Wednesday, June 17, 2009
CROSBY STILLS AND NASH
First off, I would like to extend my thanks to Barbara (aka Layla) at http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/ for her thoughtfulness in forwarding this CD along to me. Her blog has an incredible following as she is very passionate about her subject matter, always informative and extremely generous in her support of fellow bloggers and music lovers. Very kind gesture and much appreciated.
The familiar voices of Crosby and Nash were the ones that I first heard in the late 70's via my dad's "Crosby/Nash Live" album. Still have it, 30 + years later , worn and bearing the scars of repeated needle applications. At that time, my favorite tunes were "Immigration Man" and "Deja Vu", which led me to discover the missing member of the "law firm", Stephen Stills. When a neighbor taped "4 Way Street" for me, I was hooked.
"Demos" at first glance presents songs that, for the most part, even the casual fan would know well.
With three exceptions, each selection is presented solely by it's writer. Arrangements are loose, with Crosby turning in very rich, soulful performances of "Almost Cut My Hair" and "Deja Vu", his 12 string filling the empty spaces perfectly. I would nominate the former tune as the stand out track, besting the official version by a mile. Less really can be more. "Long Time Gone" is radically different in feel and tempo, bearing only slight resemblance to how it appeared on the first CSN record.
Crosby's contributions were always the least conventional, bringing a more adventurous approach to the table. Despite the personal battles he would later wage, his intelligence and talent have always earned the respect of his peers. Just ask Graham Nash.
David Crosby - Guinevere
Nash offers his own brand of melodic pop. "Be Yourself" and "Chicago" are definite highlights. The trio combine their voices once here to lift his "Marakesh Express", which leads off this collection and holds up as a dynamite, catchy tune. Even without harmonic assistance, his work catches your ear instantly. I have always counted those distinctive high harmonies as his secret weapon, though he was fairly decent writer and multi-instrumentalist. Nash seems to be the one who was most grounded during the tumultuous periods that the group has endured over the years, including times of estrangement from Stephen Stills.
Dubbed early on as "Captain Manyhands", Stills was a virtual one man band on the initial CSN recordings. Possessing amazing dexterity on guitar, bass, keys and just about anything with strings, he tops his creations with dynamic, bluesy vocals. "Love the One You're With" provided him with a massive solo hit and is included here with an abbreviated "You Don't Have to Cry". "My Love is a Gentle Thing" is the least known gem and really should have been worked on a bit more (by the group) as the melody is uniformly excellent. Sitting in the director's chair has always worked well for Stills as he has been the driving force behind some of CSN's finest moments.
Check out his work with Manassas. Phenomenal stylistic range and work that puts him on a level of excellence. One of my favorite musicians.
"CSN Demos" is worthwhile for delivering absolutely different renderings of classics, mixed with a few that you may not have heard before. You will gain a new appreciation for the fully realized talents of each member.
Their 40th anniversary tour is currently taking them across the US and Europe. Currently, an album of covers is under construction, with Rick Rubin in the producer's chair.