Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young/ CSNY 1974 (Rhino, 2014)
This 1974 reunion tour was, at the time, the highest grossing and most ambitious tour ever. While some bands played the odd stadium date, this is the first time that any band booked an entire tour in baseball stadiums coast to coast. All of the excess was documented, including professional mobile recording. This three CD/ one DVD box set is a stunning document. Like the more recent Led Zeppelin live albums (How The West Was Won, etc.) this was mixed from the original two track tapes and the sound quality is unbelievable.
While this album is comprised of songs performed on different nights, each show on the tour was at least three hours long and broken down into three segments: Electric, acoustic, and an electric closing set. This triple live album keeps that spirit by splitting the three sections across the three discs.
The arrangements are loose, jammy, sprawling and have a fog over them. You can almost imagine a hot, humid, outdoor show complete with the smell of beer, pot, and body odor when listening to Almost Cut My Hair. Neil Young had recently released his On The Beach album, and his take on the title song is fantastic. Don't Be Denied, from Neil's frustratingly out of print, never commercially issued on CD Time Fades Away is part of the rocking ten song finale that makes up Disc Three. Military Madness rules. No band channeled the zeitgeist or reflected the values of the times better than these guys.
You get songs from the core band, songs from each member's solo albums, songs that were at the time unreleased and wound up on later albums (Long May Your Run), and some that never materialized but are finally available here. Goodbye Dick, which was written the day that Nixon resigned, has been in the vaults since these shows were played forty years ago. The band sounds great. I have never seen them, any of them in any configuration, live. I need to rectify this as soon as possible.
I did sit all the way through all three discs one night, and there is a real emotional payoff when you listen to it that way as opposed to one disc at a time. Set aside an evening, pop some popcorn, and grab a beverage of your choice and give it a serious listen.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Those of you who just wandered in might wonder what this section is about, so I'll spill. It is about packaging, and the materials used in said packaging. I adore physical media, and the tactile experience is what makes it real in my mind. You can keep your mp3s; I'll stick with my friend the compact disc.
The digipak is one chunky monkey, with a four-sided foldout complete with an honest to gosh plastic hub for each disc. The 180+ page book has it's own pocket, and is jammed with great liner notes and tons of pictures. While it may seem like a chunk of change to buy this, it is totally worth every penny. There is a deluxe wooden box set with LPs, Blu-Ray audio disc, and all sorts of bric-a-brac for the super diehard well-heeled fan. This “average consumer edition” is fine by me.