In-depth reviews of classic or neglected albums, mainly from the 1960s and 70s, plus a weekly newsletter featuring all the latest news, views and music. Artists covered include Beach Boys, Beatles, Belle and Sebastian, Buffalo Springfield, Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, Dire Straits, Grateful Dead, Hollies, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Kinks, Nils Lofgren, Monkees, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Searchers, Simon and Garfunkel, Small Faces, 10cc, The Who and Neil Young.
Monday, 23 March 2015
CSN/Y: Surviving TV Appearances 1969-09
The AAA Youtube CSNY Playlist is now up and running at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5C8AA8FB58AB299D
Together and apart, CSN (with and without Y) recorded one heck of a lot of TV appearances down the years - interviews, concerts, documentaries, even the odd music video or two. Three of these you can see on DVD now: selections from the Wembley and Landover 1974 gigs are on the box set 'CSNY '74' (released 2014 - with the complete near four hour Wembley show out on DVD unofficially), a 1982 set with an ailing Crosby at Los Angeles' Forum Ampitheatre (titled 'Daylight Again') and a 1990 set billed as 'CSN Acoustic' (along with a semi-official Manassas German concert from 1972 and a Crosby-Nash live DVD from 2012): all of these have already been covered in full in our 'DVD' section. However, there remains a great long list of CSN/Y TV appearances scattered like confetti across a sea of American and European TV networks.
The good news is that more CSN material seems to have survived the ravages of the years than most AAA bands: American studios tend to keep more than British ones and by 1969 most people were in the habit of keeping things (although the loss of a BBC Manassas set from 1972 is still a tragedy of the highest magnitude). The bad news is it's hard to get hold of it all, with most of CSN's appearances tending to be one-offs in a variety of shows that have never been released commercially. So as ever with these books here's the caveat: I can personally vouch that each of these performances exist because I've seen them but, passionate collector that I am, I dare say there's something I've missed somewhere on some obscure late night channel in Moldova sometime, so this isn't a complete list of CSNY clips: it can't be, they did too much. It is, however, as complete a list as I've seen anywhere else so hopefully it will still be useful to fellow fans. (I do know of a few other TV shows CSNY did for instance but which I've never been able to track down). Youtube is, as ever, a good place to look for all this stuff, even though the clips that are there tend to arrive and disappear as quickly as a CSNY reunion. The Pandora's Box of the digital age, it's now bizarrely easier to find a rare unbilled performance from 1965 than it ever would have been at the time and we've tried to make the most of it, compiling together playlists of all our 30 bands at our Alan's Album Archives page (https://www.youtube.com/user/AlansArchives) that's free to see - so why not give us a 'follow' and come and say 'hello'? (You can have a look at our six Alan's Album Archives videos while you're there!) So anyway, on with our list which includes the highs, the lows, the concerts for peace, the heartfelt rows, the cheap and tacky music videos and the lengthy shows put on with a lot of love, here's our AAACSN/YTV guide starting with the band's second ever show...
1) CSNY: Woodstock (18/8/1969)
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes/Blackbird/Helplessly Hoping/Guinnevere/Marrakesh Express/4+20/Mr Soul/Wonderin'/You Don't Have To Cry/Pre-Road Downs/Long Time Gone/Bluebird Revisited/Sea Of Madness/Wooden Ships/Find The Cost Of Freedom/49 Bye Byes
CSNY's Woodtsock set is of course legendary: the band were such a major part of the movement that they get the longest song in the original film (a respectably ragged version of 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' with Stills' desperately trying to stop his guitar de-tuning mid-song) and two slightly remixed album tracks added to the soundtrack where the roadies are setting up the stage ('Long Time Gone' and the first half of 'Wooden Ships'). In case you're wondering why the announcer gormlessly calls them 'Crosby Stills Nash...' that's because Neil Young was aghast at the idea of having cameras on stage and refused to be filmed for posterity, the 'and Young' being chopped off in the editing room and meaning that only the 'CSN' acoustic section of this set remains (the list above is everything they played that night - including a 'different' version of 'Sea Of Madness' to the one mistakenly added to the 'Woodstock' soundtrack LP set!) The performance is understandably a bit bedraggled, what with the mud and the helicopters and the stars standing back stage watching on and CSNY had only one warm up gig prior to this, which must have been scary. However they were a huge success, most of the papers the next day calling them the stars (or at least the 'heart') of the festival and the hippie movement. Alas unlike some other AAA bands CSN had no extra performances addwed to the four hour 'director's cut' of the film or the four disc box set released for the 30th anniversary in 2009. However a nice performance of 'Blackbird' cropped up in the third episode of excellent 194 set 'Woodstock Diaries' and a fiery 'Marrakesh Express' can be bought as part of the CSN documentary DVD 'Long Time Comin' (2004), which is going to be making a lot of appearances on this list...
2) CS: Dick Cavett Show (19/8/1969)
The very next day after their Woodstock show Crosby and Stills were flown by helicopter to appear on the prestigious Dick Cavett show, alongside fellow Woodstock veterans The Jefferson Airplane. Cavett, the 60s' most likeable and open-minded interviewer of the 1960s, is surrounded by the two groups in a circle and has fun ribbing them about what their 'parents' think about all this (for the record Crosby, the oldest musician in the room, is 28!) before talking about what a major change this is in the way youngsters are being perceived by their peers. Crosby is on top form, telling Cavett that from afar in a helicopter the Woodstock crowd looked like a 'war camp' but still clearly on a high from how magical it all was. Stills too proudly displays his 'muddy trousers' like he's bearing a military cross and even throws in a quick version of '4+20' (which won't be released for almost a full year yet) , which is excellent despite Stills messing up a line in the second verse. Strangely no mention is made of Nash or Young. However the biggest factor here for the CSNY fan is Joni Mitchell's appearance. Still very much at the start of her journey of fame, her manager had forbidden her to appear at Woodstock because he figured the Dick Cavett show was so important she couldn't afford to miss it if she couldn't be brought back in time. Fed up at her boyfriend Nash and pals getting all the fun, she penned the song 'Woodstock' the very night before this show, although sadly she doesn't mention it (singing 'Circle Game' instead). CSNY will, of course, have a hit with that song the following year. The entire show is a fascinating historical discussion that really takes you back, especially the Airplane's stoned conversation and thankfully is available complete on the 'Dick Cavett: Rock Icons' three disc set. Highly recommended.
