke up, gives a good overview of the group and some of their finer tracks.

Naturally, the hit is the opener here and still sounds great and, unfortunately, timely to this day. Somewhat odd for a Top Forty number, with its sparse arrangement and Young's uncharacteristically light guitar work interspersed with the melody lines, but an undeniably catchy chorus and a great message. Young's much rawer'n'rockin' "Mr. Soul" follows, one of his great ones, with cool lyrics and hot guitar playing. Stills' contributes some country-pop in "Sit Down, I Think I Love You" which alternates jangly guitars with some tougher fuzz and Richie Furay's "Kind Woman" is a damn purty country ballad, reminiscent of what he would go on to do in Poco. "Bluebird" is a mid-tempo Stills' rocker, with some excellent lead acoustic guitar work (Young works in some electric work around this), a huge harmony bridge, and even a banjo breakdown - kinda throwing in the kitchen sink on this one! Side one concludes with Young's gorgeous "On the Way Home", which I always knew as a solo acoustic track, so it was fun to see how he worked in the entire band on this one and made it a bit less introspectively quiet - this version even has horns on it!

For some reason Young gave up the lead vocals on his "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" to Furay, while the band takes an odd polka beat for this, which still somehow works. Speaking of kitchen sinks, "Broken Arrow" is their most advanced production piece - multiple sections, sound effects, strings, and even a snippet of a live take on "Mr. Soul" - and it is slightly disjointed, although Young still provides some heart-tugging melodies. A bit more straight-forward is Still's "Rock and Roll Woman". although he tosses in a few changes and layers of harmonies on this mid-tempo folk-rocker, Young's "I Am a Child" sounds like his later, harmonica-led folk numbers, back to Stills for "Go and Say Goodbye" which almost sounds like a Michael Nesmith tune, and the finale is another Young big production (lots of strings) ballad, "Expecting to Fly".

This band certainly remained close to their folk and country roots and were less of 60's rock'n'roll combo, which is what gives them their own unique sound. If you like any of the main players' later works, most likely you'll dig this cool collection, as well.