Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Reviewed on this page:
Super Session - Crosby,
Stills And Nash - Deja Vu - Stephen Stills - If I Could Only Remember My Name... - Songs For Beginners - Stephen Stills 2 - Four Way Street -
Another Stoney Evening - Wild Tales -
Stephen Stills Live - Wind On The Water -
Stills - Illegal Stills -
Whistling Down The Wire -
Long May You Run -
Crosby/Nash Live - CSN -
Daylight Again - Right By You - American Dream -
Oh Yes I Can - King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents David Crosby - Live It Up
- Stills Alone - Thousand Roads - After The Storm -
CSNY was hugely successful, but perhaps they're over-hyped. One
could say that CSNY was neither as good nor as important as
two of the bands whose leaders originally formed it - David
Crosby's Byrds, and the Stills-Young
dominated Buffalo Springfield (Graham
Nash came later from the Hollies, who continued without him; and
yes, I'm well aware that the Byrds were "really" Roger McGuinn's
band). One could also argue that although CSNY is best-known for
its harmonizing, their harmonies were never as sophisticated as,
say, those of the Beach Boys.
Despite all this, you've got to give these guys some credit. First,
the band had a central role in the West Coast subplot of the 60s
rock play - Crosby and company crossed paths with just about anyone
of note from L.A. and San Francisco during the 60s and 70s.
Second, the "soft rock" and "singer-songwriter" genres of the 70s
owed everything to CSN's debut record and other early efforts by
the band's members, even though Joni
Mitchell far surpassed them in artistic terms. And finally,
unlike so many of their colleagues, CSNY were able to put together
one solid, commercial effort after another, long after their
initial successes - even if they only rarely convened to re-form
This page does include solo records by the band leaders. We
are missing quite a few of them, however, because we have focused
on their very early and very recent albums. Also, we've put Neil Young's numerous solo records on separate page, leaving this page just with links to the Young records we've reviewed. If you're looking for biographies,
concert reviews, and so on, there are two good, up-to-date web
sites you might want to check out: the Crosby, Stills & Nash web site,
and the Neil Young
Crosby, Stills and Nash - David Crosby (vocals,
rhythm guitar); Graham Nash (vocals, rhythm guitar);
Steve Stills (lead guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards);
Dallas Taylor (drums).
CSNY - same as CSN, but add Greg
Reeves (bass) and Neil Young (lead guitar, vocals).
Stills' original backing band - Conrad Isidore
alternating with Dallas Taylor (drums); Calvin "Fuzzy"
Stills' later backing band - Jerry
Aiello (keyboards); Donnie Dacus (guitar, vocals);
Russ Kunkel (drums) Joe Lala (percussion); Kenny
Passarelli (bass, vocals). Kunkel replaced by Joe Vitale
(drums, keyboards), Pasarelli by George "Chocolate" Perry
(bass), 1976. Dacus dropped, Aiello replaced by Mike
Finnegan (keyboards), Vitale by Joe Galdo (drums), late
1970s or early 80s. George Terry (guitar) and Tubby
Ziegler (drums) also appear, mid-70s.
Super Session (Bloomfield Kooper Stills: 1968)
- This is a damn good improvisational rock
and blues album, basically an Al Kooper album with Mike Bloomfield
featured on side one, playing stinging blues guitar (far ahead of
his contributions on Dylan's
Highway 61 Revisited) and adding jazzy weirdness to "Her
Holy Modal Majesty," which also features an excellent keyboard
solo from Kooper. Stephen Stills, fresh from leaving the Buffalo
Springfield, is featured on side two, adding wah-wah guitar to the
extended interpretation of Donovan's "Season Of The Witch," and a
nice if brief solo on Dylan's "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A
Train To Cry." Actually, Stills is kept in the background more than
I'd like; Kooper tacked routine horn arrangements and additional
guitars onto what were originally (if the liner notes are to be
believed) improvised sessions, and this is one of those times when
more is less. (Horns became the trademark of Kooper's Blood Sweat
and Tears, which we are not yet able to review.) (DBW)
- The Bloomfield half alternates between lousy Stax-Volt R & B and lousy Bay Area hippy blues - minute after minute of one or another boring blues riff. The psychedelic pop Stills half is much better, particularly the Dylan tune, but "Season Of The Witch" drags, and the rest is musically thin and frequently gutless. There are dozens of better rock and blues records from this era. (JA)
Crosby, Stills And Nash (CSN: 1969)
- One of the greatest sing-along records of all time.
With no one to stop him, Stills nearly commandeers the record, playing bass, keyboards, and multiple guitar parts, and contributing more than his share of songwriting.
This is a good thing, especially on the two classic, long-format epics "Wooden Ships" (co-authored by Crosby, Stills, and Paul Kantner) and "Suite Judy Blue Eyes."
But Nash's joyful, fast-paced, "Carrie-Anne"-like hippy travelogue "Marrakesh Express" is enormously entertaining; Crosby's dramatic, awesomely harmonized acoustic ballad "Guinnevere" is brilliant; and the three-way vocal combination is magic (Stills' uplifting folk-pop songs "Helplessly Hoping" and "You Don't Have To Cry").