3) CSNY: Music Scene (9/1969)
Down By The River
What would CSNY choose to sing on their first major TV appearance together? How about a song they never recorded professionally together - and which Neil had already released a couple of months before with Crazy Horse! (The opening hints it will be from their 'next' album, but this is clearly nonsense given that Neil's solo version had come out by then). Much as I love the Horse (especially Danny Whitten's superb inspired playing on the original), I've always adored the CSNY versions of this song which are heavier, chunkier and far more serious. Stills and Young are at their peak as duelling axe murderers, which is rather apt given the sentiments of this murderous song. This is one of their greatest versions of the song, starting off as a full ensemble piece (with Crosby on rhythm guitar and Nash on organ) before Stephen and Neil gradually edge closer and closer towards each other, lost in a world of their own. Hearing this version makes even more sense of Neil;s admission he wrote this song with a 103 degree fever, although it's Stills extraordinary guitar runs and pained counter-vocals that sound the most delirious. Drawn out to five minutes - far shorter than the Crazy Horse version but long for a TV appearance of its day - it's clear already just how powerful this band can be. An incomplete clip of this song was included on the 'Long Time Comin' DVD although thankfully the full length version can be seen on Youtube.
4) CSNY: Balboa Stadium, San Diego (9/1969)
Long Time Gone/The Lee Shore
Alas you probably won't be seeing this gig officially any time soon, given that it consists of silent footage of the quartet backstage and during soundcheck for the gig. Thankfully a lot of 1969 CSNY shows exist on bootleg including this one, with a bootlegger kindly adding two tracks of music to go along with the footage, which understandably don't synch up with the footage. Some bands' muted footage would really bore me, but CSNY are such a charismatic bunch that even without the words the camera is fascinated by them and their characters: Crosby is all laidback cool, Stills is a restless ball of energy, Nash diplomaticaly steps in when no one else will and Young moodily stares away from the others in a world of his own. Fascinating stuff, especially when a clearly excited band start pouring in! Sadly no footage seems to exist of the various elements that went into making this one of the more infamous CSNY gigs, interrupted by mechanical gremlins, noisy aeroplanes and a drugged out heckler.
5) CSNY: A celebration At Big Sur (13 and 14/9/1969)
Helplessly Hoping/Guinnevere/Lady Of The Island/Birds/4+20/You Don't Have To Cry/Sea Of Madness/Wooden Ships/Down By The River/Suite: Judy Blue Eyes/Pre-Road Downs/Long Time Gone/Bluebird Revisited (Stills also guests on Joan Baez and John Sebastian's solo sets)
Thankfully CSNY were in a much happier mood for their headlining appearance at the Big Sur festival, a smaller open air event that is never talked about in the same breath as Woodstock but featured another whose who of music at the turn of the decade (other acts include Joan Baez, Joni MItchell, John Sebastian, The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Incredible String Band). A little-seen film of the event came out in 1971 including two unusual choices from the CSNY set - and sadly isn't available officially to date. Like 'Woodstock' the film makes use of split-screen technology and spends just as long lingering on the hippie crowd as it does on the musicians, being very much of it's time. CSNY are ragged but righteous in the film, Nash and Young duelling on an intense 'Sea Of Madness' and there's another classy Stills-Young guitar battle on 'Down By The River' which is one of the greatest on record (even if it annoyingly fades at the eight minute mark!) plus Stills' solo serenade '4+20' - there's a chance that the rest of CSNY's set from the day still exists, but if so then it's never been seen, which is a shame given how many 'new' and exclusive performances there are (including a CSNY version of Neil's solo 'Birds'). The strangest part of the set comes in the middle, when a grinning Stills tries to walk towards a heckler who keeps interrupting the set with cries of 'you're only playing for the money, man!' Perhaps the fan has his eyes on Stills' clearly expensive fur coat. Stills advances in 'mock battle' pose, threatening to take his revenge, before being grappled by the heckler and the two nearly comes to blows rolling into a nearby pool of water. Crosby adds a bit of repartee over the top as if referring the match, claiming 'because you didn't pay to come in, shut up 'cause we're not civilised!' before adding 'don't worry he won't do you for real - don't anybody do anybody for real, peace and love'. Nash, clearly tickled by the turn of events, adds 'if you throw him in the pool Stephen, I'll never forgive you!' while Young simply sighs 'The human comedy rolls on!' Stills being Stills, he calmly walks away, sits back on stage and turns in one of the most sublime versions of his acoustic solo '4+20' on record! Stills comments later, while back safely on stage, that he has some sym;pathy with the heckler and that 'sometimes we look at these fur coats, fancy guitars, fancy cars and say 'wow man what am I doing?' before explaining that jealousy of money is 'just a trap - I had some guys to love me out of it and I was lucky'. The hippie heckler's comments on this piece of curious Stills wisdom were left unrecorded, although closer to the truth is probably Crosby's indignation that the band have just interrupted about the dangers of capitalism - while playing at a free festival! Oddly Young agreed to be filmed for this show, although once again CSN opened without him.
