Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Sweet song of youth

It's hard to believe that 1974 is now forty years ago, even harder to believe that my summer 2014 soundtrack has been the newly released CSNY 1974 40 track live tour bonanza. The truth is even by 1974 and at nineteen years of age I was bored with CSNY and the great explosion of West Coast cheesy soundalikes they spawned. I drifted away from that music and cut my hair and avoided these guys for quite a few years albeit Neil Young remained a curious guilty pleasure for shock factor and short term listening. No commitment required just keep up with the payments and you'll be fine. Now I'm back again, full circle, not much hair and it's 1970 or something like it. 

This album, like most live recordings is a challenge, truly awful in places, truly...memorable in others. The politics and issues remain hot, strangely relevant but the rough edged protests and howls of derision have achieved ... well not much really. The streets of the USA are no safer, the world is no kinder, there are too many guns and CSNY just become more swollen, unhealthier and grumpy. Where did it all go wrong and why are so many "good" things, well meant things, proven by time and the relentless recordings of history to be utterly futile? We don't really learn from our mistakes. So lets take it a name at a time:

Crosby - he comes out fighting on this, a better singer and performer than I thought but buried by the twin guitar peaks and background hollerings of Stills and Young.

Stills - the good looking poster boy could really play then, his singing however is a madcap set of growls, swoops and relentless repeated nonsense words but he silences Young with his thoughtful and busy guitar work (not high enough in the mix for some reason). A real talent but not much staying power as it turned out.

Nash - always irritating with that nasal Northern whine, the weakest contributor and someone who seems a thoroughly boring but nice guy  in real life. How did he ever get off with Joni Mitchell?

Young - Already in 1974 the old head of the band , steady, confident  and full of tricks. He must've hated Stills for showing up his haphazard guitar work but he played a long game and came away as the ultimate survivor.

Best live tracks -  Love the one you're with, Wooden ships, Black Queen, Long may you run, Old Man, Deja Vu and Ohio. 

That's it, summer's over.

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