Monday, 16 June 2014
CSNY: The Best Unreleased Tracks (News, Views and Music Issue 249)
As promised, more scrumptious songs from the vault of one of our beloved AAA members that we hope and pray will be released one day, which we're writing now in order to make sure they're mentioned for the CSNY book we're slowly working on (get saving now to make sure you can buy it once it's out sometime around 2018!) We've got a lot to get through and you must know the score by now after our last entries on the Beatles and the Stones - its a handy imaginary two-CD set we've compiled from the best of all the outtakes currently known, so enough yabbering and on with the show(s)...
1) Marrakesh Express (Hollies Backing Track 1968)
We know that Nash first tried out one of his most famous songs of all with his first band, because he mentions often in interviews how bad it is. The Hollies never really took to Nash's song about his Moroccan jaunt in early 1968 and reportedly played a very scrappy version which has never been heard, but then they hadn't really taken to many of his songs from that period. It would have been fascinating to hear the Hollies' version for sheer posterity though -and one day perhaps that last unfinished 1968 Hollies album might be put back together? (You know the one with 'Wings' 'Relax' 'Tomorrow When It Comes' 'Open Up Your Eyes' 'Like Everytime Before' and goodness only knows what else...it would have been a masterpiece!)
2) Everybody Has Been Burned (Nash Demo 1968)
No, that's not a typo - we really do mean 'Nash' despite this being a David Crosby song from the Byrds' 1967 album 'Younger Than Yesterday'. This is a very pensive sounding Nash turning Crosby's slab of beautiful melancholy into a very dark and brooding song that really shows off his fine acoustic guitar playing as well as his vulnerable voice. A show of solidarity to the only man who seemed to 'get' his writing during the troubled year of 1968? Or an early attempt to get into the mindset of a possible future partner? Either way, fascinating stuff.
3) Wooden Ships (Crosby Demo 1968)
This is 'Wooden Ships' in its original wordless state as it existed in 1968, before that fateful boating holiday Crosby took with Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner, who set his own sci-fi lyrics to a tune Crosby had had for years (and before Stills adds a final, threatening verse). With the drama taken away and the drama about hippies escaping a nuclear war, 'Wooden Ships' sounds like a very different song, with Crosby joyously ad-libbing a wordless 'ba da da' over the top not unlike the semi-instrumentals from first album 'I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here'. It still sounds like a very beautiful one though and a fascinating insight into how Crosby put his songs together (or, in this case, got someone else to put them together for him!)
40 49 Reasons ('Frozen Noses' Demo 1968)
Crosby and Stills had decided to throw their lot in together in 1968 (before the fateful day when they met Nash) and recorded this simple demo of as new Stephen Stills song and what will become the first album closer, simply to see what they'd sound like. Much like Stills on his own as it turns out - Crosby doesn't join in until the chorus very late on and the song is dominated by Stephen's upright piano and exotic backwards guitar effects. Stills clearly doesn't know how to end the song yet either, simply repeating the 'steady girl, be my world' refrain instead of hitting those high harmony parts on 'Bye Bye Baby', the half of the song clearly unwritten as yet.
5) Everyday We Live (CSNY studio outtake 1969)
The earliest unreleased bona fide unused CSNY song is a chirpy Stills song, noticeably poppier than any that made the 'Deja Vu' album and with Young's characteristically frazzled guitar to the fore. I'm only speculating here, but it may be that this song was bumped off the album once the prolific Stills came up with 'Carry On' at the last minute - in which case it was probably a good idea. Still great to hear though, with Nash pounding the organ and some creaky rehearsal CSN harmonies hinting at what a good song this might have been with a bit (heck, make that a lot) more work.
6) The Lee Shore (CSNY outtake 1969)
'The Lee Shore' is probably the most famous of all CSNY outtakes - a live acoustic version appeared on the band's 'Four Way Street' live set in 1971 and a mighty fine laidback studio outtake was one of the highlights of the 1990 CSN box set. This version is another studio outtake, audibly earlier and rougher than the 'finished' version and stretched out to an epic seven minutes thanks to some delightful Stills-Young guitar interplay. Crosby sings alone for now, without the harmonies Nash comes to add and this lovely song about boats sounds even more intimate as a result.
