408 of 418 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2006
The music gets five stars. The 3 stars are for the lousy remastering job. There are so many problems here, let me list them for you:
1. I did a direct comparison between this new remaster and the older remaster job from the mid-90's. The older version blows this one away! This new remaster lacks any high end, making a lot of the songs sound flat.
2. The beginning of "49 Bye Byes" is cutoff. Crosby sings "You better come on in my kitchen / because it's going to be raining outside." This part is missing. Apparently, the estate of Robert Johnson objected (why now, after all these years?).
3. If you're thinking of buying this disc for the bonus tracks, save your money. The best one, "Song With No Words" is already available on the CSN boxset. The others are nice demos, but don't really lend themselves to repeated listening.
4. THE KICKER: They removed a picture of Dallas Taylor from the back of the CD booklet. On the original LP and subsequent CD issues, drummer Dallas Taylor is seen peering through the door. Since he is currently in litigation with the band, they saw to it to remove him from the album jacket!
The sound is NOT an improvement, the bonus tracks are lackluster and one track is actually edited. Stick with your older copy and save your money.
69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2006
I just received and listened to Rhino Record's new reissue of CSN's first album (Rhino has recently done sonically wondrous things with early Chicago albums, especially their first, "Chicago Transit Authority"). The sound is pretty glorious throughout, and now that I've had a chance to give it a really critical listening, I can definitely say it's better than Atlantic's and Joe Gastwirt/Ocean View Digital's first digital remastering that was released a few years back (not to be confused with the initial CD transfer, which fell very flat sonically, as did most CDs of that time). During my first listening, I particularly noticed that the atmospeherics of "Guinnevere" stand out, as does the clarity of the vocal lines in "Helplessly Hoping." In fact, all the vocals are outstandingly clear, making the trademark three-part harmonies much easier to follow individually. In general, the whole album is a little more 3-dimensional, allowing you to hear into the mix a little bit better. And during the moments when it gets loud, it doesn't get quite as congested as the earlier remaster. The differences are subtle, but definitely audible.
The release has some new liner notes, including comments from the three principals, plus 3 previously unreleased versions of songs that would appear later in their collective and individual careers: Crosby's "Song with No Words," Still's "Do for the Others" and Nash's "Teach Your Children," plus a Stills cover of Fred Neil's "Everbody's Talkin'" (the song that provided a big hit for Harry Nilsson). The booklet also includes a reproduction of the original lyric sheet with artwork, which I remember hearing never made its way into all copies of the original LP.
Strangely, however, they changed the cover photo so Dallas Taylor, the drummer on the original album, is no longer shown peering through the glass in the door of the house. At first I thought he had been photoshopped out of the picture until I did a little research and learned that he wasn't at the original photo shoot to begin with and his image was added later before producing and printing the cover art. I'm all for purity and everything, but since one could argue that the whole point of the reissue is to restore the original as much as possible, why bother changing it? The public had never seen the photo without Taylor, so what was gained in leaving him out?
Another change, and one that I find extremely disappointing, is the elimination of Crosby's barely audible "Long Time Gone" tag, in which he sings Robert Johnson's phrase, "You better come in my kitchen because it's going to be raining outside." Wikipedia tells us that it was removed at the request of Johnson's family, though no further reason is given. Various message board participants claim that Johnson's estate wanted a great deal of compensation for its use. That answer seems more likely, as it would appear that no real benefit could accrue to Johnson's family simply by eliminating recordings of his songs where they had previously existed. Whatever the reason, removing it creates a diminished package, in my opinion. At least the previous Atlantic remastering still contains it, where it appears as the intro to "49 Bye-Byes." I'm glad I have that versison, and don't plan on getting rid of it despite getting this new and sonically improved version.
One other small but important change - the songwriting credit for "Wooden Ships" now lists Paul Kantner as a cowriter, along with Crosby and Stills, which I'm told is the way the song was credited when it appeared on Jefferson Airplane's "Volunteers."
66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
From the very beginning it was clear that this was to be the first of the new super-groups, composed of discontented refugees who either quit or were bounced from monster groups like the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and the Hollies. And when the star-crossed trio finally started harmonizing amid the crisp clear echoes of their sparkling acoustic guitar work, it was obvious that the sky was the limit for their wonderful songs and music. This was the album that introduced them to a waiting world, with the album becoming an instant success based on the smash hit of "Suite Judy Blue Eyes", Stephen Stills' love paean to paramour Judy Collins.
