Monday 12 January 2015

"The Byrds" (1973)

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"The Byrds" (1973)

Full Circle/Sweet Mary/Changing Heart/For Free/Born To Rock and Roll//Things Will Be Better/Cowgirl In The Sand/Long Live The King/Borrowing Time/Laughing/See The Sky About To Rain

Ever since Gene Clark left the band in 1966 after the peak of 'Eight Miles High', fans had been asking 'gee I wonder what the next Byrds album with the original line-up might have been like?' After David Crosby was sacked and Michael Clarke left in quick succession in late 1967, it seemed as if we would never know. There was such bad blood between the five members that it seemed as if the flock had departed forever. But then a funny thing happened: after being adamant that he could put a new band together as good as the 'old' Byrds (which he very nearly did with 'Untitled'), Roger McGuinn grew increasingly fed-up with the new line-up (who bickered less than the original band but argued more over key decisions) and began to look for a way out after two disappointing final albums. David Crosby, now flying higher with CSN than he ever had as a Byrd, began to talk, encouraging McGuinn to 'drop' his new band and push himself artistically. Gene Clark's solo career, while sporadically as great as anything he'd made in the band, was falling apart. Chris Hillman was technically unemployed after the break-ups of his two 'interim' bands 'The Flying Burrito Brothers' and 'Manassas'. Michael Clarke needed to finance the semi-retirement he'd found himself in after the Burrito Brothers crashed.  For the first time since 1966 al five Byrds were in a position to talk and rekindle their old fire. A reunion album was on the cards at long last - after some eight years of the band increasingly trying to distance themselves from their early days in their separate ways the Byrds were set for lift-off again, having come full circle.

The stage seemed set for a Byrds renaissance. Now that the 60s were receding into the distance fans of many bands began to get nostalgic for the good old days and felt lost in an alien sea of pop, glam-rock and funk: what they needed was a bold and daring pioneering band from the old days to show these newcomers how things were done. The Byrds themselves seemed friendlier than they ever had, with  this album the first time ever that all four songwriting Byrds had a more or less equal slice of the songwriting pie (Gene Clark having left the band before Chris Hillman's first song). Hopes were high for a big tour, perhaps several tours, with a series of reunion albums to run throughout the rest of the 1970s (juggled round the five members' respective solo careers and CSN reunions, with one already on the cards for the end of the year). After being formed relatively quickly for an AAA band (with McGuinn, Clark and Crosby merely casual acquaintances before getting together as a trio, with Hillman and Clarke added at a later date through manager Jim Dickson rather than friendship), The Byrds were determined to do things properly this time: they all knew each other well enough by now, they'd all found success of their own away from the band and there were less ego hang-ups and squabbling for position. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, The Byrds reunion is generally seen as unmitigated disaster by fans, an anti-climax in every conceivable way. Heard back to back with the last album the quintet had made ('5D' - Clark left in the middle of the sessions) or the last time 3/5ths of the original band had been present ('Notorious') then the problem with this album becomes clear: it's nice and pleasant but doesn't try anything bold or daring and The Byrds aren't tight enough a unit to compete with similarly bland-but-competent bands (of which the early 1970s was filled with many). Most fans assumed that old wounds simply hadn't healed and the slanging matches that went on in the press afterwards seem to agree with that (with Crosby generally singled out for blame), but actually from what I can tell this reunion album was genuinely harmonious. It's just that the band's wings were clipped to some extent; The five members were so keen not to step on each other's toes that they made this record cautiously, holding back on their more progressive and courageous ideas. Back in the 1960s they'd been wild and with it and didn't know what failure tasted like: now, though, after so many years out of the spotlight this album suddenly matters a great deal and ironically the more thought they put into it the less spontaneous it feels. There are an awful lot of awful AAA reunion albums clogging up these books and the reason is simple: the spark that inspired a band to create and persevere with their muse rarely comes back again once extinguished: Paul McCartney calls it 're-heating a souffle'; we call it making a microwave meal after years of perfect baking: technically the two things do the same job but instead of baking all the way through over a longer time the microwave merely re-heats the same electrons over and over again for a shortened, less appetising burst of what came before (assuming the microwave doesn't set on fire that is). Put simply hardly anyone here is here for the right reasons: McGuinn is using the original line-up to restore his credibility after some patchy albums and a good excuse to kick the latest line-up out; Crosby is getting 'closure' - returning to the band who once kicked him out for having no talent at a time when he was the only member of the band most average music fans could name; Hillman and Clarke are filling in time between jobs and unashamedly enjoying the money after lesser years; only Gene Clark seems to have relished these recordings for the chance it gave him to repair old friendships and heal old wounds.

