on July 8, 2014
For all of the smack talk this tour has received over the years, the quality of these performances is excellent and, perhaps, a notch above those on `Four Way Street'. While 4WS features a loose and ragged sound, Tim Drummond (bass), Russ Kunkel (drums) and Joe Lala (percussion) offer more polished backing for CSNY and this set features a bit more of a studio feel. "Teach Your Children", for instance, is a much stronger version and features a full band arrangement. The vocals are also much more on point on this release. The harmonies on "Only Love Can Break Your Heart", "Ohio", an exquisite take on "The Lee Shore" (with some tasteful, bubbly electric guitar fills from Stills) and "Johnny's Garden" beat anything this listener has heard on other albums or live performances.
The real revelation is how good the CSNY treatment of each member's solo material is. Neil Young's "On The Beach", for instance, is a slow burning highlight of this set and features some classis Stills/Young guitar interplay. Nash's "Grave Concern" and Crosby's "Carry Me" are also fantastic. Stills' solo rendition of `Word Game" is absolutely stunning.
The sound is very good considering the tapes are 40 years old. There is a bit of crackling here and there and some slightly noticeable phasing effects on the vocals at times. However, these discs sound great turned up nice and loud on the stereo.
A Solid `A' for this release.
"Everybody is a better musician. And there's plenty of new songs." Steve Stills.
"It's the music, man, the music." David Crosby.
"If you can make a lot of people feel real good, you did something right." Graham Nash.
"There was some good playing," Neil Young.
By now everyone knows this music and what the group sounds like. As with most if not all live albums, the sound has been "tinkered" with afterwards in the studio. So what you hear isn't necessarily what you would've heard if you attended one of these concerts. But after 40 years can anyone really remember what each song sounded like? Needless to say the sound is very good--everything is as crisp and clean as modern technology can do for 40 year old tapes. The songs (according to Nash) are presented to simulate, and have the flow of, a concert experience--an electric first set, an acoustic second set, followed by another electric set--which works well. In this era of many people listening to only a song or two on an album--let alone three albums--if you have the time and the inclination, listen to this "concert" in one sitting. The impact and enjoyment of what you hear will go up markedly.
The DVD is okay--eight tracks from various sources--and quality. While it's nice to see the band from so long ago it's obviously not the main reason to buy this set. The massive booklet has a nice essay on the concert series with quotes from the band, individual track information, and is packed with some great photos in both b&w and color, which really add depth to the essay. Check out the series of four photos of Stills playing his electric guitar--his facial expressions will tell you about his intensity on stage. Or a shot of Crosby concentrating on Stills' guitar with Young, in full electric mode. And how about the b&w shot of the band on stage with Stills in mid-air playing his guitar. Or for a flash of long ago times, the crowd shot with a topless female on someone's shoulders. Or the two page spread of the band rehearsing outside on the stage Young built at his home. But you get the idea.
But the bottom line--this set delivers. Really delivers. After all this time these songs and performances still have the power and excitement to move people. A track by track analysis is pretty useless--everyone will have their favorites. But I have to mention a stunningly beautiful version of "Guinevere" with Crosby on acoustic guitar and vocals with vocal help from Nash. And Young's "Revolution Blues" with it's tough electric guitars and great vocal is intense. And forty years on it's a bit difficult to remember the feeling in America, when songs like Nash's impassioned "Military Madness" (complete with crowd sing-along), were an important piece of that whole hippie/things must change/we can change the world mind set--a nice aural postcard from that long ago/long gone era. Plus, all the "new" songs fit seamlessly into the set lists, adding new life to this performance.
CSN&Y had that certain "something" that brought people together. Their songs spoke both to us and for us--about the important things in life ("Our House", "Teach Your Children", etc.) and the injustices and horrors of the time ("Ohio", "Goodbye Dick", a short yet expressive off the cuff tune from Young, and other anthems of the period) that galvanized, unified and tore us apart.