7) Cinnamon Girl (CSNY outtake 1969)
If anybody wanted to know what the difference between Crazy Horse and CSNY was, they only need to play this early version of one of the Horse's biggest powerhorses. As released by Neil 'Cinammon Girl' is a streamlined beauty, with every guitar clearly in step and a marvellous guitar solo that peals the same note over and over in joyous ecstasy. The CSNY version barely features any guitar and instead has Stills' organ to the fore on a cluttered, muddled production that never really takes off. Still great that it exists though - and I still controversially say CSNY did 'Down By The River' better than Crazy Horse!
8) Long Time Gone ('Woodstock' Film Mix 1970)
Not really rare in the sense that so many people own a copy of the Woodstock film, but worth adding given how different the mix of this first album classic is. Sped up slightly to fit into the early scenes of the Woodstock stage being built, this should be a stupid move but instead gives the song a greater sense of urgency, while subtle differences between the guitar parts (there's less of them) and the harmonies (which come in at different times) mean this alternate mix should have come out on CD years ago (sadly it isn't on any of the Woodstock compilations). Oh and the ending is completely different, ending with a real growl from Stills' guitar instead of the organ swirling down a black hole.
9) Wooden Ships ('Woodstock' Film Mix 1970)
Ditto this second 'Woodstock' mix taken from only slightly later in the stage's development. This mix should be sacrilege, fading the track out at just past the three-minute mark and again speeding the track up slightly, but instead it's another fine alternate way of hearing something every CSN fan knows so well. Stills' organ and guitar parts flutter in and out much more, Crosby's single vocal track occasionally expands into hallucinogenic multi-tracks and the song fades out on the 'morse code' organ riff for a full 30 seconds before disappearing completely.
10) Bluebird Revisited (CSNY Live 1970)
Another song bumped off 'Deja Vu' at the last minute, this is one of the few examples of CSNY performing a song they never actually tackled in the studio as a quartet. Luckily someone had a tape recorder running and Stills' magnum opus (which does appear on his solo album 'Stephen Stills II') really benefits from soaring CSNY harmonies, even if you really miss the horn section of the finished product.
11) So Begins The Task (CSNY Studio outtake 1970)
One of Stills' greatest ever compositions, this song would have made 'Deja Vu' an even better album, although Stills hasn't quite finished his song just yet. Compared to the version Manassas will perfect in a couple of years on their first album, this version is fidgety rather than stately, raw rather than polished and exuberant rather than sad. No matter, though: Crosby and Nash's harmonies are as great as ever and Neil adds a terrific and very typical guitar part that makes for one of the best CSNY outtakes around.
12) White Nigger (Stills and Jimi Hendrix, studio outtake 1970)
Flipping everything Jimi Hendrix ever played on seems to be out by now, on a decreasingly interesting series of outtakes albums, box sets and rarities sets. The Hendrix estate are clearly having a laugh, especially given how few CSNY rarities sets there have been, and yet there's one song I keep checking the Hendrix track listings for to see if it's out 'officially' yet. Chances are it's the dodgy title keeping this one off the shelves, because it can't be the music - the two old friends (who knew each other from high school days - Stills was very nearly the bass player in the Experience) are on fine form bouncing off each other, even if Stills frustratingly restricts himself to organ rather than guitar as per the other song taped at these sessions ('Old Times, Good Times', a song that did make it onto debut solo album 'Stephen Stills'). No one quite knows which order these two songs were recorded in but one of them is Hendrix's last time in a recording studio - surely that alone makes it worthwhile releasing?
