Vinyl Frontier: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, So Far

This one sounds fresh and dated in the same harmonious breath. Its arrival in August 1974 was dismissed by Graham Nash as “absurd” as by that stage the band had released precisely two albums.

Absurd perhaps, but profitable; So Far went gold straight away. Later CD compilations have removed the need for this ‘best of’, but here it is anyway, complete with scratches, country harmonies and the occasional wash of enjoyable hippie nonsense/nostalgia.

Crosby, Still and Nash had an on-off relationship with Neil Young, who only appears on four on the chosen tracks. To these ears, his contributions are the strongest, notably Ohio and Helpless, for at his best Young has the darker edge.

Other highlights in this dusty collection include two Nash numbers: Teach Your Children and Our House. Also holding up the standard is the long closing track Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, the melding together of four short songs by Stephen Stills in honour of his relationship with folk singer Judy Collins; the song ends with a life-lifting Latin climax, of all the unlikely but loveable things.

Jazzy, dreamy opener Déjà Vu and the Joni Mitchell song Woodstock add to the memories through a haze of joss-sticks and other questionable burning substances.

Ironically, Mitchell hadn’t been to Woodstock at all, but wrote the song after hearing tall festival tales from then boyfriend Nash.

Crosby, Stills and Nash brought together former members of Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds and The Hollies, and were sometimes dubbed the “American Beatles” (not sure that stands up).

Adding Neil Young to the line-up gave heft and muscle to the band’s dynamic, and of the four, he’s still the one to listen to.

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