A band like The Byrds didn't simply create temper tantrums because they felt like it - they were a group who (by and large) thrived on friction to make things happen - on the competition between the members and their ability to tell each other to their faces what they thought of each other (well everyone except McGuinn perhaps, but it's interesting that while he 'chose' everyone who joined the band post-Gram Parsons they all tended towards the warring, combative David Crosby types with the possible exception of Clarence White). The Byrds were all about the friction between themselves pushing them to greater heights - all that 'after you' 'no, after you' business simply wasn't conducive to their strengths of daring brilliance and spontaneity. I mean just look at the portrait on the back sleeve of the Byrds gathered self-consciously around a bar, laughing a little too loudly at each other's jokes (it's like a school reunion from people who only just barely remember each other - not bosom pals who've been dying to work together). Luckily the front sleeve, where the band are playing, looks more convincing, although even here note how none of the band are making eye contact, each lost in their own worlds - there's a metaphor for the album in these two sleeves somewhere.

The other trouble with this album is how rushed it all was. Had the band spent a proper amount of time together planning and rehearsing this album not only would they have been a tighter (and more likely to push the envelope) but they would have had more time to write a decent set of songs. McGuinn had been struggling for a while - my guess is that he'd got so into writing his 'Gene Tryp' musical with Dylan lyricist Jacque Levy that he'd rather 'forgotten' how to write stand-alone songs again and his only stand out track of the first half of the 1970s is 'Tiffany Queen', a song about a lamp. Chris Hillman recycles two songs he had left over from the Manassas second album 'Down The Road' (co-written with either Dallas Taylor or Joe Lala, the drummer and percussionist from that band), possibly already with an eye to saving his best work for a solo record. David Crosby, never the most prolific of writers, simply has nothing left after so many intense years with CSNY and working on his first solo record - he even re-records one of the latter's best songs with The Byrds (as if to prove how far he's travelled without them?) However there's one member who shines like the diamond he was and who gives this record the two highest moments: Gene Clark has been waiting for this opportunity for years (he'd even temporarily returned as Crosby's replacement in 1968 but only seems to have lasted two months and a few TV appearances where he looks distinctly uncomfortable miming to songs he doesn't know; he never did re-record with the band till this album).

While even I can't find a good word to say about most of the record, both 'Full Circle' and 'Changing Heart' point to how 'right' a Byrds reunion album could have been for the times. 'Full Circle' was written a full year before the reunion album (Clark's solo version will appear on his surprisingly excellent 1977 collection of odds and ends 'Roadmaster') but fits like a glove: the band are older, wiser, their time has come again and they're better able to deal with it this time. A message of 'don't give up!' delivered to the world who never expected to see another Byrds album again, let alone one with the original five back in it, this is one track that sounds very much like The Byrds always did: McGuinn's guitar is upfront, the harmonies (now with Hillman joining in too - he only started singing to cover Gene's absence) are exquisite and anyone who'd been stuck in a time-warp for eight years would still recognise this as the same band who sang 'Mr Tambourine Man'. However the Byrds song it reflects best is 'Turn! Turn! Turn!', with everything left to fate and everything due to have its 'season' ; in many ways though, Gene's lyrics are even more moving and better written than the Book of Ecclesiastes that inspired the original! Although a surprise flop when released as a single, 'Circle' has undergone a bit of revisionism from fans in recent years to the point where it's nor regarded as the last great song put out under the band name - and quite right too; Gene may not have written it with The Byrds in mind but it's perfect for their strengths. Almost as good but almost never highly rated amongst fans is Clark's other song on the album, 'Changing Heart', a darker more brooding song about how people change that's related as a love affair (and was once more written before the reunion project) but naturally in context sounds as if he's singing about the band ('Falling victim to the game of time, I place my name in the lost and found' sounds very like the band before starting work on this project).

