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Thursday, June 19, 2014

CSNY 74 - "Pre-Road Downs" Brings Pre-Release Downs

Rolling Stone - August 15th, 1974

As with all of the big bands, fans often have their favorites.

With The Beatles, you had some who centered on Paul and others on John.

With The Rolling Stones, you had some who centered on Mick and others on Keith.

With The Who, you had some who centered on Roger and others on Pete.

And so on.

And with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young , you had some who centered on "CSN" and others on "Y".

As with all things, to each her own.

Can't really say we ever really understood those CSNY fans who heavily favored a particular member -- say Neil for example -- yet were contemptuous of other members.

As we commented yesterday on Preview Track: CSNY 74 - "Pre-Road Downs" (Live in 1974):

"They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other"

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
1974-08-23, Stadium, Tampa, Florida

Photo Gallery by John Gellman Photography

Or consider this...

Here's a listing of Neil Young songs that were played on the ' 74 tour but are not represented on the upcoming boxed set:

Human Highway
A Man Needs a Maid
Ambulance Blues
On the Way Home
The Needle and the Damage Done
Out on the Weekend
Down by the River
The Losing End
Old Homestead
Roll Another Number
Heart of Gold
Walk On
Star of Bethlehem
(Thanks anon!)

Maybe someday these songs will see their own release?

Back in 2010, we reported that a box set of CSNY's 1974 tour was in the works.

The news set off quite a reaction with numerous comments on memories from CSNY's 1974 tour. In many ways, the tour marked the end of an era as well as the beginning of a new era. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 1974 summer tour was unprecedented in many ways -- not the least of which was a pioneering mega huge sound system able to blast tens of thousands at outdoor stadiums. The Bill Graham produced spectacle went on to usher in the massive rock and roll extravaganzas that so many other acts would later follow.

The latest update is from
[Graham Nash] hopes to put the finishing touches on a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young live album from the quartet's legendary 1974 tour for a hoped-for spring 2011 release. Nash and archivist Joel Bernstein are putting the set together from multi-track recordings of nine concerts, and listening to them has shown Nash that 'we were really a fine band. It's very obvious when you play the tracks that we're listening to each other, not stepping on each other's toes, not overblowing. It's really, really good.'

Nash adds that Neil Young, himself an exacting archivist, has 'give me basically carte blanche' to put the set together. 'He knows me. He trusts me. He feels I can do this. He will be very involved, of course, because I'm not mixing anything finally until Neil's heard it and approves -- the same with David [Crosby] and Stephen.'

After the '74 show is done, Nash plans on to move to a 1970 CSNY show from the Fillmore East in New York city, as well as Crosby Nash shows from 1970 and 1993. He's also waiting for final permissions from some famous musical friends for a Crosby Nash collaborative album to benefit the Children's Defense Fund, which he hopes will come out in 2011 as well.

(Merci Jacques-Eric !)

Previously, David Crosby had this to say on the box set in The Columbian by Alan Sculley:

“This CSNY thing is going to eclipse almost everything else,” David Crosby said. “I think it’s going to be just pretty much beyond belief. What I’ve heard, I was just stunned.”

“When you really hear them now, it’s just astounding,” he said. “The stuff that they’ve played me, I can’t even believe how … good it is.”

Stephen Stills and Neil Young
CSNY Concert: 1974-08-23, Stadium, Tampa, Florida

Photo Gallery by John Gellman Photography

Some memories from 1974....

From JoeRay Skrha:
Hi Gang,

I saw CSNY in Buffalo 8-11-1974 and Cleveland 8-31-1974... Both days were in the top 10 of concerts I ever attended. Buffalo was at the newly opened Rich Stadium, sunny warm day, great sound and Jesse Colin Young, Santana and CSNY. Cleveland was at Municipal Stadium, 88,000 people, great sound, Jesse Colin Young, The Band, Santana and CSNY. Bill Graham who ran the tour was at he very best. Rock and Roll was young, raw and alive.

This was the tour I wish I could experience again. It took a rap for being the Doom Tour... I disagree... Perhaps some musicians over did it but for those of us in attendance (always sat 20 feet back on Neils side), I was simply blown away. Neil recorded each concert in 8-16 or 24 track. Perhaps the archives BD-Live will allow more than one concert to be released. Even most of the audience recordings from this tour sounded good without much echo or distortion.

The sound was clear and alive.