13) Cowboy Movie (Crosby and Friends Studio Outtake 1971)
A third version of Crosby's oblique tale of the CSNY story for you, to go with the finished version on 'I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here' and the scatterbrained version on the Crosby box set 'Voyage'. This one lasts even longer (eleven minutes), is ever so slightly slower and features Neil Young on the right and Jerry Garcia on the left channels, the pair of very different guitarists having fun 'talking' to each other over the top of Crosby's rhythmical lead. Crosby doesn't have any words yet, but that doesn't matter - this jam is great enough without them, especially the first slash of the guitar riff about two minutes in that each guitarist falls into simultaneously. As magical as everything else from the 'Swear' sessions.
Tamalpais High (At About Three) (Crosby studio outtake 1971)
Another 'I'd Swear' outtake featuring various special guests like Jerry Garcia again and the Airplane's Jorma Kaukanen, this electric version of Crosby's choral instrumental doesn't yet feature his voice and is altogether less restful and serene, sounding anxious and angry (more like CSNY's 1970-74 20 minute onstage jamming sessions in fact). I'm not sure if I prefer it to the finished version, but it couldn't be more different and that in itself makes it well worth releasing.
14) Is It Really Monday? (Crosby studio outtake 1971)
Music simply dripped out of Crosby in this period, even if he was rarely together enough to turn his fragments of gold into a full song. Crosby only has a little bit of inspiration to go on but still somehow manages to turn his one idea into a five minute acoustic song, the kind of downside to 'Music Is Love' (which came into life in a similarly scattershot fashion before being 'finished' by Nash and Young in Crosby's absence. Bemoaning the worker feeling that its Monday morning already, Crosby turns his idea and his typically offbeat guitar tuning into a really powerful slow-burning song about frustration while Jerry Garcia tries to keep up. Far more interesting than instrumental 'Kids and Dogs', the one outtake from 'I'd Swear' to get a 'proper' release.
15) Under Anaesthesia (You Sit There) (Crosby studio outtake 1971)
Ditto this second unfinished Crosby song, which has more lyrics than 'Monday' but not much more of a tune. The riff is fascinating though - is it an early version of the one that turned into the menacing 'What Are Their Names?', played here on acoustic guitar and without the instrument-by-instrument build of power. The lyrics are fascinating too, Crosby berating those brainwashes so easily by Governments or, possibly, describing himself during his early years of drug abuse, just sitting there, like he's 'under anaesthesia'.
16) The Wall Song (Crosby Demo and Crosby-Nash studio outtake 1971)
If we ever get out chance to make this compilation album (we won't, of course, but we can dream!) then we've elected to start with Crosby's 90 second acoustic demo of this song, which is all lost churning and helplessness, before segueing into a rip-roaring rock version that's halfway towards the finished song. As on the finished 'Graham Nash, David Crosby' version, the Grateful Dead are the backing band and sound much meatier and rockier than usual, with an intriguing hi-hat attack from both drummers that really adds to the feeling of claustrophobia. The song has a much more extended ending too, carrying on for a good two minutes after the 'finished' version has faded. Tentative, yes, but still wonderfully raw and powerful.
17) Mountain Song (Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra studio outtake 1971)
Strictly speaking this outtake belongs on either a Jefferson compilation (it was recorded during the sessions for 'Blows Against The Empire') or on a Grateful Dead comp (because Jerry Garcia is chief writer and singer). However we've put it here because sadly there probably aren't enough outtakes from either band to make a full rarities set like this one and there's lots of Crosby in there too. A haunting folk tune that sounds like a standard, this was due to be the part of the 'concept album' where the runaway hippies who've hijacked their own starship feel nostalgic pangs for the mountains of their childhood while they're trapped in space. Sadly it wasn't used at the time and only ended up on album on Paul Kantner's hard-to-find follow-up 'The Empire Blows Back' in 1986. Sadly it's not quite the same - Garcia is terribly fragile after his diabetes-induced coma and Crosby was in prison, leaving this sweet unfinished 'demo' as the best version.