Some of the tunes aren't complete masterpieces, but I still enjoy them greatly (Nash's minimalistic, deadly earnest love song "Lady Of The Island"; Crosby's angry hippy protest rocker "Long Time Gone"; Stills' poppy "49 Bye Byes"). (JA)
- Yes, the Stills songs are great, but
Nash's contributions are beyond lightweight (the cutesy "Marrakesh
Express" and the gushy, stilted "Lady Of The Island"), and
Crosby's "Guinnevere" is unobtrusive to the point of being
insubstantial. An unthreatening record (except for Crosby's "Long
Time Gone"), with lots of vocal harmonies and feel-good, pot-smokin' tunes. (DBW)
Our disagreement boils down to whether you enjoy Crosby and Nash,
which explains why Wilson rates CSN equal to the toss-off
Super Session and clearly second-rate Deja Vu.
If you like the Hollies or the post-Gene Clark, c. 1966 Byrds, you'll love CSN; if you think Crosby and Nash were no-talents, you'll be non-plussed. (JA)
Neil Young (Young: 1969)
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Young: 1969)
Déjà Vu (CSNY: 1970)
- With the previous record's success, this one got a little too much hype.
It's often damned good, and it perfectly captures the spirit of late 60s West Coast rock, warts and all.
But it does sag in places, with Young contributing material that was second-rate for him ("Country Girl"; the tossoff "Everybody I Love You"), and Crosby losing control over his tendency to rant and rave ("Almost Cut My Hair").
Still, though, Crosby's experimental title track, with some strong acoustic work by Stills, does deliver his characteristic emotional power; Stills is as solidly commercial as ever (the folk song "4 + 20"); and the intentionally roughshod acid rock cover of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" surpasses her own version.
Apart from Stills' excellently harmonized "Carry On," the two best tracks - both by Nash - are folky pop tunes that don't blend in well, although they're dressed up nicely with the other guys' harmonies (the singalong classic "Teach Your Children" and sweet, childlike piano number "Our House," both Top 40 hits like "Woodstock"). (JA)
- Stills contributes some excellent
tunes ("Carry On"), Young adds "Helpless," and they both rock out
on the Mitchell cover, but the other half of the "law firm" should
be investigated for artistic malpractice: Crosby's title track is
another drawn-out, fogged-in Valium substitute; Nash's songs were
huge hits but are so sugary they may tend to cause a diabetic
reaction in individuals with sensitive natures. Even Neil gets
into the lobotomized peace, love & granola groove on "Everybody I
Love You," co-written with Stills. Too bad they couldn't have
waited a couple of months and included Young's "Ohio" and Stills'
"Find The Cost Of Freedom," two single sides available only on the
greatest hits So Far. (DBW)
After The Goldrush (Young:
Stephen Stills (Stills: 1970)
- Worth it just for Jimi
Hendrix's understated, brilliant guest appearance ("Old Times,
Good Times") - and Stills follows it immediately with a catchy wah-wah'ed blues that spotlights a smoking Eric
Clapton solo ("Go Back Home"). Even the predictable acoustic
material is above-average for Stills (the anthemic "Do For The
Others"; the drunken, rambling, emotionally gripping "Black
Queen"), and at this point he's still in control of his
predeliction for bombastic over-orchestration, if just barely (the
Top 40 hit "Love The One You're With," with great chorus vocals and
a careening organ solo; "To A Flame"). "Ritchie" (surely Ringo Starr) drums on several tracks, Booker T. plays organ on "Cherokee," and the
chorus in several places includes Crosby, Nash, Cass Elliot, Rita
Coolidge, and John Sebastian. (JA)
- Finally getting a whole album to himself, Stills is able to stretch out a bit: in addition to his standard pop and acoustic, there are strings on "We Are Not Helpless," horns and flutes on "Cherokee," and a choir on "Church (Part Of Someone)." "Go Back Home" is uncomfortably close to "Born Under A Bad Sign," but still fun. (DBW)
If I Could Only Remember My Name... (Crosby: 1971)
A treat for rock dweebs like myself.
It opens with a Crosby/Nash/Young hippie singalong jam that could easily have
fit on Deja Vu ("Music Is Love"); sports a brief and sudden Joni Mitchell harmony vocal that reminds one
of how much more raw talent she had than the rest of these guys
("Laughing"); and has backing on most of the tracks by Grateful Dead members Garcia,
Kreutzmann, and Lesh. Even a couple of Santana members show up (Rollie, Shrieve). More notable, however, are Crosby's soaring,
magnificent, and frequently wordless vocals ("Song With No Words,"
with Jack Casady on bass and Jorma Kaukonen on guitar; the eerie, minor-key traditional folk ballad "Orleans"; "I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here," consisting of roughly ten million wordless, echoey vocal overdubs).