Unfortunately no other song manages to be either this deep or that lucky in terms of representing a new-look Byrds for 1973. McGuinn either can't remember or can't find the inspiration to write a 'folk-rock' song so does what he's been doing the last couple of Byrds albums anyway, coming up with a rocker and a folk song, neither of which quite fit  and both of which are woefully played (to be fair no band seems to have been able to play 'Born To Rock and Roll' convincingly - both the final Battin/Parsons/White line-up of The Byrds and the McGuinn band who played on his first solo band sound even worse). Hillman has clearly been writing with Manassas in mind, where his songs might have sounded fine, but the 1973 Byrds aren't clever enough at suddenly veering off into different styles: 'Things Will Be Better' should be laidback with sudden bursts of adrenalin, but just sounds like the same sort of thing played with different standards of sloppiness; 'Borrowing Time' would sound nice as calypso-Latin of the sort Manassas exce3lled in - as a simple folk tune it's a drag. The biggest surprise is how out of sorts David Crosby sounds: 'Laughing' is so obviously a CSN song (even if it technically appears on a solo album) that it was never going to fit The Byrds as well: while the single greatest composition on the record (it's one of Croz' very greatest songs) The Byrds aren't the sort of mystical philosophical sympathetic band to coax the best out of the song and really shows how integral guests Jerry Garcia, Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell were to the original: 'Mind Gardens' style fills from McGuinn are cute, but wrong. Crosby also gets to finally place his favourite ever song on a record (Joni Mitchell's 'For Free', which has been played him in concert more often than even old warhorses like 'Almost Cut My Hair' and 'Guinevere'). Alas this solo performance, while respectable, sounds deeply out of touch: Joni's lyrics about a beggar playing simply for the music is once again a CSN song, not a Byrds one (especially a potentially lucrative reunion album) and nobody else gets anything to do. His one new song for the album 'Long Live The King' is a nice try with some fine guitar meshing, but Crosby hogs all the vocals and The Byrds aren't used to his unusual jazzy tunings and awkward switches of tempos - a version of this song with Stills on guitar might have been terrific - this just sounds average. Crosby, remember, was treated as the 'producer' of the record at the time (although he took his name off the credits which simply don't list a producer - out of solidarity he claimed, out of horror at how it turned out according to McGuinn) and he at least should have been having a go at tailoring his songs to the band's sound.

That leaves two Neil Young songs. Nobody, including the band,  is quite sure why The Byrds are spending a precious seven minutes of their reunion album covering Neil Young songs when the band a) rarely covered anyone in their time together and b) tended to go for either pre-war standards done 'Byrds-style'. The Springfield always had close links to The Byrds of course, but Neil Young had even closer links to David Crosby and ends up sounding like an 'ersatz' CSNY. At the time 'See The Sky About To Rain' was an unreleased song (Neil re-recorded it for 'On The Beach' in 1974) so to some extent it makes sense - although poor Gene really struggles with the cryptic lyrics (Crosby guiltily recalled later that he should have got Roger to sing it and gave it to the slighted Gene to make a 'statement' - although while folky it's not really up Roger's street either; why didn't he sing it himself?) There's no excuse for 'Cowgirl In The Sand', though. At the time reviewers wanting to find something nice to say about an album they'd so eagerly waited for praised the band for revisiting Neil's electric ten minute Crazy Horse original as a fragile folky acoustic song - but presumably they didn't know the arrangement was already Neil's, having already been heard that way on CSNY's live 'Four Way Street' record. To his credit, Crosby was probably rallying behind his friend Neil who was going through a terrible period in 1973  (Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten had overdosed with the severance pay Neil had given him because he couldn't keep up with the band, the rest of whom rebelled on tour and asked for more money; the only bright spot came when Crosby and Nash dropped their own plans to tour to join their companion on stage and help out - you wouldn't have caught the original Byrds doing that!) Neil, right at the start of his poor-selling 'doom trilogy', seemed to be disappearing from the public consciousness and this might have been David's way of ensuring a regular royalty and a bit of extra critical acclaim (Stills, too, started covering his partner's songs on record in this period). A kind idea, then, but hopelessly wrong for the record: Stills or Nash's songs would have fitted the 'Byrds' vibe better as would a more pioneering, ground-breaking politically charged  Crosby song like 'Everybody Has Been Burned' or 'Draft Morning' (although the rest of the band were probably fearing exactly that, or perhaps a revival of the three-way love-story 'Triad'). If the band were two slots short on the record and didn't want to add a 'third' song by any band member (in the name of democracy) then why not cover a Dylan song like the old days? A gene Clark harmonica-led 'It's Alright Ma' could have been amazing; a re-make of 'The Chimes Of Freedom' poignant; a re-make of 'Mr Tambourine Man' or even better Pete Seeger's 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' would have been highly moving. Alas it wasn't to be. Usually this is the point in a review where I talk about an album 'theme' - but this album features so many disparate points of view that for once there isn't one (overthrowing out-of-date ideas crops up in 'Full Circle' and 'Long Live The King' - that's about it!)