18) Daylight Again (Manassas Live 1972)
Perhaps the greatest thing on this list, this is the 'original' version of what will become the title track to the third CSN album a massive ten years later. Stills recalled later that he went off into a bit of a trance at this concert, with images of the American Civil War coming into his mind as he kept his backing band Manassas waiting and improvised verse after verse before finally screaming out the 'Find The Cost Of Freedom' bit at the top of his lungs some six minutes later. Stills at his spooky best, with many many verses cut from the finished record (here's a smaple: 'Screaming and howling they came from the hills, although they were frightened couldn't kill, had no way they had no more and so they came, today my friends we find ourselves in a similar place, God help us there's got to be another way, when nobody's listening...We have a weapon so much stronger than the atom bomb or anything known to man, this is our might, we can use them, we can make our way...' Stills at his haunting best.
19) Thoroughfare Gap (Manassas Live 1972)
This song has a slightly shorter shelf life - Stills finally gets round to recording it a mere six years later! Another song that would have made a fine addition to the already near-perfect first Manassas set, this version is sung at a mighty quick pace, with Manassas struggling to keep up. The song doesn't have the beauty of the 1978 version (where it becomes Stills' title track), but it is another tour de force of a performance from quite possibly Stills' greatest tour where he could do no wrong.
20) Another Sleep Song (Nash, Old Grey Whistle Test 1973)
Well known to UK fans (BBC4 seem to like repeating it every other week) but deserving of wider release elsewhere, this is Nash alone at the piano singing one of his greatest songs. Yes there's no Joni Mitchell wails or that wonderful moment when the session musicians suddenly find the groove after a false start as per the finished 'Wild Tales' version, but this truly solo version of Nash's lovely, fragile song is still a very wonderful performance.
21) Human Highway/New Mama/And So It Goes/Change Partners (CSNY Winterland Reunion 1973)
We end our first disc with the first - of many - CSNY reunions, this one taking place un-advertised at a Stephen Stills gig in 1973. Stills clearly has a secret and keeps telling the audience of a 'surprise' in store but it's still a genuine shock to many when Crosby and Nash walk onto stage for some old favourites. An even bigger shock comes when Neil Young joins them some ten minutes later and manoeuvres the band through some of theleast suitable CSNY material ever (Neil is right in the middle of his 'doom trilogy' period). The band did some ten songs in all but in the interests of space we've selected the four rarest ones that CSNY hardly ever played: 'both 'Highway' and 'So It Goes' are candidates for the 1974 reunion album that never was, while 'New Mama' sounds even lovelier with CSN harmonies and 'Change Partners' seems a fitting finale to a show where old friends come together. The chat between songs is great too and deserves to be edited together for posterity: Crosby muffs up the opening speech to Nash's 'Prison Song', Stills is on self-effacing form and Neil is truly in a dark place...
22) Little Blind Fish (CSNY studio outtake 1974)
A true rarity - CSNY trading vocals over the same song! Given that this never happens before or since, we CSNY fans puzzled for years over who actually wrote this song - until it turned up on the first 'CPR' album credited to Crosby (and guitarist Jeff Pevar, who presumably 're-arranged' it). The finished 'acoustic 'Fish' is a minnow, an understated philosophical debate about mankind blundering through life but this one is a spiky stickleback, full of some punchy Stills-Young interplay. Despite being unfinished (like the next two songs on this list and a couple of 'official' releases on the CSN box set it was recorded for the aborted 1974 'Human Highway' album that was never completed) this is a great find and desperately deserves to be released (perhaps as an extra on that 'Wembley 1974' box set you keep promising us, chaps?!)
23) Human Highway (CSNY studio outtake 1974)
What should have been that 1974 reunion album's title track, later re-recorded by Neil Young during his 'folk-country' phase on 1978's 'Comes A Time'. While far from the best song Neil ever wrote, the CSNY version is tonnes better than the solo one - Stills and Young prove they can 'talk' with their guitars acoustically as well as electrically and the addition of CRosby and Nash harmonies turn this always slightly boring song into a real lament over lost opportunities (ironic, eh, given what happens to the album this song is named after!)
