Monday, 12 January 2015

Buffalo Springfield: Non-Album Songs 1965-1968

Non-Album Recordings Part #1: Steve Stills and Richie Furay 1965
A) Other than the Au Go Go Singers LP, the earliest recording we have of the Springfielders at work is an early demo for [1a] 'Sit Down, I Think I Love You',  recorded back in the days when Steve and Richie were trying to make their own group. Recorded simply and notably slower than the album version, this little nugget is like the Rosetta Stone: the missing link between the folkiness of the duo's pasts and the more rock centred songs to come.  Played a little slower than the album version, this is the song how the Au Go Go Singers might have done it, with Richie singing higher and more sweetly than on the debut album. Richie is a little heavy on the tambourine and Stephen hasn't yet learnt how to play the guitar and sing and sound ultra committed to both, but it's a strong version that already sounds like a hit. That's certainly what the pair were hoping for but at the time they were so broke that Stills actually ended up selling his music publishing rights to the track (a particular shame when the Mojo Men scored a top 30 hit with it in 1967, making it the second most 'successful' Buffalo Springfield song ever in chart terms!) This early demo version was a real surprise when it came out in 2009 buried near the end of a particularly interesting but rambling psychedelic box set from Rhino. It may be that the demo hadn't been unearthed in time for the Buffalo Springfield box set, where it would have made a superb opening track - you wonder what other gems like this are lurking in a back cupboard as it seems unlikely the pair would have hawked round a demo tape with just one song on it (the pair's re-arrangement of 'Clancy' and Stills' 'Go and Say Goodbye' both seem likely to have been made in this period too).  Available on the various Artists Compilation 'Where The Action Is - Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-68'
                                                                 
Non-Album Recordings Part #2: Buffalo Springfield 1966
A) We're into 1966 now, with the band fully formed and all three writers beavering away to come up with songs for the first album. The Buffalo Springfield box reveals what a plethora of tracks there were available from all three writers and it's surprising that more of these demos didn't progress to the 'proper recordings' stage (compared to their peers and thanks mainly to the faith Ahmet Ertegun placed in them, the Springfield had a bigger recording time allowance than a lot of new bands did in the 1960s). First up is  [2] 'There Goes My Babe', a Neil Young song that's a rather uneasy Byrds-like mixture of the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Rather fittingly given the band's story to come it's a song about lost opportunities and things that 'might have been'. Strangely the demo seems to have been written from a 'female' point of view ('The harm is done, he was the only one') suggesting that Neil wrote it not for the band but for another singer to cover (fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell perhaps?), unless of course  Neil was so far ahead of his times he's really spending this song talking about a gay relationship (this is Neil we're talking about, though, so anything's possible!) The song is a little too short at just two verses and lays on the meteorological metaphors a little too heavily ('The sky has lost his sun...in the cool morning rain') which at times makes it sound like a weather forecast. Despite that it's a promising song that's very mid-1960s with big fat wide open guitar chords unusual for Neil. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001) and 'Neil Young's Archives Volume One 1963-72 (2009)
B) [3] 'Come On' is an even briefer Stills demo that's even more mid-1960s in its rolling chords, quick-stepping rhymes ('Quit stalling 'cause I think I'm falling' and the rhyme of 'lover' and 'cover') and demands to 'come on' (which is very 'Twist and Shout'). There's even a touch of paranoia and impatience in the lyrics - a sign of things to come? - when Stills tries to badger a clearly reluctant girl to running away with him  and sings 'don't pretend everybody's your friend - just pick one and explore their lies' (a very unusual line for the period - generally speaking the pre-psychedelic years are 'happy' ones without deceit in songs just misunderstandings; 'lies' are a key theme for the later Stills though and the theme of betrayal crops up on a lot of his later songs). In truth 'Come On'  isn't up to the Stills songs that made the record but it does show off Stills' growing guitar knowledge and this track suits his husky bluesy voice well. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
C) [4] 'Hello, I've Returned' is a very similar Stills song all round - it too lasts 90 seconds, features a rambling song structure that runs from one line into another and more quick-stepping lyrics ('Let's reveal whose the heel? It could be you!') Stills sings alone for Greene and Stone in the control room who seem amused by the title 'Hello' for some reason ('We're going to get into trouble with that you know!...') I'm as perplexed as Stills clearly is - are they referring to Allan Sherman's 1963 comedy hit 'Hello Muddah Hello Faddah'? or 'Hello Dolly?' No neither are very convincing either, but the producers seem concerned about something, jokily referring this track to the 'Son of Hello'. Stills' song isn't one of his most polished and you badly miss the rest of the band (Furay's harmonies would have slotted in on this one nicely), but it's another song that proves what a talented 21-year-old kid he was and given the nervy circumstances he's already turning in very committed vocals and some great guitar work. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
D) [5a] 'Out Of My Mind' is a Neil Young song about fame, written before the guitarist had experienced any. Re-recorded to much more polished effect on the first album, this sweet demo is looser and clumsier (Richie and Stephen haven't quite worked out their harmony parts yet and sing throughout instead of at key moments while Neil plays acoustic not on his usually ringing electric guitar), but this is still remarkable stuff for a band so early on in their careers. This version in particular sounds like a dead ringer for The Byrds' Gene Clark, with a similar sense of panic in the lyrics ('All I hear are screams from outside the limousines') and a Neil Young vocal quite unlike top 40 radio of the day. If the first version's concern about fame was premature, though, that goes double for this version recorded when the band hadn't released a single song yet! It's nice though, capturing the essence of the song in this loose sketch rather better than the finished version, for all the extra work that was put into it. This song sounds more like wish fulfilment to me, with Neil longing for but half-afraid of the big-time. Reflecting in his semi-authorised biography 'Shakey', Neil commented that this song was a spooky bit of fortune-telling that came true. The fact that by the look of it (the box set was as chronological as research allowed) this is the first song the Springfield did together rather than apart is downright weird. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
