on January 18, 2009
I have two main problems with this re-mix:
1. The CD is VERY compressed and clips with practically every drum kick. It's just as loud as a modern metal CD! why do this? HIGHER VOLUME DOESN'T EQUAL HIGHER FIDELITY!
2. It sounds like a completely different album. With all the wizardry of modern studio equipment they pretty much made this sound like it was recorded yesterday. Why? This is not the "songs for beginners" you grew up on. The new mix reveals many things you never heard before but obscures many of the subtleties of the original.
In the end, I can't give it one star because I love this album so much; but this isn't really it... I'd take a scratched-up dollar bin vinyl copy over this release any day of the week.
on October 18, 2008
I was disappointed in this release. They changed everything around. The original feel is gone which is what really is important to keep during a restoration of any kind. Let's just talk about (Track 10) "CHICAGO".
They start off adding acoustic guitar to the first verse bullying out the Afuche Cabasa, tambourine and the organ. Let's add the lyrics "It's dying" again to make it sound like a mistake. Maybe it was edited out on the original who knows it did not work.
The song/album was perfect why F with it. "Songs for Beginners" is a terrific album I just wish that reissue studio remixers were taught a course in "Respect for Works of Art" during there training. Sorry Graham I hope it was not you that asked for these changes.
GET THE ATLANTIC CD RELEASE (7204-2) and you will feel the songs again. The Atlantic CD has good sound quality and with some EQ tweaks on your system experience "Songs for Beginners" the best way so far.
on September 25, 2008
Nash and his team did a superb job of remixing (NOT re-recording) and resurrecting this record. This one's right up there with the IICORMN Crosby remix. What makes this package especially great is that not only is there a fantastic surround mix, but great care was taken to remix the stereo mix, mastered by the great Doug Sax. Phil Lesh's bass sounds amazing! So if you aren't able to listen in 5:1, it's still well worth picking up. Unfortunately I downloaded the older version on i-tunes a few months back. Loading in this new version and a/b-ing them, it's no contest. Take it from someone who purchased the original vinyl version back in the day, the songs and the sound of this album ranks as the very best of CSN and even Y.
Hey, laugh if you will, but this is one of the best albums of the hardcore hippie era, and a still-beloved favorite from my childhood years. These quiet singer-songwriterish tunes are very much in the soft-pop mould of the Crosby, Stills & Nash ensemble, which was in one of its periodic stages of disintegration when this album was recorded. David Crosby and Jerry Garcia pitch in from song to song, adding a melodic country-ish feel throughout. Overall, this is possibly the best of Nash's solo albums, a cohesive, beautiful, heartfelt set of twee counterculture lullabies. The dewy-eyed, tender romanticism of Nash's love songs heightens the painful anguish of the political material, the anthemic "Chicago," which served as a harsh postmortem of the chaotic demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Convention, and the simpler (and more powerful) "Military Madness," which gains considerable strength from its understated tone. This disc also features some of Jerry Garcia's best pedal steel work, particularly on elegaic tunes like "I Used To Be A King." I could go on and name all the other songs; in my opinion there isn't a weak tune in the bunch... If you're a staunch, sneering, anti-hippie type, I know -- from experience -- that there is little that I can do to convince you that this record isn't just a bunch of stoned-out, goopy-headed pablum. But those of you inclined to be more open-minded may find this disc to be quite rewarding. It's sugary, but also quite sweet.
With Stephen Stills and David Crosby having produced absolute storming debut albums in November 1970 and March 1971, Graham Nash's quietly lovely opener didn't disappoint either - in fact in the early Seventies - it seemed like everything the combined and individual talents of CSYN did was magical. This October 2008 DELUXE EDITION celebrates "Songs For Beginners" with a Remastered Stereo Remix of the album on the stand alone first disc, while the second disc is a 5.1 DVD Audio Mix (you need a DVD Audio player to hear it on) with an added DVD Interview about his Photography featuring a Gallery of Stills, Photo-Backed Lyrics & Web Links etc.
