Friday, July 6, 2018


I like this format quite a bit. Disc one is a basic best-of, all the hits written by Nash for CSN, Crosby-Nash, and his solo albums, while disc two is all demos, most of them previously unreleased. Some of the demos are those favourite hit tracks, while others are lesser-known but really charming stripped down. It's two very different ways of going through Nash's career, both of them worthy.

You can argue who was the better writer in CSN until the cows come home, but certainly Nash was the best commercial writer. His melodies were always catchy and his lyrics easily digested. Those delightful ditties, such as Marrakesh Express, Our House and Teach Your Children, were the singalong favourites that cleared the way for Crosby's hippie trips and Stills' guitar workouts. And he pretty much saved the band by writing the hits Just A Song Before I Go and Wasted On The Way, which propped up middling efforts later in the group's career. When pushed, he could get angry too, and Chicago, Immigration Man and Military Madness gave him an another dimension rather than just being a softy. No question though, of his colleagues (not including Young), he has been most consistent and deserving of a hits collection. It also allows folks unfamiliar with his solo or duo efforts to hear fine songs such as I Used To Be King.

The demos collection is more exciting, since it's almost all new, and quite interesting. We hear him putting down solo versions of Marrakesh Express and Horses Through A Rainstorm back in London, the former famously rejected by The Hollies, a final straw for Nash as he quit the band and fled to L.A. Horses was supposed to be a CSN track, and was first heard on that group's '90's box set, fully recorded, but here we get the acoustic treatment. Marrakesh is obviously a quality number even in its raw state, but the CSN treatment was magic. Teach Your Children was pretty bare-boned as a demo, again one that came alive with the band. Nash moved to piano writing shortly after that, and his demos became more vibrant at that point, more melodic. Simple Man is gorgeous, and could have been released just like that. Wind On The Water, a little bit more advanced of a demo, with piano and guitar, is a clear blueprint for that solid Crosby/Nash cut. Just A Song Before I Go, with piano and harmonica and none of the layered harmonies, is more haunting. And Wasted On The Way is far less jaunty, which makes this easily the better version. This set could have been another ho-hum best-of, but instead is really a must-own for CSN and Nash fans.

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