Friday, August 21, 2009

CD Review: Crosby, Stills & Nash - Demos

As Crosby, Stills & Nash celebrate their 40th anniversary, Rhino Records gives us Demos, an archive of tapes recorded by the trio in preparation for joint and solo efforts from 1969 through the early 1970s. Most of the tracks present Crosby, Stills, or Nash performing alone on acoustic guitar, and the bare bones arrangements are in stark contrast to the way we’re used to hearing this music. But the strong melodies and those famous voices come through loud and clear, particularly when Stephen Stills blasts his way through “Love The One You’re With.” Graham Nash performs his politically charged “Chicago” on piano, and David Crosby weaves his way through the paranormal imagery of “Deja Vu” on acoustic guitar.


Demos also includes various combinations of these musicians, like on a spirited version of “Marrakesh Express” that has Nash singing lead and playing acoustic guitar, Crosby adding the harmony, and Stills playing bass. “Long Time Gone” features a bluesy vocal style from Crosby while some terse bass and drum playing by Stills emphasize the song’s counter culture message. The utopian “Music Is Love” is the only track that includes Neil Young, as he sings and strums guitar along with Crosby and Nash. Demos provides a fascinating behind the scenes look at how one of rock’s most influential groups created some of its best material.

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