The album is full of innovative pop sounds, from Crosby's evocative "Guinevere" to Graham Nash's perky "Marrakesh Express" to Stills' "49 Bye-Byes". Of course, the fact that they were informally introduced to 500,000 potential fans at Woodstock didn't hurt, nor did the fact that the movie version of "Woodstock" prominently featured a number of the songs from this album as part of its soundtrack. Finally, it was their brilliance in quickly following the success of this album with "Déjà Vu" that cemented their rise to the top of the rock world. My favorites here are "Wooden Ships", "You Don't Have To Cry", and of course, "Long Time Gone", David Crosby's moving albeit cynical tribute to Robert F. Kennedy. This is a classic album that every rock fan should have on his or her top shelf, as a part of the history of rock music. Enjoy!
65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2000
In a word, magical. I recently found a copy of this classic album on vinyl with the cool, wintery, double gatefold photo and creepy back cover photo in tact. As for the music inside, what can I say that hasn't been said. "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" is still a fun, ambling journey through the mind of a helpless romantic. The doo-wop inspired harmonies that serve as this song's coda is still the coolest thing to hear on a classic rock station. "Marakesh Express" is just plain fun, even for a throwaway. "Guinnevere" is THE acoustic ballad that has yet to be topped, and sounds simply gorgeous without being too cutesy or cloying. My other personal faves are; "Wooden Ships" "Helplessly Hoping" and "Long Time Gone" (I still get chills hearing it while I'm watching the opening of the 'Woodstock' film!) All in all, a very enjoyable, effortless listen that captured a perfect utopian moment in pop music and culture in general. Highly Regarded as a Classic, and rightfully so.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2009
I pre-ordered the CSN 180 gram vinyl Rhino reissue two months before its announced release date and proceeded to wait for it with the highest of expectations. After all, it was reported to have been remastered and cut from the Original Analog Master Tapes by the legendary Bernie Grundman and pressed at the prestigious Pallas facility in Germany. And considering that Rhino had done such a terrific job with their vinyl reissues of the first two Chicago albums earlier this year, I figured how could this NOT be good?
Things started out well enough. The record arrived in timely fashion, curiously packed in a regular Amazon carton with NO BUBBLE WRAP or any other protective padding. How the delicate vinyl record made it all the way to my house unscathed and undamaged is beyond me...but somehow it did! I removed it from the box and admired it as I slowly peeled off the shrink wrap, amazed at how true the album artwork and labeling were to the original 1969 Atlantic issue. Even the included lyric sheet was a dead-on replica.
I slipped the record out of it's lined sleeve and inspected it, immediately noticing some surface irregularities which resembled small scuff marks. They were only on one side, but still, not what I wanted to see on a brand new record. If only that had been the worst of it! I placed the record on my turntable, gave it a quick swipe with my trusty Discwasher brush, and lowered the tonearm, waiting to be blown away by "Audiophile Quality" as proudly proclaimed by the big stick-on label on the plastic wrapping.
People, this reissue is NOT audiophile quality. In fact, it's not even good! There is NO high end! NONE! Everything from the high mids on up sounds like it was put through some kind of repressive electronic filter. None of the crispness and vitality of the classic 1969 issue carries over to the 2009 version. In fact, despite the years of wear and tear, my 40-year-old original LP absolutely BLOWS it away in terms of audio quality. It's not even close!
Bottom line: If you care at all about sound quality and fidelity, do NOT waste your money on this disappointing reissue. Find a used Atlantic SD-8229 original issue in decent condition at a fair price instead and you'll be much happier! My Rhino LP is going back!!
EDIT: I had originally given this product only one star ("I hate it") but I reconsidered and am now bumping it up to three stars ("It's OK"). Based on musical content alone I would give this album 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, the inferior audio quality significantly diminishes its worth!
44 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2011
I've been collecting the fine remastered 24K Gold CDs by a wide variety of popular artists and their classic recordings from Audio Fidelity, the California record label who deals in high quality sound reproduction and superior packaging - the CDs are worth the few pennies more you may pay when compared to standard reproductions. I've been very accepting regarding some of the albums that were not necessarily on the top-of-my-want list, but however piqued my general curiosity about remastered recordings.
When the company released the influential, Crosby, Stills & Nash debut recording by David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, they were treading on sacred soil.