All of the above can be excused: there was a feeling within the band that even if this record wasn't quite right the second would be, when everyone had settled back to working with each other and worked out what their updated sound would be. What can't be excused is how un-like The Byrds most of this album is: while there's a nice lot of acoustic strumming (which sounds good and something the Byrds had never really exploited until now), McGuinn rarely gets his Rickenbacker out of the case. Surely that more than anything would have proven that this really was 'The Byrds' . The band's other big selling point - the harmonies - are there but in bits and pieces. Sadly only on 'Full Circle' do we get all four singing Byrds in full bloom (and even then McGuinn and Hillman are so hidden you can barely hear them) - the rest of the album generally features just Crosby singing in harmony with which ever member of the band happens to be doing the lead vocal. Surely anyone attached to this album would have told The Byrds 'you can sing about what you want in whatever style you want - but do at least one song with the Rickenbacker jingle-jangling and for God's sake at least sing together even if you don't play together!' This more than anything else is the album's weakest hand and makes it sound more than ever like a collection of solo songs rather than a 'band' album.

One sad postscript: one possible reason Rogeer doesn't play on this album much might have been because he expected 'his' parts to be filled by Clarence White's. Roger desperately wanted his old friend to play with him - as well as being a fine guitarist who would have been especially good on fellow country lover Chris Hillmans' songs, he would have made a fine sympathetic buffer between the band members. Many people - including Gene Parsons - have speculated that's why he and Skip Battin were fired in 1972, so Roger could legally do exactly that with White still a full-time member but Clarence stayed loyal to his friends and quit soon after. Sadly it was a decision that might have cost him his life - Clarence returned back to his family band and was loading his van with his equipment late one Winter night in July 1973, just three months after the release of this album, when he got knocked down and killed by a passing drunk-driver and died in his brother (and fellow guitarist's) arms at the age of 29. Had he been 'hired' for the reunion album - or stayed with Roger - he might never have been playing that night and might still be around today, playing with a reformed Nashville West with his old buddies Gene Parsons and John York (sadly Skip died in 2007*). It goes without saying that if he had played on this reunion album it would have sounded an awful lot better.
As a result the Byrds flop reunion cost Roger more than any of the others - while everyone else slowly slunk away to their own separate lives (Chris joining another new band, 'Souther-Hillman-Furay', a CSN-like band who never quite gelled), McGuinn was stuck. I think reading between the lines from what he was saying at the time he still hoped to reunite with the last Byrds line-up if the reunion albums didn't last and hoped that having a more lucrative side-deal might shake them up a bit after two lacklustre albums - but without White he couldn't bring himself to put The Byrds back together. After looking healthier than they ever had, the failure of this reunion project effectively killed The Byrds stone-dead and forced McGuinn into the solo act he'd been  putting off since 1968. As a result the band name died too (at least until an even briefer reunion in 1990 with just three Byrds present) and the next talk of a reunion, in 1978, will end up as the unlikely sounding bunch of folkie solicitors 'McGuinn Clark and Hillman' (while nowhere near the original Byrds either, their three records with and without Clark do share slightly more Byrds DNA than most of this sorry record).
As for 'The Byrds', it's ironic that the only album named after the band and the only one to feature all four songwriting Byrds at the same time is the one that sounds least like them. A bit of a mess, but caused by kindness and politeness rather than arguments and fall-outs as expected, 'The Byrds' (oh let's just give it the perfect name everyone should have used and be done with it: 'Full Circle'!) is a sad and sorry end to a discography that tried more new and daring ideas than most bands did across 50 years together, chopping and changing styles all the way through to this rather bland and same-sounding end. Many fans wish this record wasn't here at all - and yet I'd hate to be without either 'Full Circle' or 'Changing Heart', two real highpoints from the band's time together. You see 'The Byrds' could have been far worse - however the sad fact is, with that much talent in the same room, fans expected this album to be a monumentous event and had higher expectations than normal. Come to this album expecting a common pigeon rather than a colourful exotic tropical parrot, however, and you might just find this under-rated album easier to love.

