I'll readily admit to being a Neil Young fan boy, and I'm crazy excited for his reunion with Crazy Horse and the band's upcoming album of "old-timey Americana standards" despite the fact that I know full well I'll probably listen to it a few times and toss it in the same pile as Fork in the Road. (Creative ass title? Americana.)
That said, I spent much of my early record collecting years shunning Crosby, Stills, and Nash records that didn't have "Young" slapped on at the end, wrongly believing that without Young's peculiar rage the rest of the dudes were just sappy, AM-radio soft rockers.
Somewhere along the line I realized I was wrong -- or that I really love sappy AM-radio soft rock. Either way, not only have Crosby, Stills, and Nash made great records together, each has at least one stone cold classic to their name respectively. The trio is bringing their "groovy western-sky music" (as described by Jimi Hendrix) and gossamer harmonies to Phoenix Symphony Hall on Tuesday, September 4, 2012, and while the show will lack Young's surprise factor, it'll feature classics like "Our House," "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," and "Almost Cut My Hair."
Read on for ticket info, and our picks or essential Crosby, Stills, and Nash solo LPs.
David Crosby, If I Could Only Remember My Name (Atlantic, 1971)
Featuring Stills, Nash, Young, and a virtual who's who of cosmic American rock at the time (including members of The Grateful Dead, Grace Slick, Greg Rolie of Santana and later Journey), If I Could Only Remember My Name was Crosby's first and best solo album, a drug-addled masterpiece of paranoid delusion and classic folk-pop sounds. Okay Player writes of the record, "What Pet Sounds did for Brian Wilson, If I Could Only Remember My Name.... has done for Crosby" and Fleet Foxes songwriter Robin Pecknold is a vocal admirer of the album Could his solo record assemble a similar constellation of current indie-folk harmonizers?
Manassas (Atlantic, 1972)
Technically, Manassas is band Stills formed with former Byrd Chris Hillman, but it's Stills' name that appears prominently at the top of the record sleeve, and his compositions like "Jet Set (Sigh)" and "Jesus Gave His Love Away For Free" are so funky and sprawling across the 4-sides of the LP, encompassing folk, blues, bluegrass, funk, and R&B, that you can almost forgive him for writing one of the most annoying and infuriating songs of all time, "Love the One You're With."
Graham Nash, Songs for Beginners (Atlantic, 1971)
My favorite of all the albums mentioned, Songs for Beginners opens with one of the best one-two punches of the LP era, the anti-war "Military Madness" and the breakup anthem extraordinaire "Better Days." Nash's tender, melodic voice makes everything on the record a treat, and his influence has extended to scrappy modern bands like Woods, who do a great cover of "Military Madness" on their 2009 Woodist release Songs of Shame.
Crosby, Stills, and Nash are scheduled to perform Tuesday, September 4, at Symphony Hall. Tickets go on sale Monday, April 9 at Ticketmaster.