CSNY 1974

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

We can all agree that Crosby, Stills & Nash are unique combination to begin with. When you add Neil Young to the mix, it becomes a heavier band with more muscle with a need for more room to explore — a big reason why playing stadiums makes more sense. Well, at least, in 1974 when stadium tours for super groups like CSNY were relatively uncommon. Even with Bill Graham at the helm, the challenge of playing 31 concerts in 24 cities was a remarkable feat for Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young and their backing band — Tim Drummond on bass, Russ Kunkel on drums, and Joe Lala on percussion. Now, after 40 years, a three set show from the tour, considered by many to be the first significant reunion tour by any band of renown, has been pieced together for a 40-track box set with a direct and eloquent title: CSNY 1974.

Produced by Graham Nash and Joel Bernstein (whose photographs adorn the cover and the included 188-page booklet), CSNY 1974 captures the ambitious electric to acoustic and back to electric format of the shows, highlighted by songs Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had recorded together and on their own. This allowed the group to apply custom spins on Young’s “Old Man” from Harvest, “On The Beach” from the then-just released studio album of the same name, and “Long May You Run,” which was supposed to be recorded by CSNY, but ended up becoming the title track on the one and only album by the short-lived Stills-Young Band. Other previously unreleased Young songs include “Traces,” “Love/Art Blues,” “Goodbye Dick” and “Hawaiian Sunrise.” Conversely, there are noble versions of Stills’ “Love The One You’re With” and “Change Partners” ; Nash’s “Military Madness” and “Fieldworker”; and Crosby’s “Time After Time” — it would eventually appear on the Crosby-Nash’s 1976 Whistling Down The Wire — and “Carry Me,” recorded but unreleased until it showed up on the 1991 CSN box set.

There are loads of atypical tracks, the likes of which hadn’t been heard up until then, or ever again on subsequent tours. But at the heart of it all are those CSN and CSNY classics — "Helpless," "Almost Cut My Hair," "Our House," "Teach Your Children," "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and "Déjà Vu" — you’ll hear in full bloom. With Young and Stills trading guitar licks, Nash and Crosby jumping from guitar to keyboards to just vocals, and Drummond, Kunkel and Lala lining the bottom end, the possibilities were endless. Even so, you’re going to want to zero in on Young’s “Don’t Be Denied” making its CD debut as the album from which it originates, the fabled Time Fades Away, is still unavailable on CD. All this before giving in to the set’s grand political statements: Nash’s “Chicago” and Young’s “Ohio.” CSNY 1974 is available in several formats — from a single 16-track CD sampler to the boxed set on three CDs and a bonus DVD of eight previously unreleased, restored archival video performances, plus a 188-page booklet, to deluxe sets with the music on Pure Audio Blu-Ray and vinyl. They all offer compelling insight into one of the greatest and most complicated rock bands of the 20th century.

~ Shawn Perry

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