The Songs:

[183] 'Full Circle' is the obvious album highlight: a song that sounds so tailor-made for the occasion that everyone assumed it was until the fine-print on the back of Gene's solo version in 1977 revealed otherwise. Clark's song is everything you'd want an updated Byrds to be: older, wiser, with a melody that sounds like lots of old classics without recycling anything and lots of space for the whole band to show off, from Crosby's gorgeous harmony to McGuinn's Rickenbacker to Michael Clarke's sturdy drumming (sadly back on this album to where he was at the beginning of his career than where he left off during 'Notorious'). This is Gene's show and his double-tracked vocal is the most confident he ever made for the band, smoky and dark yet wise beyond his years on lines like 'you think you're lost...but now you're found again'. A complete 180 degrees sea-change from 'Bristol Steamboat Convention Blues' (the last track to be released under the Byrds name and on which Roger - the only links between the two line-ups - probably doesn't even play on), 'Full Circle' turns back the clock to 1965 when folk-rock was all the rage for one very good reason: it offered the chance to ponder deep and intellectual lyrics without diluting the power and force of rock and roll. Compared to Gene's original version The Byrds cut is noticeably happy: the backing track is a little quicker and Gene sings it with a big grin on his face instead of the timid way he sings his lines solo (which are cleverly worded to work either way - most fans assume the message is 'don't be miserable because sad times won't last forever' but could also mean 'don't be too full of yourself when things are going right because everything comes in cycles' - something the other four might have done well to ponder on). While many fans would gladly trade in this album with the big amplifier-carrying rock fairy of fate for an extra Gene Clark era Byrds album the first time round, I'm rather glad this reunion album exists if only for this one classic song about growing older and wiser.

[184] 'Sweet Mary' is a real jolt. McGuinn seems to have forgotten or wilfully wanted to ignore the Byrds' folk-rock past and instead returns to an even earlier part of his career when he was a pure folkie. In truth the Byrds should have done this years ago instead of dropping the folkyness from their repertoire altogether and it's interesting to hear the five Byrds (all of whom had played folk at some point before joining the band) return back to their roots. McGuinn still seems to be suffering from the lethargy that's struck him ever since finishing 'Gene Tryp' however: when uninspired he always borrows from old melodies and writes lyrics around a girl's name: this time the tune is nicked wholesale from the Byrds' already recorded 'Jack Tarr The Sailor' (see 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider' from three years earlier) and plucked for Mary rather than his earlier 'Sandy' and 'Kathleen'. The result is - believe it or not - another of the album's better songs, thanks to a sensitive reading from most of the band (Clarke sits this one out) and a nicely aggressive lead from McGuinn.

[185] 'Changing Heart' is another strong Gene Clark song, with slightly darker lyrics set to the same bouncy singalong tempo as 'Full Circle'. Clark never really spoke about this song (which got overshadowed by 'Full Circle') but like the later McGuinn-Hillman-Clark track 'Basckstage Pass' this sounds to me suspiciously like a summary of his memories of being a Byrd. Clark, of course, famously had many a change of heart (quitting the band at least twice - he should have got together with the Buffalo Springfield's Neil Young!) . The narrator is torn between the 'praise' he gets when he's reached the top' with a 'thousand faces' looking on in expectation - and the disappointment when he gives his all and think he's achieved his best only to be met with indifference (Gene Clark's solo career before and since is a sea of lost opportunities, glorious albums ruined by hurried productions or sessions and stalled collaborations). This song could easily have become one long superstar moan but Gene is a better writer than that: he's quick to point out what spurs him on as much as the dangers and traps that cause him to fall backwards scared. Listen out, too, for more references to 'wheels' - no wonder Gene is feeling a bit mixed-up as he tells us that one wheel is spurring him onwards and the other has come off. The roll-along tune also carries us away without the chance to reflect on this song's nastier points along with some excellent Clark harmonica-puffing (something he didn't often do in his solo years) and some great Crosby harmonies. Once again Gene Clark sounds better prepared for this reunion album than this comrades and has even worked out distinctive parts for everyone, with more McGuinn Rickenbacker (sadly for only the second and last time) and great bass-drum interplay.

Crosby's cover of Joni Mitchell's [186] 'For Free' finally gave CSN fans a chance to own a copy of a song that had long been a live favourite of his, performed at more gigs than not from 1970 onwards. The song is indeed a good one that sums up everything Crosby stands for: Mitchell's tired narrator, bored and angry after a lousy gig, walks home wounded until she's stopped in her tracks by the gorgeous sound of a busker down the street. He doesn't make any money for his work except the loose change people throw at him and her limousines and millionaire jackets suddenly look superfluous and superficial to her. Crosby does justice to one of his favourite writers (the Byrd was mainly responsible for Joni being discovered at all, right near the end of his time with his first band) with an endearing vocal, but this is a song meant for intimacy and resilience that all but demands to be played simply - the way the busker does in the song. This band arrangement just distracts from the message of the song and most of the band sound unsure and tentative, confused as to what their role on the track might be (with the exception of Michael Clarke who turns in a noisy drum patter that's woefully loud and unfocussed). The band should have taken the advice of the song: simplicity is better .