E) [6a] 'Flying On The Ground Is Wrong' is another acoustic Young demo that will be re-made on electric for the debut album. The biggest thrill here is of hearing Neil singing this track himself instead of giving the vocal to Richie. The song suits him more than 'Burned' or 'Out Of My Mind', making you wonder why he was so adamant about holding onto the vocals for those two songs. The key change into the middle eight is more pronounced on this version too and works rather well, while Neil sounds rather more comfortable with his Dylan-influenced words than Richie ever did. Interestingly this song seems to have been about the last recorded for the album, bumping Richie's 'Sad Memory' off the record at the last minute (that's most likely why he got to sing it, to say 'sorry') - interestingly because the demo dates back further than most for the album. Did Greene and Stone consider this rather obscure song too 'odd' for the album, before having a change of heart when Neil's similar 'Clancy' got so much attention as B-side of the first single? Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
F) [7] 'I'm Your Kind Of Guy' is a Young song that sounds more like a Stills track, Rhyming 'why?' 'try' and 'guy' in the opening three songs and unusually structured, with a verse that spills out into the choruses and vice versa, is this an early case of Neil trying to copy Stills' template style? Or an attempt to get more songs on the first album by making them more 'accessible'? The only Neil Youngy-bit in the whole song is the sudden switch of key for the middle eight, something that the young Stills wouldn't have thought of just yet ('I'll send you flowers every day, girl...'). Most likely it's the first and very nearly last straightforward romance in the whole Neil Young discography - you'd be hard pressed to imagine the narrators of 'Down By The River' or 'The Loner' heading down to the florist to cheer their girl up! At only a minute this song is clearly too short (no wonder Neil sounds embarrassed as he comes to an abrupt end), but like these other early demos is promising enough to have at least been considered for the album. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
G) [8a and b} 'Baby Don't Scold Me' is a Stills song with an interesting history. The first version of the song is a mesmerising folk song with just Stills' acoustic accompanying his low and Richie's high harmonies. If it wasn't for the slightly Beatley feel of the song this could easily be a CSN outtake: it has that same wide open space for vocals and a churning guitar riff built on an unusual rhythm. The demo version heard on the first disc of the box set is one of the highlights, in fact, with the best marriage of Stills' insistence on overly clever rhymes ('When you see the sun you don't have to run') and a proper catchy tune. The idea of putting the girl in the driving seat is also a brave move for 1966, as is Stills' narrator's defensive re-action that he's not yet 'old enough to tell right from wrong' - hardly a common idea for the teenage generation in the 1960s no matter how many 'parents' of the era would have agreed with him! I wonder, too - the relationship in this song is not 'usual' by any stretch of the imagination. 'By now it would be wise to spill it when you've got eyes' runs the end of each verse, as if encouraging the partner to keep him honest and be truthful with him, while the second suggests the pair don't actually know each other at all: 'Bet you're just like me, you dream of what might be' before adding that 'when it comes to the words they sound absurd...' Is this song about two day-dreaming people who have so much in common and yet comes from such different backgrounds an early case of CSNY writing about each other? Stills was struck by Young from the first - being everything he wasn't, brooding, mercurial and unpredictable - and while he recognised Neil as an 'equal' for one of the last times in his life, he was already aware of how much they rubbed each other up the wrong way (his 'pleading' in this lyric to 'just show me something real' sounds like something the straight-talking and always honest Stills would at least have wanted to say to the quiet, string-pulling Neil, even if he hadn't lost his rag enough to actually say it to his face yet). If this reading is true - and it might not be, of course - then the ending is fascinating, culminating in the worried question 'Will it last?' The answer, of course, is sadly 'no' - but not for lack of trying. Sadly the two electric re-recordings of 'Baby Don't Scold Me' can't compete for 'magic'. We'll deal with version 'c' (the finished one) later in the book (where it originally launched the Springfield's album career before being demoted in favour of 'For What It's Worth'), complete with its plagiary-suit risking steal of the riff from The Beatles' 'Day Tripper' and histrionic yells of  'alright!' The box set also includes a much nicer, more muted electric version that doesn't quite match the acoustic version (with Stills and Young almost polite to each other, as if making sure their parts don't step on each other's toes), hut the more laidback stance gives this hen-pecked song a more naturally hen-pecked feel that rather suits it. Find them on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
H) [9a] 'Neighbour Don't You Worry' was recorded in demo form in 1966 and as a 'band' recording in early 1967 (in the days before Neil left, during the period generally assumed to be for the record 'Stampede'). For now we're sticking with the folky demo, another of the box set's superior items with some gorgeous harmonies between Stills and Furay who are already playing around with our expectations by putting Richie at the bottom and Stephen up high. In many ways this song is an early precursor of 'For What It's Worth', with the first socially-conscious Stills lyric about a curious 'neighbour' who 'imposes their curiosity' on what the narrator is up to. Given the times (the Sunset Strip riots that inspired 'Worth' are mere months away) it's likely that Stills intended this as a 'generational' song - the narrator is young, trendy and hip and the ignorant elders are only horrified on the surface - underneath they're intrigued; do these youngsters really do all those groovy things they read about in the papers? (George Harrison should have borrowed this song for the soundtrack of the film 'Wonderwall', a plot about exactly that!) The 'twist' is that the 'neighbour' is so prejudiced he'll see whatever he wants to see ('My friend you will find whatever you want to find'). Stills portrays his neighbour as being big and loud ('Here you come a pounding, making the splinters fly') - what most 'elders' were accusing the 60s generation of being like - before offering the promise of taking them on a 'trip' ('If you want to go exploring I will take you and you'll see!') An unusual song very ahead of the curve, 'Neighbour' is one of the key box set recordings but sounds rather better in this 'folky' version.