Unfortunately, the backing tracks are loose and uninspired; the songwriting is hit and miss - "Laughing" and his subtly jazzy "Traction In The Rain" are the only really solid efforts; and a pathetically paranoid hippy-dippy attitude pervades everything ("Cowboy Movie"; "What Are Their Names," with Young on lead guitar). (JA)
Songs For Beginners (Nash: 1971)
Nash has always been my least favorite member of the law firm, but this is one fine record. It's piled up with Beatle-esque harmony arrangements, rhyme-ridden love song lyrics, and from-the-gut lead vocals, but it's still sincere and underproduced enough to give it an earnest immediacy that Nash has rarely captured in all the years since. Only a few tracks like "Be Yourself" go over the top with Nash's hippy anthem formula. Well-written from start to finish and graced with an easy, folksy country-western sound, this will please fans of early-era Neil Young records, or of Nash's hits from Deja Vu.
The LP and the slightly funky, anthemic single "Chicago" ended up being Graham's only solo Top 40 hits. The band here is Johnny Barbata (drums), Chris Ethridge/Calvin Samuels (bass), and Rita Coolidge (backing vocals); guests include Dave Mason, Dallas Taylor, and Bobby Keys, and the soaring "I Used To Be A King" features the Remember My Name combination of Garcia, Lesh, and Crosby. (JA)
Stephen Stills 2 (Stills: 1971)
A major disappointment, coming on the heels of so many excellent
efforts by Stills. Some of it is unlistenable, over-produced pap
("Open Secret"; "Ecology Song"; "Bluebird Revisited"); the best
tracks are available on Stills' later live record ("Change Partners";
"Word Game"); and the rest is amusing, but either a rip-off of
Stills' earlier sound ("Fishes And Scorpions"; "Singing Call") or
good-timey blues-based trivia ("Sugar Babe"; "Relaxing Town"). In
light of occasional guitarwork by Eric
Clapton and the backing of a solid LA studio band that included
the Memphis Horns and Billy Preston, it's not really clear
what went wrong - perhaps working with Harry Nilsson short-circuited Stills' usual good taste. (JA)
Four Way Street (CSNY: 1971)
I don't want to be harsh, because the boys didn't intend to release
this live recording until it had already been bootlegged. (Bad,
bad bootleggers!) The set list doesn't duplicate the
previous studio albums much, the emphasis is on solo material:
Crosby's "Triad" and "The Lee Shore"; Nash's "Chicago" and "Right
Between The Eyes"; Young's "On The Way Home" and an acoustic
version of "Cowgirl In The Sand"; Stills' "Love The One You're
With" and an anti-establishment rant on "For What It's Worth." For
the die-hard fans, it's interesting to hear CSNY versions of these
songs. Unfortunately, in concert CSNY are unable to reproduce
their trademark harmony vocals (they often miss embarrassingly on
high notes, Young in particular) and multitracked lead guitars:
Stills and Young shine on one extended jam, "Carry On," but duel
pointlessly on "Southern Man." The CD rerelease, which I haven't
heard, has one more acoustic track from each band member. (DBW)
Another Stoney Evening (Crosby & Nash: rec. 1971, rel. 1997)
A live record cut at one show in October, 1971, with just the two of them singing and playing acoustic guitar.
It's of keen interest to fans, and not just because it's their earliest duo recording.
They open and close with a minimal brace of CSNY standards ("Deja Vu" and "Wooden Ships," which sound sketchy and diffuse; "Guinnevere," quite close to the original; a ragged, but funny encore of "Teach Your Chidren").
Crosby mostly focuses on his recent solo album, and it's fascinating to hear Nash work up harmony parts to complement him ("Orleans"; "Traction In The Rain").
But Nash steals the show, recapping two focused, intelligent solo tunes ("Man In The Mirror"; "Used To Be A King") and debuting key tracks from their upcoming studio album: the gentle 3/4-4/4 country song "Southbound Train," and two songs where he switches to piano and sings solo (the bittersweet "Stranger's Room"; the witty protest song "Immigration Man," with an amusing introduction).
Crosby's one new composition (the bleak, wailing "Where Will I Be") is so spacey it's almost incoherent, and so is his glacially-paced arrangement of the infamous Byrds reject "Triad"; but he shines on the dramatic "Laughing," and his CSNY outtake "Lee Shore" is extraordinarily beautiful.
A sweet and light memento that's far more enjoyable than their 1977 live album. (JA)
Harvest (Young: 1972)
Graham Nash/David Crosby (Nash & Crosby: 1972)
Crosby and Nash only dented the Top 40 once as a duo, and it was with this record's single: "Immigration Man."
Ethridge and Barbata were held over from Nash's preceding solo record, and there are tons of guests like Garcia, Lesh, and Kreutzmann from the Dead and Dave Mason. (JA)
Manassas (Stills: 1972)
This was a big-band collaborative project with Chris Hillman that featured Bill Wyman (bass), among others. (JA)
Wild Tales (Nash: 1973)
This is a solid, but not quite so inspiring follow-up to Nash's first solo album. There's a similarly homey, intimate sound, but not as many memorable tunes. And it doesn't help that Nash goes all-out for a mid-tempo country-rock vibe that imitates Young's patented formula ("And So It Goes"): after a while you may get bored with all the mellow pedal steel.
Some of it is downright saccharine ("Prison Song").