6) CSNY: The Tom Jones Show (25/10/1969)
You Don't Have To Cry/Long Time Gone
Sadly absent from the 'Tom Jones Show' DVD retrospective, this priceless footage is amongst the best of the lot. First up the band turn in a nice and rare acoustic version of the first song they ever sang together against a distracting set of blue baubles and Neil already sitting away on his own, as if an outsider in his own band (this 90 second performance was featured in the 'Long Time Comin' DVD). The real treat, though, is Tom Jones ambling up to the band to take lead vocals on Crosby political favourite 'Long Time Gone', instantly turning a song of slow burning fury into soulful posing and gesticulating. Crosby doesn't quite know whether to laugh or cry but Nash certainly does, getting hysterics by the middle of the song! Crosby later claimed to be aghast at how his song was treated, but Stills for one was always very complimentary about Jones' voice. It remains one of the most unusual of CSNY recordings, proof that even this band - made up of huge superstar names and the biggest act on the planet in 1969 - had to play the 'fame game' sometimes.
7) CN: BBC In Concert (9/11/1969)
Simple Man/Marrakesh Express/Guinnevere/Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)/Teach Your Children/Right Between The Eyes/The Lee Shore/Traction In The Rain
This charming Crosby-Nash gig is one of three CSNY performances as part of BBC2's beloved 'In Concert' brand, followed by Neil Young and Manassas gigs in 1972 (although sadly the last of these was wiped - boo hoo!) The show was booked as a solo Crosby concert, but the pair had been enjoying playing as an ad hoc unrehearsed duo for the past couple of weeks (in contrast to the tightly controlled CSNY mothership) and took that lovably loose show with them into the studio here (it actually opens with Nash at the piano alone, which must have confused the audiences who booked tickets to see Crosby, David ambling up to sing the second verse with his partner). The duo haven't even discussed which songs to play, breaking off for little playful arguments and disagreements ('why don't you play that one about...oh ok, you can play that one as well!') while Crosby is o something strong, with some outrageous audience patter nobody seems to understand except Nash ('this is the one about the buttered elephant' 'I only understood one word in three out of that!') However the pair are clearly delighting in each other's company and the freedom and support they offer each other: 'Marrakesh Express' has never sounded as 'right' as it does here on two acoustics, with Crosby providing train noises; similarly Nash's harmony vocals on 'Song With No Words' ('Nash called it 'Tree With No Leaves' - that shows you where he's at!') are sublime. The rare songs here are plentiful, with Nash's 'Right Between The Eyes' and 'Simple Man' plus Crosby's 'The Lee Shore' 'Song With No Words' and 'Traction In The Rain' all unreleased as of this point. The last song, newly written and hot off the press, sounds especially gorgeous, slower and more emotional than the Nash-less version that will appear on Crosby's 'If Only I Could Remember My Name' set. The pair seem to be discussing another song to do before an engineer out of shot waves at them and they smile and walk back from the crowd, clearly not wanting this fun party to end. Thank goodness this remarkable concert survived tucked away nicely in the BBC's archives, now something of a regular on BBC4's slots whenever it 'fits' with one of their theme nights (folk, California, singer-songwriters, acoustic rock - we've had them all, folks...)
8) CSNY: Altamont (6/12/1969)
Black Queen/Pre-Road Downs/Long Time Gone/Down By The River (setlist incomplete)
CSNY were such a part of the Woodstock era that few people seem to remember that they were at its polar opposite Altamont, the free festival organised by the Rolling Stones and 'policed' by The Hells Angels. The gig was actually a big deal for the band at the time, being the first major festival since they'd been crowned kings of Woodstock and a reunion for Crosby and Stills with ex-Byrd and future Manassas man Chris Hillman (playing with the Flying Burrito Brothers) should have made this a similarly pally experience. However the mood turned ugly long before the Stones' infamous late night set, the point at which a member of the crowd was fatally stabbed. CSNY keep having to interrupt their set to calm the audience down and are getting increasingly schoolmasterly about the whole thing by the end ('Please stop hurting each other people, you don't have to!' and 'You can always just talk, man!' are Crosby's pained pleas throughout the night).More spiritual fans have retrospectively added that the Stones' dark voodoo' set of songs about rape and muder and sexism was always going to backfire karmically. However the Stones weren't alone - CSNY's set list is as dark as they come and seems deliberately designed to reflect the darker times of late 1969 than the happier Woodstock vibe of just four months earlier. Many of their songs for the night are 'new' to the crowd, a few months before appearing on the 'Deja Vu' album the following year or on various solo projects and come with a dark and heavy vibe. The nastiest, swampiest version of 'Long Time Gone' around (about the Robert Kennedy assassinations) rather sets the tone for a set that also includes Stills' drinking song 'Black Queen' and Young's song of murder 'Down By The River'. And yet by comparison to most, CSNY got away with their set and all but airbrushed their appearance out of history (their set was dropped from the Stones' DVD of the film 'Gimme Shelter' released in 1970) - certainly they got away luckier than previous band Jefferson Airplane, whose singer Marty Balin got beaten up for trying to protect a member of the crowd. A dark and painful part of CSNY history.
9) CSNY: Fillmore East (5/6/1970)
Ohio/Find The Cost Of Freedom
By 1970 CSNY had split up for the first time (of many...) and the four Fillmore shows they played the following June were amongst their first back together again. It's hard to tell from the existing footage - used by Neil for his curious collage film 'Journey Through The Past' - but the rest of the band had only just come to blows again, mainly because of Stills hogging his solo set and singing four songs instead of his intended one, leaving the others waiting to come on. Alas Neil's debut as a film director is hard to track down unless you're willing to fork out the ridiculous amount of money asked for in the 'everything' version of Neil Young's 'Archives' box set. Most of it is unwatchable and CSNY have played many a better gig (including all the ones in this list so far), but at least their angry performances of 'Ohio' and 'Find The Cost Of Freedom' make perfect sense, which is more than you can say for other scenes of horsebacked figures dressed in purple robes who march wordlessly across the desert or the college graduate who throws his mortar board and gown into the sea before shooting up some heroin (the first time ever footage of drug-taking was included as part of a film - and one of many reasons why it disappeared so quick).
