CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG-C.S.N.Y. 1974.

CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG-C.S.N.Y. 1974.

Forty years ago, in 1974, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young put their differences aside, and embarked upon what was the first ever outdoor stadium tour. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had been on hold for nearly three years. It had been four years since Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young released their sophomore album Deja Vu in March 1970.

Deja Vu was the first album since the band became a quartet. It reached number one in the US and was certified platinum seven times over. This vindicated the decision to bring Neil Young onboard. 

When Crosby, Stills and Nash was released in May 1969, a year after the band was formed, it reached number six in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in Crosby, Stills and Nash being certified platinum four times over. Good as Crosby, Stills and Nash was, with Neil Young onboard they were transformed. They became a supergroup, who the skies were the limit. That was until Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young embarked on their 1970 tour.

Following the success of Deja Vu ,and its two top twenty singles, Woodstock and Teach Your Children, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young headed out on tour. At first things went well. Then the problems started. Arguments, backbiting and disagreements were commonplace. Then bassist Greg Reeves began behaving erratically. So Stephen Stills fired him. He was replaced by Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels. Not long after that, the Kent State shootings happened. 

Disgusted at what he saw, Neil Young wrote Ohio is response to the shooting of unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard on 4th May 1970. The song was hurriedly recorded and released as a single. It gave Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young another hit single. Little did anyone realise Ohio  would prove to be Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young last recording for seven long years. 

Despite all the commercial success and critical acclaim Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were enjoying, the band weren’t getting on well. Relationships were strained at best. It was always going to come to a head. That happened after the tour ended in the summer of 1970. Literally, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young imploded. 

It looked like the end of the road for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. By the end of tour, relationships were at an all time low. Many people thought they’d never record again. Even the record company, Atlantic, must have thought this. They released 4 Way Street in April 1971. Just like Deja Vu, 4 Way Street reached number one on the US Billboard 200. Having sold over four million copies, 4 Way Street was certified four-times platinum. For Atlantic Records and everyone connected to the band, it must have been hugely frustrating. Here was a supergroup who could go on to become one of the most successful groups of the seventies. Despite this, there would be no turning back. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were no more. The four members of the band embarked upon solo projects.

These solo projects had proved hugely successful. Especially Neil Young’s 1972 critically acclaimed classic album Harvest. It reached number one in the UK and US Billboard 200. This resulted in in Harvest being certified triple platinum in the UK and four-times platinum in the US. A year later, Neil’s first live album, Time Fades Away was certified gold in the US. With this sort of commercial success and critical acclaim coming his way, there wasn’t much incentive to reform Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The same could be said of Stephen Stills. 

Back in July 1971, he’d released his sophomore album Stephen Stills 2. Although it wasn’t as well received as his eponymous debut album, Stephen Stills 2 reached number eight in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. So was David Crosby’s 1971 debut album. 

This was If I Could Only Remember My Name. Released in February 1971, If I Could Only Remember My Name reached number twelve in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. The last member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young was also enjoying commercial success.

Graham Nash released Songs For Beginners in May 1971. It reached number fifteen in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. His sophomore album Wild Tales was released in December 1973, but stalled at number thirty-four in the US Billboard 200. However, despite that Graham Nash hadn’t much incentive to reform Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. 

By 1974, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young hadn’t set foot in a studio since they recorded Ohio in 1970. They wouldn’t set foot in a recording studio again until 1977s C.S.N. By then the band would be reduced to a trio, with Neil Young concentrating on his solo career. It wasn’t until 1988s American Dream that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young would record another album. They did set aside their differences to tour in 1974, when promoter Bill Graham persuaded Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to embark upon what would become the first ever outdoor stadium tour. That legendary tour is documented on the recently released Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young live album C.S.N.Y. 1974, which was recently release by Rhino. 

Bill Graham had made his name as a promoter and musical impresario in the 1960s. He also owned Filmore Records between 1969 and 1976. By 1974, he’d promoted the great and good of music. Everyone from The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band, The Allman Brothers, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Hot Tuna, Neil Young and Bob Dylan had been promoted by Bill Graham. The one group Bill Graham hadn’t promoted was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

That didn’t look like it was going to happen. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were on a hiatus. It had been nearly three years since they last played together. As a music fan, this saddened him. However, as a businessman, Bill saw a massive lost opportunity.