I) [10a] 'We'll See' is another Stills song the Springfield returned to in electric form in 1967 after making a 1966 demo. Greene and Stone are clearly getting on Stills' nerves already (when asked what the title is he wearily spells the letters out to prevent more jokes as per 'Hello, I've Returned'). In fact he sounds under-par for this recording all over, providing a rather gruff vocal beneath Richie's gorgeous velvety lead. Compared to Stills' other songs this song is noticeably tortured and unsure of itself, quietly brooding in a very Neil Young manner (is he trying to copy his partner as Neil did earlier?) The lyrical theme is one that will haunt Stills for the rest of his career to date: how do you really know if you really know someone? There aren't yet another references to 'shadows' or 'walls' but the gist of the song could be straight off a Manassas or a solo album: 'We might discover differences that make us say it's not right at all with any game you want to play'. Once again, is this song about being cross but having to be patient all the same inspired by one Neil Percival Young? Sadly after two cracking verses the song descends into the kind of 'playing card' analogy that must have driven two seasoned folkies to distraction already in their 'Au Go Go' setlists. However the final verse is fascinating, sung in a rather uncomfortable shrieked falsetto for added effect: 'Ask me why the next time when I can't remember your name, you still cry and yet my answer will remain the same'. Is Stills suggesting that its alright for his partner to play mind games - but when he tried to do the same he gets into trouble for it? Or is he saying 'you can pout all you like - I'm still going to tell the truth as I see it!' The song ends with a rousing chorus 'Love with a trifle more honesty, rise above, sit a while - and we'll see', as if putting his colleague on permanent hold over his position in Stills' band. By the end of the year, however, the Springfield will be as much Neil's band as Stephens' (of course it could just be that Stills had a really pushy girlfriend in 1966!) Another fascinating song hard at it's best here before the band get 'carried away' overdubbing it into oblivion! Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
J) [11a] 'Sad Memory' is a 'demo' recording of Richie's gorgeous first song, taped for the first album but never used. Being such a simple song there's actually very little difference between the two: Richie sounds slightly more nervous in the demo and there's none of Neil's moody guitar accompaniment on this first version. Otherwise, though, 'Sad Memory' sounds just the way you'll remember it from the record - one of the lesser box set moments if only because of how similar it is to the finished product. Richie clearly deserves the applause at the end from the control room though - this is one of his better moments with the band. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
K) [12] 'Can't Keep Me Down' is another Richie Furay song that could have made the first album but ended up being passed over for the next two as well (unusually he didn't revive it for Poco either). It's a good but rather generic song with a riff caught halfway between 'The Last Train To Clarksville' and 'Scarborough Fair'. Richie's narrator, too has been cheated on and betrayed - but unlike brooding Young or angry Stills, he's still optimistic that better days are ahead, claiming that despite the problems 'you're my girl, I'm satisfied, just let somebody come and hurt my pride - couldn't if they tried'. It would have been interesting to have heard a full band version of this song (Stills' harmony would have slotted in nicely), but sadly there doesn't seem to have been one. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)

 Non-Album Recordings Part #3: Buffalo Springfield 1967
A) Sadly there don't seem to be as many demos in existence for the band's second album 'Again'. Those that we have tend to be of completely unused songs, although in many cases these were returned to many years later. [22] 'Down Down Down' is a case in point: effectively the middle section of the CSNY song 'Country Girl', Neil clearly wasn't quite sure what to do with it given the many demo versions of the song that have appeared to date. Dispensing with an introduction, this song just suddenly lurches into life. While the mood of the rest of the song is the same as what CSNY will do (moody and depressed and again heavy on the theme of betrayal and lies), the lyrics are quite different. This version starts in a river with a girl 'waving, in the hope that you'll forgive her, she will join you there'. CSNY move this bit to near the end and are much less sure about her reconciliation, asking 'will she join you there?' after she's learned of 'all your lying'. The middle eight 'Find out that now was the answer to answers' is the same', but repeated several times here, like a chorus (in 'Country Girl' it's sung just once, by Stills and Young together). The second verse though is entirely different and far more explicit, telling us in the voice of the girl that 'now you see how love you've fallen...and I'm not there to call'. A kind of 'second' middle eight comes next, a little clumsy compared to the finesse of the finished product from three years later: 'Call me a fool because I need her and see her, but now you're down, something inside you will tell you that I'm wise to what you're spreading round'. The two passages then finally unite at the same point - the sudden surge of anger on the line 'If I could stand to see her crying...'. Neil clearly worked hard on this song, with a nice solo demo version and a rather silly band version (with everyone over-enunciating the middle eights and suddenly ending up in unsettling Halloween harmonies) popping up on the box set - as ever with the Springfield, it's the first that works best, with too many cooks spoiling the broth. I have to say, though, that Stills falsetto yells are superb on the finished version - the demo version could have been just as spectacular for the Springfield with just a few tweaks. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
B) [9b] The final, rather rushed take of Stills' 'Neighbour Don't You Worry', for example, has lost all the finesse and fine detail of the demo. Stills sings double-tracked until a good minute into the song, which makes the whole song sound rather brash compared to Richie's harmony part. Someone (Stills?) has also added a rough, raucous one-two-three stabbing guitar attack which doesn't work and the guitar solo (almost certainly played by Stills) is almost hilariously wrong - Neil's laidback rhythm part is much more suitable and ear-catching. One of the lesser Springfield moments and a shame after such a promising demo. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