10) S: Sounding Out (?/1971)
Interview Footage with brief versions of 4+20/Who Do You Love?/Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby/You Can't Catch Me/Know You Got To Run/Hot Dusty Roads
A fascinating 15 minute interview with Stills, where the guitarist talks in deeper and greater detail than ever before, safe and cosy and erudite in his home studio and with an interviewer clearly in awe of him (which clearly helps him to speak). Throughout the programme Stills keeps breaking off from tales of his youth and early influences to demonstrate his points with a series of rare and exclusive cover songs, all played acoustically. The performances are fabulous and make you all the madder that the prolific Stills never had time to fit an acoustic album into his discography until as late as 1991. There's also three definitive performances of the classic '4+20' (which serves as a neat 'introduction' and personal history over the opening credits), a solo banjo 'Know You Got To Run' ('That song was written eight years ago!' Stills tells the camera proudly, dating this song to 1963!) and the only ever performance of the Buffalo Springfield's 'Hot Dusty Road' that isn't the one on the record! (It sounds awfully good too!) Along the way we learn about the young Stills staying up till 4 am after being at school all day so he could listen to an R and B radio station, his hatred of surf guitarist Dick Dale, his early days in first band The Continentals ('I got to sing two songs and they were both blues ones!'), the fact that at age 15 and trying to play in bars he looked 'more like eleven' and found it hard to get in, getting cold and sick playing in a folk club at nineteen 'where I didn't know what the hell I was doing - but I knew there was something' before saving up the money to see 'A Hard Day's Night' and concluded 'I've lived everything I've written - or observed it, they're in everybody those feelings and thoughts and reflections...' staring out the camera as he concludes 'it's all for the sake of the art!' Stills is usually a good interviewee but he's been caught on a good day here, without the shyness or brashness of some other interviews down the years and his tale of rags to riches is a fascinating one that deserved to be told more. All in all, well worth looking out for anyone whose ever been even slightly curious as to what makes Stephen Stills tick.
11) Manassas: Unknown (?/1973)
Do You Remember The Americans?
The definitive surviving Manassas gig is thankfully out complete on DVD, a 35 minute show that features some stunning re-creations of the entire first side of the record and an extended jam through 'The Treasure', alongside a couple of other items - we've dealt with it in full on our 'DVD' page. This Manassas gig is from somewhere in Europe (Germany would be my guess) and features just a single solitary song from Manassas album number two. A bearded Stills looks the worse for wear, while the wry look of disgust in his direction early on from Chris Hillman suggests that the band aren't at their best here. The performance is fine, though, a typically Manassas mixture of styles that manages to sound like pure country with a funky beat. Compared to 1972, though, it might be significant that none of the band look at each other - compared to the earlier set where they're nearly always making eye contact. The last station stop for Manassas is clearly in sight...
12) CSNY: Winterland (4/10/1973)
Helplessly Hoping/Wooden Ships/Blackbird/As I Come Of Age/Roll Another Number (For The Road)/Human Highway/New Mama/And So It Goes/Prison Song/Long Time Gone/Change Partners
Another fascinating gig, amateurishly filmed in black and white but none the worse for it, a fan by chance happening to tape the Manassas concert when two old friends onto stage to join Stills for the final set (Neil wandering on just in time for the fifth song of the set). The quartet are in great form, chatting and joking between songs and turn in stunning acoustic performances of lots of rare material along the way. An astonishing six of the above eleven songs had yet to be released at the time and were clearly at least in the running for loosely planned CSNY reunion album 'Human Highway'. These include two songs from Neil's 'Tonight's The Night' album (with a plaintive 'New Mama' sounding especially good) plus 'Human Highway' itself which sounds far better than on the Young record 'Comes A Time', two songs from Nash's 'Wild Tales' record out in three months time (including a moving Crosby opening ramble to Graham's personal 'Prison Song' which he then blows by realising he was meant to be announcing 'And So It Goes!') and Stills' own 'As I Come Of Age'. Old songs 'Blackbird' and an acoustic 'Wooden Ships' sound particularly golden here too, with all four in fine voice. Along the way Crosby gives the crowd a smiley 'hello', grinning at their shocked faces, Stills self-mockingly adds 'hell fellers I played for 20 minutes straight and didn't get a reception like that!' while Nash promises 'oh, we're gonna be here for a while...' As ever, CSNY are true to their word and play for a full 45 minutes, which must have been tough for Stills who'd already played for over two hours earlier in the day! Fans are hopeful that the next CSNY reunion will be sooner rather than later and their wish is granted just two and three gigs later when Crosby and then Crosby-Nash drop by for a similar oldies-with-newies set. Of all the CSNY concerts out there, this one ranks second only to 'Wembley '74' as my favourite CSNY gig: the band are tight yet loose and clearly thrilled to be back together again, if only for a short time as it turns out...
