“Spotlight” is pretty ordinary (okay, bland) for a mid-‘70s L.A. production, but “Broken Bird” at least has harmonies throughout and a nice “Helplessly Hoping”-style guitar part. “Time After Time” is very brief, over almost before it can sink it. “Dancer” begins like a typically pleasant Crosby strum, but goes way off course when he gets “heavy”. It has the potential to be one of those wonderful wordless Crosby epic, but it’s exactly the type of song that doesn’t need an electric piano. Graham closes the side with “Mutiny”; despite the title, it’s about a sailboat (what is it with these guys and sailboats?) and not about Stills and/or Young.
“J.B.’s Blues” is not a blues per se, but rather appears to be something of a Nash apology to longtime CSNY groupie/cohort Joel Bernstein. A little better is “Marguerita”, which describes a bar encounter in the barest of terms. The best song is “Taken At All”, which is the only song that appears on the box set, but in a full CSNY version that’s even better. Hearing Crosby bemoan his plight as a “Foolish Man” is a little comical considering all the trouble he got himself into over the next decade, although a glimmer of hope is offered in “Out Of The Darkness”, written with go-to keyboard guy Craig Doerge. It’s actually a nice ending to the set.
Whistling Down The Wire is a pleasant Southern California album, impeccably played and kinda dull. Because it doesn’t really have any of the high points as witnessed the year before, it’s docked half a point. If only they weren’t so mad at Stills and Young that they refused to work with them again.
David Crosby/Graham Nash Whistling Down The Wire (1976)—2½