Get Your Neil On: Top Tracks From CSNY 1974
If you’re like me, you’ve been an obsessed Neil Young fan since you were a teenager. And you don’t understand why Neil can’t get that Archives 2 box set out already. We want some 70s Neil! The unreleased stuff!
Enter CSNY 1974, a 3 CD boxed set that captures the 1974 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reunion tour in all its glory. And most of that glory, frankly, is Neil. He brought a bunch of new, unreleased tunes to the table, plus he had just released (or was getting ready to release) On The Beach. The whole boxed set is great, but it’s the Neil stuff that really stands out for me, and that’s what I’m going to highlight here. Five great Neil tracks that will make your day.
On The Beach: A friend of mine thinks On The Beach is Neil’s greatest record. I won’t go that far, but it’s definitely in the top 5. Here, with the edge Stephen’s guitar work adds, this song is a much bigger experience than the version on the album.
Don’t Be Denied: This, in my opinion, is one of Neil’s greatest songs. It was only officially released on Time Fades Away, which hasn’t been released on CD yet (Neil, I’m begging you, please!). There’s some great solo work from Stephen Stills in this one. The guitar interplay between Stephen and Neil is one of the things that made CSNY a great live band.
Pushed It Over The End: I first heard this on an Italian bootleg – Love Art Blues – that I bought at a place called Boogie Records in Kalamazoo, MI. It fuckin’ blew my mind. How did this not get released on an official Neil record? It has several different parts to it, and gives the band room to stretch out. Truth be told, I like the version on Love Art Blues better. That one is from Roosevelt Stadium in New Jersey, on the same tour. But this one is still a moving rendition.
Hawaiian Sunrise: This is a bouncy little number that I can’t believe never made it onto an official recording until now. The harmonies are beautiful in this version. Neil gets a Hawaiian style guitar feel that gives it a relatively unique feel in the Neil cannon.
Helpless: You might think this an odd top track – it wasn’t a new or unreleased track – but it’s just an outstanding version. It’s the most rock n’ roll version of Helpless that I’ve come across. There’s a nice Stephen Stills solo about halfway thru, and it really rocks at the end. Great background vocals, which build up over the course of the song, and Neil nails the vocals. When Neil sings/shouts “The chains are locked and tied across the door!”, it’s really emotional.
These are five of my favorite Neil songs from CSNY 1974, but it is full of other great tracks, too. Crosby’s “Almost Cut My Hair” is one notable example. It’s totally worth picking up. My favorite live release in some time.