13) N: The Old Grey Whistle Test (10/4/1974 and 8/5/1974)
I Miss You/On The Line/Another Sleep Song
As early as here things have gone sour and a bearded and moody Nash leaves America temporarily to find solace in the arms of Britain. While there he promotes his second solo album 'Wild Tales', out in January, on the BBC's 'hippest' programme 'The Old Grey Whistle Test'. For some reason Nash's appearance is split into two and broadcast on two separate shows nearly a month apart, one of them including a rather guarded interview (with Nash still in a bad place after the murder of girlfriend Amy Gossage at the end of the previous year) and a gorgeous solo piano version of 'I Miss You' with Nash close to tears. The second show features a rather ordinary 'On The Line' together with a stunning solo piano re-write of 'Another Sleep Song', which is both haunting and melancholy. It's deeply unusual to see the generally optimistic Nash this sad and he's clearly still grieving, using his distinctive piano-chord playing to try and thud the pain away. While not available officially, even on the many 'OGWT' DVDs there are out there clogging up shelf space, 'I Miss You' and 'Sleep Song' do occasionally turn up on BBC sanctioned compilations on 'singer-songwriters at the BBC' 'Californian Rock at the BBC' and 'Famous Grahams At The BBC' or whatever the heck the last one was called.
14) CSN: The Summit, Houston, Texas (22/10/1977)
Long Time Gone/Wooden Ships/To The Last Whale/Just A Song Before I Go/Shadow Captain/For Free (complete setlist unknown)
CSN's reunion in 1977 was on a much bigger scale than before, not in terms of audience numbers perhaps but in terms of gigs, the trio clocking in an impressive thirty in two stretches of performances in June and October that year. This one from near the end of the run (it was the 28th show) was chosen for commercial recording and is the source of both four songs on the 'Long Time Comin' DVD documentary and the pair of Crosby vocals chosen to pad out the Crosby-less live album 'Allies' in 1983. The band aren't quite at their peak and are slickly professional rather than lovingly ramshackle as per earlier tours, but there's a meat and power about their electric performances at this show that still make it a memorable one. Crosby already looks past his best, with a rather vacant stare that's actually more alarming than the more famous one from the 'The Forum' gig in 1982 (as seen on the DVD 'Daylight Again'), while Stills and Nash (the latter decked out in a rather fetching t-shirt sporting the CSN logo) are uncharacteristically muted too (although conversely this suits the nicely laidback 'Just A Song Before I Go'). By their standards they're simply going through the motions, although it would be nice to have the full concert out on something official so that we can appraise it properly as presumably it still exists somewhere in the band's collection (especially as until the 'CSNY '74' set the only place you could buy pre-1980s material was as part of the Woodstock set). Fans might be interested to note that this is the first appearance of the 'whale' film shown on a screen during the 'album' version of 'Critical Mass', which has been seen on quite a few CSN and Crosby-Nash tours since.
15) CSN: No Nukes! The MUSE Concerts For A Non-Nuclear Future (Recorded 9/1979, Released 5/1970)
Cathedral (Nash Solo)/You Don't Have To Cry/Long Time Gone/Teach Your Children (Nash also performs with Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Carly Simon)
Another gig in serious need of a re-issue is the Nash-organised charity concert aimed to educate the public over the dangers of nuclear power. The concert was one close to Nash's chest - the American Government had decided to bury barrels of nuclear fuel just off the coast of Hawaii where his family lived. Nash scored a coup by acquiring the services of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band - then the hottest act on the planet - and they naturally won most of the headlines about this show which features a whole range of nuclear-concerned musicians from yester year like James Taylor, Carly Simon, The Doobie Brothers, Gil Scott Heron, Richie Furay's old band Poco and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Nash was originally down to play just a solo set (which included a stunning 'Cathedral' and a then-new song 'Barrel Of Pain' from his 'Earth and Sky' album written for the event), but was persuaded by the concerts' backers that a CSN reunion would draw in bigger crowds. Nash really didn't want to - he felt that both Crosby and Stills were in bad shape and admitted later that he was particularly concerned that Crosby would take this as a 'message' that the pair had made up over his drug use and that he was as capable as he'd ever been. However he was persuaded and the first CSN reunion in years was greeted by fans as if it was the last (which it nearly was). The trio are naturally a little shaky, the film mainly featuring them at rehearsal as the two-CD various artist set reveals that they were a little off-key during the gig itself, but CSN are often at their best ragged and are cat least more passionate here than the last tour they'd done together. However the best bits tend to be those where, in the spirit of the day, Nash quietly steps onto stage to back whoever happens to be singing, adding some unique harmonies to sets by Taylor, Simon and Browne among others, or a moving rehearsal interlude where newly born son Jackson Nile Nash tries to play the bottom notes of the piano to accompany his dad rehearsing 'Our House'! Alas this gig is not yet out on DVD (and it should be - it was big news in its day, if more for Bruce and the novelty of nuclear protesting rather than CSN's comeback), although it is shown on television about once every twenty-five years or so!
16) S: Going Platinum! (?/1980)
Proof of Nash's worry came the following year when a clearly drunken Stills offered to give a half hour interview to Jim Ladd's popular interview show. Compared to 'Sounding Out' Stills seems old and tired and is guarded and monsyllabic, pausing between every sentence, rather than nattering nineteen to the dozen and breaking off to sing a few songs. There are some interesting nuggets to be found, though, including Stills take on band members Joe Lala ('He just seems to suddenly appear whenever I'm starting a project!') and Stills' comments that 'playing rock and roll for a bunch of people' is the highlight for him - 'singer songwriter stuff is cool but playing your as off is it!' The highlight of the show is a sneak preview of 'Southern Cross' recorded in a studio (presumably for Stills' abandoned 'first ever digital' recording in 1979) three whole years before appearing on 'Daylight Again', a little tentative and slow and missing the 'think about...' line and 'in the southern cross' tag, but still sounding wholly shipshape. Stills ends with a brief 'Word Game', but is clearly struggling a little compared to the effortless years of yore. There's also some nice footage of the Stills band on tour, although sadly the only complete track is sung not by Stills but keyboardist Mike Finnigan.