Here were a band that had released just two studio albums and one live album. However, their album sales in the US were over fourteen million. Then there was the rest of the world. Australia, Canada, Europe and the UK had all been won over by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. If only he could get them to put aside their differences, they could make a lot of money, thanks to a new type of tour, the outdoor stadium tour.

Bill Graham had used this when Bob Dylan and The Band played ten dates in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Oakland. Twenty-one tracks recorded on that tour became Before the Flood, Bob Dylan and The Band’s 1974 live album. Realising that this was only the tip of a musical iceberg, Bill Graham decided to take this idea further. To do this, he had to get Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young onboard.

Somehow, Bill managed to persuade Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that here was the future of touring. They put aside their differences and grievances to to embark on a thirty-one date tour, where they’d play in twenty-four American cities. They even flew across the Atlantic to play in London’s Wembley Arena. Little did Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young know, but they were musical pioneers. This was the future of touring.

For their 1974 tour, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young brought onboard bassist Tim Drummond, drummer Russ Kunkel and percussionist Joe Lala. They would embark upon one of the most ambitious concert tours ever. 

Over two months, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played thirty-one concerts in twenty-four American cities. This required a small army of road crew, truck drivers and tradesman. They ensured several tons of instruments, equipment and a fully equipped recording studio were ready go each night. Especially ten nights in particular. 

These ten nights were when 1974 was recorded. The first two dates took place at Nassau County Coliseum Hempstead, NewYork on the 14th and 15th August 1974. Four nights later, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played three nights at the Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland between the 19th and 21st August 1974. From there they headed to the Windy City. At the Chicago Stadium, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played three concerts between the 27th and 29th August 1974. After that, the band headed to the UK.

On September 14th 1974, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played Wembley Stadium. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young came and conquered. It was obvious, that if they could set aside their respective egos, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young could become one of the biggest bands in musical history. That was a big if though.

By December 14th 1974, when Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young arrived at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium, to play a benefit concert in aid of the Farmworkers Union and Project Jonah. That night, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young produced one of the best performances of the tour. That was fitting, given the 1974 was drawing to a close. It had been some tour.

Each night, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young walked onstage and proceeded to play for three-and-a-half hours. The songs were a mixture of old favourites and new songs. Many of the songs would never have been heard if Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were onstage for just a a couple of hours. Instead, the lengthy sets allowed them to stretch their legs musically. That’s apparent on the recently released 1974 album.

Just like many releases, C.S.N.Y. 1974 is available in various formats. There’s the four disc box set. It features three CDs and a DVD. The other version is the single disc edition which I’m reviewing. It features sixteen tracks. None of them have been released before.

The sixteen tracks on 1974 are a mixture of tracks from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young two studio albums and their solo albums. 

Four tracks are taken from Crosby, Stills and Nash 1969 eponymous debut album. Back then, they were just a trio. Now a quartet, new life and meaning is breathed into Wooden Ships, Long Time Gone the wistful Guinevere and the beautiful  poignant Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.

Only three tracks from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s sophomore album Deja Vu feature on 1974. They’re Our House, the heartfelt Teach Your Children, and despairing Helpless. The other Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song to feature on 1974 is Ohio. Written by Neil Young’s it’s a timeless protest song from one of the most talented songwriters of his generation. That’s not the only example of this.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart is a track from Neil’s third studio album After The Gold Rush, which was released in August 1970. Released as a single, it gave Neil his first top forty single. An outpouring of grief and heartache, Neil is meant to have written the song after Graham Nash split-up with Joni Mitchell. Neil’s other contribution was Old Man, a track from his 1972 sophomore album Harvest. It’s a classic album and one of the finest albums ever recorded. On 1974, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young breath new life and beauty into a familiar song. They do the same with a song that’s become synonymous with Stephen Stills.

That’s Love The One You’re With. It’s a track from Stephen’s eponymous 1970 debut album. It gave Stephen number fourteen hit in the US Billboard 100 in 1970. With its rousing, anthemic sound, it’s the perfect way to open 1974. Change Partners is a track from Stephen Stills 2. It features a vocal tinged with hurt. It’s also rueful and full of regret. Just like Stephen’s other contribution, Johnny’s Garden, these tracks are reinvented by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. They take on new life when accompanied by the harmonic delights of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. That’s the case with David Crosby’s contribution.

