Crosby Stills & Nash Review
His feet weren't the only things that David Crosby lost sight of as his waistline expanded, the smoke from his addiction to free-base cocaine clouded his vision and the sixties turned into the seventies. Clearly any credibility the guy once had - and he was once a handsome, cocky and sweet-voiced partner to Roger McGuinn in The Byrds - vanished as drugs, booze and egos worked over Crosby, Stills & Nash as effectively as they'd ruined any other band.
Despite the addictions but maybe because of a healthy fertility that makes him the celebrity sperm donor of choice amongst rock lesbians, Crosby looks little different now to when he did when he left The Byrds. He still has long straggly hair, handlebar moustache and a high forehead, all of which have been a fixture of the Crosby look since the late sixties but that must be part of the appeal. CS&N neither look nor sound much different to how they did at Woodstock in 1969 where they performed Wooden Ships. Marrakesh Express, Long Time Gone and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, either on stage or for the film, in a performance that was edited and dubbed with studio recordings to give the impression of a billing that was greater than their actual placing of thirteenth. All of those songs are included on both of these DVDs
Of course, their occasional collaborations with Neil Young have given CS&N a longer life than they really deserve but even he could take no more during their last major recordings some twenty years ago when he bitterly remarked that the album they were making should be called Songs For Balding Base-Heads. As Young only returned to the band on seeing Crosby kick his addiction to cocaine, he was shocked to see that it had only been handed over to Stills, who openly handled guns and free-base equipment in the studio and who told anyone who would listen that he fought in the jungles of Vietnam when, as Young reminded him, he was actually playing in Buffalo Springfield at the time. Young walked in disgust, going on to record Eldorado, which turned into Freedom, leaving CS&N to carry on much as they always had, looking unfocused without Young's ambition and holding onto each other more for comfort than for anything they bring either to the music or the songwriting. Even the three-part harmonies that were once so strong a part of the CS&N sound was long gone by the time the first of these concerts was filmed (Daylight Again, 1983) leaving the kind of cosy entertainment that the old hippies in the audience would once have mocked their parents over. But just as quick as anyone could rightfully dismiss them as a band who never realised when it was time to stop, they pull Suite: Judy Blue Eyes out and they begin to justify their reputation, so great a song it is and where much of what they do is can sound like dreary, hippie rock, this one song brings out the warmth in their harmonies, the lightness of their lyrics and the reflective touch of their music to wonderful effect.
The two DVD's released on the 9 August 2004 are as follows:
Daylight Again: Filmed in 1983, Daylight Again as filmed at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles and features CS&N in front of the closest thing to a hometown crowd they're likely to get. Fronting a full rock band and with CS&N on guitars, only Graham Nash's outfit and post-New Wave dancing gives the date of the gig away as Crosby, Stills & Nash stick to an established set of favourites over a twenty-two song set that includes Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth.
This DVD is available to buy from Amazon, SendIt, Pricestorm and Choices Direct.
The Acoustic Concert: Filmed in 1991 at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre, Crosby, Stills & Nash perform eighteen songs without any backing other than their own piano and (mostly) acoustic guitar. On switching to a Fender Telecaster, Stephen Stills plays his own For What It's Worth from Buffalo Springfield's back catalogue whilst Graham Nash, alone at the piano, plays Our House.
This second DVD is available to buy from Amazon, SendIt, Pricestorm and Choices Direct.
The full track listing of both DVDs are shown below:
Neither concert is particularly special and appear to be no more than another date on a couple of fairly ordinary CS&N tours but all of the songs that you would expect to be played are a highlight and none more so than Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, which is so great that either DVD could be picked up for it alone but, really, why do that when Crosby, Stills And Nash, the album from which it came, is readily available on reissue alongside the equally as good Deja Vu.
There's a distinct lack of clarity in the full-stage shots on both DVD's although the close-up footage is clean, leaving these as a pair of unsatisfactory releases. Similarly, neither of the soundtracks - both discs have been released with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo audio tracks - have little that is noteworthy about them other than having little background noise and a muffled top and bottom end.
There are no extras on either of these DVDs.
Wooden Ships has the same, chilling effect here as it did when it appeared on the soundtrack for Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock but the question over the release of these discs is not over the quality of the songs. Instead, it's the question over there being a record of two very ordinary concerts, neither of which are sufficiently special to justify there being separate releases. If Led Zeppelin - a band not known for understatement - can summarise an entire career on two discs containing highlights from four separate tours, you have to question the need for CS&N to document two separate tours on DVD. Are these live recordings really that essential? I think not.