C) [23] The much bootlegged instrumental 'Kahuna Sunset' is a real oddity too: the only song credited to Stills and Young together until as late as 1988, it's actually Dewey Martins' quick-rattled drumming you can hear louder than anything else. Neil is in his element for this Hawaiian Shadows song (so similar to the sort of thing his pre-Springfield band The Squires used to play), while it's hard to work out what Stills actually does. The result, washed through with beach sound effects, sounds like the sort of filler The Beach Boys used to regularly fill up albums with and only really takes fire from the two-minute mark when Neil starts playing in his more usual, harsher style. Hawaii was a keen holiday destination for the band, though (the CSNY reunion in 1973/74 came about when the quartet bumped into each other there, unknowingly!) , with this song an accurate reflection of life in the area. The word 'Kahuna' puts rather a different complexion on the song though: a Hawaiian word for 'magician', allegedly outlawed after American settlers took over the island, suggesting a kind of dreamy magic spell being cast over the inhabitants. That might explain why Dewey manages to thrash out the same difficult rhythm for three minutes without a pause anyway! Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
D) [24] 'Buffalo Stomp' aka 'Raga' is a much less rehearsed and more natural sounding instrumental that suggests the band had been listening to a bit too much Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane. Stills and Young combine guitars to interesting effect while Richie pings away the same rhythm guitar riff over and over and Neil turns his amplifiers up to a point way past their best, the track thundering to an end behind the loudly squealed feedback from his guitar. In truth, too much of this instrumental sounds as if the band are simply rambling until something happens, although the similarity between this and the lengthy 'alright!' coda to the full unedited version of 'Bluebird' taped around now (heard on a 1973 compilation) suggests that this was a more 'regular' warm-up session jam. The band clearly weren't considering this for release though: this was way too much feedback to put on a record by 1967 standards and someone plays an out-of-tune kazoo throughout. Still, an interesting early example of Stills and Young competing against each other - fans lucky enough to see the band in concert reckon this song is closer to what the Springfield sounded like each night than any of their LPs. Note the co-credit to session sideman regular Russell Kunkel (later part of Crosby and Nash's band) rather than Dewey. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
E)  [25a] 'Mr Soul' is one of Neil's most enduring Springfield tracks and the chance to hear a different version of the song was eagerly awaited when the track listing for the box set leaked out. In truth this last recording to be produced by Greene and Stone sounds much like the finished version, just less punchier and with less left-right stereo panning on the guitars. The solo is a little different too and sounds like Stills playing rather than Young to me, although the notes are very much the same - it's just the emphasis on certain notes that's a little different. The very crackly surface texture doesn't help (fair enough if this version had to be rescued from an acetate, but couldn't they have cleaned it up a little more?), but the biggest difference might be the lack of the big fat bass on the finished version, most likely overdubbed later by Stills in Bruce's absence. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
F) The 'finished' version of [10b] 'We'll See' was maybe not quite up to the high standard of the other songs recorded for 'Again' and once more lacks the charm of the demo. This version is rattled through so fast the band cut about 75 seconds off their demo running time and the new speed loses all the spookiness of the original recording. Neil adds a nice guitar accompaniment, though, and has a lengthy solo in the middle that's nicely psychedelic. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
G) [26] Richie's 'My Kind Of Love' would have made a fine addition to the second album though. Interestingly Richie's vocal is covered up first by Stephen and then by Neil - was this a canny ploy to try and get his songs onto an album? A fun fast-paced rocker with an urgent squeal of guitar peals from Neil, this song sounded particularly good live according to bootlegs with Stills yelling out the words. This studio version is perhaps a little tame by comparison, but is still a good version. Interestingly, it's yet another Springfield song about betrayal that's uncharacteristically harsh for Richie and find the narrator out for revenge, although the lyrics come close to quoting two future Furay songs '[my] Kind [of] Woman' and 'Nobody's Fool'. It's not quite up to the wit of 'Child's Claim' or the gorgeousness of 'Sad Memory' (two Richie songs that did make the album), but it would have made a fine addition to both 'Again' and 'Last Time Around'.  Poco re-recorded it for their debut single, but somehow their more prog-rock affair sounds tame and nervous compared to the thrilling dangerous edge the full Springfield playing gives it here. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
H) [27a] 'Pretty Girl, Why?' is a lovely song of Stephen's that was recorded during this 'Stampede' period but won't be released until 'Last Time Around'. A pretty ballad that manages to keep in touch with what passed for pop in 1967 but filled with some lovely exotic production touches (some interesting echoed drumming, a delightful bluesy guitar solo from Stills and a more straightforward one from Stills, plus some very tight controlled harmonies) and a final verse sticking the boot into the Vietnam War again for good measure, it's one of Stills' better Springfield songs. This is the 'box set mix' as made in 1967 rather than early 1968. In truth there isn't that much difference - the 1968 is a bit livelier, thanks to copious echo and Richie has naturally increased the prominence of his harmonies in his own mix. I think, comparing the two directly, that the 'Last Time Around' track has been sped up a fraction as well though only a tiny bit - the box set version lasts all of six seconds longer. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
