on 18 October 2014
There are four different versions of this available to buy:
1) 3 CD (with 40 songs) + DVD (best price around £30)
2) blu-ray audio and blu-ray dvd (best price around £30)
3) a 16 song highlights CD
4) a 40 song mp3 download currently offered at a remarkable £4.99
All the reviews for these different products have been lumped together which makes them rather confusing to read and contradictory.
The audio recordings have been compiled from different concerts in August, September and December 1974. As such, Graham Nash has had the opportunity to pick the best performances.
The video comes from two concerts a) Landover, Maryland and b) Wembley Stadium, London. Unlike some of the other reviewers I wasn't at the Wembley gig and indeed have never seen CSNY play live.
Some people have a problem with many live recordings and if you're one of those, unless you're a huge CSNY fan, I recommend you avoid this product. The legendary smooth vocals (critics may say bland) are ragged and Stephen Stills voice sounds particularly rough. Some of the songs have been extended with guitar duels between Neil Young and Stills. Personally I love live albums because the songs lose the studio gloss, length restrictions and over-production and vocals that aren't perfect have more personality.
For casual fans, the 40 song version may be overwhelming. The 16 song CD version has wisely pulled together the best known CSNY and individual songs but the 40 song mp3 version is currently cheaper and that gives you the option of selecting your own favourites.
Song selection on the longer version is interesting. It includes the Crosby, Stills, Nash (individually and together) and CSNY songs that you'd expect. The Neil Young songs are more idiosyncratic including some which have never been released before. Only Old Man and Only Love Can Break Your Heart come from the early Neil Young classic albums. If you want CSNY versions of his electric guitar rockers Cowgirl In The Sand, Cinnamon Girl, Down By The River, and Southern Man, you need their earlier live album, Four Way Street.
The backing band is good. Tim Drummond on bass had previously played with Young and Nash, drummer Russ Kunkel played on the first Crosby & Nash album and percussionist Joe Lala played with Stills.
The set follows the pattern of electric - acoustic - electric. The first transition at the start of CD2 with Stephen Stills song Change Partners is a bit of a shock when it happens but I quickly adapted to the change in mood. We're back to electric at the start of CD3 with Deja Vu. That's excellent (and thoughtful) organisation for the CD version.
I've enjoyed listening to this album but I do have a concern about how often I'll play it. I have the same issue with Four Way Street because I come to CSNY as a fan of Young and a modest follower of Stills. When I'm in the mood for live Neil Young, I'm more likely to reach for Live Rust, Weld or Massey Hall depending on my mood.
That said, while Amazon are selling the 40 song mp3 version for less than a fiver, I think it represents an irresistible bargain even for casual fans of the group or any of the individual singer-songwriters. The versions of the CSNY 1974 package with the DVD look expensive to me and are much harder to justify.
on 7 July 2014
This could well be one of those 'you had to be there' releases to fully appreciate the sheer magnitude of a CSNY tour in 1974. This is a band which had the potential to be truly great - at least on paper - but never realised their potential due to the enormous egos involved. That said as a live act they took some beating and Deja Vu was a cracking LP..
I was lucky enough to be at Wembley on 14 September 1974 and it was quite a day. The bill was jaw dropping - as well as CSNY we were treated to The Band, Jesse Colin Young and Joni Mitchell. In the booklet Graham Nash expresses the band's disappointment with the quality of the Wembley concert, but my memory is one of being blown away by the music - the sublime vocal harmonies, the spiky duelling guitars of Stills and Young and the quality of the songs.
The sound on the discs is very good indeed. Highlights include the sublime Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, On The Beach, Neil Young's brief Goodbye Dick (about Nixon leaving the Whitehouse), Some previously unreleased songs are heard for the first time since the tour and there's one or two pretty good ones - Nash's Fieldworker and Neil Young's Love Art Blues are standouts.
For most of the album the band are together and full of energy although there are a couple of dodgy moments - Stephen Stills electrified Black Queen doesn't get anywhere near the fiery and impassioned acoustic version to be found on his 1st solo record and his duet with Neil Young on Long May You Run is pretty dire - slow and lacking the good time rhythm of the studio version.
Overall Neil Young comes out the best - 'twas ever thus - but surprisingly Graham Nash isn't far behind, his gift for melody and faultless singing provide some lovely moments. Crosby sounds superb on some songs and just plain melodramatic on others. Stills songs have stood the test of time the least well, but his guitar playing is always excellent (Black Queen aside).