But most of it is heartfelt and crafted ("Hey You (Looking At The Moon)"; "On The Line"), and he varies the tone with a touching, Joni Mitchell-style solo piano ballad ("I Miss You") and some livelier numbers like the catchy, foot-stomping title track and the chipper "Grave Concern," an Eagles-like rocker with an unexpected voice montage (both feature impressive electric slide guitar solos by David Lindley).
Any CSN fan should be on the lookout for this one.
Nash wrote everything and plays piano, acoustic guitar, or harmonica on every song. Crosby sings on three tracks, and the band includes Johnny Barbata (drums) and Nashville bigshots Tim Drummond (bass) and Ben Keith (pedal steel, dobro). There's also Dave Mason (unremarkable rhythm guitar on "Oh! Camil") and Joni herself (inaudible backup warbling on the lullingly repetitive, but gorgeous "Another Sleep Song"). After this Nash laid off solo albums for nearly a decade. (JA)
Down The Road (Stills: 1973)
This is a follow-up Manassas record, with Joe Walsh among the many guests. I've heard it and it's a bore, with a sludgy, plodding sound. (JA)
Time Fades Away (Young: 1973)
On The Beach (Young: 1974)
Stephen Stills Live (Stills:
Solid, but predictable. The track selection covers Stills'
major "periods," but interestingly: the Buffalo Springfield covers
are minor efforts from Last Time Around, their least-known
record ("Four Days Gone"; "Special Care"); some of the solo
acoustic tracks are from the dreadful Stephen Stills 2 and
sound much better in this company ("Change Partners"; "Word Game");
and Stills throws in covers of "Crossroads" and "You Can't Catch
Me" for variety. What's solid and predictable is Stills'
performance - loud and frantic on the electric side 1, quiet and
folky on the acoustic side 2. (JA)
Stills (Stills: 1975)
Sheesh, talk about unimaginative album titles. This was recorded over a
period of several years, with at least one track dating to 1971
("As I Come Of Age," which features Crosby, Stills, Nash and Ringo [I'm not making this up]). Recording slowly seems to have been a good idea: Stills is tastefully produced, professionally performed, and melodic in that feel-good 70s way, without a single toss-off in a set of 12 tunes.
Stills works closely with singer/guitarist Donnie Dacus on most tracks, and they're so similar that the effect is Stills-squared.
Despite this, Stills had little new ground to break, and every track sounds vaguely like it's a rip-off of something he'd done before, even if you can't quite put your finger on it. Of course, one could construe that as a compliment...
Produced by Stills, Bill Halverson, and the Albert brothers. Most of the players are Stills cronies from the highly professional L.A.
studio scene: Kunkel, Lala, Passarelli, Sklar, and guests like Conrad Isidore, Marcy Levy, Rick Roberts, and Dallas Taylor. (JA)
Tonight's The Night (Young: 1975)
Wind On The Water (Crosby & Nash: 1975)
Like Stills' contemporary discs, this is stuffed with melodic, up-tempo tunes; flawlessly professional, AOR-ized instrumental backing tracks; and soaring, multi-tracked harmonies (Crosby's "Bittersweet"). And there are a few interestingly experimental touches as well, like Nash's rollicking, 3/4-time Joni Mitchell tribute "Mama Lion," and the Court And Spark-style orchestrated suite "To The Last Whale..."
It's saccharine and over-calculated, but if Crosby, Nash, and the mid-70s all bring back sweet memories for you, you'll get a blast out of it. The band includes LA regulars like Craig Doerge, Danny Kortchmar, Ben Keith, Russ Kunkel, Tim Drummond, etc., and the guests are Levon Helm, James Taylor, Carole King, and Jackson Browne, who sings backup on a number that also features a long, suspiciously Neil Young-like guitar solo fade ("Love Work Out"). (JA)
Zuma (Young: 1975)
Illegal Stills (Stills: 1976)
Same basic band as on Stills, but Steve lets
Donnie Dacus chip in more with the songwriting - and even
take the lead vocal on the generic, feel-good pop songs "Closer To
You" and "Ring Of Love." Dacus dilutes Stills' usual grit: the
record is an overdose of spotless vocal harmonies, cool percussion
(e.g., the Latin-ized "Soldier" and "No Me Niegas"), singing in
foreign languages ("Midnight In Paris"), and even some squishy synthesizers
("Different Tongues"). It's endlessly melodic and
professional, but only really enjoyable when Stills sticks to his
signature early 70s sound ("Buyin' Time"; "Circlin'"). Otherwise
he comes up short, even covering the classic Neil Young number "The Loner," from Neil's excellent, infinitely
more sincere 1969 debut solo record. As everywhere on the LP,
Stills' overproduced version goes down like accidentally ingested
vaseline, super-slick and nauseating. Flo and Eddie sing backups;
George Terry (bass) had replaced Kenny Passarelli at this point.
Ironically, Passarelli and Stills' new drummer Joe Vitale had both
backed Joe Walsh on his early solo
Whistling Down The Wire (Nash & Crosby: 1976)
Crosby and Nash's last studio project as a duo is another slick, upbeat soft rock album, self-produced and featuring the same Wind On The Water lineup (indeed, at least half the tracks were cut during that disc's 1975 sessions).