I) [28] 'Words I Must Say' is a sweet fragment of a song from Richie that would have made an interesting addition to the first album but sounds somewhat out of place admist the deeper songs his colleagues are coming up with in this period. Perhaps that's because this is a rare example of a 'happy' Springfield song, clearly written with half a mind on Richie's new wife Nancy, whose 'got a thing or two about her' and 'has cast her spell and now I'm hooked'. Interestingly though it's this cute little song by Richie that includes possibly the only drugs reference in the entire Springfield canon: 'Your words trip my mind!' At a mere 75 seconds, though, this piece clearly had to be extended to become a 'proper' song (Richie nervously tells the control room 'then it repeats - yep, that's all there is to the song!' followed by some rather twitchy laughter).  It's odd in fact that Richie didn't rewrite this promising extract when going through his older unused songs for the first two Poco albums - this happy-go-lucky song is much more their style than the Buffalos. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
J) Richie's demo for [29] 'Nobody's Fool' is quite a different beast for how the song would have appeared on a Springfield record. Richie wrote it for Dewey and the band performed it in concert in a similar style to the way they did 'Good Time Boy' - heavy soul complete with grunts and Otis Redding-isms, in other words. Richie has clearly taken the job of appeasing Dewey onto his own shoulders (at least Lennon and McCartney split the role when writing for Ringo!) and while this song is more brutal and less about Dewey's happy-go-lucky personality it still conveys the iron fist in the glove of affability that comes over loud and clear from the band's concerts (where Dewey, invariably, is the band member who does the most talking). Richie's 90 second demo is more like the first Poco re-recording, played simply and folky, albeit without the country trappings. Simple as it might be this demo might well be the best version - in truth there's not that much to this song, although that didn't stop Poco stretching it out to 18 minutes on their self-titled second album three years later. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
K) [30] 'So You've Got A Lover' is a slow and mournful Stills song that was once again only released for the first time on the box set (like most of this list) and yet is a major breakthrough in his songwriting. Up till now Stills' characters have been happy, exuberant, full of the joys of springtime - even a relatively grumpy song like 'Hot Dusty Roads' ('I don't like being alone!') is sung with a bouncy beat - the happy yin to Neil's brooding yang. 'Lover' is his first 'unhappy' song, the one that points that underneath that natural ability to grasp limitless horizons of styles and instruments lies the deeply sensitive beating heart of the singer-songwriter. Poor Stills doesn't know it yet, aged just 22, but in many ways this track could be the theme song for his romances to come: she blows hot, he falls in love, she blows cold and runs off with someone else 'who just rings a bell when he needs you' (it won't happen until circa 1969 but this sums up the Judy Collins years down to the letter). The biggest development of the song, though, is Stills' gruff denials: 'So, I hear you've got a lover' he tries to sing in a nonchalant manner and he moves on to say that he's into looser relationships anyway - that 'ringing bells don't bother me!' But ultimately he's fooling no one: Stills sounds sick as a parrot and the whole song sounds deeply sad and sorry for itself. One of the better completely unknown songs on the box set, it doesn't sound much like his Springfield work but it explains a lot about where his early CSN and solo stuff (particularly the 'Stephen Stills' record) comes from. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
L) Congratulations, you've made it to the halfway point of the book! (In terms of actual Springfield songs anyway) [31] 'My Angel' is one of the real oddities in the book though: a Stills song that's clearly at one with the last track: the lyrics are entirely love-struck and in awe, yet the accompanying music is a kind of sad, slow waltz. It's as if Stills was in the middle of writing a happy soppy song and was then dumped in the middle of it. The strange thing is that Stills returned to this song a full eight years later and turned it into one of his best rock and rollers (you can hear it on the superb 'Stills' in 1975), a pounding rhythm-based track that's as bouncy as a puppy and much more in keeping with the happiness of the song. Perhaps realising that they didn't fit any longer, Stills cut out a verse and a middle eight from this early version of the song: the bit about the 'smile that just glows, the kind that comes before you know' and the lines about 'how easy yet I have suffered' and the middle eight 'It was me: somehow I knew, somehow I'm not quite so blue...' Chances are this second version of the  song is about Judy Collins - there's a reference to her arriving 'softly as a bird' (the first appearance of what will become a 'running joke' that sees all of Stills girlfriends pictures as sparrows, ravens, etc). This earlier version doesn't have that: she comes in 'with a good word' not 'gentle as a bird' but the gist is still largely the same. It's not unusual for the other two  Springfield members to return to their songs later - Neil seems to have pre-rehearsed quite a lot of his first two albums and one of his two songs from CSNY's 'Deja Vu' here, while the first Poco album is almost entirely made up from Richie's unused odds and ends. But Stills seems to have seen the dissolution of the band as the chance for a clean slate and all his early solo and CSN/Y material was written in the post-Springfield days of 1968 at the earliest. You wonder why this song was an exception: though a great song when it's finished in 1975 it doesn't sound quite as powerful as 'So You Got A Lover' or even 'We'll See' in this early version. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
M) [32] 'No Sun Today' is an unusual song too. One of the few Springfield tracks to have progressed past the demo stage to a full band performance, this is one of the few post-first album recordings to feature the whole band. As far as I can make out this is the one and only cover song the Springfield ever did, written by the mysterious Eric Eisner. Briefly a member of the Turtles, Eisner left songwriting behind to concentrate on releasing it instead and will go on to become big in David Geffen's company - which must have made this song seem deeply ironic in the 1980s when they were busy suing Neil for releasing records that 'didn't sound like Neil'. The song doesn't really fit the Springfield too: it sounds like 1964 Merseybeat, with allusions to the weather that were so 1966, while the band sound slightly off-colour throughout despite Richie's competent lead and Stephen's blues hollers across the song. They were probably right to leave this one in the vaults - the strange thing is why the Springfield appear to have spent so much time on this track when they had so many better songs themselves with Stills and Young ultra-competitive over how each song publishing pie was sliced. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
