On Second Thought: Crosby, Stills and Nash – CSN (1977)

Jaws dropped, knees quaked and eyes twinkled. That was the reaction, when it was announced David Crosby from the Byrds, Stephen Stills from Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash from the Hollies had formed a band together. Imagine all that talent under one roof, and as expected the guys delivered the goods above and beyond the call of duty.

Spring 1969 witnessed the release of the trio’s self-titled debut album, while a year later, Déjà Vu, which included the addition of another Buffalo Springfield colleague in Neil Young, arrived on the shelves. A live effort, 4 Way Street materialized in 1971, but by then the group was no more. 1974 saw Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young reunite and take to the road, and although plans for a new studio album fell through, a best-of package called So Far was issued instead.

Flip the calendar ahead to 1977, and we find Crosby, Stills and Nash staging a phenomenal return. Retaining the stately qualities responsible for initially driving them to greatness, their comeback album, CSN (Atlantic Records) proved to be an instant success.

A soft and gentle acoustic piece, “Just A Song Before I Go” seized the national Top 10, where tunes such as shimmering swirl of “Shadow Captain” and the Latin leaning rhythms of “Dark Star” serve as subsequent gems gracing the grooves.

Framed in elegant string arrangements, “Cathedral” methodically recounts an acid trip Graham Nash had at Winchester Cathedral. A meditative air permeates the atmosphere, then abruptly turns into a dramatic outpouring of emotions. Delicate but effective, the suite-styled song brims with a Shakespeare-like performance. The jazz-tinged “Anything At All,” the hard-edged bite of “Give You Give Blind” and the hypnotic repetition of “In My Dreams” also harness praiseworthy mention.

Alight with Crosby, Stills and Nash’s distinctive spine-tingling harmonies, rich melodic sensibilities, thoughtful arrangements and golden-grafted instrumentation, CSN staunchly indicated the threesome were still kingpins of the rocking folk pop set.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" hit No. 4 on the national charts, which is ironically, one of her favorite songs - especially the version by John Lennon. She has contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Her own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • http://bloggerhythms.blogspot.com Charlie

    This was the last “real” CSN album for a many, many years. It was the last time all of the vocals were handled by just the 3 of them and that’s why this album is so good. By the time of Daylight Again Crosby was so drug addled he was almost a member in name only & Art Garfunkel handled most of his harmony parts. CSN was never the same.

  • Shelley

    Thanks for putting the spotlight on this fine & underrated album, perhaps my favourite of theirs.