The better stuff is really routine, but at least they keep the focus on harmony vocals, especially on two collaborative pieces (the mellow-but-moody "Broken Bird," and the gorgeous "Taken At All," which builds nicely).
Nash also seems as focused as ever (the crawling, slightly creepy "Mutiny"), even when he's lyrically shallow, especially on "J.B's Blues," which is catchy and salted with reggae rhythms, and the slow waltz "Marguerita," which is just plain dull.
But Crosby is just plain spaced out, writing pretty but slow-paced and aimless tunes ("Time After Time"), and ruining his best effort (the wordless harmony-fest "Dancer") with a whining chorus - at least he pulls out some serious pathos on the confessional "Foolish Man."
Kortchmar and Nash's shuffling, cutesy, harmonica-plastered "Spotlight" is a weak excuse for a single, and the band overplays; while Kortchmar does get in some subtle and effective blues licks on "Foolish Man," there's way too much feel-good slide by Lindley and schmaltzy piano by Doerge.
Worst of all, they end with a cringe-inducing, bombastic, string- and piano-driven anthem that sounds exactly like Art Garfunkel's sappiest solo efforts ("Out Of The Darkness," written with Doerge).
A couple of nice tries here, but the record is simply inconsequential. (JA)
Long May You Run (Stills-Young Band:
- This isn't going to change anybody's mind about
either Stills or Young. It doesn't have any classic songs that you
can't live without, but it's pleasant for fans: mostly mellow
(although they rock out on Steve's "12/8 Blues" and Neil's
"Fountainbleau" contains one of his great wavery guitar solos;
Steve's "Guardian Angel" turns into a jam enjoyable only for die-hards) with some nice tunes: the title track and "Ocean Girl," both
by Young, and "Black Coral" by Stills. (DBW)
- Stills and
Young, both often headbangers on their own, are as mellow together
as CSNY ever was - but don't have the soaring harmonies that Crosby
(or Furay) would have provided. Young sounds burned out;
"Fontainebleau" is listless, the title track is run-of-the-mill,
and his characteristic country material is creaky and boring ("Let
It Shine"). Stills' better stuff is barely average for him ("Make
Love To You"; "12/8 Blues"; "Guardian Angel"). The backing band is
his standard mid-70s lineup, minus Donnie Dacus, and the record's
sound reflects it. Despite all this, it's a guilty pleasure to hear
Stills and Young's distinctive voices in harmony ("Black Coral").
Tom Dowd helped out on the production, replacing Stills' usual
collaborator Bill Halverson. The cover features two charging
buffaloes - okay, okay, so we get it, but for a record like this a
pair of grazing sheep might have been more appropriate. (JA)
Crosby/Nash Live (Crosby & Nash: 1977)
A weak electric live record featuring the studio band from their last two duo albums (Doerge, Kortchmar, Lindley, Drummond, and Kunkel).
They're well-rehearsed and professional ("Immigration Man"), and at least they're not always completely rote, improvising with freaky noisemaking on percussion, synth, electric violin, and even melodica on an extended version of "Deja Vu."
But Crosby and Nash often contribute hoarse, ragged vocals ("I Used To Be A King"; "Foolish Man"; "Mama Lion"); there are just too many second-rate tunes (Crosby's soft rock ballad "Page 43," from Graham Nash/David Crosby; Nash's self-important, Neil Young-like Wind On The Water country-western number "Fieldworker"); and the high points are few, including Crosby's uplifting "Lee Shore," which finds better company on their 1971 live record, and Nash's gentle acoustic love song "Simple Man."
Pleasant, consistently harmless stuff, but completely inessential.
The CD release includes Crosby's previously unreleased and basically respectable "King Of The Mountain," which starts off with a lengthy, indulgent solo by Doerge, and a spectacular version of "Bittersweet" that should have made the original disc. (JA)
CSN (Crosby, Stills & Nash: 1977)
The group's first collaboration in six years, and last for another five. Everything works: they recapture their acoustic guitar-plus-harmony magic on Stills' "See The Changes" and Nash's "Just A Song Before I Go," cruise down the highway with Crosby's gorgeous "In My Dreams," update their sound with professionalized, piano-driven pop on Crosby and Craig Doerge's "Shadow Captain," and even get a low-key funk groove into their best tune (Stills' "Dark Star").
And for once, it's an equal collaboration: Crosby and Nash's solo numbers are solid even if they sound just like their earlier work ("Anything At All"; "Carried Away"), while Stills even successfully recycles his Latin shuffle formula ("Fair Game").
The only weak points are an excess of pretty, heartstring-pulling ballads, most of them good anyway ("Cold Rain"); a deficit of rockers (Stills' "Run From Tears" and "I Give You Give Blind" are the loudest); and just a couple of songs that aren't really catchy (Nash's self-righteous "Cathedral").