17) CSN: Southern Cross (Music Video 1982)
When CSN did get together they celebrated not just with a new LP but with their first ever music video. Unlike some bands we cover, CSNY never really got into the MTV video age (perhaps because Neil spoofed it so mercilessly with 1988's 'This Note's For You'!) and only ever filmed two songs as a trio/quintet (though they all did a few solo too). Stills' lovely 'Southern Cross' is a strong first single to release from the album and deserved to better, especially with some lovely shots of Stills at sea and the trio back in the studio, singing in profile (the 'first' time Crosby would have sung on this song - Mike Finnigan sang his parts on the record, which was made before he arrived). CSN have always had a lot of nautical images in their songs (and were pictured on Crosby's boat for the cover of their 1977 LP) so this sweet little music video, while simple, seems a highly suitable part of their oeuvre, with some lovely shots of sailing ships at sunset and so on. One question though: why did CSN cut off the last verse from the video?!
18) SN: Rock and Roll Tonight: A Tribute To Muddy Waters (7/9/1983)
Love The One You're With/For What It's Worth/Dark Star/War Games/Military Madness/Change Partners/4+20/Crossroads-You Can't Catch Me
Blues legend Muddy Waters had died in April 1983 at the age of 70 and a whole legion of inspired bands wanted to take part in this televised remembrance gig. The star of the show was actually not Stills and Nash but Willie Dixon, who uses Stills as his 'back up' guitarist in addition to Stills and Nash's brief set. Stills in his element, back to the blues songs he so loved in his youth and inspired enough to perform a rare outing for his acoustic covers medley 'Crossroads' and 'You Can't Catch Me' featuring some ridiculously virtuoso strumming, while Nash seems out of place getting just a brief 'Military Madness' to sing. Nobody seems to mention the elephant in the room: that David Crosby isn't there.
19) S: 'Na Sowas' (?/1983)
Love The One You're With
A bespectacled Stills appeared on German TV in 1983, to promote a small tour he was playing that year. He turns in a nice solo performance of 'Love The One You're With' on with a simple jagged electric guitar accompaniment, joined at the end by a mysterious bassist in a hat who wanders onto stage unannounced. You wonder how well this free love and very 60s song (yes, alright, it was written in 1970 but is still very 60s!) song went down in still-divided German during the money-mad 1980s, although he gains respectable applause at the end.
20) S: Stranger (Music Video 1984)
Which is more than you can say for this legendarily laughed at music video to promote Stills solo LP 'Right BY You'. Remember the mania Hollywood had for speedboat chases and dodgy action sequences? Well, this video tries to jump on the bandwagon, but with a very limited budget and Stills looking very nervous as he's followed by pouting female shadows and deeply uncomfortable at the controls of the striped powerboat from the album cover. Like many a music video, the footage also has nothing whatsoever to do with the song, which is about falling in love, with reservations after what happened last time.
21) CSNY: Live Aid (13/7/1984)
Only Love Can Break Your Heart/Daylight Again/Find The Cost Of Freedom (Neil Young also plays a solo set: Sugar Mountain/The Needle and the Damage Done/Helpless/Nothing Is Perfect In God's Perfect Plan)/Powderfinger
Neil Young had always vowed never to work with Crosby while he was in the throes of addiction, but the Live Aid spectacular raising much needed money for Africa was too big to pass up. CSNY took part in the 'Philadelphia' half of the concert and came on near the end, rather overshadowed by the reunion of three members of Led Zeppelin on before them and new favourites Duran Duran on after. Crosby, recently released from prison for the first time, looks terrible and the quartet visibly wince as a number of technical problems interfere with their set. The quartet don't get long together either with just three songs, although at least two of these are brave and apt choices, with Stills' Civil War horror scene an apt re-enactment for a day that's all about Africa (Stills had already taken part in a sadly forgotten 'Band Aid' spin-off, 'The Texas World Reunion' charity single 'Here Is My Love, Pass It Along', which is a lot more satisfying musically than 'Do They Know It's Christmas' I can tell you!) Neil got more kudos for his solo set, which included one awkward country song that never made it to record, the slightly insulting 'Nothing Is Perfect' and an excellent 'Powderfinger'. Alas the Live Aid four disc DVD set skips almost all of these, with just 'Needle' and 'Nothing Is Perfect' from Neil's set and nothing from CSNY's making the set (presumably theirs was rejected on 'technical' rather than musical grounds).
22) N: Innocent Eyes (Music Video 1986)
Having seen Stills make a mess of things, Nash played it safe for his music video. The title track from his fourth solo album, 'Innocent Eyes' is simply mimed by an alarmingly thin looking Nash standing against a backdrop of the digitised 'Earth' as seen on his LP rear cover and interrupted by a giant digital 'winking eye' which doesn't look at all innocent to me! This video is most notable for the prominence it gives to the session musicians who worked on the record who are far from the young hip things the record is aimed for.