Joe Ray Skrha

My first time seeing Neil live (at the tender age of 19) was CSNY Reunion Tour 1974 @ Atlantic City Race Track (August 9)...standing for hours in the RAIN (rain, rain, rain, and still more rain), standing because there was nowhere to sit (all mud)! It was still all worth it to see Neil and the rest of the guys!

I loved seeing David Crosby walking out on stage holding up the newspaper with the headline in HUGE letters, 'Nixon Resigns'; this was met with a thunderous roar from the audience. This whole show was a glorious celebration!

The only songs I'm sure about (36 years later) being played were 'Don't Be Denied' and 'Pushed It Over the End,' which I LOVED! I have never seen a set list for this concert.

Is there anybody out there that can supply more information?

Even the possibility of a box set being released for this 1974 tour thrills my heart!!!!!!!

I sure hope this is true!!!!

Marian M.
More on the reunion tour of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1974.

More commentary on CSNY's 1974 Tour Box Set here and here.

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At 6/19/2014 01:09:00 PM, Blogger Jason Shoff said...

Would it be nice to have a few more Neil songs on this set, like the unreleased Homefires and Human Highway (even though, let's be real, the definitive version is the outtake on the Chrome Dreams boot)? Sure. But honestly, this is one incredibly generous box set, a whopping 40 tracks from the 8 shows that were recorded on multi-track during the tour. And at 14 songs, Neil has almost twice as many songs as Crosby, Stills and Nash represented in this set. Also, looking at the list of Neil songs not represented, "Walk On" and "The Losing End" doesn't stray too much from their album arrangements; we already have scorching live versions of "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Down By the River" available on other albums; and the rest of the songs, like "Star of Bethlehem," "A Man Needs a Maid," and "Ambulance Blues," are solo acoustic songs that don't trump their studio counterparts. In all honesty, I think overall Graham did a pretty excellent job of selecting which Neil songs should be included in this box. It's a good mix of war horses, 5 (count 'em, 5) unreleased tunes, and songs that really benefited from the harmonies and arrangements that CSN provided (especially Mellow My Mind, On the Beach and Revolution Blues).

At 6/19/2014 02:16:00 PM, Blogger Raincheck said...

Good points Jason. And we also don't know if Neil vetoed some, or If some are held back for the elusive Archives II, (especially the solo ones) or if a lot of them are just not captured on SBD.

Here I am getting 40 tracks and greedily wanting more. But of course I always want more.

At 6/19/2014 03:33:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

"Some of the vocals were out of tune, so I had to tune them. I did everything I could to make it sound as acceptable as possible. If I found one line that was flatly out of tune, I'd go to a different night, find the line in tune and put it there. We did a lot of work to make it feel like it was completely spontaneous..."
- Nash on the box set

To me this is very dissapointing. They cherry picked the very best bits of the tour, and they still had to use auto tune to make it listenable? Why even bother?!

If Neil released a Tonight's The Night box set and edited out all the out-of-tune bits, fans would go berserk! In fact, Neil would go berserk!

Neil's silence on this release, by the way, speaks volumes (silence, that is, except for the recent superb performances of Thrasher, which in a way provide their own apt commentary).

At 6/19/2014 07:41:00 PM, Blogger Jason Shoff said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6/19/2014 07:53:00 PM, Blogger Jason Shoff said...

Also, let's not kid ourselves: a good majority of live albums (especially ones released during the '70s) are usually edited and/or overdubbed in some form or another after the fact.

At 6/19/2014 08:37:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

"Even when tuned the vocals still sound pretty raw".

Yeah, exactly. Think how bad they sounded before they were tuned!

At 6/19/2014 08:47:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

I don't like this for two reasons:

1) It's delusional. Graham is rewriting history to make CSN sound a lot better than they actually were. Joel Bernstein has been diplomatic about it recently, as a friend of Grahams, but you can bet his original opinion that most of the recorded shows were "just trash musically" still stands. Of course, it doesn't sound like trash now, because it's been fixed. Which leads on to.....

2) as David Briggs says so vividly in Shakey, being able to fix performances after the event has f*cked up music making beyond repair. Why make a live album if you have to go back and mess about with it for it to even sound any good?

At 6/19/2014 10:14:00 PM, Blogger Jason Shoff said...

Well as someone who's listened to a lot of boots from this tour, it doesn't sound a Hell of a lot different from those, which is what I meant by this release still sounding "raw" and not like an overly polished product. But then again, I'm one of those people who thinks these shows weren't as bad as the band says they were.

At 6/19/2014 10:17:00 PM, Blogger Jason Shoff said...