I always believed there was more that could be pulled from this record than we were given to
hear, as brilliant as it is, as great as the songs are, I felt something sonically was left behind. Very much a studio record, but no air or life to the fidelity. Yes, this album has been released in many forms and configurations over the years and some of the better among them only served to lend credence to my sense of a missing essence while the others were smothered, dead and lacking substance.
And then, BOOM, just like that, in one auriferous explosion everything shifted with the arrival of Audio Fidelity's game-changing reissue - the bar hasn't just been raised, this production is the Mt. Olympus of Crosby, Stills & Nash while nearly every other version of the historical album is merely mortal.
I trusted this CD would sound stunning and though I thought I knew this album sonically and
where the potential for improvement would rest I joyfully underestimated. There's more here to hear than I suspected beginning with the blending of voices and instruments and sounds I
never heard before. There are noteworthy differences in tonality from the individual solo singing to the group vocals. The vocals are a bit more up front or prominent. The harmonies sound so sweet, you can hear deep into the mix of the vocals with a clarity that reveals a true lifelike sound. With this mastering, credited to Steve Hoffman, the musicians are not so much set on a stage in front of you as they are instead placed in the room around you.
The 24K Gold CD offers an unimaginable new level of resolution, it is nice and clear and not
too bright. There's a warm, really nice sound, smooth with resoundingly deep lows. The bass
is crystal clear - amazingly clean and rich bass notes. More definition around the vocals and
instruments that allow a smooth feeling of separation. I've discovered small details I never
noticed such as the guitar strings being touched and played - nuances in the guitars that
simply weren't there before and an exceptional realism in the sound of the drums and
For the first time I am hearing the sheer power of this magical music. There are certain lines in "Marrakesh Express" that I've never heard with such clarity. How could "Suite:Judy Blue Eyes" ever sound better than remembered; well, for one and two, it has a smoother sound and better lows.
Nothing is lost on this special release from the David Crosby "come in my kitchen" piece to
the reintroduction of drummer Dallas Taylor peeking out from behind the broken glass pane of
the closed door pictured on the CD art.
Speaking of the art, before I close something must be said about the CD packaging, starting
with the company's unique slip case to the beautiful and authentic booklet that mirrors the
sense of the original LP album cover in color and texture. Included too are all the song lyrics, the original insert pen and ink design drawing, a copy of the original release 12" labels and the 4-color 2-page spread of the famous photo of the band dressed in parkas against a sun drenched backdrop.
Throughout the entire disc, absolutely nothing stands out as not sounding perfect,it is all just so musical. Presence, detail, depth and warmth are the ingredients every great recording should boast. This CD has become my go-to recording of this classic for without a doubt this is not only one of the best CDs Audio Fidelity has ever released, but they can lay claim to producing the definitive version of Crosby, Stills & Nash.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2010
Forgive me, but the debate over the merits of the 1994 remaster over this one is a doofus debate. The sound cognoscenti and rabid fans alike have been blasting this 2006 issue for all sorts of enormously important reasons, from the fact that Crosby's two seconds of personal fun at the end of "Long Time Gone" (he croons, in a somewhat comedic voice, "You better come to my kitchen, 'cause it's soon gonna be rainin' outside") have been cut to the fact that the image of Dallas Taylor has been Photoshopped-out from the artwork, to supposedly compromised highs on the equalizer frequencies. This is the sort of bickering that spoiled children indulge in when they've had too many goodies to enjoy. The very first CD was actually perfectly nice, and whatever it's (microscopic) shortcomings in terms of modern mastering, it preserved the core of the music: the glorious harmonies, the cool, cathedral-like atmosphere of Wooden Ships (I'm calling it "cathedral" because certain types of echo effects are called that on mastering machines), and so on. If you have it, you might as well keep it. If you don't, buy this issue, the 2006 one. I can't imagine that you could possibly regret it. I see that at least one reviewer was so disgusted with it that he actually gave it away, which boggles the mind. This is a fine remastering, and, if nothing else, it finally does away with 99% of the "rip" that is heard at the beginning of "Long Time Gone," which the 1994 remaster actually emphasized. It sounds exactly like a needle scratch on a good old LP, which may have been placed there by superior intelligences from outer space to warn those who are now suddenly advocates of vinyl that this is definitely one of the options that awaits them (lol). And while my own ears prefer the ever-so-slightly subdued vocals in some places on the 2006 issue compared to a bit too much screaming on the 1994, that too is a minor thing, and if you already have the 1994, it will do as well. I'm just trying to tell you not to waste your money on every single new remaster out there because you'll go broke for nothing, or, at best, for very little.
