REVIEW: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “CSNY 1974”

 photo CSNY1974_cover_zps99f6e99f.jpg Rhino Records have released three different Crosby, Stills & Nash box sets highlighting each member, as a group, with collaborations, and solo projects. Now there’s a fourth box set, but this time welcoming in Neil Young and highlighting the reunion tour they did in 1974. CSNY 1974 (Rhino) is a way to not only hear again the songs CSN and CSNY did as a group, but to also check out their solo material performed in a group setting. These include “Don’t Be Denied” (from Young’s great live album Time Fades Away), “Military Madness” (from Nash’s Songs For Beginners), “Almost Cut My Hair” (from Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name) and “Love The One You’re With” (from Stills’ debut solo album). Even if you know these songs in their original form or live recordings they may have done on their own tours, it’s nice to hear them in the CSNY setting, especially when the harmonies kick in.

Even if you’ve bought bootlegs or downloaded ROIO’s over the years, it’s nice to hear them nicely mixed, complete with in between dialogue that had often made those shows interesting to listen to along with the songs in question. Then there’s the guitar work from both Young and Stills, each with their own distinct way of playing but when they were together, it worked nicely. Despite the inner bickering they may have had with each other from time to time, CSNY 1974 shows that when it was possible, they were able to work together in beautiful harmony.


SOME STUFFS: Audio Fidelity to release remasters of George Benson and “Super Session”

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They are cherished albums in the world of jazz and blues rock respectively, and despite how many copies you have seen of this around everywhere, you definitely haven’t heard them like this. Audio Fidelity are releasing audiophile hybrid SACD remasters of George Benson’s Breezin’ and the Mike Bloomfield/Al Kooper/Stephen Stills album known to many as Super Session.

Benson’s 1975 album is the one that helped moved him to the pop charts with his renditions of “This Masquerade” and the title track, a song that you could pretty much hear everywhere on the radio. The 5.1 mix was done by Doug Sax.

Super Session is an album that has carried a reputation for the guitarists that are on it, along with their performances of each song. In hip-hop circles, many will recognize “Season Of The Witch” as being sampled by The Pharcyde. The 5.1 mix was done by Bob Ludwig. For both CD’s, the stereo mixes were both mastered by Steve Hoffman, so you should know very well how this will sound. How will it compare to the MFSL audio pressing? Just wait and see/hear. Both SACD’s are scheduled for release on August 5th.

REVIEW: Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s “Americana”

Photobucket What some casual Neil Young fans want to know about this album is this? Is it any good? I think so, but I would ask fans “what’s good?” When it comes to Young, you never know what to expect, and either you ride with him or wait around until he comes up with something you enjoy. Americana (Reprise) is an album teaming him up with Crazy Horse, the first time he has done so since his great 2003 album Greendale. When Greendale was released, it seemed everyone expected to hear Rust Never Sleeps and it wasn’t that at all. But again, this is Mr. Young, and what he feels like recording and releasing, you deal with it.

Here’s the deal. Americana consists of traditional songs that have become a part of the fabric of this country, meaning the United States. It can be patriotic, it can be honorable, but all of the songs are performed with brand new arrangements so that you can truly listen to the lyrics and perhaps get a different perspective of the words. You’ll hear them tackle “Oh Susannah”, “Clementine”, “This Land Is Your Land”, “Wayfarin’ Stranger”, and “High Flyin’ Bird”. While “Gallows Pole” may be known by a generation or two as a Led Zeppelin song, its origins go much further than that and Young adds to the fabric of a folk song that continues its path into the 21st century. He even has a go at doing The Silhouettes‘ “Get A Job”, which celebrates its 55th anniversary this year and continues to be celebrated as one of the greatest songs in rock’n’roll history. The album concludes with “God Save The Queen”, which may seem like an odd choice on an album that is meant to celebrate Americana, but then again the term Americana is something that is looked upon with fondness in England. Perhaps it’s used here as a way to show how a song can continue to be sung by its residents (and its territories) with honor and respect, while one of the countries they have given a nice term for tends to not do this in a unified manner. At least that’s my take.

Musically, Americana sounds like a jam session that can go anywhere, and with a few songs going over the five minute mark, it often does. Will this be worthy of multiple listens? If you’re expecting this to sound like “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” or “A Man Needs A Maid”, perhaps not. As an album that is meant to challenge the listener as well as the material used, it’s something that deserves to be documented. I was going to say “there aren’t any anthems of this”, but I speak in a rock fashion. There is “God Save The Queen” on here, and many have often talked about “This Land Is Your Land” sounds more like an American anthem than the official song. Americana is as laid back in sound as the selection of songs suggest, very much a “baseball, hot dogs & apple pie” kind of album, but with a cranky uncle who says “now I have a story I want to tell you, you may have heard it before, but I will tell it differently.” Young is that cranky-yet-humble uncle, and we’re thankful he’s still here to dish out the stories when he has the chance.