10 Jul 2014

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young "CSNY 1974"

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

A labour of love largely spearheaded by Graham Nash. This ornate box set aims to present new evidence in the case of a much maligned tour.

It has been widely accepted that CSNY weren't at their best on this 1974 tour, an opinion that the widely bootlegged Wembley Arena show does little to dispel, but this collection culled from multiple shows and constructed and sequenced as a representative show from the tour goes some way towards readdressing this balance.

Those expecting the smoothly harmonised, soft yacht-rock CSNY will be potentially disappointed, but fans of Young's ditch period will find much to enjoy here. Harmonies are shaggy. Voices (particularly those of Stills and Nash) are ragged. Lyrics are occasionally forgotten and stumbled over. But there's a ragged groove here that they rarely achieved (or aimed for) in the studio. It's also great to hear material from the CSN trio's uniformly excellent early solo albums sprinkled with those trademark harmonies, which even in roughly hewn shape tower over those of their contemporaries.

A brace of rarities makes this an even more compelling purchase for fans. Neil Young fans are particularly well served with two of his most coveted previously unavailable tracks "Traces" and the magnificent "Pushed It Over The End" (which Young refused permission to release on the CSN box set) finally seeing official release.

At three full discs this is a long set, but representative of the shows on the tour. There's also a single disc highlights package for the casual fan that bypasses the rarities and sticks with the hits - a bit of a waste of space to be honest, but the full set, rarities, oddities, warts and all is a necessary purchase for fans of any or all of these artists, most, but not all of whom were nearing the end of their golden patch.

The 3CD / DVD edition is available here.

The single disc esition is available here.

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