So don't buy this for nostalgia, or for the great "new" songs included here. Forget about the dysfunctionalism of the group, or the "sweetening" of the sound afterwards. Buy it because its a dam good example of CSN&Y at a highpoint in their careers. The bed of acoustic guitars underneath the sometimes soaring vocal harmonies is perfect, and the dueling electric guitars are pretty intense at times, and the entire band is a seamless blend of professionalism and fire. This sometimes vocally ragged-but-right collection of tunes (recorded at large venues, it doesn't exactly have the vocal/venue ambiance of "Another Stony Evening" from Crosby/Nash) nonetheless is a good example of CSN&Y in 1974.
CSN&Y on a good night had the power to bring people together, and this set is a perfect example of that power. I was lucky enough to have heard the band in their prime all those years (decades!) ago. And if you too were there, this will bring back those memories of a time when music was from a different place. There was still a small yet dwindling feeling that music could bring people together and change things for the better--still embodied by CSN&Y. And if you weren't able to hear the band from back then, this set will give you a good idea of what it was all about.
"At Wembley Stadium in 1974 the show was a fiasco, a blown-out drug-fueled performance that stands as one of the low points for CSNY. We were all guilty. Self-indulgence and selfishness were the rule of the day." Neil Young.
on July 8, 2014
CSNY pioneered Big Stadium live tour concerts back in the early 70"s and this set of songs will bring you back to the Golden Days - not only for the Music, but for many of us the time of youth and possibility. The year 1974 saw the end of the Nixon administration, the strong move into FM stereo radio, eight tracks, muscle cars, and half the world was smothered by the Iron Curtain of communism. Their music was our impression of freedom, love, and a good life to come.
This 40 song set will occupy a day's long of reflection and heavenly tunes. There are some songs on this set I have yet to hear, and maybe simply forgot, but it's all good. What I like is the quality of the music. The Producers Nash and Joel Bernstein clearly put forth a lot of effort selecting the best performed songs of that summer (a total of 31 concerts & 24 cities ), and the digital enhancement to make it sound up to modern standards makes one feel the tour is on for this summer. Which it is by the way with Neil Young missing - started last Sunday - Crosby, Stills, and Nash played the MAC at Monmouth University.
There are several packages available: 1) the basic version includes 40 tracks (three CD's) and a DVD of 8 unreleased video performances, plus a 188 page booklet. 2) A high resolution Pure Audio Blu-Ray edition with digital downloads, and a single CD. 3) A deluxe limited- edition in a boxed set of 6 vinyl LP's, a Pure Audio Blu-ray disc, a digital download, DVD, and a book of unseen photos of the tour.
I chose and reviewed the least expensive version (option 1). It is all about the music for me. I believe CSNY will bring forward their music to many around the world both young and old with this new set of past songs. I recommend it for everybody, and hope Neil Young will remember and join them again on a concert tour. Cool Man!!!
on July 11, 2014
A great trip back in time. I first saw CSNY at the Inglewood Forum in LA. in 1970. I was 15 and paid $4 for a general admission ticket. I saw Neil Young at the Roxy (1973 Tonight's The Night Tour) the Inglewood Forum (1973 Time Fades Away) & the Last Waltz (1976) . Saw CSN at the Greek in 1984 & at Universal Studios in 1988. They cancelled the Southern California show for the 1974 tour. Always wondered what I had missed. 40 years later, I found out!
This package was put together with love & care. (Thanks Graham and Joel). Many brilliant performances on this disk (Grave Concern, Guinnivere, Wooden Ships, On the Beach, Immigration Man, Revolution Blues, Almost Cut My Hair, Word Games. Carry Me, Pushed it Over the Edge, Deja Vu). Some great harmonies (Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Blackbird, Traces, The Lee Shore, Change Partners, Mellow My Mind, Love Art Blues. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes). On some tracks the vocals or performances are a little ragged but still work (Love The One Your With, Ohio, Long Time Gone). Back then half the fun of a live rock concert was hearing different versions of songs with extended jams, new arrangements etc. All that is here. CSNY live performances always walked the edge because these guys were more about a fresh, inspired performance than a rote rendition of a tune.
