Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Live 1974
In his hilarious new book, ‘Rock Stars Stole My Life’, Mark Ellen recounts how every outdoor festival in the early 1970s seemed to have been accompanied by the al fresco birth of at least one child. Listening to this document of CSNY’s 1974 tour, we now know why. The average concert went on for so long that a pregnant woman could have turned up in her second trimester, given birth in a specially-made hydroponic pool, and checked the child into kindergarten before the last strains of ‘Ohio’ had cleared the air. Here, the set, compiled from various stadium gigs, comprises no fewer than 40 songs, the average length of which is about six times that of a standard outing by The Ramones. Suffice to say, this is an album that should not be attempted at one sitting. Happily, though, there are plenty of tasty morsels. Most are provided by Neil Young, who was pretty much at the peak of his career at this point, writing sad songs for fun you might say. So, whereas long-time fans who regularly trawl the internet will already be familiar with multiple versions of ‘Pushed It Over The End’, unless you have the 1974 Italy-only B-side release you’ll probably be unfamiliar with this truly gut-wrenching song. ‘Love Art Blues’ was reprised on his 2007-2008 tour, but remains unreleased in the standard catalogue. ‘Traces’? Oh yes, another officially unreleased classic, which hasn’t been sung live again since this tour. Generally, the best songs here are the less familiar ones. This is definitely not the place to go for the definitive version of ‘Wooden Ships’, or ‘Love The One You’re With’, though there’s a really nice, funky rendition of ‘Almost Cut My Hair’. Reputedly, this was a tour that was undertaken solely for the money. If so, you’d think that they’d have played a one-hour set in a half-hearted fashion. Not at all. Money may have been a motivation, but you can’t fault C, S, N, or Y for trying to deliver something special. So giant was their 1974 tour that it’s part of rock and roll history. This is the definitive document of that tour. And it’s great. So settle down and get that birthing pool ready.