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Crosby, Still And Nash iTunes Crosby, Stills And Nash Official Website

Crosby, Stills And Nash 

+ {Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young} + {David Crosby / Graham Nash}

Formed in Laurel Canyon, California in the summer of ‘68 by David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, the supergroup trio of former folkies and pop stars initially made their mark over the course of the next few years; from The BYRDS there was Crosby, from BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD there was Stills, while all the way from Manchester, England and The HOLLIES came Nash – all adept at harmony singing and guitar strumming.
Their eponymous first offering, CROSBY, STILLS & NASH (1969) {*9}, reached the Top 10 and featured the distinctive songwriting talent of each respective member on classic tracks such as `Guinnevere’, `Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ and `Marrakesh Express’ (the latter a Top 30 hit on both sides of the Atlantic). The album introduced the close harmonising that would come to characterise the band, other amazing cuts including Crosby’s anti-war `Wooden Ships’ (penned by Stills and PAUL KANTNER), Stills’ `Helplessly Hoping’ and Nash’s psychedelic folk cue, `Pre-Road Downs’.
Later that year the trio recruited Stephen’s old sparring partner, NEIL YOUNG, who’d played an electric set on their mid-‘69 gigs and who’d already embarked on a post-BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD solo career. The newly augmented line-up played Woodstock as well as supporting The ROLLING STONES at their ill-fated Altamont concert which, ironically, saw the dreams of the Woodstock generation shatter. Nevertheless the band were adopted as hippie flag-bearers and after lifting the coveted Best Newcomers award at the Grammys, the quartet released their magnum opus, DEJA VU (1970) {*10}. With Young contributing the achingly gorgeous `Helpless’ and the sublime `Country Girl’ suite, his intensity, both vocal and instrumental, was a towering influence, although Stephen offered up a powerful cover of JONI MITCHELL’s `Woodstock’, plus his own `4 + 20’ and `Carry On’ (with Kerry Livgren); the Stills-Young pairing contributed the finale piece, `Everybody I Love You’. Nash’s `Teach Your Children’ and `Our House’ (two massive hits) were slighter in comparison but rounded out the record perfectly, while Crosby offered up `Almost Cut My Hair’ and the title track.
Blighted by ego problems with drug habits to match, the band split the same month as Young’s ominous CSNY-backed `Ohio’ single was released, an inspired protest against the killing of four students by the National Guard during an anti-war demo at Kent State University. The patchy, posthumous live album, 4 WAY STREET (1971) {*6}, was hardly a fitting epitaph although predictably it sold in bucket-loads.
All CSN(&Y) members duly spread their wares in different rock areas; Neil continued with his mercurial solo career, Stephen followed up his well-received Top 3 debut album (“Stills”) with “Stills 2”, and later recorded under auspices of the country-inflected Manassas. Meanwhile, both CROSBY and NASH scaled the US Top 20 with respective LPs, “If I Could Only Remember My Name” and “Songs For Beginners” (both in ’71).
Initially reversing their billing, the latter pairing worked as a duo, delivering their eponymous GRAHAM NASH / DAVID CROSBY (1972) {*7} debut, straight into the Top 5. Minus their wayward counterparts, the record was pleasant if hardly essential, lacking the tension that had made CSN&Y so compelling. Featuring a stellar cast of studio musos, including JERRY GARCIA, PHIL LESH and Bill Kreutzmann (from GRATEFUL DEAD), DAVE MASON, and “The Section”: Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel and Craig Doerge, the set interspersed individually-penned wistful and reflective tunes; Nash’s `Southbound Train’ and the Top 40 hit, `Immigration Man’, winning over Crosby’s solemn `Whole Cloth’ and `Where Will I Be?’. The solo NASH would try and repeat his winning formula with a second batch of material in “Wild Tales”’.
The inevitable CSN&Y reunion took place in the summer of ’74, and the biggest personality clash in rock toured the world to ecstatic audiences, although the band couldn’t keep it together long enough to record anything concrete in the studio (the fact that YOUNG travelled in his own tour-bus didn’t bode too well). Nevertheless, the quartet had another US No.1 on their hand with the compilation, “So Far”.
Keeping their harmonies and poetical ammunition alive in song, David CROSBY and Graham NASH stuck to their dual alliance with the release of a Top 10 sophomore set, WIND ON THE WATER (1975) {*7}. Very much in the JACKSON BROWNE-meets-JESSE COLIN YOUNG end of the spectrum, the record’s soft-rock touches were effective on `Bittersweet’, minor hit `Carry Me’, `Take The Money And Run’ and the a cappella-to-orchestral medley, `To The Last Whale’.
CROSBY-NASH continued in much the same vain for 1976’s subdued third album, WHISTLING DOWN THE WIRE (1976) {*4} – shades of RUNDGREN and STEELY DAN were obvious filters. Softer than a SEALS & CROFT/LOGGINS & MESSINA set combined, there was little to excite their diminishing CSN fanbase. Recorded from the pair’s travels, the belatedly-issued LIVE (1977) {*6} sealed a transitional time for the CROSBY-NASH alumni, an alumni that also featured the talents of The Mighty Jitters: Kortchmar, Kunkel, Doerge, David Lindley and Tim Drummond.
Meanwhile, on the back of two poorly-received Top 40 LPs, “Stills” (1975) and “Illegal Stills” (1976) for Columbia Records, the STILLS-YOUNG BAND answered the call with the release of “Long May You Run” (1976). Boasting the wistful charm of the title track and the exquisite `Fontainebleu’, the record was otherwise fairly lacklustre.