24) Prison Song (CSNY studio outtake 1974)
Nash will return to this song almost straight away, re-recording it for his second solo record 'Wild Tales'. A song close to his heart, it's about the cruelties of the legal system that never seems to understand it can get things wrong and the second verse about his father doing time for buying stolen goods off a friend unknowingly is heartfelt. The CSNY version is slower and slightly scarier, with Crosby and Nash taking the finished vocal line and Stills and Young parroting the chorus a step or so behind them out of synch, giving a blurry, unreal feel to the song. A typically great bluesy guitar part from Stills is in there too.
25) Your Life Is What You Fill Your Day With (Crosby Live c.1974)
A brief 90 second acoustic song from Crosby, which sadly was never taped in the studio and only exists from his 'solo' spot in CN/CSN/CSNY shows. A very Jefferson Airplaney song about urging the audience to live life to their best of their abilities, with life 'more than a chance to beat the system down, more than succumbing to their runaround' (because 'life's not a toy that you can play with'). The song needs another verse and a middle eight to be a true Crosby classic, but it's a lovely fragment that easily could have been turned into something.
26) See You In The Spring (CSNY studio outtake 1976)
I'm not too sure about anything to do with this track - who wrote it, who plays on it and when, but Nash takes the lead and I think I can hear Neil in the vocals so I've placed it here (it isn't mentioned with the other 'Human Highway' outtakes, so my guess it comes from the second aborted CSNY reunion in 1976, for the album that became 'Long May You Run'). A moody slow burning blues, it's actually a very Stillsy song despite Nash's vocals, with the narrator trying to persuade himself to feel 'happy' because of good times around the corner although he can't help pining for some lost love (Joni MItchell? Amy Gossage? There's a few candidates for Graham's girlfriends that might have inspired this song!)
27) Rollin' My Stone (Stills Live c.1976)
A real mystery - the post Stills-Young Band fiasco Stills was not the same brash arrogant confident musician he was before. With Neil having walked out on the sessions and Crosby-Nash not speaking to him after erasing all their work (following an argument over a vocal line in 'Guardian Angel' - does the CSNY version of that great song exist I wonder?!), Stills takes off for his own version of the Neil Young 'Tonight's The Night' tour, revisiting all his old songs so that they sound almost painfully different and doing the strangest of cover songs. This song that ended the second Manassas album is the strangest: Stills re-works it as a slow gut-wrenching blues and even gives the vocal to CSNY longterm sideman Mike Finnigan to sing on. The closest Stills got to soul, this sloppy live recording simply drips with anguish, lost opportunities and regret. Of course when Neil does it in 1973 he's hailed as a a 'star' (well, eventually anyway) - when Stephen does it fans simply walked out and didn't come back.
28) Precious Love (Stills Unreleased c.1978)
A happier sounding Stills this time on a powerful no-prisoners rocker with a great central riff that could easily have graced the 'Daylight Again' album, although the catchy chorus is firmly in 'Thoroughfare Gap' mode. 'This kind of love will surely fade away' Stills sings, but so caught up is he with the enthusiasm of the track you don't believe him for a second.
29) Come On In My Kitchen (Stills Live c.1978)
This is the song fragment that Crosby wails on the first CSN album in between 'Long TIme Gone' and '49 Bye Byes' (or at least he did on album - sadly Robert Johnson's estate objected and its cut from most CDs). Stills sings it for a baying audience who all seem to get what a treat it is to hear one of the trio 'finish' it some ten years on, turning the blues howl into a quick-stepping acoustic jazz improvisation not unlike his 'You Can't Catch Me/Blind Fiddler' medleys.
30) Samauri (Crosby studio outtake 1978)
The Crosby*Nash version of this legendary Crosby song in 2004 is nice, but Crosby is, thankfully, in quite a different head space by then, singing this oddball a capella song with guts and confidence. This is Crosby's original version from 1978, for the album that was rejected by CBS and was recorded at the peak of Crosby's drug addiction. He sounds so lost and alone on this recording, singing sadly with himself, something which makes this song about a samurai soldier 'looking for the light' eerily similar to the title track of 'I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here'. Only this time he's in mourning not for his fiance (sadly killed in a car crash in 1970), but for himself.
