Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I have no particular fondness for Crosby, Stills and Nash. The Sometimes Young stuff is what retains its interest these days. Stills looked like a contender for a while, but that Manassas stuff was the end of it. Crosby, it turns out, was just another hippie. My understanding is that Graham Nash was actually a decent guy (and probably still is) but his resume is the lightest of the lot. Even with these misgivings, however, I can still find myself caught up by some of their work. Part of it is that they were so ubiquitous-- Nash and Crosby (and frequently Rita Coolidge, g-d save the mark) seemed to sing back-up on everybody's albums, for example. Or consider who played on their 'solo' sides. Stills was probably the most accomplished musician from a technical standpoint, and on his first solo record he got Eric Clapton (back when we thought he was God) and Jimi Hendrix to sit in on a track each. This morning on the way in to work 'Military Madness', from Nash's "Songs For Beginners" came on. It is a slight piece of work, with hippie politics that cloy, but it is also a pretty good piece of songwriting. Towards the end there is a bit of funky guitar work, and I found myself wondering who it was. It might have been Stills-- there was a lot of wah-wha, an effect he was fond of, but the point of those solo records was to play with other guys, so I figured it wasn't. It could have been Jerry Garcia-- parts of it sounded like the kind of thing Jerry used to do. I ran through a couple of other players from the period as the song faded out, then looked it up just now. It was Dave Mason. Rita Coolidge was (naturally) singing back-up. (Wikipedia says "her leaving Stills for Nash has been cited as a contributing factor behind the initial 1970 breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young." I did not know that.)
The Stephen Stills demo album "Just Roll Tape" released in 2007 is worth a listen. The songs hold up surprisingly well when stripped of the sometimes over-the-top harmony signing that I associate with CSN.
I meant to get to that when it was released. The cuts I heard sounded good, and I like that sort of thing generally. Thanks for reminding me.