It's also ironic that, when a Neil vocal is raw (like "Mellow My Mind," for example), people say it's emotion and passion; yet when one says the same about a CSN vocal, people label it as being horrible and out if tune.

At 6/20/2014 05:59:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Yeah, I relate to that. But the difference is that Mellow My Mind hasn't been tuned. It is what it is, for better or worse. If people want to think it's horrible then that's understandable!

But If Graham didn't want the vocals on this set to be seen as horrible and out-of-tune then perhaps the answer would be to have sung in-tune in the first place, rather than trying to fix it 40 years later.

The problem is that CSNY really didn't make that much music together, and so Graham has had to manipulate what they have got to make themselves sound better than they were. It's a dishonest legacy.

At 6/20/2014 08:58:00 AM, Blogger nick said...

In a 1991 Rockline interview Neil revealed that some of the background vocals on Weld were redone in the studio afterwards. I recall him saying something like "we want to put out a good product for the people" or something like that, which I always thought was very uncharacteristic of him (or so I thought). Makes me wonder which other of his albums have been tinkered with.


At 6/20/2014 09:58:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Yep, there are some chorus vocal overdubs on Weld, to fill out the sound. It's obvious when it happens: it suddenly sounds like there are about 3 extra people singing. 2 verse lines of Hurricane were also overdubbed. A couple of other songs have been trimmed down to a shorter length.

The thing with Weld though is that it was just another Neil Young album - it wasn't an archive release. It was just an album that happened to be recorded live. There's no reason you can't use tasteful overdubs as an artistic choice (although some prefer the Briggs mixes, which haven't been overdubbed).

CSNY 74, then, is a completely different thing. This release is being marketed as a live album documenting how great they were back then. It's essentially an archive release, meant to document the greatness of the performances 40 years ago. If it was really that great, how come tuning and editing has been necessary? He's trying to rewrite history.

As for other Neil albums, I believe since Weld his live records have been overdub free. Very occasionally sections are edited out. For example, Scattered on Year Of The Horse has been shortened, with one verse edited out).

At 6/20/2014 10:42:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@flyingscotzn: Is it possible that you're looking at this from the wrong perspective?

Or that maybe you're forming an opinion prematurely without even having heard the album?

Just sayin...

At 6/20/2014 11:07:00 AM, Blogger nick said...

I appreciate that at least Neil and Nash are honest about it. I'm sure musicians do things like this all the time, with no one the wiser.


At 6/20/2014 11:26:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Thrasher - it's possible! Remember though that you too have been very critical of auto tune in the past (and rightly so), as has Neil and his crew. I do think it's something that should be spoken up against. As for the music itself, I'm looking forward to hearing On The Beach in particular.

But given the choice between hearing the tour as it was (rough, but with some real gems) or polished and "fixed", personally I'd rather hear the rough/real version. Others may disagree, which is fine of course.

I agree with Nick that at least they are honest about it, good point. Though I seriously doubt that Neil was particularly happy about it.

Lastly, I genuinely can't wait till Hyde Park next month. Some untuned Crazy Horse is more to my personal taste! :-)

At 6/20/2014 10:26:00 PM, Blogger Philip Dennis said...

I'm glad Nash cleaned it up a little.I love the CSN vocal blend.If they had to cheat a little so what.Everyone has
Done it.Neil has done it.Why don't some of you wait and get it first before you criticize.I was at one of these concerts and it was an event.

At 6/21/2014 07:32:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

I guess the real issue is, where do you stop? Start recording music completely out of tune, putting in no effort, and then fix it later? I guess it's not a real problem for older artists who are nearing the end of their careers, putting out nostalgia releases. But it's not something I want to see younger artists accepting as standard. It can only be harmful, and I guarantee you that Neil would agree with me. David Briggs certainly would.

"Everyone has done it". That's clearly not true. And as far as I know Neil has never used artifical tuning, mainly because his singing doesn't need it.

At 6/21/2014 09:20:00 AM, Blogger Raincheck said...

I guess it's a question of how much. Going back to Beatles at Shea film bands have "fixed" things from live shows. Guys have redone vocals, supposedly Rick Danko overdubbed all his bass parts in The Last Waltz. Fixing a few out of tune lines to make for a more enjoyable album is totally in line with the tradition of live albums, especially 70s live albums And they are just selling an album.

If it is more than that, it gets a little questionable. If the auto tuning is pervasive. But we've heard a lot of these shows. They were not off key messes. This sounds more like a little touch up. Fine by me.


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