31) Melody (Crosby studio outtake 1978)
That album wasn't all downbeat, however: 'the chirpy 'Melody' is the last 'happy' song Crosby will write for a decade or so and if anything this early version is even more impressive than the re-recording on 1989's post-drugs-and-prison solo 'Oh Yes I Can!' Freed of the worse 1970s excesses and with an impressively confident and together vocal, this song really deserved to have been 'saved' for the 'Daylight Again' record alongside 'Delta'. Crosby at his effortless best and one of his more under-rated songs, a very apt hymn to the healing properties of music.
32) Cherokee (Stills studio outtake 1980)
Stephen Stills was the very first musicians ever to use digital recording equipment. sadly he never got the kudos he deserved because at the time Stills was out of contract and simply messing around for his own benefit, intrigued by the new technology. His choice for a song to re-record is interesting: 'Cherokee' is far from his best known song and this later version reveals just how shot Stills' voice was getting by the 1980s. The lack of the brilliant horns that made up the original is a shame too. No matter though: this version has a great grungy bass riff that gives the song real energy and drive and Stills' synthesiser break is fascinating, showing how well he really got to grips with contemporary technology.
33) Turn Your Back On Love (Stills-Nash Early Version 1982)
Legend has it Nash was fooling around with this song's guitar riff during a studio jam when Stills jumped on it and 'finished' the song on the spot. This isn't quite that early version but it's clearly still a work-in-progress: Stills has a different first verse, the 'lonely days and lonely nights' section is instrumental and the segue between the many sections of this song is less than smooth. This is already a thrilling song, however, with many many differences between this and the finished version and sounds even more like Stills attacking himself for another failed marriage ('You built a wall, what were you thinking?')
34) Night Song (Stills 'Twilight Zone' soundtrack, 1986)
Fans know this song best as the closing song on 'American Dream', the long awaited second CSNY album in 1988 where its mysteriously credited to Stills and Young. This original version, credited to Stills alone, is a less cluttered and more overdub-filled recording, made for the soundtrack of 'The New Twilight Zone' episode of the same name in 1986. Stills probably got the gig because of his friendship with the Grateful Dead, who'd been hired to re-record the famous signature tune. In the story Stills plays the 'singing voice' of a promising rocker who mysteriously disappeared a long time ago - only for his girlfriend DJ to get his record out of her attic and bump into his ghost (though sadly he isn't seen on screen). It's not one of the better Twilight Zone episodes to be honest (like much of the re-make's second season) but it's still a great version of an under-rated song that's less disappointing without the pressure of being 'grand finale on an album 18 years in the making' resting on its shoulders).
35) Vote! (Nash Live c.1986)
A simple Nash song sung on his solo tour of 1986 (plugging 'Innocent Eyes') and imploring his audience to go and vote Reagan out of his office (interestingly Neil Young is at the same time giving interviews claiming how much he likes Reagan - never had CSNY seemed further apart than in the mid-1980s). The same annoying chirpy 80s synths that ruined the album are there, but this throwaway is actually more substantial than a good half of that record and deserved a place on Nash's 'reflections' set at the very least. Remember, we could be giving up a chance: vote!
36) He's An American (Crosby Live c.1987)
A lovely acoustic Crosby song, written in prison and at one with a small handful of 'pro-American' songs in Croz' back catalogue. This isn't some American superhero either but the hard-working American who gets up and works hard every day and isn't fooled by anybody ('He's not afraid of you, he will know what to do and he can see right through your games, oh yeah'). Hmm I'm not convinced about the sentiments either to tell you the truth, but Crosby's melody is catchy and earnest and this song still deserved a better fate.
37) Soldiers Of Peace (Nash Demo 1988)
There are already two versions of Nash's solidarity-with-Veterans epic doing the rounds - one on 'American Dream' and another, earlier version on the CSN box set. This third version is Nash and Joe Vitale's synth-heavy demo, broadcast on a hard-to-find radio show, and without the Neil Young guitar or the harmonies. A sweet, heartfelt rendition of one of Graham's more overlooked songs, it sounds less dated than either 'finished' version.
