El Bicho's Hive

A Collection of Reviews Covering the Worlds of Art and Entertainment alongside other Snobbish Ramblings.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Crosby, Stills & Nash
Rhino Records

David Crosby, Stephen Stills & Graham Nash are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Crosby and Stills being double inductees for their previous work in The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, respectively. Their paths had crossed a few times before they finally joined together as a trio in 1968 with some assistance from Cass Elliot of The Mamas & The Poppas. They have created classic rock staples due to their amazing three-part harmonies and gifted songwriting talents.

For those of you asking the question, will this CD bring me happiness or will it bring me sorrow? The answer is happiness. Greatest Hits is a very good collection with many outstanding tracks, including songs that even causal music fans know such as the piano/harpsichord ballad “Our House” and “Teach Your Children,” which owes its country sound to Jerry Garcia’s performance on pedal steel guitar.

The selections for Greatest Hits are culled from four albums: 1969’s Crosby, Stills & Nash, which contributed seven of its ten tracks, eliminating the need to purchase that album, 1977’s CSN, 1982’s Daylight Again and 1970’s Déjà Vu, which is actually a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album. Neil doesn’t perform on the three tracks that appear here; he is only listed as co-producer.

Crosby, Stills & Nash will forever be linked to the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, to Woodstock and to that generation of youth who were fighting the establishment and changing the world with peace, free love and drugs before the majority of them gave up and moved onto the next in scene. They weren’t ready for the sacrifices required by the revolution, and were really more interested in the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the lifestyle, so they gave up their political interests and switched their focus to purely personal pleasures and gains. This noticeable culture shift influenced Tom Wolfe to write his article, The "Me" Decade and the Third Great Awakening. Part of the reason CS&N are linked to those halcyon days is because they haven’t released any material of the same caliber as their debut album in over 20 years. A fact substantiated by Nash himself, the compilation’s co-producer, who didn’t pick anything after Daylight Again.

I would have liked more of a history of the band and their relationship in the liner notes. For instance, I’m curious as to why Stills played almost every instrument on their debut album, yet on later albums his role is occasionally reduced to only contributing vocals on the songs he didn’t write. I know they have had a tumultuous time over the years, but other than Crosby’s brushes the law, his fathering a child for Melissa Ethridge, and Nash’s severe boating accident, I don’t know anything about the band. I am now very curious about them after listening to this album. If that was one of the band’s goals with this release, they accomplished it.