Finally, I agree with the malcontents that the bonus material isn't all brilliant, but it's not without charm either, and Stills's beautiful rendition of "Everybody's Talkin'" alone is worth the price of admission. I never paid much attention to this pop ditty back when it was a huge hit for Nilsson, but in this interpretation it is no longer a pop ditty. It has acquired nearly tragic depth and sounds imbued with experience. Terrific.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Rightly so, this CD remains a cornerstone record that deserves a place in everyone's library. The writing was superb, and Nash for one, would rarely come up to this standard after this. Stills was determined to prove he was the best damned musician working in the States at that time, and Crosby, oddly enough, was the inspirational glue that held it all together. It wouldn't last, but who knew at this point?
The remastering is the issue here, and this music has always set a fidelity standard that you could measure every other recording by, again, thanks to Stills. Whether on vinyl or in digital formats, there is a presence to this music that is hard to quantify, but its quality is undeniable. The current remastering, on the heels of the superlative solo outing from Stills and the consistently brilliant work by Crosby post clean-up, offers you an intimacy and warmth I hadn't heard on even the very best pressings before. Forget the extra songs, even though they alone would justify a re-purchase, it is the original album that carries the day again and with a dynamic that shows all of Stills' perfectionist tendencies in the best of all possible lights. I'm looking forward, kind of, to the remastering of Daylight Again, and more importantly to Deja Vu, CSN, and Four Way Street, all scheduled for the next two years. Maybe it will be enough to fire up the creative juices for an original release.
Whatever, the point is that this is a worthy remaster that will enlighten the already converted and wow the novitiate. Well done, Stephen.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2011
As a head's up, I tend to submit reviews only for CDs whose music or remastering is either very impressive or so lousy that a warning to potential buyers seems warranted. I own a number of Steve Hoffman DCC Gold CDs and they are all winners, with warm yet incredibly detailed sound that, although issued in the 1990's, still beats any subsequent remastering more than 15 years later and somehow -- despite the lower bit resolution -- reasonably competes even with SACDs (at least on up to mid-level stereo systems). In contrast, I find the Audio Fidelity gold reissues hit and miss, at least in terms of having the sonics be revelatory. After playing this new release (with mastering by Hoffman) of the 1st CS&N album yesterday, even from just a single listen I can report this one is a winner. Since at least one reviewer has already provided a highly detailed report, I will just say that the sound reproduction on this AF release brought me closer than any of this album's other previous CD reissues to the sound that I recall when this album was first released in 1969 and I listened to the LP through headphones on a buddy's stereo (which was better than mine). Upon reaching the end of the album of this AF reissue, I realized what little role drumming played in the arrangements (and how much some simple percussion had added) and that the rhythmic propulsion of the non-ballad tunes like "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and "Long Time Comin'" are almost all due to the creatively melodic lines of Stills' bass playing (which in this instance were more akin to McCartney's or Entwhistle's than those found in the usual rock band simply holding down the bottom) interwoven with his overdubbed acoustic strumming and memorable electric guitar leads. It made me recall how unique and stunning this original CS&N sound was and, although the harmonies remained the same, from Deja Vu onwards when CS&N (&Y) added a full backing band, would never again be quite the same. The clarity of the stereo imaging and sound separation on this AF release also highlights (especially with the organ parts also played by Stills) just how precociously talented and adept Stills was a musician. Just a final note: As with a number of other AF releases (whether mastered by Hoffman or Kevin Gray), I had to raise the volume on my pre-amp to much higher than usual listening levels to get a clear picture of the sound reproduction. I usually listen at around what would would be a 3-4 to my volume knob but needed to turn it up to 5-6 for this and other AF releases. That being said, just from listening (and not from any measurements), I don't detect any noticeable distortion from this necessary volume boost and it did not at all disturb my listening pleasure.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2009
I'm sure glad I didn't give away my first CD of this album. I'm not a critical listener but the top end of the sound has been dulled very badly. The bonus material is OK but doesn't fit with this album, it's more like from Deja Vu. I hope nothing ever happens to my unremastered disc. P.S. I gave this disc away.