The mix on Russ Kunkel's drums & Tim Drummond's bass are sensational. Kunkel has been one of the best in the biz (great tom fills). He, Drummond & Lala really deliver for CSNY. Crosby's guitar work is excellent & sometimes overlooked (listen to his Conry acoustic on Gunnivere, Martin D-45 on the Lee Shore & funky chunky driving rhythm guitar on the electric tunes). Young & Nash's songs shine on these discs. Some cool piano and organ by Stills (Only Love Can Break, Love Art Blues), Young (Grave Concern, a jazzy Deja Vu) and Nash (many tunes). Stills and Young's guitar work is (take your pick) amazing, creative, tortured, rockin' , soulful, countrified, trippin', fiery, frenetic, fluid etc. Hey they're Stills and Young. Always original and never predictable.
The sound on this disc is excellent. Remember that back in 1974 we did not have microwave ovens, cell phones, personal computers, the internet, cheap electronic guitar tuners etc. (Heck, the MXR Phase 90 guitar effects pedal was just introduced in 1974.) The recordings are entertaining and a great piece of rock music history featuring 4 of the most creative and talented musician/songwriters in the last 50 years.
The DVD (short but very sweet) and booklet (great pics) give you a real sense of what the tour was like. Lots of nuances on the recording after several listens (Deja Vu stands out in this regard). If you want perfection, just dig out the CSN and CSNY studio albums (CD's?). If you want a time trip to what rock concerts used to be like (raw, creative, spontaneous), get this and enjoy. UPDATE August 1st -- I paid 54.95. Current price $39.88...Great Deal!
on July 14, 2014
I was in Cleveland in 1974 and saw this show. I was 17 years old. The secondary pot smoke was enough to get you high. I didn't need it. These four guys playing together meant everything to me. For someone who was there, This album really brings it all back. They were still in their prime and most of these songs were no older than 4 to 5 years. They sound so young, so fresh and they could still carry that long note. The songs about injustice were still relevant. I bought the short version of this album first, 16 songs. Then I decided I had to have more so I bought the download of 40 songs. Some called this "The Big Money Tour" which was true. None of them had written anything new. The only one who had new material was Neil Young. Understandable because he is the most prolific of the four. Nash compiled this collection and he really picked the best music. I only wish there was more electric jamming between Stills & Young. These guys were the best singer-song writers of the era. It's Beautiful.
on July 10, 2014
Some really great rare stuff as well as stuff that should have been left off. The booklet explains that in some instances they played so many shows and for so long that they were hoarse. Not sure who decided it would be a good idea to kick off the set with Stephen Stills doing a very hoarse version of "Love the One You're With". I love the studio version of that song, but this live version should have remained in the can. Neil Young is at his best on this set, although I'll bet he was probably just more picky about what he allowed to be released. His material is wonderful. The "Hawaiian Sunrise" song is a real treat, and is a great upgrade from the previously available bootleg. Overall this set could have been better, I believe. I heard interviews that they poured through ALL the performances and only took the best. Hard to believe they couldn't get a better version Of "Love the One You're With" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes". I would have preferred more unreleased gems like "Hawaiian Sunrise". This may, in fact be best to buy track by track and not the whole set. The enclosed booklet is a nice read, though.
on July 20, 2014
I got 'in' to CSNY just as they were on their own way 'out. Having heard a stirring live rendition of Suite Judy Blue Eyes on headphones at the Oslo University record store I decided, on the spot, to get more involved with these cool cats from the West Coast. That version of Suite Judy Blue Eyes from their 'farewell' live 4 Way Street set released in 1971 caused enough spark in me to start a fire and I quickly amassed as much CSNY solo and combo vinyl material as my student finances allowed. Come the Summer of '74 when I heard that the boys were playing together "for one last time", I knew I had to be in the middle of Wembley Stadium to savour the farewell.
40 years on and I could not believe that the frenetic energy of that summer tour might once again be savoured and, thanks to superior digital technology, in a way that would make it sound as if CSNY were playing on your own private estate. 40 years on and CSNY still pull their weight above the individual means. When CSNY '74 was announced I was among the first off the ranks to purchase my own souvenir set and I have just finished the first listening to both the audio set and extra video takes. My review is based upon the PureAudio DVD version.