David was a talented songwriter. Of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young songs on 1974, David wrote two tracks cowrote another. He also contributed The Lee Shore. It hadn’t been recorded before and made its debut on the 1974 tour. Another song from the pen of David Crosby was Immigration Man. This was a collaboration between David and Stephen Stills. They released Immigration Man as a single in 1972. Just like David Crosby there was only one song from Graham Nash’s solo career on 1974.

That’s Chicago, a track from Graham’s 1971 solo album Songs for Beginners. It’s another track oozing social comment. It tells the story of the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Graham, just like Neil Young, David Crosby and Stephen Stills, is a talented and experienced songwriter. He has the ability to paint pictures with words. In the hands of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young they take on a new significance. Frustration, anger and drama shines through as the lyrics are almost spat out. Listening to Chicago, it’s as if the frustration and anger is getting the better of Graham. A powerful song from the pen of Graham Nash, It’s apt that’s it’s followed by Ohio, which closes C.S.N.Y. 1974

Ohio is another track that deals with political unrest and violence. Written by Nell Young, it’s another powerful, poignant song that proves the perfect way to close 1974. It’s a reminder of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s first outdoor stadium tour. 

Looking back it’s remarkable that the 1974 tour ever finished. Despite Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young telling the world everything was well, and they were getting along fine, that was far from the case.

Just like before, arguments, backbiting and excesses were omnipresent. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young weren’t getting on well. The arguments that caused the group to split in late 1970, were back. If the truth be known, they never went away. Then there was the rock ’n’ excesses and strange behaviour.

Excesses are nothing new on a rock ’n’ tour. Especially in 1974. It was almost expected. Fans would be disappointed if a band weren’t drunk, wasted or wrecking hotel rooms. Drink and drugs were commonplace on tours in the seventies. They kept the show on the road. For some members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young this was the case.

David Crosby seemed to be living the life. He was said to have a healthy appetite for excess. Drink and drugs were constant companions. He was also embracing the polyamorous’ lifestyle. This had been the case since the death of companion Christine Hinto in 1969. On the 1974 tour, he had two “companions” who constantly vied for his attention. Even just before a show. After that, he’d dawn his familiar garb of fatigues and American football tops and hit the stage. Not everyone embraced the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.

Neil Young was enjoying the most productive period of his career. On tour, he kept himself away from the rest of the band. He wanted no part of the excess. No wonder. The success he was enjoying surpassed what his three colleagues enjoyed. On the 1974 tour, the happily married Neil Young wrote a dozen new songs. He showcased them on the 1974 tour. They would go on to feature on albums like 1974s On The Beach, 1975s Zuma, 1977s American Stars and Bars, 1978s Comes A Time  and Bars and 1980s Hawkes and Doves. A taste of these albums were heard during the 1974 tour. 

During the 1974 tour, Neil Young was in fine voice. So were the three other band members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. That’s apparent when they each take charge of the lead vocal. The other three add their trademark harmonies. Bill Graham had been right. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were still a huge draw. 

They filled each of the twenty-four venues. As soon as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young walked onstage, they raised the roof. Each night, they played for three-and-a-half hours. The songs were a mixture of old favourites and new songs. Many of the songs would never have been heard if Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were onstage for just a a couple of hours. Instead, the lengthy sets allowed them to stretch their legs musically. That’s apparent on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s live album 1974, which was recently released by Rhino.

1974 is a reminder of a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at the peak of their powers. They were one of the biggest supergroups. However, they should’ve been a much bigger group than they were. They never really fulfilled their potential. 

Differences, grievances and excesses meant that between 1969 and 1999, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young only released eight albums. Neil Young, who featured on 1970s Deja Vu, didn’t return until 1988s American Dream. It was certified platinum. After that, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young only released three further albums. Sadly, they never matched the success of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s first five studio albums. 

Of the first five albums Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young released, their first two albums were their finest. 1969s Crosby, Stills and Nash and 1970s Deja Vu feature Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at their very best. That was before the backbiting, differences, grievances and excesses got in the way of the music in 1970. Four years 

In 1974, these differences were put aside for a thirty-one date tour. It saw Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young roll back the years. They revisited old favourites and showcased new songs during Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s 1974 tour. It saw Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the original supergroup, put aside their differences, and showcase their considerable talents over the sixteen songs on C.S.N.Y. 1974.

CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG-C.S.N.Y. 1974.

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