23) CSN: NBC Rock Profiles (1987)
A fascinating interview/feature about the band during the 'missing' year between Crosby's rehabilitation and their return with 'American Dream' in 1988. The trio are shown backstage fighting (the biggest fight that was ever taped, with Nash swearing his mouth off at Stills who arrives 'maybe just a little drunk' and four hours late!) and are interviewed seperately, most of the time badmouthing each other. The general story of CSNY goes that all was harmony when Crosby got out of prison, but that's clearly not the case (even if the interviewer is clearly 'digging' for mucky stories!) Nash talks about responsibilities that artists have to reflect their generation and that CSN in particular have to each other and the 'muse' they felt that first day they sang in 1969. He admits that three albums together is 'not enough' and that the problem is all at Stills' door for treating them as 'backing singers': 'It's the first time I've ever said this but he's shut us out for years in his egotistical quest to be better than anybody!' Stills' response? 'Well you could have fooled me - a lot of it is just accidental. Why, what did Graham say?' Stills then complains about the tour being excessively clean - that he loves his 'fine wines' too much to stop and while it's unspoken he's clearly cross at Crosby getting away with it for so long and the spotlight being turned on him. 'It's not the public's business or yours' he stares angrily at the camera. 'That's the end of subject'. Unusually Crosby is the calming influence, his new zest for life making him feel as if all the fighting is clearly stupid, claiming that it's too easy for rock stars to feel they're the centre of the universe and still clearly finding it painful about his months kicking drugs in a 'steel box' (there's some short but priceless footage of a clean-shaven short-haired Crosby playing his first post-prison gig). Oddly the interviewer turns not on Crosby but Nash, claiming that Crosby was 'your bread and butter' and had to be on stage, so the others plied him with drugs (Nash's response? 'What could I have done? Keep him away from him my friendship, my love - and the music as well? I couldn't do it!') Meanwhile the usually placid Nash rants about 'not being able to sing with you if I hate your guts right now' and explaining 'that this is why we've not made more albums, worryingly adding 'hopefully we'll get it together and do another one - but don't hold your breath!' CSN are clearly in an unhappy place, Nash having the last word 'We met life face on and we suffered for it - but we're as real as you can get in the rock and roll world, sometimes it's painful to look at, but sometimes it's amazing to listen to.' Amen to that! Sadly this revealing part of CSN folk lore is not commercially available.
24) C: The Bob Costas Show (?/1988)
Crosby, meanwhile, was trying to remind the world about his rock star past and plug two lifelines that helped him pay back some of the fortune he owed in back taxes: his book 'Long Time Gone' and the CSN video 'Long Time Comin'. Crosby, still recovering from a motorbike accident, is on fiery and argumentative form, alternately praising and slapping down his colleagues (complaining that Nash is too obsessed with being 'clean' and calling Young 'as strange as a snake's suspenders!') that suggests he still feels a little estranged from his CSN buddies. Crosby is particularly angry about Rolling Stone Magazine calling their records 'bubblegum for adults' complaining 'we don't give a damn!' and adding that critics count as 'one voice - one ticket' and don't matter as much as the people 're-acting like crazy'. However he gets mellower as he talks about Woodstock, which is being hailed as a monumental moment in history for pretty much the first time, before rarely and reluctantly talking about 'Altamont' and being brave enough to defend the Hell's Angels ('You can't invite the tiger to a party and say 'please don't eat me!') Crosby then turns on Jim Morrison when asked whether a story of him and Janis Joplin hooking up is true (it is, but she knocked him out with a bottle of Southern Comfort for getting fresh with her!) A strange conversation, but still part of CSN history - his first solo TV appearance post-jail sentence. Alas this too is not currently officially available.
25) CSNY: American Dream (Music Video 1988)
CSNY's hilarious promo for the title track of their reunion album is a wry comment on how much the world has changed since the band's hey day. All the band star in various cameos, with Neil doubling as a paparazzi reporter and a scary-looking punk, David is a wheel-chair bound crook and Stephen a smartly dressed politician with a gun. During the course of events a few crooked deals on the side get blown open wide and the papers put such pressure on the establishment figures in the song that they're forced to take action (Stills' character presumably committing suicide when he takes his gun out). Meanwhile whenever the chorus kicks in the whole band sit on a cloud surrounded by American flags, offering help 'from above', including a fidgety Stills whose clearly not taking the video seriously! Note the slightly extended opening, which loops the pan pipe riff for slightly longer than on the album (or indeed the single). Alas this video is not currently commercially available.
26) C: Drive My Car (Music Video 1989)
Crosby, meanwhile, plugged his 'comeback' solo album 'Oh Yes I Can' with this moody video for his first single, a song actually written back in the pre-jail days of 1979. There's lots of host of cars, as you'd expect, merged with a blue-tinted shot of Crosby and backing band performing. Crosby looks much more comfortable here and is clearly much more in charge of his destiny, but dare I say it this promo is a little too obvious and boring.
27) Phil Collins/Crosby: That's Just The Way It Is (Music Video 1989)
Unusually Phil Collins chose to shoot a video for the album-only song Crosby guest performed on rather than the single the pair worked on together 'Another Day In Paradise'. This is the better song, actually, a very Crosby-like debate using the word 'why?' which questions whether 'there's something very wrong with you and me' for allowing greedy governments to build huge gulfs between the haves and have-nots of this world. The video merges concert footage with media coverage of various atrocities and homeless figures, mixed in with specially shot footage of Collins singing in a film studio with Crosby perched behind his shoulder, the camera occasionally catching him full-on. The pair will be back in four years time with another joint video...
28) CSNY: Farm Aid (7/4/1990)
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes/This Ole' House (Neil Young also performed 'Rockin' In The Free World' solo)
Neil was a big supporter of Farm Aid, a regular charity event held to help out struggling farmers held most years since 1985. One year he brought CSN with him for a brief all-acoustic gig. CSNY are on slightly creaky form and the setlist doesn't do them many favours: 'This Ole House' is a slow country ballad that never suites the foursome and while 'Judy Blue Eyes' is a genius song it sounds rather torturous here with Stills again struggling to keep his guitar in tune across nine whole minutes. The gig, which isn't available officially but was streamed on some American TV channels, probably deserves to be lost unless you're a completist and/or a farmer with cows names Moosby, Stills, Nash and Young after the proceeds you gained that night.