Side one ends with McGuinn's lacklustre [180b] 'Born To Rock and Roll'. While most of the songs on this album tend towards the non-descript, this is the one song that everyone remembers because it's really really bad: 'a rolling and a rocking' might have done for a song chorus in the 1950s and cliched chat-up lines like 'do you believe in magic?' might have done ok for lesser bands - but this is The Byrds. Only three years ago Roger was showing us how to rock properly with the atmospheric story-song 'Lover Of The Bayou' - by contrast this sounds lifeless and limp, less a tiger waiting to pounce on its prey than a rather fat and spoilt pussy cat falling face first into its breakfast bowl. There's just no tension on this track at all, which makes you wonder why Roger decided to give it lyrics about rock music at all - by rights this song should be called 'Born To Sing Mid-Tempo'. Roger's vocal is pushed way beyond its natural limits (as we've already said on this site, those limits are quite narrow but McGuinn usually gets away by sheer personality - here he just sounds nasal and shrill, with the entire middle eight unintelligible even after several listens to the record) and rather than backing him up the sea of voices and instruments on this track just add to the confusion. McGuinn was often nasty about the last Byrds line-up in press interviews, especially while promoting this album where he compared them unfavourably to the original line-up. But the truth is, however bad a song and however average the performance, the White-Battin-Parsons Byrds did a far better job of this track in their last aborted sessions of 1972 (as heard as bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Farther Along') than the five supposedly better players do here. The question has to be asked, of course, why such an awful song was attempted twice without composer quite twigging that this wasn't one of his better ideas. Why on earth did McGuinn use this song on such a coveted project instead of other far more interesting tracks that we know he had ready for his first solo album (just think what Crosby's jazz timings might have done to enhance the already fascinatingly oblique 'Time Cube' or what Hillman's mandolin might have brought to the sweet folky 'Stone'). There are many other poor song choices in the Byrds' canon but the sheer fact that I've had to sit through this song twice has forced my hand and made me list 'Born To Rock and Roll' at the back of this book as The Byrds' nadir.

Side two is less of a rollercoaster ride than side two and by and large the songs and performances aren't bad, just forgettable. Hillman's [187] Things Will Be Better' at least sounds like a more focussed band performance and Clarke especially sounds on firmer footing on the drums (indeed so different is his playing suddenly that I wonder if it's him...). However the chance to hear Hillman use all the skills he'd learnt while a member of Stephen Stills' Manassas back with his former sparring partners is a wasted one: Chris tackles all the vocals  himself and by the sound of it most of the guitar work too (apart from McGuinn's sinewy lead that really should have been re-done). Co-written with CSN's long-term drummer Dallas Taylor, this may in fact be a Manassas backing track with just a few Byrds overdubs - that's how it sounds anyway. If this is one of the long lost songs kicked off the second Manassas album 'Down The Road' at the last minute (Atlantic boss Ahmet Ertegun wanted more 'Stills' and less 'Manassas' on the record and killed the band off in the process) then it's removal was a good one: just the year before Hillman had been on top form with songs like 'Lies' and 'So Many Times' - this slice of pointless optimism just sounds like every uninspired Hillman solo song to come.

[188] 'Cowgirl In The Sand' places The Byrds firmly back in folky mode  - but it's a strange kind of folk where instead of making obscure lines by 'poets' like Dylan accessible with harmony, the band simply make obscure lines by 'poet' Neil Young sound cosy. Not with-standing the fact that Neil cut the song like this too in concert during his acoustic gigs, the difference between the Byrds' version and Crazy Horse's original is striking: Young sounds furious, demented even, with a lyric that he wrote in bed with a 103 degree fever sounding both pained and sharp, a sub-conscious rap on the fact that an exciting new romance with an exciting new person might be more trouble than it's worth. The Byrds just sound like a sleepy good-time little 'ol' country band, re-telling a story that's so old it's being told by rote nowadays and no longer has any sense of expression. You can kind of see what Crosby meant - by giving Gene a song that sounded roughly like his own to sing and helping an 'old friend' having problems he no doubt felt he was 'killing two Byrds with one stone' as it were. But, truly, it's like asking The Beatles to cover 'Satisfaction' when they reunited in the 1990s or getting Pink Floyd to do 'Eight Miles High' at 'Live 8' (actually I'd have paid good money to see both of those...) Ok then, how about this is - it's like getting the reformed 1986 mark Monkees to cover Paul Revere and the Raiders' American hit 'Kicks' (this really happened, folks). However Clark's lyrics are poetry of a quite different kind - while far from straightforward all his lines mean something and he'd never write a line as open to interpretation as 'hello Ruby in the dust, has your band begun to rust?' Clark struggles but gamely carries on, adding two lots of nice harmonica puffing and a particularly fatherly lyric that's as 'straight' and as devoid from emotion as he can manage. Crosby's harmony is much better though - arguably if he wanted this song on the album this badly he should have been the one sing ing it but it's hard to work out why this cover is here at all. A false ending, which tacks another 30 seconds of instrumental on the end for no apparent reason, is a curious end to a curious cover.

