Tuesday, April 20, 2010

4 Way Street (as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

At a gargantuan hour and fifty minutes, this expanded re-release of a 1971 CSNY live album might be too much of a good thing. I tend to be a fan of listening to good albums straight through, but 4 Way Street is overlong and a little shapeless, and thus a bit of a chore to sit through, despite a preponderance of good songs.

The real treat here is that this album came after all four members had released successful solo albums. So they each sprinkle in some of their solo material, and all for the better. Not only do they play some songs together, but they do some solo performances as well. This is especially good news for Neil fans, as it means we get a few choice solo acoustic performances. The version of "Cowgirl in the Sand" on this one makes a strong case that it should have been an acoustic song to begin with. Neil also does a medley of "The Loner," "Cinnamon Girl," and "Down By the River" that transitions awkwardly but shines during the individual songs.

Still, it's all a little overstuffed and maybe a little self-congratulatory. And I appreciate that they threw a few rocks songs on here so it's not all mellow, but "Southern Man" and "Carry On" aren't exactly songs that beg to be stretched out into 14 minute jam sessions, no matter how good some of the jamming is.

Rating : B- , more enjoyable for the individual parts than for the whole.

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