First impressions: a set definitely worth owning; it's old yet absolutely new at the same time; there are new songs on here that I've never heard before; there are solo album songs that had not yet been released, yet are showcased on here; there are the old classic solo and combo tunes that are woven with the unmistakable harmonies of David, Stephen, Graham and Neil. A winner package.
Now CSNY never were a band to stick to studio purity when it came to live gigs. You are not going to hear the richly textured studio-mixed harmonies of Carry On, or the hair-tingling finale to Country Girl, or even the timeless vocal chimes of Helplessly Hoping. What you have in this compact time-snapped recording of a series of live gigs is a beguiling mix of rock, grit, ballad, sunshine and soul. Graham Nash and Joel Bernstein have done an exemplary job of selecting only the best sounding and best feeling tunes from a catalogue that reaches over 80 during the course of the tour.
The 40 songs are broken into three sets - as they were on stage. Set 1 is electric with the expected Love the One You're With, Wooden Ships, Helpless and the frantic Almost Cut My Hair carrying the flag. Total newcomer among this lot is Neil's Traces. Tellingly played here, yet not a trace heard of since. Nash's raw Immigration Man has guts, but doesn't for me match the C+N duo studio version. Still's Black Queen drags into overplay here when you consider the lightly visceral solo studio version. But we did say live and raw. Pour a Budweiser, sit in the sweet spot between your 5.1 system and let it rip.
I enjoyed Set 2 the most. It is here that you get almost studio like alternate takes of classics - notably Guinevere, Lee Shore, Our House, Teach Your Children. Pour a crisp sauvignon blanc for this set and savour with your eyes closed. While Neil had his own harmony singers on his studio version of Only Love Can Break Your Heart, it is here that it gets the full CSNY treatment and it's a delight. The four voices caressing Blackbird make one smile while Neil's Long May You run give a hint at what a studio version might have sounded like, had he and Stephen only not removed Graham and David's vocal from the studio mix.
Set 3 is back to the electric and yup, it's got predictable: Déjà Vu mixed and delivered in a way only David knows how; Pre Road Downs - edgy and pushy; Long Time Gone - drawn and Still-blues and a pre-Beach version of Neil's Revolution Blues. More beer and mebbe bite on a burger by now. What became of Neil's Pushed it Over the End beats me. Perhaps that's just what he did. Could be it was just a little too catchy and didn't grunge or folk enough? Like Nash's Horses Through a Rainstorm, it probably didn't fit in any box.
From a technical aspect: I chose the PureAudio DVD version because, like Neil, I like the purity of my music. I play it on a 5.1 Mission surround speaker system with a Denon Internet-linked amplifier - not hi-end hi-fi, but higher than most folk's setups and a Sony Blu Ray DVD player. All 40 songs fit on one DVD and must be played on a blu-ray DVD player. So that means no listening on my Macs and no creating of MP3 files (as an Australian purchaser of the pack I am not entitled to the free MP3 versions). The on-screen visual menu is piddly and disappointing: one B&W photo of the boys and a minuscule track selector box to the right. While you can peck your way around the track numbers with your DVD control, pressing ENTER does not select the track. You have to key in the number! Took me a while to figure that one out (may be different on your own machine).
While the original recording was not made with multi-source recording in mind - it is flat stereo, your amplifier can create some interesting soundscapes, if you experiment. I get a plausible 5.1 effect on the MUSIC setting on my Denon remote control. The sound is perceptibly fuller and clearer and this is particularly apparent in the acoustic brackets.
Summary: this is an album to sit down for and experience, not to eavesdrop on while shopping, cycling, or taking the bus to work. Play it only in the company of like-minded souls and make it an event - with volume. Stock the bar with beer and sauvignon blancs, slip on some loons and a tie-dye T-shirt and go back to a time of rock 'n' fun. Then maybe, just maybe ... teach your own children ... well.
on July 29, 2014
This was the title proposed by David Crosby, looking back from a perspective 40 years on from the original trek of arenas, stadiums and race tracks across America. The others obviously thought better of that idea...
