Crosby, Stills & Nash

Demos

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As part of their ongoing reissue of the Crosby, Stills & Nash catalog, Rhino put out Demos, a collection of early home recordings of staples from the CSN catalog, demos recorded both alone and together between the years of 1968 and 1971. Unlike some similar collections, not much here is especially revelatory; apart from "Love the One You're With," here almost droning at the beginning, there are no great differences in lyrics or approach, with such solo recordings as "Almost Cut My Hair" pointing clearly to their latter full-blown incarnations. Apart from "Long Time Gone," recorded by Crosby and Stills before Nash joined the group and bearing a full electric arrangement, everything here is simple and spare, recorded with just acoustic guitars and pianos, often lacking harmonies. All this makes the songs themselves the focal point -- and it makes the handful of tracks with some combination of the group stand out, particularly "Music Is Love" with Crosby, Nash, and Neil Young -- and it's easy to appreciate their construction when they're heard stripped down to their bare bones as they are here. Ultimately, what Demos winds up doing is offering a newfound appreciation for what Crosby, Stills & Nash bring to each other, for as good as these demos are -- and there's not a bad cut here -- none of it sounds as complete as when the three harmonize together.

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