40 years on its great to be able to relive an amazing day and remember how brilliant it was to be there. Makes me wonder where all the intervening years went...
on 9 August 2014
A lovingly assembled anthology of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's legendary 1974 tour, the one that has consistently been decried as one of excess and arrogance or an epic dismantling of the hippie dream of peace and love. Before this marvellous collection was released, I got to see video of the Wembley show thanks to You Tube. (Were tickets really only £3.50??? How much was the booking fee?) It was my first taste of the music the foursome produced during this legendary foray, thankfully shorn of the bad press that has plagued this tour not to mention the four's own after-the-fact ambivalence towards the tour. If you haven't already done so, do go check out this 3 hour show on You Tube.
Graham Nash, who took on the role of CSN and CSNY's archivist, has cherry-picked as much as possible from the tour and assembled an ideal show. Inevitably, this might upset the purists who want the complete shows. But honestly who has the time to listen and appreciate all those individual shows? What really matters is how much of an enjoyable listening experience this box set is. The 3 CDs are beautifully sequenced and packed with sensational songs, including many Neil Young classics that were never officially released until now. Messrs Crosby, Stills and Nash are also well represented but kudos to Graham Nash for setting aside his grievances with Neil and selecting so many long-sought after songs. (And kudos to Neil for allowing these songs to appear before he could unveil them in his own Archives series). "Traces", "Love-Art Blues", "Pushed It Over The End", "Hawaiian Sunset" are brilliant and fit right in with the more familiar CSN oeuvre. I also love "The Lee Shore", one of Crosby's finest and beautifully rendered here. The musicianship throughout is sensational - a fantastic rhythm section was recruited and many of the songs are urgent and pumping with passion and fire.
Do yourself a favour - get this fantastic set, turn down the lights and lose yourself in the California mid-70s hippie vibe. Hands down, from start to finish this is the best collection of CSNY material this side of "Deja Vu". It's way better than the electric sides of "4 Way Street" and it goes some way towards making up for the quartet's failure to produce a couple of decent studio albums following on from "Deja Vu" (although to be fair they were doing sensational work individually, in duos or, in Stills' case, with a whole new band). In addition to the great music, the thick booklet is fantastic and laden with great photos and fine liner notes. I wish the DVD could have included the whole Wembley show or a lot more selections. Maybe a future DVD release with a complete show will make up for this?
on 11 August 2014
Having loved the music that these guys produce for the last 45 years and also attending the 1974 Wembley concert, I have been really looking forward to this release. I am not disappointed, Graham Nash has done an excellent job pulling it together from the original tapes. I particularly appreciate the set being put together to represent the original shows, with the opening and closing electric sets and middle acoustic set. The music illustrates the excellent musicians and songwriters they are, covering meaningful subject matter, but still retaining an eye for melody and skilled guitar playing when required especially from Stills and Young. Although, we all know Neil Young has gone on to be greater than the four, it was never going to be a long term arrangement, it is good to know that CSN are now back on form, writing and touring. Listen to Stills on the Rides album and the recent acclaimed David Crosby solo album. My only slight criticism is that there are only 8 songs on the DVD, if the Wembley master tapes are available, it would have been good to have some additional performances. I would certainly recommend this box set, not just for nostalgia, but for excellent live music. If you are just a Neil Young fan only, it is worth it for his unreleased songs on CD, such as "Don't Be Denied" and "Pushed It Over The End" which feature on the box set. A grey haired man who still loves music has been made very happy!
on 10 July 2014
Alternatively, if you're new to CSN/CSNY and want to know what all the fuss was about here's the collection from the sixties and seventies era you really should own first - it'll cost you around fifty to sixty pounds I guess to get some/most of these - roughly the same price as the extraordinarily over priced 74 live box set. You'll definitely get more long term satisfaction from this list ...
Crosby Stills and Nash (1969) *
Deja Vu (1970) *
Four Way Street (1971) *
Stephen Stills (1970) *
Stephen Stills 2 (1971) *
Manassas (1972) *
If I Could only remember my name - Crosby (1971) *
Songs for Beginners - Nash (1971)
Neil Young (1968)
Everybody knows this is knowhere (1969)
After the Goldrush (1970) *
Harvest (1972) *
Wind on the Water - Crosby Nash (1975)
CSN (1977) - their last great studio album ... *
I've marked with an * the eleven discs I consider the most essential - that includes Massey Hall below .....
later add the Neil Young classics - Time Fades Away (not currently available, maybe never will be), On the Beach, Tonight's the Night, Zuma, Rust Never Sleeps, Live Rust, maybe even Decade and the you've got a great collection. There are a few others which are worthwhile too - other Crosby and Nash studio and live albums, Down the Road - Manassas, Long May You Run - Stills Young Band, Stills (1975).
