Record review: Crosby, Stills & Nash – CSN (2013, LP)

The music of Crosby, Stills & Nash will be forever intertwined with the era in which it was created. The coming-together of members from some of the most prominent American groups of the ’60s – The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Hollies to be precise – saw the creation of some of the best politically-charged folk-pop seen in music up to that point, in a time when post-JFK, America was tearing itself apart. It’s impossible to listen to their music without getting images of the Vietnam War, Woodstock, the Summer of Love, the Black Panthers, and the Chicago Democratic Convention police riot in your head. Their heyday also came at a time when some of the best damn music in existence was being made.

Strangely enough, the trio only got together after the Summer of Love in 1967, but ultimately were to go down in history by being part of Woodstock in 1969, along with the likes of Canned Heat, The Who, and of course, Jimi Hendrix. The fact their music is so closely associated with a particular era makes another ‘Greatest Hits’ (which this essentially is, with added extras) hard to view objectively, but one thing is crystal clear: this is classic stuff.

Known for their often complex vocal harmonies and political activism, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash have had a monumental influence on music, in America and elsewhere, and it’s all here to see in all its glory. There’s a demo of ‘Guinnevere’; the original being from their classic 1969 debut, and an alternate version of ‘Woodstock’; originally penned by Joni Mitchell. There are also spotless live versions of ‘Black Queen’, ‘Dark Star’, and ‘Love The One You’re With’, and an embarrassment of riches plucked from the entire career of the band. Basically, this is essential stuff – every home should have one.

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