"Songs For Beginners" was released in June 1971 on Atlantic SD 7204 in the USA and Atlantic 2401 011 in the UK. The album featured many famous guests (one is uncredited), so here's a detailed breakdown (33:47 minutes):
1. Military Madness [DAVE MASON of Traffic on Guitar with RITA COOLIDGE on Backing Vocals]
2. Better Days [NEIL YOUNG (credited as Joe Yankee) on Piano, SEEMON POSTHUMA of THE FOOL on Clarinet, RITA COOLIDGE on Backing Vocals with DALLAS TAYLOR of CSYN and MANASSAS on Drums]
3. Wounded Bird [GN all instruments and voices]
4. I Used To Be A King [NEIL YOUNG (credited as Joe Yankee) on Piano, JERRY GARCIA on Steel Guitar with PHIL LESH on Bass (both of THE GRATEFUL DEAD) and DAVID CROSBY on Electric Guitar]
5. Be Yourself [RITA COOLIDGE on Piano, Electric Piano and Backing Vocals]
6. Simple Man [DAVID LINDLEY on Fiddle, DORIAN RUDNYTSKY of THE NEW YORK ROCK & ROLL ENSEMBLE on Cello with RITA COOLIDGE on backing Vocals]
7. Man In The Mirror [NEIL YOUNG [credited as Joe Yankee] on Piano, JERRY GARCIA of THE GRATEFUL DEAD on Steel Guitar, CHRIS ETHERIDGE of THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS on Bass]
8. There's Only One [RITA COOLIDGE on Piano & Backing Vocals, CHRIS ETHERIDGE on Bass, BOBBY KEYS on Saxophone with VANETTA FIELDS, SHIRLEY MATTHEWS, CLYDIE KING & DOROTHY MORRISON on Backing Vocals (The Blackberries)]
9. Sleep Song [DAVE MASON on Guitar with RITA COOLIDGE on Backing Vocals]
10. Chicago [DORIAN RUDNYTSKY on Cello]
11. We Can Change The World [RITA COOLIDGE, VANETTA FIELDS...DOROTHY MORRISON on Backing Vocals]
The 20-page booklet has an essay on the album and its star-studded background by noted writer DAVID FRICKE - it features Session Photos, Lyrics, Detailed recording and reissue credits - and even a picture of the master tapes.
But for fans the big news is the SOUND. The CD album has been Stereo Remixed & Remastered and the quality isn't just good - it's fabulous - BREATHTAKING. "Better Days" has a very quiet Piano and Vocal Intro - it's spotlessly clean - and when the band kicks in - it's an absolute wow! The mastering is credited to DOUG SAX and SANGWOOK NAM at The Mastering Lab, Ojai - and they should both be Grammy nominated for it. "Days" is followed by the Acoustic and Vocal-only of "Wounded Bird" (a song for Stephen Stills and Judy Collins and their troubled relationship) and it's a lovely as it gets - BEAUTIFULLY restored. The delicately aching Cello work of Dorian Rudnytsky combines with Rita Coolidge's Backing Vocals on "Simple Man" to genuinely touching effect, while Jerry Garcia's Steel Guitar on "Man In the Mirror" adds a lot from an instrument you wouldn't expect from him. And on three tracks there's Neil Young - plinking away - putting in genuinely superb Piano work (he was credited as Joe Yankee for legal reasons).
I find the 2nd disc, however, problematic. I don't have a DVD AUDIO player and 99% of the planet doesn't either - it's a dead format. Disc 2 features the entire album in Advanced Resolution 5.1 Surround Sound, Dolby Digital & DTS - wonderful stuff guys - if I could play it! But the really disappointing part is the complete lack of anything new - no outtakes, no demos - not even a live recording. However - and although it's completely unrelated to the album - things improve on the DVD part of the disc - it contains an interview with Nash about his lifetime obsession with black and white photography - and its fascinating - a lovely man, intelligent, sensitive - and you suspect a real peacekeeper among huge egos that often got out of hand. Then there's the gallery of images (he explains many of them in the interview) - I won't spoil it too much for those who are going to buy this except to say that there are captured moments on here of Joni, Neil, Stills and especially his lifetime pal David Crosby that will reduce some people to tears.
To sum up - a beautifully realized first disc - with a slightly odd and unrepresentative 2nd. Still - for fans of the album - this is a no brainer - the gorgeous remaster means you simply have to own it. Recommended.
PS: Note to Rhino - Deluxe Editions please of "Stephen Stills", "Harvest" and "Manassas"
on September 19, 2005
I bought this LP at the same time I bought Wild tales in 1973. It had been out for a couple of years. My girlfriend told me it was great. My 23-year old brother had died in a car accident 6 months earlier so I was "all tore up". This album and Songs for Beginners soothed my aching soul for many years. I don't know how these songs stand up in the historical perspective of CSN. Some of the songs do sound a little dated now. I know every song on these two albums by heart because I sang and played along for years and lived them. Friends were going to prison for 20 years for a joint in Texas and Graham was just singing and writing about what was going on around us. What a back up band he had back then. David Lindley was superb. I liked Graham so much I named my white German shepherd,"Nash" after him. He was my best friend for ten years. We named the cat, "Crosby". I never missed these guys in concert with and without Stills and Young. Wild Tales is a little more up-tempo than "Songs for Beginners." It's all a matter of taste. If you like CSN then you'll like these first two solo projects by Nash.
