Monday, April 30, 2012

Crosby & Nash 1: Graham Nash/David Crosby

While Stills stayed off sulking on his own, Crosby and Nash decided to pool their talents by doing shows together, usually fried on some kind of herb. One such show can be heard on Another Stoney Evening, where the unplugged atmosphere presents a comfy setting for the music and the obvious affection these two have for each other’s gifts. However, that wouldn’t be released for 27 years, as the two were more concerning with finishing the songs in the studio.
Graham Nash/David Crosby has somehow managed to sneak out of the public eye over time, having fallen out of print by the ‘80s and not even being released on CD in the US ever. It’s too bad, really, because the album combines the best elements of each of their solo albums, while remaining as “separate” as Déjà Vu was. But of the four CSNYs, Crosby and Nash had the best vocal blend, so they use that to the fullest. (The usual suspects make up the backing, with guest appearances by half of the Grateful Dead, Dave Mason, and the soon-to-be ubiquitous Danny Kortchmar, Craig Doerge and Russ Kunkel.)
In true democratic fashion, the album is set up as a dialogue, alternating between each member. Graham Nash was the most concise pop writer, so it makes sense that his easy-to-recall songs bookend the album. “Southbound Train” is a sad waltz suggesting the decline of the American Dream. “Blacknotes” is a concert snapshot of Graham futzing around on the piano, killing time waiting for Crosby to get ready. The joke is brief, before his typically plodding piano style brings in “Stranger’s Room”, another regretful look back at his breakup with Joni Mitchell. “Frozen Smiles” is said to be a slap at Stills, while “Girl To Be On My Mind” provides a glimmer of hope that he will one day love again. “Immigration Man” gets plenty of electricity from the band, working around that single angry bass note from the piano.
Crosby’s music takes a little more to appreciate, especially in this context. “Whole Cloth” is brooding, much as “Games” does in the same position on side two. “The Wall Song” pairs him with the Dead again, and their loping mix has one wishing they could have collaborated more. But the highlight arguably comes in the pairing at the end of side one. “Where Will I Be?” is a solo meditation fleshed out by Gregorian harmonies, followed by the obvious (non-)answer of “Page 43”. A wonderful sequence.
Again, we don’t know why this album has slipped through the cracks over the years. Four of the songs were included on the CSN box set, but the CD was only available as a pricey import. Luckily, iTunes and other streaming services do offer it, so it’s not a completely lost cause. It fits neatly in one’s rack alongside the other CSN releases to date.

Graham Nash/David Crosby Graham Nash/David Crosby (1972)—

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