Buffalo Springfield Box Set Review

Released 2006.  

BBC Review

It's a skewed take on history

Chris Jones 2002

Why the fuss? One summer's day in 1966 Neil Young and his friend Bruce Palmer meet Stephen Stills and Richie Furay while waiting at the lights in Neil's old second-hand hearse in downtown LA. Voila! They decide to form a band. Taking their name (literally) from an old steamroller they become Buffalo Springfield. A mere twenty-five months later the band falls apart. Which is why most people today regard the Springfield as a kind of West Coast Yardbirds. A finishing school for two rock legends and mere precursor to the lofty works of a solo Neil Young or Crosby Stills and Nash. So why should a band, which only managed two proper albums and so quickly fell to bickering, deserve the luxurious four CD treatment? Well, mainly because this was when Stills,Young and Furay worked democratically to produce gorgeous psychedelic folk rock, without which, the entire LA music scene wouldn't have existed, and because their second album, Buffalo Springfield Again is a masterpiece.

Box Set collects all their released work in one place for the first time, in pristine remastered form. Marvel at the era-defining "For What It's Worth". Swoon at the surreal epic that is Young's "Broken Arrow". By unearthing a trove of demos and alternative takes this compilation reveals the developing songwriting skills of Young, Stills and Furay, highlights the overlooked talents of drummer Dewey Martin (what a voice!) and bassist Palmer, and offers a glimpse of how the songs themselves evolved.

Particular treats are a previously unreleased "Down To The Wire" with searing vocals by Stills and Young's early take of "The Old Laughing Lady". It's a skewed take on history - Young left three times and only spent half of their lifespan as a member, but try finding one photo in the accompanying booklet without him in the line-up! However, this is a minor glitch. Do yourself a favour and rediscover the sun-drenched sound of one of the bands of the sixties.

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