N) [33] 'Down To The Wire' is the one true stand-out song from this pre-'Again' period and most likely would have made the album had Neil not left the band. A punchy aggressive rocker that's characteristically cryptic and deals with love as something that has to be grasped quickly before it dies, Neil felt his vocal wasn't right for it and auditioned the others to sing it. Stills' version appears on the box set and Richie's has stayed in the vaults, with Neil's own the most famous version thanks to its placement as the nicely gritty opening track on his 1977 compilation 'Decade'. Officially these two versions use the same backing and just feature different vocalists but they sound a little different to me: not least the backwards guitar which is a key part of the box set version but barely registers on the 'Decade' cut. There's a very different ending too, which simply fades on Stills' vocal version but has fun with arpeggios for a further ten seconds or so on Neil's. In truth, Young does have the edge: you wonder why he worried so much when his edgy out-of-control vocal is well suited to this edge-of-your-seat song where things can go wrong at any time; Stills' double-tracked vocal has less lee-way somehow and  doesn't sound as comfortable in the role (odd given that the theme of 'love gone wrong' is about the one thing the two guitarists have in common in this period). Given what we know about Neil and his ignored 'warnings' over impending walk-outs, is there a hidden message to the band within these lyrics? 'All the hurt you thought has gone has now returned...anyone who helped you out can let you down'. The opening allusion to 'setting your hand on fire' everything you touch something you used to love is also a pretty accurate analogy for where the Springfield were headed, with the band very much getting down 'to the wire' in 1967 (was he making a point by making the other sing it and thereby know for sure that they'd read his words? It seems an odd thing for Neil - who'd just won a hard-fought for victory over singing 'Burned' and 'Out Of My Mind' - to do). This is, in fact, the penultimate song Neil recorded for the band before walking out ('Mr Soul' came fractionally after, or so we think - the Springfield's chronology isn't as well catered for as some AAA bands): no wonder he sounds a bit panic-stricken. Whatever the cause and inspiration 'Down To The Wire' is a fine song that fully deserved the accolades heaped on it when first released in 1977. Find the 'Stills' version on 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000) and the 'Young' version on Neil's solo compilation 'Decade' (1977).
O) [34a] 'Hung Upside Down' is possibly my favourite Springfield song that only real fans know: a folky head-shrugging song about lethargy that causes the narrator to get so angry about his circumstances that he ends up yelling his head off -and yet still all that huffing and puffing can't end the rut he's found himself in. This demo - the only one from the right period  for the entire 'Again' record included on the box set (Richie's 'Sad Memory' being taped during the first album sessions; is that really all there is?) - is interesting in that Stills hasn't copped onto his great twist yet. Instead this is the 'folk' half of the song carried over for the whole song, along with an unused 'because I love you' rejoinder at the end of each verse and a nice bit of acoustic strumming in the middle. The biggest though is that Stephen sings throughout instead of giving the first verse to Richie to sing. Dare I say it, 'Hung Upside Down' sounds a little boring in this version. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2001)
P) We end this lengthiest 'non-album' section of the book with a real rarity. When Stills wrote [35a] 'Bluebird', he intended it to be more than just the condensed four-minute-pop-song-with-folk-ending it became. Originally 'Bluebird' was a fierce freak-out that lasted nearly nine minutes and featured some fierce Stills-Young jamming that's a clear prototype for most CSNY concerts to come. The recording is the same up to that 'question mark of a phrase' just before the banjo comes in but ends up taking a completely different turn thereafter. Stills and Young are absolutely at each other's throats while Stills hoarsely screams 'alllllrrrriiiigghhttt!' In truth though only the next couple of minutes of this jam is exciting - thereafter the song kind of falls apart, the band suddenly finding themselves falling back on the already-issued riff from the song 'Leave'. Quickly realising this Stills hits straight into the opening verse from that song before the song somehow limps its way back to the familiar 'Bluebird' riff (which isn't that neatly done to be honest - even the 'Monterey Pop Festival' join between this song and 'Rock and Roll Woman' was covered better). Not content to end there, Stills slowly orgasms his way back into the main hook and the song actually fades on yet more jamming. The effect isn't quite as successful as the u-turn folk coda that made the record and it's certainly not up to the extended jams built around this song heard in concert (and on bootleg) being recorded perhaps one rehearsal too soon for the band to be fully 'on message' with it. That said, this is still a very interesting take and puts quite a different spin on the  infatuated lyrics and the chorus scream that 'she got soul!' Sadly this extended version of 'Bluebird' has only ever been released once, on the double-album compilation 'Buffalo Springfield' in 1973 and then only by mistake apparently (nobody told the hapless engineer that the second half of the song was on a different reel). Annoyingly, the band passed over it for the box set even though soaking up flotsam and jetsam like this was exactly what the box set was intended to do. That's a shame: while 'Bluebird' might not be quite as graceful in this original version it does the band's reputation no harm whatsoever (it makes for a better jamming session than either 'Kahuna Sunset' or 'Buffalo Stomp'). Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (not the box set this time but a double-album compilation released in 1973)

Non-Album Recordings Part #4: Buffalo Springfield 1968
A) We're heading into the end of days now, dear readers, just when the Springfield were hitting their peak. The third disc of the box set - where all these recordings come from - is particularly interesting for giving us an insight into what Neil Young songs were doing the rounds and might have made been added to 'Last Time Around' along with 'I Am A Child'.  [42] 'One More Sign' is a Young demo about hiding and revealing feelings that sounds like an early song from his relationship with first wife Susan, though rather more peaceful than the songs that will be on his first solo record. Neil sounds as if he wants to grow up, that 'I've tired of playing around' and coming up with the cute rhyme 'I was breezy now I'm swaying, like the tree we climb' to go with his earlier 'listen easy because I'm saying what I mean this time'. The song isn't quite as developed as other Young tracks of the period though and Neil was probably right not to revive it. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000) and Neil Young's 'Archives Volume One 1963-72' (2009)
