Available to buy in ebook form 'Change Partners - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of CSNY' by clicking here!
(Recorded June-August 1974, Released July 2014)
A quick look through my bootlegs alone (in pretty good sound I might add, so not muchy cleaning up needed) reveal how great this set could have been had it been 'complete': Crosby's missing songs include the wondrous 'What Are Their Names?' and a cover of Joni Mitchell's 'For Free'. Stills' include his cover of 'You Can't Catch Me' (usually medleyed into 'Word Game' - Nash and Bernstein seem to have chosen the only 'sole' version of this song from the tour), 'First Things First' (then a brand new song destined to appear on 1975's brilliant solo album 'Stills'), the lovely '4+20', first album classic 'Helplessly Hoping', acoustic epic 'Know You Got To Run'. Nash's missing masterpieces include the lovely 'It's Alright' (five years before its appearance on 'Earth and Sky'), the gorgeous 'Another Sleep Song' (fresh from 'Wild Tales') and the poignant 'Southbound Train' ('Graham Nash, David Crosby'). Young's absentees include 'Cowgirl On The Sand' 'Losin' End' and 'Down By The River' (the three epics from his second album 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere'), 'Human Highway' (the song already being put aside for recording on the quartet's next album), the scary 'Ambulance Blues', the charming 'Sugar Mountain', the awkward 'Roll Another Number' (a full year before its appearance on 'Tonight's The Night'), the unreleased 'Homefires' and the Buffalo Springfield's 'On The Way Home'. Most of all, where oh where is 'Carry On', Stills' epic often stretched out to 20 minutes or more (the Wembley version alone is one of the single best performances of this song CSNY ever gave). The result for the listener who knows about these things is like going home in the interval, or falling asleep during the encore! Yes some of these songs were included on 'Four Way Street' but a lot of them weren't: could the compilers really not stretch to at least one extra disc? As for lack of time, well! The band have had 40 years of these tapes sitting in their loft and after all the 'nearly' releases the past 12 months a little bit of sifting extra couldn't have hurt. Even the songs that are intact from bootlegs we fans have known and loved for years sadly have a lot of the fun dialogue cut out - and as all CSNY fans know, the dialogue is often the best bit. Another small gripe is that the compilers have gone to a lot of trouble to list who plays what on each song (which is almost the same anyway, give or take a piano or organ part) but omit telling us which gig each of these songs come from, which would have been very useful!
For fans like me this makes the entire show even more thrilling, like a three hour juggling act where half the fun is when the performers stop being geniuses and drop the odd ball instead. None of it reflects badly on CSNY at all (let me stress, while its not sonically perfect none of it is bad per se), so why on earth isn't there more of it here than four paltry songs (with four others from that Landover gig which on this evidence might be even better?) Given the sonic bareness Neil's put us though on some of his most recent records the Wembley show sounds warm and full and pulsating with life. Please put this show out officially, so that the earliest existing footage of CSN/Y (bar the Woodstock film and Altamont) can be properly seen at last; good as the shows from 1977, 1982, 1990 and 2006 are I'd still take CSNY mark 1974 over them any time. The tracks from both shows also seem to be chosen at random, all bar 'Cut My Hair' far from the best performances of the night, with the songs (if not the recordings) replicated on the CDs anyway: frankly denying us the Wembley 'Change Partners' (with Stills grinning his head off), 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' (where Stills whallops his guitar for a full minute as an intro) and 'Time After Time' (when Stills bounces back on stage cradling his baby Christopher in his arms - now a 40-something singer-songwriter in his own right) - is almost as criminal as what Nixon got up to in Watergate.