29) MTV Unplugged (11/8/1990)
Wasted On The Way/Helplessly Hoping/4+20/Daylight Again/Find The Cost Of Freedom/Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
'Welcome to MTV's Unplugged, this is fun isn't it?!' Having recently set out on their first ever acoustic tour, CSN were naturals for the second year of MTV's 'Unplugged' series featuring bands re-working their act without amplifiers. While less well received than Neil's set from 1994 (which also appeared on album), CSN are on pretty good form here and clearly relish the chance to show off their vocal and guitar skills without anyone else getting in the way (unusually all three play guitars for the start of the set - a CSN first!) Sadly, though, the band simply sing their 'acoustic' material rather than re-working their electric stuff. There is one surprise though: Crosby and Nash add harmonies to the last verse of '4+20', as Stills had originally planned back in 1970! The trio's 'Acoustic' video/DVD, also released in 1990, offers a much wider range of material and catches the trio o a slightly better night, but this fairly rare and sadly unavailable concert is another good 'un.
30) N: The Inside Track (12/10/1990 and 19/10/1990)
The Inside Track was an interesting television, inviting a range of figures from all sorts of fields to become both interviewer and interviewee on successive weeks. Nash rather woodenly interviews Greg Allman of The Allman Brothers, but is on safer territory talking about his memories of his friend and their meeting backstage at the Fillmore East in 1970 and later handles an audience question and answer session with typical aplomb (he's great working live, it seems, but hates the teleprompter!) Nash probably ended up working on the programme because of its 'creative consultant', CSN keyboardist and occasional co-writer Craig Doerge.
31) David Crosby with Phil Collins: Hero (Music Video 1993)
Crosby and Collins are back again, this time promoting the lead single from David's 'Thousand Roads' album. Most of that record is made up of covers, but this is one of two songs written in collaboration with a 'famous friend' and easily the album highlight. A typical Crosby tale of life being different to how he thought it was going to be, it's enhanced by a typical Collins keyboard lick. The music video largely follows the words, with Crosby trying to read a boy a bedtime story, intercut with scenes of him going to prison and waving a teary farewell to the lad and real-life wife Jan. Collins also appears, singing behind Crosby's shoulder this time as part of some inserted shots that appear to be filmed in the same blacklit studio as before.
32) CSN: Woodstock '94 (13/8/1994)
Love The One You're With/Military Madness/Helplessly Hoping/Deja Vu/Only Waiting For You/Marrakesh Express/Til' It Won't Go Away/Unequal Love/In My Life/Long Time Gone/Street To Lean On/For What It's Worth/Pre-Road Downs/Southern Cross/Wooden Ships/Carry On/Woodstock
CSN were one of the few bands from the 'real' festival to play at the 25th anniversary event, although predictably Neil - who didn't much like the original - stayed away. The press had a field day, laughing at the excessive ticket prices, aging hippies and capitalist merchandise, but it was a good chance for newer acts to experience the thrill of an American festival for themselves and gave a boost to several flagging old ones. Crosby, very ill from liver failure and awaiting a transplant, is visibly struggling and Stills sound unbearably hoarse for the first time, but this is still an impressive gig, rather neatly introduced by fellow Woodstock alumni John Sebastian, so nearly a member of the group. The trio introduce a few songs from their latest record 'After The Storm' that sound particularly well live, as well as going for their usual run of hits and live favourites. The band then end the only way they can, with an energetic performance of 'Woodstock' itself that was the clip used in most of the 'best-of' compilations screened around the world the next day! All in all the band perform for 85 minutes - not bad for a band 25 years on from their debut performance!
33) CN: Later...With Jools Holland (2006)
Split across two shows this year: Guinnevere and Immigration Man and with David Gilmour's band On An Island
Crosby and Nash are plugging their 'Crosby*Nash' record and David Gilmour's 'On An Island' set both out near the same time and clearly taped their insert the same week, though it was split across the series for broadcast purposes. Jools Holland is as irritating as ever, asking all the wrong questions and completely failing to understand Nash's irate rant about Tony Blair. Crosby and Nash turn in acoustic performances of two old classics revived for the occasion (and Nash dedicating 'Immigration Man' to everyone being hassled by immigration in the wake of 9/11) but neither performance really hits the spot and the pair come off sounding a little sluggish. The duo backing Pink Floyd guitarist Gilmour is better, the pair remarkably on the ball considering they're playing with a different band, but even this doesn't quite have the 'wow' factor somehow.
34) CSN: Glastonbury (27/6/2009)
Southern Cross/Military Madness/Marrakesh Express/Long Time Gone/Rock and Roll Woman/Uncle John's Band/Helplessly Hoping/Guinnevere/Ruby Tuesday/Deja Vu/Chicago/Almost Cut My hair/For What It's Worth/Wooden Ships/Teach Your Children (Neil Young performed a solo set a day earlier)
Finally, what should have been a big cause for celebration - CSN's first time ever at the famous UK Glastonbury festival - was overshadowed by a blistering set from an inspired Neil Young the night before (in which he played a version of 'Rockin' In The Free World' that went on for 20 minutes, with false ending after false ending and a miraculous cover of Beatles classic 'A Day In The Life', with a feedbacking guitar filling in for the orchestra!) By contrast with all that energy and excitement, a bland CSN set playing safe had no chance, with the trio occasionally falling short of their best with a slightly scrappy performance. However this gig will become highly important to fans in years to become because it's a rare (unique?) recording of the band in the process of trying to record their 'covers' album with producer Rick Rubin which was ultimately abandoned at the end of the year. Nice folky arrangements of The Grateful Dead's 'Uncle John's Band' and The Stones' Ruby Tuesday' boded well for the project and a surprise powerful revival of Buffalo Springfield tune 'Rock and Roll Woman' also hinted at what might have been (with covers of The Byrds and Hollies songs also mooted for the project).
And that's that - to date anyway. CSN will no doubt be there again the next time a benefit gig is held, a tribute night is filmed or an establishment figure needs a well-deserved kicking. CSN, with and without Y, continue to fulfil their 'responsibilities' of reflecting their generation - and on the evidence of the best of this list may they long continue to do so, being one of the world's most passionate and charismatic bands, give or take a dodgy promo or two.