Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Crosby & Nash 2: Wind On The Water

CSNY actually managed to reunite for a major tour in the summer of 1974, playing for several hours a night in stadiums, ushering an era of mammoth concerts. Since Neil had tons of songs to choose from, Stills felt he had to keep up, leaving Crosby and Nash to gamely sing along and bang tambourines.
Once the tour was over, the only “new” album was the So Far hits collection. Neil and Stills went back to their corners, and since Crosby & Nash never had a problem getting along, they held onto the rhythm section and recorded another joint LP. Which meant that the songs were written mostly separately, but recorded mostly together. By this part of the decade, however, the Asylum example had taken root, so many of the people associated with the Southern California vibe appear—Russ Kunkel, Lee Sklar, David Lindley and of course, Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar—having already proven themselves on the first Crosby/Nash album.
Thankfully, that threat of blandness doesn’t dominate Wind On The Water. For one, Crosby still had it at this point, contributing some excellent songs. “Carry Me” is a basic wish to rise above one’s limitations, ending with a personal verse about his dying mother. “Bittersweet” is based around a circular piano part, never quite finding its root, and that’s what makes it so affecting. “Low Down Payment” wanders between time signatures in best Déjà Vu tradition. Unfortunately “Homeward Through The Haze” reaches too much to be a classic; a better version had been left in the can that would do it justice down the road.
Nash’s songs aren’t quite as strong. As obscure as “Mama Lion” is, “Take The Money And Run” needs a little more substance to match its infectious riff. You can tell that “Love Work Out” is his song by the pounding piano; the song isn’t much but it ends with a fantastic guitar solo. “Cowboy Of Dreams” is his best contribution, being something of a tribute to Neil, and a chance for David Lindley to play his fiddle.
The best is saved for last, and it’s nice when an epic makes the trip worthwhile, as opposed to sinking the proceedings under its on bloat. It’s something of a suite that gives the album its title, dedicated “To The Last Whale…” It opens with a faux-Gregorian piece called “Critical Mass”, the likes of which Crosby had already shown he could pull off. The final vocal chord leads into the oceanic string arrangement heralding “Wind On The Water”, a Nash protest over the hunting of whales. Heartfelt, if a little naïve, it draws attention to the subject of ecology and endangered animals, and predicts his obvious support of the “no nukes” movement.
While not as stunning as some of their earlier work together or alone, Wind On The Water is still a pleasant diversion, proving that maybe these guys would be able to make it just fine on their own. At least, until the other two showed up.

David Crosby/Graham Nash Wind On The Water (1975)—3

1 comment:

  1. AS musicians, I love Crosby's voice, can't get enough of Stills' musicianship, but I don't care for Graham Nash's music. Every now and then he produces a gem ['Cathedral' comes to mind], but generally he produces what John Lennon would call 'granny music.' Just my opinion...this is a fairly decent album, even if it is a little slick.