BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD REVIEWS:
Buffalo Springfield (1966)
Album Score: 10
It's important to mention that my copy of this album is actually the 1967 reissue of it. Though Buffalo Springfield released this in 1966, they came out with a hit called "For What It's Worth," and so this album was reissued in 1967 with that track included, and a song called "Baby Don't Scold Me" was dropped.
Now I'm going to mention that I could care less about this group. I like their music very much, but this stuff honestly doesn't move me. Fortunately, I don't believe you have to fan-worship an album in order to properly review it. This isn't going to be a universally positive review. In fact, unless the Wikipedia editors are lying, the band members themselves weren't unequivocally happy with this release. So I guess the inevitable Buffalo Springfield fan who will write me spirited flame letters disagree with their own heroes!!!
Whether or not it was on the original pressing, "For What It's Worth" is the best song of the album without competition. Stephen Stills might not have actually wrote it for Vietnam War protesters, but that's who ended up with it. Well, the track was aimed toward that crowd anyway, and they liked it enough to apply it to that "greater cause." OK, there's the history lesson for you.
I'm going to anger a few people when I say that Stephen Stills was the stronger songwriter of this group at this moment. Every one of these tracks were original compositions (possibly a bad idea, but full of merit), Stills definitely wrote most of the songs including "For What It's Worth," for what that's worth. And he also wrote the poppy and fun "Sit Down I Think I Love You." Of course, Neil Young fans know what they're talking about when they say that Young's compositions exhibit a certain charm --- the source of which cannot be attributed to anything other than being from Neil Young's mind. I understand why there are rabid Neil Young fans, and I sympathize. That's the same reason I'm a David Bowie fan. Now please leave me alone!
And I really enjoy his composition "Flying on the Ground is Wrong" anyway. That's the nicest of his melodies on the album, but you're going to be stretching your mind to think that it's wholly original. The most interesting song of the album, however, is a Young composition. Yes, I'm talking about "Nowadays Clancy Can't Sing." I can't think of too many songs that switch time signatures from the verses to the chorus... Albeit it comes off as rocky and even misguided. He'll get better for sure.
This is a sloppy and rather uneven album in the folk-rock vein, and there's some country flavoring sprinkled throughout. It's certainly worthwhile to note that this was one of the first bands to work on combining country music with rock 'n' roll. But then there's the argument that they didn't achieve this with any particular point in mind... I'll let the rock historians sort that out. What I care about is that Buffalo Springfield's debut album is a semi-inspired album with its fair share of memorable songs. It's worth warning the fan-worshipers to not go too far, because then you'd have to argue that The Byrds and The Mamas and the Papas weren't much better at this. Honestly, I don't think you're up to that challenge.
Read the track reviews:
Album Score: 11
Neil Young seemed to be trying his hardest to remain an independent force all throughout this. He was going all Brian Wilson on the group and hiring outside songwriters and musicians to play two of his songs --- both "Expecting to Fly" and "Broken Arrow." So, whatever dude!! Why don't you just start a solo career if you're going to do that!!!! Despite all that, it's now pretty clear that Neil Young is a best composer of the group. Not that Stephen Stills had gotten worse, but Young had gotten much better.
His Rolling Stones rip-off "Mr. Soul" begins the festivities, and that the boldest song of the whole album BY FAR. He manages to even top that though with the thoroughly gorgeous "Expecting to Fly," which incorporates some classical music violins. They even let Young conclude the album with the six-minute "Broken Arrow." Now, I have very mixed feelings about that song. On the one hand, Young attempts to make a sort of sound collage there, which is the most ambitious undertaking of the whole album. He incorporates sections of audience sound effects, a psychedelically tinged organ and he uses the main ballad "Broken Arrow" (a nice song by itself) as the sort of glue. But this song is as clunky as it can be, and all it does is suggest that Neil Young's ambition didn't match his ability --- at least in 1967.
Stephen Stills doesn't seem to contribute anything too notable or at least anything that threatens to outshine the Young compositions. His psychedelic "Hung Upside Down" is probably his most memorable contribution, but even that's somewhat bland. That guy should get some melody-writing skills!!
Richie Furay tries songwriting for the first time on this album, and he's a mess. I kind of like his song "Child's Claim to Fame," but that even makes Stephen Stills seem like Mr. Excitement. His other two contributions, the hopelessly bland ballad "Sand Memory" and the generic toss-off "Good Time Boy" easily constitute the worst of the album. Maybe he'll get better --- when Buffalo Springfield was through, he went and formed Poco, and maybe that band's great. At this point, I have no idea, 'cos I haven't heard them.
Alright, here's another critically hailed rock album that I don't care about. At the same time, I still think the album is pretty good and enjoyable overall. They don't seem to be much into album-rock (kind of a popular thing in 1967), but I guess that's kind of difficult when the band's already trying to split into three independent nations!
Read the track reviews:
Last Time Around (1968)
Album Score: 9
You’d think a classic band would sound, I dunno, more inspired! OK, I had already gotten the sense that the group was ready to split when listening to their sophomore release Again. Here, they almost seem like criminals biding the time before they’re unleashed onto the world to conduct their mayhem without restraints. Their instrumentation is brought to strictly utilitarian standards, and, compositionally, they’re willing to contribute just enough to make a good (well beneath their potential) album. There’s virtually nothing here that’s creative or exciting. They left it to Richard Furay and some guy I never heard of to bring in a full orchestra for “The Hour of Not Quite Rain,” which constitutes the most unique track of the album.
In short, they weren’t trying too hard. Granted, all of this manages to the album a relaxing, laid-back quality that undoubtedly gives pleasure to oldies who have long lost their life ambition. But that’s just a shame for everyone, isn’t it?
Despite all of that complaining, I think this is a fine album! Stephen Stills continues to compose songs of the same (rather mediocre) quality. Of course, his songwriting limitations count against him to a strong degree, but he’s very consistent and likable. Hilariously, his attempt to Latin-ize his sound in “Uno Mundo” resulted in what sounds an awful lot like a Stephen Stills song with Latin percussion layered on top. Neil Young, by far the strongest member (in terms of songwriting at least), had long past his creative peak with the group, but his “I Am a Child” catches fire in ways that Stills could only dream of!
OK, I spent enough words on this.
Read the track reviews:
Movie Reviews | Short Stories | Message Board | Contact Me