I'd been hoping that CSNY would release some of the performances from the 1974 tour, and there had been chatter about it actually happening for the last couple of years. So, I was eagerly awaiting the July 8th release date, more than any archival collection in recent memory.
Now that I've had it for a few weeks, and have listened to it thoroughly, I will say that it's very good, but not as incredible as I'd hoped.
Part of the problem is that all the songs are from shows that were taped in the last few weeks of the tour. Apparently, the original idea was that there would be no concert album or film from the tour, but sometime in August, Neil and the others decided to record a number of the remaining shows. Of the 31 gigs they played, only 9 were professionally recorded, on multi-track. 2 shows at the Nassau Coliseum in NY, 3 each at the Cap Centre in Maryland, and Chicago Stadium, as well as the big final show, at Wembley Stadium in London, the only date outside of the US. (an interesting aside - the credits note that a show from Dec. 14, 1974, at the SF Civic Auditorium is used as a source. This was a benefit for the United Farmworkers' Union and Project Jonah/General Whale, and only featured Crosby & Nash. I can only guess that either "Fieldworker" or "Guinevere", or both, are from that show. These are the only two songs on this collection which have just C&N.)
There are recordings that have circulated since 1974 of many of the earlier shows on the tour, like the opening date in Seattle, the two concerts in Oakland, and Denver. These shows were looser, which to some might be less acceptable, but I find them to be more exciting. One of the songs which I was most looking forward to is "Pushed It Over The End", a Neil Young song, only performed on this tour, and never released on any album until now. It's one of my favourite Neil songs, and I relished having a professionally recorded and mixed version. Incredibly, "CSNY 1974" contains TWO different versions, one on the audio discs, and one (from London) on the DVD. Both are fine, but lack the spontaneity and ragged grit of the earlier renditions. Maybe Young is saving a better one for his "Archives 2". We can only hope!
In general, I prefer the Neil Young songs above everything else on this collection ("On The Beach" is a highlight, as is "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" and "Revolution Blues"). There are 5 NY songs on this set that have never been released before, which makes it a must for any staunch Young fan. "Traces" is really great, but the one-off "Goodbye Dick" (Nixon resigned from office in the middle of the tour) is a less than 2 minute throwaway... not essential.
Crosby and Nash both contribute some excellent tracks - "Carry Me", "Grave Concern", "Lee Shore", and "Chicago" among them.
Stephen Stills has always been a bit much to take, especially from around this point in his career on. "Black Queen" is overwrought, and too long. Likewise "Word Game". New songs (at the time) "My Angel" and "Myth of Sisyphus" are mediocre. His best cuts here are "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and a lovely version of "Johnny's Garden", from his Manassas period. For years there has been a video circulating of their entire Wembley performance, and Stills was extremely jacked up. It's almost painful to watch, which is probably why they only utilized 4 songs from the pro-shot footage for the included DVD. The video disc is short, but I've watched it twice, and really enjoyed it both times, despite it's brevity.
As mentioned elsewhere, by others, the accompanying booklet is spectacular. Joel Bernstein, who co-produced this set with Graham Nash, was the tour photographer, and all of the pictures are fantastic. The cover shot was taken at the one show I attended, at Oakland Stadium, and it's an amazing photo. It was originally black & white, but it's been subtly colourized, perfectly capturing the warm, gauzy heat of a July afternoon in the East Bay.
All in all, I recommend getting this album. Especially if you are a fan of these 4 songwriters. Certainly, there are many more highlights than low points.