38) On The Other Side Of Town (Nash studio outtake c.1990)
My favourite song from the 'Crosby*Nash' album of 2004 actually dates back to the late 1970s when Nash's children were young. An oblique tale about handing his baby over to get his first injections 'leaving you laughing in the arms of a stranger...who was gonna bring you pain', it's fascinating in hindsight to read how many interpretations of this song there were when it came out back in the days when Nash didn't talk about it (drug users with needles? Vietnam Vets?) This is the earliest version I've come across, an early 1990s live rendition from Nash's solo spot in a CSN acoustic tour, although I have read that the song was one of the ones booted off 'Live It Up' when Stills was added to the record at the last minute, so presumably there's a studio outtake out there somewhere too.
39) Silver and Gold (CSNY Live 1999)
Word has it that Neil Young was impressed that CSN were putting their own money up to record an album when they didn't have a record contract that he got involved, soon taking over the project that became 'Looking Forward'. The album was a near all-acoustic effort, with Neil fresh from sessions for his own acoustic album 'Silver and Gold'. He told CSN they could have their pick of his latest batch of songs and the quartet even worked up this one with CSN harmonies. A lot better than any of Neil's other songs on that record it is too, with Crosby and Nash parroting the chorus lines behind Neil, even if the song actually dates back to the 'Comes A Time' period of the late 1970s.
40) The Shell (Nash Live c.2001)
A Nash song that was only played in concert a handful of times, 'The Shell' is a quiet acoustic song about fragility, sung with the same spooky revelry of his next solo album at the time 'Songs For Survivors'. 'The Shell' badly deserved a place in that album's running, with its discussion of how human beings are protected by such a thin veneer of protection and are so easily hurt. 'I'm sick and tired of one-way streets, this heart of mine can't take it any more, so I'll have to let you leave' sighs Nash, sounding more vulnerable than he has in two decades.
41) Guinevere (Crosby and Venice TV Show 2003)
Alas this video was pulled from Youtube before I got a chance to see it properly and I never learnt which American TV show it came from. What I do know is that a capella band Venice - a kind of American King's Singers for my anglicised readers - put in a stunning performance of Crosby's CSN classic while Croz himself turns in an impressive vocal over the top. Guinevere has never sounded more lovely live and the Madrigal-like setting is particularly appropriate for this Arthurian legend of a female beauty across time.
42) Half Your Angels (Crosby-Nash studio outtake c.2004)
The finished version of 'Angels' from Crosby*Nash is perfectly fine, with its poppy chorus and exclamations of solidarity with those caught up in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This early, more synth-heavy version is even spookier however, the even more overtly commercial surroundings making the sentiments sound even more stark and powerful.
43) Restless Consumer (CSNY Live 2009)
We end our compilation with the best song from CSNY's 'Freedom Of Speech Tour' not to make the surprisingly dull souvenir live CD 'Deja Vu Live'. This is easily the best of Neil's 'Living With War' songs, barring the infamous Bush-baiting 'Let's Impeach The President', with CSN's harmonies used well on a powerful rocker that sees Neil get ever more angry and passionate. 'Don't need no more lies!' he's howling by the end, while CSN keep on cutting across him with the chorus 'Don't Need!' This is what CSNY should always have been doing - sounding out hypocrisy and greed, stuffing their sloganeering into gorgeous songs full of some of the best guitar interplay on the planet and keeping their people safe. How do you pay for war and leave us dying? An 'Ohio' for the 21st century!
As ever we end our compilation with a 'hidden' bonus track, which traditionally is a bit of speech. Our choice this time around is Stills egging on Crosby to do his Robert Johnson voice, with the extract of 'Come On In My Kitchen' from the first CSN album coming from this session. Crosby pleads off, because he says if he sings in that voice he'll be stuck with it for the rest of the session and they need to get taping. But Stills turns on the charm, requests him 'please!' with such a big audible grin that Crosby just has to laugh and does it anyway, complete with a nervous cough in the middle. A great insight into the CSN dynamics!
And that's that! be sure to join us next week when we'll be debating the best Hollies outtakes. See you then!