They were the biggest band in the world at the time, unfortunately they were not together. Promoters and AR cats convinced the members of CSNY that a new paradigm of concerts could be written on their back; 30 shows at BIG American arenas and stadiums as well as one gig at Wembley Stadium in London. The concert sometimes ran as long as four hours what with material from the group’s canon and their solo careers, all successful let me add.
Apparently acrimony and old grudges were never put away doing the tour and it was full of rockstar indulgences and crazy behavior from the first night. It came to be known as the Doom Tour, not fondly remembered by the band. It did not heal the group’s fissures but only widened them. But recently, after going back to the audio recordings, the band heard some amazing stuff and realized what this release proves: In 1974 CSNY was a muscular, moody, mercurial and mesmerizing ensemble capable of music magic.
Containing three CD’s with 40 songs picked from the tour and mixed by Graham Nash, with a DVD of concert footage mainly from a show at the now gone Capital Centre in Landover, MD, CSN 1974 is jam packed. It also comes with a beautifully designed 188 page booklet. (Note: I was in attendance at one of the Cap Centre shows and was amazed at how loud they were, it was not their albums, they were a savage rock band).
If you are a big CSNY fan I would purchase this box, if you are a hits only cat then the single CD with some Nash handpicked cuts will suffice. So far I’ve only seen it available on iTunes.
What you will hear are some great performances, here are some of the my personal highlights, you will have your own I’m sure.
Wooden Ships, a steroid dozed version big and beautiful
Helpless is a hard song to screw up, they don’t. They also add a pathos and longing to it.
Johnny’s Garden is a treat played by this group.
Black Queen is a Stills’s blues rock rave-up that channels Hendrix.
Disc 2 The Acoustic Set
The Lee Shore is just beautiful here. Throughout the sets everyone is in great voice.
Our House has never been sung better live by Graham, if so I’ve not heard it.
Blackbird, yep The Beatles tune done here in stunning four part harmony.
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes is a hard song on any stage, it’s an amazing version on such a big stage here.
Pre-Road Downs may be the best cut here, a rollicking version that at the time betrays the gloom and doom of the tour, you can hear the fun on stage.
Chicago and Ohio close out the discs, and they both work. It’s important to fully realize the times, here was the biggest act on the planet putting their political foot down hard on the throats of American politics. Risks and consequences be damed. How many of the big names today would dare do that?
CSNY 1974 is a moment captured, a moment when four of the best and most successful musical artists of their or any generation go on the road and changed the game with voices high.