The band is Vitale or Kunkel (drums), George Perry (bass), and occasionally Doerge (piano), with a few extra sessioneers like Ray Barretto, Tim Drummond, Mike Finnigan, Jimmy Haslip, and Gerald Johnson. (JA)
American Stars 'n' Bars (Young: 1977)
Comes A Time (Young: 1978)
Thoroughfare Gap (Stills: 1978)
Rust Never Sleeps (Young: 1979)
Live Rust (Young: 1979)
Earth & Sky (Nash: 1980)
The players include Mr. Famous Guest Guitarist himself, Joe Walsh. (JA)
Hawks & Doves (Young: 1980)
Re-ac-tor (Young: 1981)
Daylight Again (Crosby, Stills & Nash: 1982)
I'm amazed that this one came out as well as it did. Crosby was so dysfunctional that he didn't write one of his two contributions, and it sounds like he doesn't even sing harmony most of the time, with keyboardist Mike Finnigan and ex-Eagle Tim Schmit taking his place. Meanwhile, you'd expect Nash to drag down Stills by manufacturing sappy love songs. But he doesn't, and the Nash-Stills combo ends up working marvelously, resulting in a smooth, tuneful mid-70s L.A. rock sound.
So what if it's retro: there's hardly any of the grating synth aesthetic of so much early 80s rock, and there's hardly any of the annoying sentimentality and self-righteous political claptrap you'll hear on later CSN records.
Nash's "Wasted On The Way" was a massive Top Ten hit here, and Stills' follow-up "Southern Cross" also cracked the Top 40. But Crosby's pensive "Delta" and the Stills-Nash "Turn Your Back On Love" are fine songs as well. Fans can't miss.
The band here is mostly Stills' - Kunkel, Lala, Perry, and Finnigan, joined by guitarist Michael Stergis and keyboardist Craig Doerge. But there are tons of other session cats floating around, plus one important guest: Art Garfunkel, who harmonizes on a pointless "Find The Cost Of Freedom" remake (title track). (JA)
Trans (Young: 1983)
Allies (Crosby, Stills & Nash: 1983)
My expectations are low for this, since Stills' follow-up was
possibly his worst solo record ever; Crosby was badly burned
out at the time; and given the previous record's artistic and commercial success, it's suspicious that the singles bombed out. (JA)
Everybody's Rockin' (Young: 1983)
Right By You (Stills: 1984)
This is a soulless, overproduced, over-commercialized rock record slathered
with 80s gimmicks like electronic drums and tinny synth parts,
with only the slightest hint of personality. Stills' usual gimmicks
like Latin rhythms ("50/50") don't help, and the generic love song
lyrics are like so much whipped cream smeared on a rubbery,
tasteless cake. It's a damn shame, because Stills' immense raw
talent is obvious even here; he adds fine vocals and guitar parts
to undeserving tracks like "Grey To Green," and pumps out one
catchy tune after another. The low point is keyboardist Mike Finnegan's sappy soul vocal
on "Can't Let Go." The only high points are created by Jimmy Page, who graces a few tracks with
scorching solos (the rocker "50/50," and the slow-til-Jimmy-gets-there blues title track). In addition to the usual Stills
collaborators, Graham Nash also sings some backup, and both Bernie Leadon and Chris
Hillman appear on the annoying, almost cartoonish country
number "No Hiding Place." Unfortunately, the cover of Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" doesn't feature
the master himself. (JA)
Old Ways (Young: 1985)
Landing On Water (Young: 1986)
Innocent Eyes (Nash: 1986)
Life (Young: 1987)
This Note's For You (Young: 1988)
American Dream (CSNY:
Too often, an Anglo-American nightmare. Only the second studio
record ever by the full band lineup, it's an utter failure.
Overproduction is everywhere,
and even Young falls victim on syrupy soft-rock tunes like "Name Of
Love" and the awful country sing-along "This Old House." His title
track is ruined by an irritating Stills synth part, and a couple of
Stills-Young rockers suffer from tasteless backing vocals; he only shines on the quiet, over-harmonized ballad called
"Feel Your Love." Stills is in good form, but his songs are essentially solo material ("That Girl"; the Stills-Young
"Got It Made"). Crosby is barely noticeable: on one track his voice
seems to be totally shot ("Nighttime For The Generals," with a
feeble Hendrix imitation by Stills), and the other is just weak ("Compass," a near-solo acoustic number). And although
Nash usually retains his solid commercial instincts (the melodic
protest songs "Shadowland" and "Clear Blue Skies"), by now he'd turned into a
slick, shallow, feel-good pop singer (the
overblown "Soldiers Of Peace"). The 14 tracks here run
close to an hour; cutting the weakest ones might have made it quite
good - and even more of a Stills-Young record than it already is.