I just purchased the Graham Nash Songs For Beginners cd/dvd-a set. I'm having an issue with the dvd-a.
In my Pioneer DV-578A universal player, which has dvd-a capability, when I insert the disc the menu comes up fine. However, when I select play the machine freezes up, to the point that the only thing i can do is unplug the player to unfreeze it. This is repeatable.
The dvd plays fine in my regular non dvd-a dvd player, also a Pioneer. The universal player has never before had a problem with dvd-a. I also just checked it with another dvd-a, which plays fine. Does any one have any idea what's going on? Has anyone else experienced this?
Edit: I've finally figured out that the Pioneer 578-a has a bug where it has trouble with all hybrid dvd-a discs. It plays straight dvd-a's fine, but with hybrids (depending on the firmware) it either locks up or only plays the dvd video audio track. Not the disc's fault.
Edit #2: I recently found an unofficial firmware update for my player on line which kind of solves this problem. I say kind of, because I still have to press an odd sequence of buttons on the remote for it to play. If anyone reading this has a 578, you may want to search for this firmware.
Here's my thoughts on the cd:
I am really disappointed in the new mix. As the album is under 34 minutes, I think it's a travesty that Nash didn't put both mixes on the cd, or even the old mix on the cd & the new mix on the dvd. I believe my dislike is partly because of 30+ years of listening to the old mix, but also that this mix harms the music. The gated drums are a joke in this context; they'd be at home with Billy Idol, & the multiple previously inaudible mistakes are a huge distraction for me.
Here's a few specific comments:
1. Regarding several comments here & elsewhere that the drums sound re-recorded or sampled: I have some studio experience. What I heard on Better Days & several others was likely the original drums, but with a very loud & prominent gated reverb added that was not on the original mix. The drums were also mixed louder then in the original. I have no clue WHY Nash made that choice; imo it harms the songs.
2. I get the impression that Nash decided he wanted every tiny part that was sitting anywhere on the multi track masters to be clearly audible, even at the expense of the song as a whole.
3. I never noticed before that the acoustic guitar on Be Yourself is slightly out of tune. There are also some wrong bass notes on the piano that I never heard before on the 1st verse. I heard numerous muffed parts throughout the cd which I've never noticed before; I suspect they were intentionally buried in the original mix.
I'm definitely going to keep my original cd. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to keep this. The mastering is tremendous, but so far I'm not fond of this mix. It sounds like a totally different album, & some of the parts don't fit; little mistakes that were previously buried are now loud & clear, especially on the drums.
on January 6, 2003
My older sister introduced me to "Songs for Beginners" just after its release three decades ago. In the years since then, I've grown to appreciate it more and more. "I Used To Be A King" ranks as one of my all-time favorties by any artist.
One note of caution about the CD: my copy isn't a totally accurate version of the LP. For example, the intro to the LP version of "Used To Be A King" features some studio chatter and a few stray chords from a piano and Jerry Garcia's pedal steel guitar. Strangely, these were omitted on my CD. I can't say for certain that all CD copies of "Songs For Beginners" were mastered similarly, but for you purists out there, this might be of some interest to you.
Other than that, the music from beginning to end is great.
on October 1, 2015
I hadn't heard this album for 40 years since I was in art class in high school. the art teacher played it all the time and I loved it. Well I saw it while doing a search and was SO happy I bought it. It sounds wonderful, just like the hours I listened to it years ago. A great part of good memories of my younger years. By the time the record gets to "Military Madness" (last song on the album) I always feel sad that it doesn't have more music. Then I start it all over. Also, I was surprised to find that it had super artists singing background, Cass Elliot, Rita Coolidge, Joni Mitchell. And super musicians. I had no idea all these people came together for this album. I LOVE IT. If you are a CSNY fan, it is a definite addition to your collection. Thank you so much Graham for giving mu such beautiful memories in this recording!
on April 24, 2016
My brother introduced this to me as my first introduction to music as a kid. I have good memories, go back in time when I listen to the songs. But there's also a universality to Graham Nash and the songs on this album that transcends time and gets you singing and moving, feeling comfortable in your skin and part of the global community for peace.