George Starostin's Reviews



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<> (08.05.2003)

Let me take one last cut at this, after earlier commenting album by album.

The Springfield is at least a strong 3 and approaching a four. Their strong cards were three good yet distinctly different singers, good songwriting, good playing. Steve and Neil in particular are very distinctive singers, while Richie, while more conventional, had a good tenor voice well-suited for the country-folk stuff. Very listenable. Also a very diverse body of work, with Steve's Latin stuff and Neil's experimental psychedelia in the mix. They could do straight country ("Kind Woman") but their real base was folk-rock.

Oh yes, according to AMG bios they're three-fifths Canadian. (Neil, Bruce and Dewey.)

If they'd stayed together a bit longer with Neil more committed to the band they'd certainly have been in "4" territory, but I guess that was their downfall. As it was they were really together less than a year, considering Neil's absences. (I note Bruce was still with them at Monterrey, but they had to bring in David Crosby in place of Neil.)

Neil was supposedly the flashier of the two on electric guitar, but Steve had a real gift for playing acoustic leads. A lot of the electric leads Neil's played over the years employ riffs first heard on songs like "Mr Soul," "Leave" and the extended jam on "Bluebird" I mentioned. Some good bass players passed through while they were looking to replace Bruce, notably Jim Fielder of BS&T fame.

Ahmet Ertegun, the legendary President of Atlantic Records, was a big fan of theirs, and played a part in getting Neil to join up with CSN later. I'll quote from his liner notes to Retrospective, the compilation album that came out in 1969: "Of all the groups to have emerged in America in the middle sixties, Buffalo Springfield will be remembered as one of the most creative and exciting......More will be heard from all of them."


<> (11.09.2002)

Congratulations on finally laying your hands on a Buffalo Springfield album I think your rating of 10 is a tad low, though you may be saving room for higher ratings of Buffalo Springfield Again (12? 13?) and Last Time Around (one less than Again).

For what it's really worth, the best song on the album is "Sit Down I Think I Love You" with an out-of-left-field harmony adding a lot of color to Steve's main melody. But what's really fun is the tapestry of guitars running through the song and especially the middle break, where a fuzzed low lead (Neil?) fades into one guitar playing an appegiated form of the melody, another taking a high lead line off that, plus that reverbed guitar doing harp-like chords (Richie?) and one other doing staccato rhythm chops. (Everything else Steve, I suppose.) This tune was covered by the Mojo Men in 1967, a group which earlier was either managed, produced or led by Sly Stone, I forget which. The Mojo Men's version (ornately produced by Van Dyke Parks) just made the top 40 and is still one of my favorites, too.

"For What It's Worth" is certainly another great tune, and probably the one Springfield tune you might still hear on oldies radio. But it's not that far ahead of others like "Clancy" or "Go Ahead and Say Goodbye."

Although the Springfield were called the American Beatles, Neil and Bruce were Canadians, and maybe so was drummer Dewey (liner notes say "Ottawa" but what was the question?) And the final 'FWIW', Again and Last Time were better than anything the group Crosby, Stills, Nash and occasionally Young did (well the first CSN album's about equal maybe.) And this one's better than most of the CSN stuff.


<> (11.09.2002)

The big difference with the first album is Neil Young stepping up to equal Stills as a songwriting contributor. (Steve has more tunes but Neil's are consistently better.) "Mr. Soul" has the archetypical Neil Young electric guitar solo, I think he's been using some of those riffs throughout the rest of his career. "Expecting To Fly" and "Broken Arrow" are big Sgt. Pepper styled productions; I like the production and arranging (Jack Nitzsche) a lot on "Expecting To Fly."

"Rock and Roll Woman" and "Bluebird" are Steve's two highlights. He was great at playing lead lines on an accoustic guitar, which both songs demonstrate. I read an interview with Richie Furay where Richie said they expected "Bluebird" to be their second top 40 hit and they couldn't believe it when it stiffed. My speculation is radio program directors didn't want to play a song that stops cold right in the middle (before the banjo section starts.) In the mid 70's Atco Records put out a double "best of" album with an extended version of "Bluebird" where the band goes into a freakout electric jam instead of the banjo stuff, during which Steve briefly goes into "Leave" from the first album. Ragged, but better in my opinion.

No question the worst thing on the album is "Good Time Boy" proving Dewey Martin is no Ringo when it comes to vocals. And he certainly isn't Otis Redding! Neil used to occasionally miss gigs, even before he permanently walked out on the band, and they'd have Dewey sing his parts when that happened! Maybe that's what's going on at the beginning of "Broken Arrow." I suggested 12 or 13, I'll compromise at 12, knocking off a point for GTB.

By the way, there is a Beatles acknowledgement in that list, the "Nurk Twins" were a pseudonym John and Paul used when they did gigs together in the very early 60s, and of course we all know George.


<> (28.04.2003)

You are correct to note the big difference here is Neil's dropping out of the band. Actually I like "On The Way Home" better than "I Am A Child" though both are good songs. I think handing the vocal to Richie on the former was the difference.

That leaves a dominant performance by Stills, stronger than any of the CSN albums with the possible exception of the first. "Pretty Girl Why" is also a Latin-styled tune, kind of a rock-bossa thing. "Special Care" is a raving thing with a buzzy guitar getting out of hand (I like that) and we all know "Questions" having in many cases heard it first on Deja Vu.

Richie delivers one of his best Springfield songs with "Kind Woman" which kind of set the direction for his subsequent group Poco - Rusty Young is on pedal steel, I hear. But "In The Hour Of Not Quite Rain" is a horrible bore, absolutely the worst song on the album and probably the worst Springfield tune altogether.

All in all I think the Springfield deserved at least a 3 group rating. I'd give this one a 9/12, Again a 10/13.

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