Freedom (Young: 1989)
Oh Yes I Can (Crosby: 1989)
"...remember my name." After two decades of debauchery, resulting
in prison time and a ruined liver that soon after had to be
replaced, Cros succeeded here in making his sobriety clear to the
world. Most of the tunes are Crosby originals; the lyrics are
earnest and wistful, even when they devolve to love song triviality
(title track); and the music is just varied enough to keep your
attention - "Drop Down Mama," a fun, albeit formulaic Chicago
blues; the wordless "Flying Man," vaguely like Crosby's early 70s
sound; and two fine acoustic numbers that feature the late tapping New Age
guitar whiz Michael Hedges. Crosby still has a political bent, now
mellowed and palatable ("Tracks In The Dust";
"Lady Of The Harbor"). And his voice is so strong here that there's suddenly no question of his being washed up. The only downers are a few over-produced soft rock tunes like the pleasant, but overlong title track. The credits read like a
summary of the LA soft rock scene: big-shots like Nash, Jackson Browne, Larry Carlton, Bonnie Raitt, J. D. Souther, and James
Taylor; and nearly a dozen famous session players, most of them
with Stills or Taylor connections. (JA)
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents David Crosby (Crosby: rec. 1989, rel. 1996)
If you got a charge out of the contemporary solo record, you might find this amusing. The track selection is split evenly between late 80s material like "Compass" and early CSNY favorites like "Wooden Ships," with only one song spanning the gap ("Delta," from Daylight Again). You'd think that Crosby's 1971 solo record and long collaboration with Nash had never happened.
But Crosby's performance is really solid; he starts with some earnest solo acoustic numbers, brings in the band for a bunch of Oh Yes I Can tunes, then runs through the CSNY material, and through all of it he's in total command.
The no-name musicians are all competent - Mike Finnigan is the sole long-time studio crony, and he's also the only real bummer, ruining one song with an excruciating vocal. With 14 tracks and a one-hour running time, this is surely a better buy than the much more commonly available It's All Coming Back To Me Now, which duplicates almost the whole CSNY section. (JA)
Live It Up (Crosby, Stills & Nash: 1990)
Give it up, guys. This time it's Graham Nash on parade - he takes the lead on half the tracks, and writes more material than anyone. Crosby is nearly absent, and despite Stills' usual guitar solos and Latin pop and solo acoustic numbers ("(Got To Keep) Open"; "Haven't We Lost Enough?"), he frequently doesn't play a single note. Instead, Joe Vitale is all over the place with drums, synth, synth bass, synth guitar, and synth strings (get the idea?). Not to mention all the "donated" tunes and co-writes with backing band members, like Vitale's one-man-band title track.
There are a few hints of the old CSN like the occasional political lyric ("Yours And Mine"), but otherwise the band stays as far from possible from the self-confidently sloppy production of their 60s and early 70s records. In sum, this is a middle-aged studio musician soft-rock record with some famous people on it, dull and full of musical and lyrical cliches - the worst is the anti-nuke "After The Dolphin." Guests include Roger McGuinn, J. D. Souther, Peter Frampton (with the record's best guitar solo), Branford Marsalis (with some Kenny G-like ornamentation), and Bruce Hornsby. (JA)
Ragged Glory (Young: 1990)
Stills Alone (Stills: 1991)
This the best thing Stills had done in years, and the title says it
all: it's a collection of solo performances on acoustic guitar,
with only occasional vocal and guitar overdubs (e.g., a short
electric solo on "Just Isn't Like You"). There are no guest
artists, period - god knows why Steve felt he needed a digital 48
track machine to cut the record.
In addition to a bluesy, Woody
Guthrie-like Dylan tune ("The Ballad Of
Hollis Brown"), Stills does the Beatles ("In My Life," unfortunately just out
of his vocal range), and re-records Fred Neil's marvelous
"Everybody's Talkin'" (from Stephen Stills
Live) and his own "Singin' Call" and "Know You Got To Run"
(from Stephen Stills 2).
Of the new
material, the eco-advert "Amazonia" jumps out with its pleasant
Brazilian rhythms and guitar stylings. A gift to the fans,
Alone shows that Stills has lost little of his vocal or
instrumental talent, despite all the overproduced records he's cut
lately - it's like an Unplugged record without the obnoxious
Arc/Weld (Young: 1991)
Harvest Moon (Young: 1992)
Thousand Roads (Crosby: 1993)
This is mellow, tasteful soft-rock for fans who can't get enough of
Crosby's singing; his voice is in good form, there are pretty
harmonies galore, and the synth-pop cheese factor of recent
CSN/CSNY records is mostly absent. The bad news is that there's
little of Crosby himself in the generic, vaguely New Age
ingredients, and the end product is just plain dull. There's frequent switching off of backing musicians,
and of big-name producers like Don Was and Glyn Johns. But the main problem
is the horde of outside songwriters, most of them
obscure (the exception is John Hiatt). Crosby did write the title
track, and he collaborated with Joni
Mitchell on "Yvette In English" and Phil Collins on "Hero";
Collins sings and plays on his number, but Mitchell doesn't do
likewise. It's too bad, because the song is otherwise a highlight. Bernie Leadon handles many of the guitar parts, and other
guests include Nash, Andy Fairweather-Low, Paulinho da Costa, and
Jackson Browne. (JA)
Unplugged (Young: 1993)
It's All Coming Back To Me Now (Crosby: 1994)
Yet another rejoinder to the title of Crosby's first solo
record. This is a live record that I've seen frequently in the
stores, but it's largely redundant with the King Biscuit disc (see). (JA)
Sleeps With Angels (Young: 1994)
After The Storm (Crosby, Stills & Nash: 1994)
One of their strongest efforts in many years, but it's a little too slim and a lot too late, so nobody's going to care except the diehards.