B) [43] 'The Rent Is Always Due'  is another rather odd songand I still can't decide whether Neil should have returned to it or not. The 'last' of his Dylan-style songs (for a good few years into his solo career anyway), it's a gloomy obtuse song about moving on where the idea that the rent is always due acts as a metaphor for all the things going wrong in his life and, as in 'Out Of My Mind' and 'Mr Soul', the people who always want something from him. 'Just put your blue jeans on and sing a song' he jeers to himself - there's no point waiting for fame and stardom when 'the rent is always due', however afraid of it you are. There's another reference to being a 'child' in the opening, suggesting that Richie's comments in 'A Child's Claim To Fame' really hit home, while Neil seems uncharacteristically worried about going it alone: 'No one will remember you' he almost taunts himself with at one point. Is this Neil suffering a rare moment of doubt during one of his final times away from the band? Ironically, despite leaving the band about half-a-dozen times by the end, Neil seems to have been far more heartbroken over their split than Stills (who shrugged his shoulders and walked away) and Furay (who was upset but already had plans for Poco): they weren't there to return to anymore - this solo career just had to work out for him because there was no alternative. The result is a fascinating, complex song that would have been fascinating to hear in a finished form - this rough demo is interesting enough, though and is arguably closer to the 'truth' of Neil's state of mind than any of his two-and-a-half songs that made the album. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000)
C) [44] 'Round and Round and Round' is a song that Neil returned to, on his second record 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' where this rather turbulent, relentless folk-rock song has been transformed into a beautiful ballad about inevitability and change. The differences aren't that great, except for the obvious point that Neil sings the demo solo (he's joined by Crazy Horse's Danny Whitten and one-time girlfriend Robin Lane for the album) and the fact that song sweetly slows down near the end, as if running out of clockwork. The track is sweet enough, though with some lovely lyrics that once again concern hiding true feelings (a theme more usually used by Stills): 'It's hard enough losing the paper illusion you've hidden inside...' Note the repeated refrain 'It won't Be Long' - whether sub-consciously or not a 'steal' from the Beatles song that was the first track Neil ever sang in public! Somehow this demo doesn't quite have the gravitas or grace of the finished version, however. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000)
D) [45] 'The Old Laughing Lady' is another demo that falls far short of the finished version, which is one of Neil's loveliest songs - but then it is a demo not intended for release. I'd love to know if Neil had already worked out the final gorgeous arrangement (perhaps with Jack Nitzche) when he wrote this demo: it would have been fascinating to hear a full Springfield version of this (especially as notes in Neil's handwriting suggest he was thinking of giving it to Stills to sing - his bluesy harder-edged voice would have sent it in a whole other direction compared to Neil's fragile tones). Neil sounds rather like a stern school-teacher singing this version, which is similar but somehow less involving than his acoustic re-reading for 'Unplugged' a whole quarter of a century later, but the greatest development in this version is the fantastic guitar-playing in the middle section, which is far more turbulent than anything the orchestra will later end up doing. The genius of the words still comes through loud and clear too: the elderly lady who 'don't keep time' as she waits for her days to be over, the death that takes her with a 'rumbling in the bedroom and flashing of light' and the sound advice that 'you can't have a cupboard if there ain't no walls' - that you have to surround yourself with something to keep things locked away inside. Of all the Young demos from this period this is the one that 'got away' - how much greater still would 'Last Time Around' have been with this song attached?! Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000)
E) [46a] 'On The Way Home' is far simpler - an alternate mix rather than alternate version of Richie singing Neil's song. Basically this is an early monitor mix before certain 'sweetening' elements like the horns and strings have been added and the backing track sounds a little rougher than it should too: there seem to be a few extra Dewey Martin whallops and a bit more of Neil's guitar in the mix too. I can't say I like it more than the 'finished' mix but it's a nice addition to have to compare with and makes more sense than most of the box where the same flipping versions of songs are included twice over in many cases! Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000)
F) [47] 'Whatever Happened To Saturday Night?' is another Young song in the running for 'Last Time Around', although this is a full band performance that Richie sings. Based around a funny staccato piano part and filled with curious alliterative phrases every so often ('Windy weekend warnings tell her summer teases'), it sounds a little unfinished suggesting Neil left the band before they returned to it and finished it properly. The song seems to be about loss, which is interesting given that Neil again sounds like he's talking about leaving the band: 'Back home, look around, leaves falling on the ground' Richie sings on his behalf, 'falling down' every time he 'turns around' with the narrator pining for home while he's at work and for work while he's at 'home'. 'Whatever happened?' the chorus sighs, wondering where the split originated this time, while the 'Saturday Night' could refer to the day some event happened or the fact that in the context of their career the Springfield seem to have slumped from Saturday Night Fever to Sunday Morning Blues (it could, of course, have nothing to do with either of these, especially the obscure way Neil has written it here). Perhaps a little too cerebral for a Springfield album, it would have been interesting to hear a solo Young take on this song - it wouldn't be the first obscure, forgotten original suddenly revived and stuck in the middle of an otherwise all-new album. While far from his best song, it's a nice addition to the box set and Richie is on excellent vocal form. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000)
