The Buffalo Springfield
Reviewed on this page:
Buffalo Springfield - Again - Last Time Around
The Buffalo Springfield were part of the same mid-60s Los Angeles rock crowd as the Byrds and were an even more talented act, with better
songwriters, better guitarists, and harmonies that were every bit as inspiring. However, they had just as many problems with ego conflicts. And having arrived on the scene some 18 crucial months later in mid-1966, they weren't nearly as ground-breaking. They squabbled through 1967, lost their bass player, split up in early 1968, and in the end recorded only three LP's. But the Springfield's leaders did go on to form two other successful L.A. bands that carried on the same tuneful country-rock sound: Poco and the much more famous Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. CSNY fans in particular will get a blast out of the group's small, Stills/Young-dominated A-side goldmine.
As far as I know there's exactly one fan-created Buffalo Springfield web site, and there's also the fine Hyperrust Neil Young web site you should check out. (JA)
Lineup: Richie Furay (vocals, rhythm guitar); Dewey Martin (drums, vocals); Bruce Palmer (bass); Steve Stills (lead guitar, vocals); Neil Young (lead guitar, vocals). Palmer quit, replaced by Jim Messina in mid-1967. Band dissolved within a few months. Furay and Messina founded Poco, Young went solo, Stills teamed with Crosby.
Buffalo Springfield (1966)
A solid debut effort, but there's too much bland pop-rock filler here, most of it courtesy of Stills and much of it in blatant imitation of the Beatles and Byrds. Stills does come up with one total classic, though: the beautifully harmonized protest song "For What It's Worth," which turned out to be the band's one and only Top 40 hit. And there are a few outstanding and typically thoughtful Neil Young tracks here as well, the best being the slightly countrified 3/4 "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" and the charmingly innocent love song "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong." At this point Young wasn't comfortable with his voice, and he usually gives Furay the lead vocal - a smart move at the time, but Young fans may be frustrated. Although the band hasn't really matured at this point, this is solid entertainment that Furay, Stills, and/or Young fans will find fascinating. (JA)
- A great, nicely eclectic record with just a few problems. Stills and Young each contributed major efforts. Stills was leaning towards loud, brilliantly arranged rockers with cross-locked guitar parts ("Bluebird"; "Rock And Roll Woman"), whereas Young took the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's to heart, orchestrating multi-part epics with plenty of sound effects, abrupt changes in instrumentation, and cryptic lyrics ("Expecting To Fly"; "Broken Arrow").
However, he also managed a kick-ass A-side with a devastating lyrical attack on the rock industry ("Mr. Soul"). Furay's harmonies lift everything, and he gets in a couple good tunes of his own ("Sad Memory," a nearly-solo acoustic ballad with a wrenching vocal). The frequent absence of Bruce Palmer makes little difference, because a bunch of competent L.A. session players like pianist Don Randi and band co-conspirator Jim Messina (on bass) beef up the sound.
And even the weaker tracks are still amusing: Still's rambling "Everydays," his somewhat hokey but irresistably harmonized "Hung Upside Down," and Furay's predictable R & B number "Good Time Boy," with a gasping, over-powered vocal by drummer Dewey Martin. (JA)
- "Everydays" is a hell of a tune, actually, complete with Neil's endlessly sustained guitar humming, and "Hung Upside Down" is thoroughly effective. If you're a Richie Furay fan, this is one must-have album. The rest of us, though, may get rather bored with the lack of melody, harmony or rhythm on his three compositions. (DBW)
Last Time Around (1968)
- Often overlooked, but marvelous. Heavily dominated by Stills because Young had quit the band before the record was released, but the latter's contributions are masterpieces anyway ("On The Way Home," with the entire group in classic form; the outstanding country-pop song "I Am A Child"). And any record packed with so many solid Stills efforts can't be that bad (great pop songs like "Pretty Girl Why" and "Questions"; "Uno Mundo," a starry-eyed attempt to incorporate Latin rhythms).
Richie Furay weighs in with some silly operatic meandering (the orchestrated "It's So Hard To Wait" and "The Hour Of Not Quite Rain"), but also his best pre-Poco effort (the country tune "Kind Woman," with future Poco mainstay Rusty Young on pedal steel). Wilson's disagreement with me on this one is completely baffling; he'd rate it a "2.5" if I let him. (JA)
- Hey, I like candy-assed 60s pop rock as much as anybody (I did give the Zombies' Odessey And Oracle five stars). I just don't think this is one of the best examples of the genre. Neil's songs are pleasant but so short they don't build up much momentum (compare the slick, radio-oriented version of "On The Way Home" here with the acoustic live version on Four Way Street). The Stills contributions are workmanlike and intelligent, but none of them are among his best work (especially the unintentionally hilarious "Uno Mundo"). Producer Jim Messina throws in a dull country tune ("Carefree Country Boy"), and Furay is Furay -- I don't see anything of note in his lyrics, music or performance, but maybe I'm just missing it. (DBW)
Oh, not again...