Still, everyone is up to par here, with minimal outside involvement and all-original material apart from a squishy, expendable cover of "In My Life" (Stills' solo version is better).
There's virtually no 80s synth mania or 90s New Age aura, and it often recalls their mid-70s sound.
But the songwriting isn't terribly innovative: Stills recycles his intricately arranged Latin thing ("Panama"), Nash his glacially paced country ballad thing (title track), Crosby his shuffling bluesy social protest thing ("Till It Shines"; "Street To Lean On," which is catchy).
The up-tempo pop numbers are mostly dull ("These Empty Days"), and the loudest track ("Bad Boyz") is a weak, albeit heartfelt ripoff of "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)."
Still, Stills' mid-tempo, left-wing rocker "It Won't Go Away" is respectable, the Crosby-Stills tune "Camera" is relaxing in a good way, and everything apart from "In My Life" is tasteful and competent.
A good buy if you see it cut out, like I did.
Produced by Glyn Johns. The band is mostly James "Hutch" Hutchinson (drums), Ethan Johns (drums, guitar), and Mike Finnigan (organ), but there's a Latin group on two numbers and a lot of medium-voltage guests: Lenny Castro, Craig Doerge, Michael Hedges, Rick Marotta, Benmont Tench, Stills' children Chris and Jennifer, etc. (JA)
Mirror Ball (Young: 1995)
Dead Man (Young: 1996)
Broken Arrow (Young: 1996)
Year Of The Horse (Young: 1997)
CPR (CPR: 1998)
This is an unusual Crosby side-project with two harmonizing sidekicks: Jeff Pevar, a guitarist who has played with CSN (among others), and James Raymond, a keyboard player who, as apparently was discovered only recently, is Crosby's illegitimate son.
Obviously, the group and record's name is modelled on "CSN."
It's actually a solidly enjoyable effort, with Crosby's vocals being notably strong and a few of his tunes sticking out.
Pevar and Raymond are utterly anonymous soft rock players, but at least they're both highly competent, and it's interesting to hear Crosby in an updated, tasteful soft rock setting.
Be careful as there is a completely different and unrelated trio that released a couple of records under the name "CPR" in the early 90s. (JA)
Looking Forward (CSNY: 1999)
The four-man lineup's second reunion record.
Just like the last time, something about Young's presence seems to throw the other three off track - the record is an overhyped letdown.
The group now seems to think that "harmony" means "everyone sings all at once," so the vocals are so muddy you can't tell what's going on.
Crosby's still retreading 70s soft rock ("Dream For Him") or flying his freak flag with clumsy politics ("Stand And Be Counted"), but it's not exactly Deja Vu all over again.
And Stills' stuff is workmanlike and retro, with Latin percussion (the saccharine "Faith In Me"), self-conscious "Hendrix" guitar ("No Tears Left"), or a plodding Southern rock beat ("Seen Enough").
But Nash's tracks are mushy, overwrought pop, like "Teach Your Children" with zero energy ("Heartland"; "Someday Soon").
Meanwhile, Young's awkward vocals are distracting.
But the record is so mediocre that his wimpy ballads all stand out, either sugary, sentimental acoustic folk (title track; "Slowpoke") or 50s sock hop silliness ("Out Of Control") - he also makes a damn fool of himself with the dorky "Queen Of Them All," complete with celeste.
And amazingly, they even take a donated tune from guitarist Denny Sarokin (the completely nauseating "Sanibel").
It's not nearly as bad as their worst records and the group's talent is in evidence, but it's still frequently irritating.
There are a lot of familiar names in the credits: old hands Doerge, Glaub, Finnigan, Lala, and Vitale; relative newcomers Hutchinson and Raymond; and wildcards like Alex Acuña, Lenny Castro, Luis Conte, and on Young's tracks his current Ben Keith/Spooner Oldham/Duck Dunn/Jim Keltner band. (JA)
Live At The Wiltern (CPR: 1999)
Silver & Gold (Young: 2000)
Road Rock, Vol. 1 (Young: 2000)
Just Like Gravity (CPR: 2001)
Are You Passionate? (Young: 2002)
Songs For Survivors (Nash: 2002)
A weak, generic soft rock record with the same hi-tech production values Crosby, Stills and Nash have employed for three decades.
Features an excellent cover of Richard Thompson's "Pavanne" and a horrible eight-minute rewrite of "Masters Of War" (or some other Dylan song, my memory fails me).
The band includes Russ Kunkel, who co-produced, Lenny Castro, and among three guitar players Dean Parks.
Crosby is in the mix somewhere but isn't very audible. (JA)
Greendale (Young: 2003)
Crosby Nash (Crosby & Nash: 2004)
A double CD.
The band includes Pevar, Raymond, Kunkel and Sklar. (JA)
Prairie Wind (Young: 2005)
Living With War (Young: 2006)
Chrome Dreams II (Young: 2007)
Funny, I have this sudden feeling of deja