Also investigate Buffalo Springfield - the box set is nicely priced now and also the Neil Young Archive Performance Series, particularly Live at Massey Hall 1971 *.
That'll do nicely.
on 2 October 2014
I agree with most of the reviews here - this is a very well put together set. I was at Wembley too and remember it well, even 40 years on. A friend of mine was lucky enough to go to the private party afterwards - hated him for that! As someone else said, it is a shame that none of the tracks feature Joni on backing vocals - she sounded great when she joined them on stage at Wembley, as I recall, and the bootleg from the event seems to prove this, None the less, this set is a great reminder of what versatile and talented musicians these guys were/are - playing beautiful old Martin, Fender, Gretsch etc guitars, as well as piano, banjo, congas double bass, ukelele, harp - you name it. And a hot backing band that keeps it pretty tight. Sound quality is pretty amazing for the time and conditions. Great songs too, in general. I find it refreshing that Stills is letting loose on a bit of Wah now and again - a good example on Pushed it Over The End. Shame he didn't play Go Back Home instead of Black Queen. I think of all the numbers, Old Man is my favourite - Neil's best song in my book and quite chilling beautiful - sort of grows on you even more with age - ironically (or not, maybe!). The Lee Shore is also exquisite. A bit of a shame there are only 8 tracks on the video - more from Wembley would have been great as they have the footage and I remember seeing the cameras. Overall fantastic and well worth the wait!
on 16 July 2014
This is a wonderful reminder of how powerful CSNY were at their peak. It's a bargain if you shop around for it (available for under £30)
The book is worth the admission price alone with some wonderful photos and a great essay.Just one slight niggle. The book states that some of the recordings come from the San Francisco Auditorium on December 14th. Surely that was a Crosby / Nash duo gig (Farm Workers And Whales Benefit)? Mr Nash hasn't been trying a bit of jiggery-pokery here has he?
on 4 August 2014
After the Woodstock era and the hippie flower power music was about to finally settle and we could look back at some amazing
festivals during those late 60's and early 70's, and i guess the music was heading more towards political pastures, with the Watergate
Scandal, and Richard Nixon resigning and The Vietnam War coming to an end and Neil Young's "Helpless " & "Ohio" which definitely
summarize what was happening on the political front at the time, and you can add Graham Nash's "Military Madness" and a number of other songs inclusive. Surprisingly a very very rare occurrence one i will never ever forget, although i have my copy of the album,
as i am in Australia i noticed the album was a lot more expensive so lo and behold a gentleman from Ireland began talking about his musical tastes and to my shock he was actually at the concert, my first reaction are you kidding me what?!!! and even more surprising
he was at The Isle Of Wight festival, but getting back to the live album it's an absolute gem, the interplay between each member is great, it sounds as though they left they're egos behind and let their talents shine. Although there are a number of songs which appeared on some of their forthcoming solo albums it sounds quite incredible that they are backing each other up while either
Neil, David, Graham & David sing their own songs. What a stunning snapshot of a band at that time, although they have had personal, ego, drug problems it's the music that counts in the end, outstanding, superb, brilliant.
on 12 August 2014
This is a great album. I'm always worried about 'live' versions of songs, especially as I have been caught by buying albums that seem to have been recorded by somebody sat at the back with a portable tape recorder. The sound quality is excellent and the range of songs is good - there are songs I don't know well and have started to love. Steve Stills mumbled a lot when I saw them live last year - it's encouraging to know that he does it here too - I can't get all the words he's singing but his guitar riffs more than make up for it. I haven't watched the DVD yet but my husband was at the concert when it was recorded so we will have to scrutinise it carefully when we do... He's at the back somewhere.... Possibly with a portable reel - reel tape recorder.....(not really....).
I was a bit loathed to pay what seemed a high price but now I feel it is fully justified. CSNY have done a really good job on this (they have apparently been working on it for years) and it is an excellent album. Turn the bass up loud, grab a beer and enjoy.
on 11 August 2014
Brilliant! A wonderful collection of live performances from the '74 tour. Some fantastic vocals, as you'd expect, and some great guitar playing. Even, some very fine Neal Young songs, which I'd not heard before, from his new album at that time, On The Beach (wonderful title track!). One or two ropey vocals from Mr Stills, but hey, it's live, honest, and adds to the moment! The sound quality/production is spot on. Love it!