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Article 25

Rock On

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - 4 way street

(Published in Times of India, Pune on 8th December, 2001)


R ecently, a chance meeting with a former Savage Encounter band mate brought about the issue of the revival of our old seventies band once again. The last edition of Savage Encounter ended in the late eighties with Leslie Lewis on guitar and by then there was nobody except me from the seventies set up left. It was ages since we had made music together and therefore, a reunion with Darryl Mendonsa, Barry Murray, Ralph Paes, Frederick Michael etc. was a welcome thought. The Encounter was always a tight band that played music that was both commercially and critically applauded. The harmonies from the singers in the band were one of its strongest qualities and I immediately starting thinking about the songs that we used to do at that time. The name of the group that is the subject of today's article came up repeatedly and after ages I started listening once again to the music of this seventies folk rock group. The genius of this group of musicians hit me like a ton of bricks and after ages, I was hooked all over again!

David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash & Neil Young all came from famous bands of the sixties. Crosby was in the path breaking Folk Rock American group "the Byrds". Stills and Young from "Buffalo Springfield", while Nash was in the English band "The Hollies". Each of them were very successful in their respective bands and yet an evening in 1968 at Joni Mitchell's house in Laurel Canyon, Southern California changed all that! That day, after a Hollies concert, Crosby, Stills & Nash met to do some singing and they sounded so good that a new group was formed that very evening. Within a few months they had already started writing songs for the new outfit and plans to record this collaboration were on their way. This musical partnership (later with Neil Young) was to become one of the most successful acts of the late 60's, 70's, and early 80's.CSN's debut album was released in 1969 and the group was an instant hit. They could truly represent the political and cultural upheavals of the time and became the spokesmen for the Woodstock Generation. No wonder their song "Long time gone" was played during the opening montage of "Woodstock", the film that documented that defining moment in the history of Rock.

The instant success of the first album had already put the pressure of performing live on this studio-based collaboration. But there was a hitch! They was an all round feeling that their sound lacked the harder edge required to create exciting live shows that move the youth of this world. Neil Young, a former member of Buffalo Springfield, who also maintained a solo career and was a close friend, had that precise quality and it was not long before he was invited to join this super group. The sound was now complete and the band was ready to hit the road. Their very first tour included the Woodstock festival and the first CSN&Y album "Deja-vu" followed. I still remember feeling the leathery jacket of this outstanding album that started off with the incredible "Carry On". Even today, when I hear the song, I get those goose bumps just like in those days when I first heard those fabulous harmonies bursting from my stereo system way back in the seventies! This album had a bigger 'electric' feel and took ages to make. Obviously the pressures of meeting the high expectations created by the first album along with the addition of another superstar to an already super group was acting on the minds of the musicians! Well they sure impressed me and there was a time when I heard this album over and over again for months.

Super groups have this uncanny knack of breaking up just when it seems like it's too good to be true. Four super egos would surely be difficult to manage and the group split acrimoniously after a summer tour. This was a big blow to their fans like me who had to be satisfied with their live double album '4 Way Street' issued after the breakup. This was another major hit and the live electric guitar duels between the two masters, Stills and Young, were well documented on the 'electric' portion of the project. Later, the CD of this album was lengthened with more live material and released in 1992.

The band reformed many times later, with or without Young, and numerous albums and tours followed. They also embarked on a 25th anniversary tour in the summer of 1994 and released a new album, 'After The Storm.' The millennium saw them release "Looking Forward", the first new Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young release since 1988's "American Dream" and only the fourth album of the quartet's career, together with "Déjà vu" (1970) and the live "4-Way Street" (1971). The release of the aptly named "Looking Forward" was supported by major concerts in 2000, reuniting the foursome on tour for the first time since 1974. For me, it has always been a source of great amazement to watch this super group produce music of such impeccable quality and intensity year after year. Now I can only hope that I too can possess that incredible energy when I reach their age!

Rock on!

Nandu Bhende

http://nandu_bhende.tripod.com


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