The following year, CROSBY, STILLS & NASH re-grouped and recorded the million-selling CSN (1977) {*7}; again another inoffensive collection which lacked the focus their 4th man had brought to the group in the past. Indeed, while CSN were touring their particular brand of polite folk-pop, YOUNG was interpreting punk with his “Rust Never Sleep” album, outstripping CSN creatively and commercially. Still, the aforementioned CSN set was balanced with some harmony-drenched/pastoral pieces, the highlights coming through Crosby’s `Shadow Captain’, Stills’ `Fair Game’ (a Top 50 breaker) and Nash’s short `Just A Song Before I Go’.
Out of place among the new wave/punk-fixated world of modern music, both STILLS and NASH would effectively misfire with respective efforts, “Thoroughfare Gap” (1978) and “Earth & Sky” (1980), and it was once again time to combine resources under the safe house of another CSN reunion LP. The Top 10, DAYLIGHT AGAIN (1982) {*5}, spawned the equally lightweight chart-responsive singles `Wasted On The Way’ and `Southern Cross’ (penned by Stills and the Curtis Brothers), but it was the absence of drug-dependent Crosby took its toll on all concerned; deputies Mike Finnigan, Timothy B Schmit and ART GARFUNKEL were fired in at short notice. Made up of live tracks (including a rendition of JONI MITCHELL’s `He Played Real Good For Free’ – from 1977 – and The BEATLES’ `Blackbird), the shelved cinematic project, ALLIES (1983) {*4}, found its way into the Top 50.
The trio split around the same period; David was sentenced to five years for possession of heroin and cocaine; add to this, firearms offences. In the event, he was allowed to attend a rehabilitation program as an alternative which he duly reneged on; he did actually serve some time (nine months at various Texas penitentiaries) during the mid-80s. Out on bail, DC appeared live with Stills, Nash and Young at Live Aid as the quartet made plans to release an album in the future; in the meantime, NASH issued his fourth album, “Innocent Eyes”, in 1986, while one could rewind a few years back to STILLS’ “Right By You” (1984).
The long-awaited second CSN&Y studio album, AMERICAN DREAM (1988) {*5}, was a nice effort, but it was really held together by Young tracks, `This Old House’, `Feel Your Love’ and the title track. Although the record eclipsed most of the YOUNG-less CSN material, it was hardly the masterpiece people had waited for in almost two decades. The standout track was Crosby’s `Compass’, a song borne of his drug-induced hardships. Neil subsequently refused to promote the record on tour and that, more or less, was that.
Stuck somewhere deep in the yuppie 80s, LIVE IT UP (1990) {*3} was at times reliant on auxiliary members Joe Vitale, Doerge, Kortchmar, et al, as they provided a handful of the tracks; the former opening the set with the tinny/PHIL COLLINS-esque title track. STILLS duly produced a half/part-covers set in 1991: “Stills Alone”.
CSN continued unbowed, even after Crosby underwent a liver transplant following the release of the AFTER THE STORM (1994) {*4} album. Almost like an outlet for outtake solo records, the trio even had the audacity of covering LENNON and McCARTNEY’s `In My Life’.
With YOUNG now almost in the 30th year of a solo career which showed no sign of letting up (even if his modern output had been under par), it didn’t appear likely that he would ever re-unite with his old sparring partners. However, the er… LOOKING FORWARD (1999) {*5} set (was it?) heralded the one-off return of CSN&Y. Top 30 in their receptive homeland, the harmonies were in place, although it was a bit of a struggle to advance past run-of-the-mill dirges such as `Heartland’, `Dream For Him’ and the best of them, `Out Of Control’. David was the first to branch out in other directions through the collaborative CPR (Crosby, Jeff Pevar and his long-lost son, James Raymond) project; they’ve since delivered a couple of studio efforts.
NASH was also back in his own right with 2002’s “Songs For Survivors”, one of the better releases to come from the CSN&Y camp over the last decade. Musically reclusive over the last 14 years, STILLS finally re-emerged with the long-awaited “Man Alive” (2005), while the pairing of the remaining pair just had to get their two-penn’orth in by way of an eponymous return to the fray: CROSBY & NASH (2004) {*5}.
Autumnal and amiable like all good C&N albums of the past (and one would have to travel back to the 70s for the last one), it was horizontal, Sunday -in-bed stuff for the likes of `Jesus Of Rio’, `Half Your Angels’ and the James Raymond-penned `Lay Me Down’. And, just as David was keeping his name out of the tabloids, he was back in the doo-doo with further drug charges.
It was inevitable that the CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG entourage would spout their political agenda/manifesto once again, as they marched on with live documentary comeback set, DEJU VU LIVE (2008) {*6}. Featuring anti-war songs from their various solo outings (including YOUNG’s `Living With War’, NASH’s `Military Madness’) and STILLS’ epic `Wooden Ships’), how could the soundtrack fail to impress the converted.
Keeping up appearances (Stills looked remarkably ageless), CROSBY, STILLS & NASH completed yet another reunion set, the obviously-titled double-CD/DVD package, CSN 2012 {*6}, a stroll through the park for these old-timers. If one wanted to hear updates of classics soft-rocker such as `Marrakesh Express’, `Guinnevere’, `Our House’ and `Teach Your Children’, then this record was for you.
© MC Strong 1994-2006/BG-GRD / rev-up MCS Jan2013

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