G) [48] 'Falcon Lake (Ash On The Floor)' is yet another Young song, this one an instrumental that sounds to me as if it was recorded during his 'solo' years away from the band. The melody keeps ebbing and flowing through various parts - the main hook of which will turn into 'Here We Are In the Years' from his first solo LP later in the year. It's hard to know what to make of this song, really, which sounds like a jumble here or from the peculiar title (if Neil means a 'real' lake there are several of that name to choose from, mostly in North America, though none are particularly linked to 'Neil Young' kind of places like Topanga or Toronto, for instance - 'Manitoba' being the only Canadian one. Nor do we know why there's 'ash on the floor' - does Neil mean a volcano? If so there aren't any near the places I can find. One interesting thought: many of the songs from 'After The Goldrush' in 1970 will be written for an ecological disaster involving an earthquake and a lake; Coincidence? Or did these songs back earlier? Whatever the cause 'Falcon Lake' is a curious song with a lovely melody but I have to say it was put to better use as part of the overlooked 'Here We Are In The Years' - it's hard to know how this song would have fitted in on a Springfield record, if indeed, that's what it was designed for. Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000)
H) [49] 'What A Day!' is another unsettling song full of stops and starts. A Furay song that interestingly has Stills singing lead, it's very much written to be the 'new single' rather than as a single in its own right. In a way, though, this is Richie's 'breakthrough' song as much as 'Lover' was for Stills' and 'Old Laughing Lady' was for Young: the first time Richie ever used his love of country in a song. The country elements even 'invade' the poppier elements of the track, appearing via banjo at the end of every chorus - a trick Poco will use over and over (and then over again). Given the stop-start nature it's odd to hear Stills singing so contentedly about life, with the lyrics to this song more like something from a musical ('It's a good morning and I'm feeling fine!' Is the corn as high as a buffalo's eye I wonder?)  - once again we have a Springfield recording on which what we're getting doesn't seem to 'add up'; a song with this many pauses for breath and sudden veering down side-roads can't possibly be as 'happy' as all that, surely?! That said, 'What A Day' does feature a great band performance, with Jim Messina getting to play a terrific country guitar lick and an exuberance that even a shockingly obvious edit at the 1:30 mark can't ruin. This song might have been just what 'Last Time Around' needed to add a bit of sunshine and made for an ear-catching opening 'proper' to the first Poco album, where Richie and Jim slightly calmed the song down - the last time we'll be saying that about Poco compared to the more laidback Springfield! Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000)
I) The draft-dodging [50a] 'Four Days Gone' is the single greatest moment on the box set, though. A hauntingly powerful Stills demo that was rightly used to round off the 'unreleased' section of the box set and which beats even the pretty darn amazing finished version. Stills is a fabulous piano player who doesn't often get the chance to show off his skills and the late-night-saloon-piano effect together with his bleary voice really suits this sad tale of the outlaw too afraid to offer his name or stay anywhere for more than one night. Running away from 'Government madness' and four days into his renegade life, this demo has extra impact from the world-weary way Stills sings about wondering what his 'baby' is up to and whether he'll ever see her again. All the lines are right up to the finale, where Stills 'can't even go home, take my baby in my arms - I got things I can give, I got reason to live!' Everything else though is in its place already and Stills rarely sounded better: the band really should have left this recording as it was - as near perfect as can be, hauntingly original and sensitively handled. Why this song isn't as celebrated as it's big brother 'For What It's Worth' is beyond me.  Find it on: 'Buffalo Springfield' (Box Set 2000)
J) [51] 'Sell Out' is an interesting song, a Young demo that was passed over for the Springfield box set but came out on Neil's own. A turbulent rocker that's like 'Mr Soul' but less original, it seems like another defensive response to leaving the band again: 'Is it cool to bring it up again? Did I blow my act?' The lines 'pinch myself while I smile at you - baby I'm a star!' also fit in with Neil's 'anti-fame' songs of recent years like 'Mr Soul' and 'Out Of My Mind', although this one feels more like it's from the inside looking out than the other two. 'Cop out, sell out, do you know who you are?' the song ends, as if Neil's taking himself to task for not being able to decide between being a band member and a solo act. Note too the first of many references to a 'cowgirl', brought up for no apparent purpose (the full line is 'Cowgirl, Sailor, do you know who you are?') Even with the angst, though, this song is a fun one with lots of clever wordplay and some excellent rhymes ('Weekend pretend' 'Misplaced tinselface' 'overfed pre-med'). I'm not sure where it would have slotted into the Springfield canon but it's a shame that this song didn't come out in Neil's career at the time somewhere. Find it on: Neil Young's 'Archives 1963-72' (2009)
K) [52] 'Slowly Burning' is another Young song from the late Springfield days that didn't come out, either at the time or on the Springfield box set. To be fair, it sounds much like another solo song, an instrumental with the only backing to Neil's guitar a bass, sleigh bells and some drums. As these sound like Dewey Martin, though, and seeing as the recording appears midway through the 'Springfield' first disc of Neil's box set most Springfielders assume it was up for one of the albums at some point - probably the last one. Unlike the previous instrumentals, this one very much sounds like a backing track to me although if there were lyrics once they've been lost in the mists of time. The melody has a loose connection with Neil's 1970 CSNY song 'Country Girl' (yep, it's back again - the bit about 'when you've fallen in the river' from 'Down Down Down'), while the general tempo and mood feel like 'Long Walk Home' from 1987's 'Life'. To be honest this is no great loss to the Springfield world but like a lot of these outtakes it's a nice fragment to have considering how little actual 'canon' we fans have to listen to from the band's short time together. Find it on: Neil Young's 'Archives 1963-72' (2009)

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