[189] 'Long Live The King' is an extraordinary song. Crosby has had rather a quiet time of it lately - after releasing the first Crosby-Nash album and his solo debut 'If Only I Could Remember My name' in quick succession in 1971, he seems to have sat out most of 1972. Fans of the time would no doubt be expecting more of the same: glossy soaring harmonies, a bit of politics, lots about love, a lot of daring and a soupcon of rule-breaking. Instead they get perhaps the most straightforward Crosby song since before his time as a Byrd, a two minute ramble about how everyone in power will come a cropper one day. Fra from being another 'Long Time Gone' or 'Almost Cut My hair', though, this song ends up a nursery rhyme ('Ooh just like Humpty Dumpty now the king has fallen down!' while more Crosby's yell 'all the king's horses...' On paper this song has so much promise: Crosby sings about overthrowing old dated institutions several centuries past their sell-by-date and even makes a stab at how the king is really himself: with similarly mixed feelings to Gene Crosby reflects on his Byrd eras, his ego being stroked by people telling him he's a star while his head is an 'empty space' and he ends up betraying his colleagues. Unfortunately in practice this song is a mess: an angry rant that does indeed break all the conventional songwriting rules but not to any great effect - there's no chorus to hang this song on, no instrumental break, lots of out of tune guitars and what should be a huge climax at the end just sounds like the song collapsing in on itself. If this was a CSN or even a solo album this recording would never have been allowed out without being re-done (and once again why cut this song with The Byrds and then fail to use most of them - this sounds suspiciously like another solo track to me). The Byrds deserved better - this is the start of a long slow decline in Crosby's songwriting that will stretch all the way to his recovery from drugs at the end of the 1980s (though thankfully with more than a few classics still to come in the interim). Ironically titled 'Long Live The King!', never has Crosby sounded more like 'falling down'.

Everything said for Hillman's last song 'Things Will Be Better' can also be said for [190] 'Borrowing Time'. This time the Manassas collaborator is Joe Lala and the song has a slightly more Latin feel to it, but it still sounds like a Manassas or a solo cut with no real Byrd input. The song is upbeat and bouncy but doesn't really have much to say other than what a nice time the narrator's having. There's a neat middle eight when he tries to comfort a crying partner (suddenly shifting to the minor key on the line 'why do you worry? Why do you cry?'), but the narrator isn't listening for an answer, he's too busy going back to tell us what a swell time he's having. Fine if you've got a whole 40 minutes of miserable singer-songwriter angst that needs propping up with a bit of jolliity - but why include such a slight song (that only just reached two minutes) on such a crucial album intended to be delivered in the public eye? Perhaps the band should have borrowed some time themselves and made this song both longer and better.

I'm on record elsewhere on this site as saying that Crosby's song [191] 'Laughing' may well be the single greatest song in the universe: the narrator keeps thinking he's found the answer to life's problems but finds in turn that he is mistaken, caught out by shadows, reflections and ultimately the sound of a child laughing in the sun. The version heard on 'Id' Swear There Was Somebody There' (1971) is the perfect example of a band fully in synch with each other and with each member making the most of their talents - even if the band was a rogue one assembled from various members of the CSN., Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane families plus Joni Mitchell. Despite sharing identical lyrics and melodies and running for a similar amount of time (The Byrds' version lasts 5:39 and Crosby's 5:29) the two couldn't be more different listening experiences. The song should be light as a feather - the Byrds sound as if they're playing with boxing gloves on. Crosby's voice should float and soar - here it drops like a stone. The stop-start sections should come with a sense of realisation and etherealness - instead they sound like. every. note. comes. with. full. stops. after. it. (for. no. apparent. reason). If ever you wanted to hear how a poor band performance can scupper even the greatest of songs then you need look no further: The Byrds are woefully horribly miscast on a song that sounds as alien to them as Crosby would have sounded on the all-country 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'. If I didn't know my song dates better I'd have assumed the Byrds version came first - an example of a song that had to get bashed and boshed into shape before becoming the beautiful vessel CSN fans adore. Somehow the knowledge that Crosby got this track spot-on first and re-recorded the band version two full years later makes the pain worse somehow. Sometimes good motives just aren't enough - someone really should have stepped in and said 'hang on a minute - don't you think you've missed the point, guys?'