on August 26, 2014
Some will say this can be retrieved from bootlegs, but you will never get the sound that the boards can put out. These guys have been jamming together for many years, and this set of songs is from their peak performance period. There are some rough cuts, and some off sounds, but overall a great set of songs. The DVD could have been cleaned up a little better than it was in the post production area. I was able to clean it up on my home computer using some basic video editing software that made a lot of the grainy video look like you were there... This is why I did not give it a 5 star rating. The book of pictures is nice, but it would be better to have been put together in coffee table size. The book is the size of the CD case, but it is full of a LOT of pictures from their tour that year. Glad they put this one out, and I am glad I purchased it. Just wish the DVD was a bit cleaner
on July 20, 2014
Good: Great package, photos, songs conveying feel of (in)famous tour . . . several previously unreleased musical gems. . . Nash's impassioned vocals and Young's intriguing post-Harvest songs
Bad: Few exceptional cuts due to limited show selection, huge venues and uninspired performances . . . better live CSNY can be found elsewhere
Most CSNY fans will enjoy this extensive memento of the band's infamous Doom Tour, in which poor sound systems, overly large venues, hoarse voices and ample egos battled CSNY's great musical gifts to a standstill for two months during the summer of 1974. This long, long overdue collection of music, video and photos lets us re-live some of the fruits of CSNY's stormy tour, or to hear it anew if you missed it back in the day.
Few of the performances captured here are truly among CSNY's best work - likely because the tour itself only occasionally brought out the best in them. It offers solid (but not outstanding) versions of many of their best songs, a few compelling performances of lesser-known works, some true gems, and other less memorable cuts.
To my ears, every song here that CSNY has already made available in a live version elsewhere . . . is better elsewhere (e.g., 4 Way St., Neil Young Archives, Crosby-Nash Live, No Nukes, Time Fades Away, etc.). Most of the CSNY 1974 recordings lack the freshness and intensity of earlier live performances, or the more inspired and fuller accompaniments of later ones. In 1970, C/S/N/Y were songwriters eager to prove their worth; by 1974, they were stars more content to ride their wave of popularity.
CSNY 1974 also errs in drawing only from the 10 shows for which they felt they had higher-quality recordings to remix (out of 31 tour dates). This excluded better performances from earlier tour stops in Seattle and Denver (among others) that fans have been enjoying for decades. (Couldn't devoted engineers and modern technology make even a raw bootleg sound pretty good, especially where only a single guitar and voice are involved?)
The highlights here come largely from Young and Nash. Young's tour standouts Traces and Pushed It Over the Edge (Neil at his most enigmatic) are huge improvements over the scratchy versions we've been listening to for 40 years. The full CSNY Old Man and Only Love, and alternative versions of Don't Be Denied and Neil's On The Beach songs are also standouts here (though Ambulance Blues and Walk On might have been better choices from the tour).
Nash simply sings the heck out of everything, and his determined performances lift his simpler compositions (and highlight by contrast his colleagues' less focused efforts). It's a shame that the box didn't include Joni Mitchell joining Nash for Another Sleep Song, and adding a 5th harmony to Our House, as she did at the Roosevelt Raceway show.
Crosby's Guinevere, Deja Vu and early Carry Me are his best here, but his vocals reflect that self-indulgences had begun to overtake his musical gifts. (The Lee Shore is one of the band's best songs, but its definitive versions are elsewhere (4 Way St. & Crosby-Nash Live.) Stills' success had transformed his vocal work from the intensity of the '70 tour to the egotism of this one. (He gave humbler and more memorable performances during CSN's later tours in '77 & '78).
Many tracks might have benefitted from fuller instrumentation. But apart from Stills' & Young's great guitar leads (but unexceptional and sporadic piano embellishments), Kunkel (drums), Lala (congas) and Drummond (bass) were the only others on stage. Some songs miss a fuller sound. The short video DVD is a nice bonus, but clearly could have included more footage from the same sources, let alone more of the '74 tour readily available on the web.
All told, this is a collection that most CSNY fans will truly enjoy, even if it doesn't offer their best work. The Doom Tour had more warts than beauty spots, and one can only polish it so far. And it does seem somewhat comical that fans have had to wait 40 years for this set. CSNY are all hitting their seventies, and the bulk of us fans aren't far behind. The band (and their musical peers) might be well advised to release any other gems in their vaults while they and their fans still have time to enjoy them.
As I've noted elsewhere, it's a shame for fans that four such talented writers and musicians allowed other distractions (drugs, egos, women, interpersonal squabbles) to limit their prime output. We fans may lament that CSNY didn't make more of their impressive gifts, but at least we can here enjoy a bit more of what they did produce.