Monday, May 12, 2008

Buffalo Springfield 3: Last Time Around

By the time their third album came out, Buffalo Springfield had finally finished for good, the songwriters already looking for greener pastures. Last Time Around was spearheaded by engineer Jim Messina—who was also one of the rotating bass players in the band’s final days—pulled from over a year’s worth of scattered sessions.
Neil Young seems to barely appear on the album; in the telling photo on the cover, he’s pointedly facing away from the other guys. Yet the first two songs come from his pen. “On The Way Home” would be revisited to much better effect in his acoustic sets over the years; here Richie Furay sings it over a dated pop arrangement with bad horns. “It’s So Hard To Wait” is co-written with Richie, with a lot of jazz blues chords and a horn arrangement that would suit Billie Holiday. Stephen Stills is mostly improving, with “Pretty Girl Why” another jazzy gem, followed strongly by “Four Days Gone”, a poignant monologue by someone trying to escape the draft. Messina’s “Carefree Country Day” is the first sore thumb, but Stephen comes back strong with “Special Care”, a one-man collaboration with Buddy Miles on drums.
The other sore thumb is “The Hour Of Not Quite Rain”, which was the winning poem in a contest run by an LA radio station, the prize being that it was set to music by the Springfield. Richie does his best with it; who else would? “Questions” is another strong Stills tune, which would evolve into another classic a few years later. “I Am A Child” is Neil’s only lead vocal here, and foreshadows the country sound of his first real solo album. (He was still finding his voice.) It seems lots of folks were writing songs called “Merry-Go-Round” in those days, and Richie’s is a good try except for the trite waltz segue that always reminds us of bad Blood, Sweat & Tears. While Stephen’s other contributions demonstrate the sublime aspects of his style, one annoying trait comes through on “Uno Mundo”, merely the first of many misguided Latin excursions over the decades. But “Kind Woman”, which features future Poco bandmate Rusty Young on steel guitar, points a clear direction to Richie’s next step.
Last Time Around isn’t as obvious a title as Cream’s Goodbye, but we’d’ve preferred the band had a better finale. But as already mentioned, the story of the Buffalo Springfield was merely a prelude to so much else.

Buffalo Springfield Last Time Around (1968)—3

No comments:

Post a Comment