The album then ends equally limply on a second Neil Young song, [192] 'See The Sky About To Rain'. Whilst better suited to the Byrds than 'Cowgirl', with Gene much happier on a song of happiness disguised as misery much closer to his own style, you still have to question why The Byrds are recording an album so alien to their natural sound (in any era). The Byrds rarely sounded miserable, even when they were - by contrast the whole point of this song is that Neil's fans know he's 'playing' (if he really wanted to sound miserable the sky would be raining). The song sounds well suited to Neil's suite of gloomy songs from his 1974 work 'On The Beach' (where believe it or not this is the happiest song there!) - here it just sounds odd as the last track in the Byrds' official canon (depending on whether or not you count the 1990 recordings with just  McGuinn, Crosby and Hillman), a warning message of impending disaster that never quite arrives, even with another false ending not there on the original. Once again it's quite hard to tell what the original Byrds actually do on this song with the exception of Clark and Crosby and compared to CSNY their vocals really don't mix as well as they once had. Yes it's an ok performance of a fairly good song - but it's not the best of either. Once again the question is why record this track at all instead of something more suited to the band.

'The Byrds', then, is an uncomfortable blot on an admittedly rather patchy discography, but at least in the past when The Byrds were struggling for a 'new' sound you could forgive them because they found that sound eventually and used it as a stepping stone to something greater ('Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' and 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider' are mixed LPs, but as the best on them points the way ahead to 'Untitled' I'll forgive them the lesser songs quite happily). We don't have that with this reunion record, which ended up leaving an even sourer taste and puzzled feeling in the mouths and hearts of Byrds collectors than when the original line-up went up in smoke across 1966-68. The tragedy is that, had the band done this album properly (i.e. with time to write all news songs, no cover versions and with all five playing on every single song) then this project could really have been something: The Byrds never did get the chance to grow like so many other bands did what with all that hiring-and-firing going on and the chance to hear all five members return to their glory days but in a slightly calmer, kinder environment should have made for the greatest single Byrds album. Instead, it's the worst with only Gene Clark coming out of this project with his head held high - yes 'Byrdmaniax' was pretty ropey too but at least you could tell what the band were trying (and failing) to do (making songs sound very big with orchestras) and yes in truth I find parts of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo' much harder to listen to (mainly the bits that mis-cast McGuinn as an all-American cowboy).  But 'The Byrds' is somehow worse partly because of expectation, because the whole scheme seems pointless most of the ideas on this record were never going to work - and already hadn't in the case of the revived 'Born To Rock and Roll') and partly because Gene Clark showed just how daring, inventive, bold and yet characteristic of the first band this reunion record could have been. The Byrds arrived with one of the biggest bangs in music (certainly folk-rock); they go out with an album that doesn't even have enough life in it for a whimper. 

A Now Complete Link Of Byrd Articles Available To Read At Alan’s Album Archives:

'Mr Tambourine Man' (1965)
‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ (1965)

'(5D) Fifth Dimension' (1966)

'Younger Than Yesterday' (1967)

'The Nototious Byrd Brothers' (1968)

'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo' (1968)

'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' (1969)

‘The Ballad Of Easy Rider’ (1969)

'Untitled' (1970)
'Byrdmaniax' (1971)
'The Byrds' (1973)

Surviving TV Appearances
Unreleased Songs
Non-Album Songs (1964-1990)
A Guide To Pre-Fame Byrds Recordings
Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part One (1964-1972)
Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Two (1973-1977)

Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Three (1978-1991)
Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Four (1992-2013)
Essay: Why This Band Were Made For Turn! Turn! Turn!ing
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions

Buffalo Springfield: Non-Album Songs 1965-1968

You can buy 'Flying On The Ground Is Wrong - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To Buffalo Springfield' By Clicking here!

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 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)

A Now Complete List Of Buffalo Springfield Articles Available To Read At Alan’s Album Archives:

Dewey Martin Obituary and Tribute:

Non-Album Songs
Surviving TV Appearances 1967-2010
Solo/Live/Compilation albums (Including Poco!)

Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Songs