on July 14, 2003
The music on this disc rates five stars. The sound on Disc Four is breathtaking, and the demos are pure gold, especially for those interested in the evolution of a songwriter (Neil Young's "Down Down Down" demo, for example, contains elements of two future masterpieces, "Broken Arrow" and "Country Girl"). My complaint is the usual one voiced by those who review this monumental set--WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE THE LIVE TRACKS??? They have to be out there somewhere--it's hard to believe that there are no live recordings in existence of a band whose live performances are legendary for their passion and ferocity. Maybe, as I've heard (hopefully) expressed elswehere, they are being held back for another compilation. I understand the bootlegs STAMPEDE and SELL OUT offer amazing live performances with poor sound. Can't all the recording industry's modern technology clean up those tapes enough to satisfy the artists and let all of us here just how amazing this band was on stage? C'mon, guys, give us a break.
on August 3, 2001
All in all, this is a truly worthy compilation along the lines of the Byrds' 4-CD box set from 1990.
Like everyone else, I, too, find it a bit redundant that CD #4 has "Buffalo Springfield" and "Buffalo Springfield Again" as those albums are readily available separately.
In addition, I'm a little disappointed that the "real", original version of "Bluebird," which appears on the CSNY/Buffalo Springfield/Poco "Roots" bootleg, and Neil's lead vocal version of "Down to the Wire" are not included. No REAL collection of their work is complete without these two essentials.
Furthermore, it contains no concert material. The "Stampede" bootleg contains several songs from their January 1968 Whittier High School concert ("Pay the Price," "Nobody's Fool," "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing," "Rock & Roll Woman"). Surely they could have resurrected some concert material -- poor sound quality isn't necessarily a bad thing; this is an instance where the adage "if there's no alternative, there's no problem" should apply.
Nonetheless, the first three CD's give one a great glimpse into the creativity and originality of Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and Neil Young during their formative years and how it influenced CSN, CSNY, Manassas, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Poco, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, et al.
Furay's acoustic demo of Nobody's Fool is heads above the versions that appear on Poco's "Pickin' Up the Pieces" and "Poco" albums. Furay's rendition of "Can't Keep Me Down" is every bit as good as the retitled "Can You Feel It, Too," which appears on Poco's "From the Inside" album.
Young's solo acoustical renditions of "Old Laughing Lady" and "Round and Round and Round" are just as great as the versions that appear on "Neil Young" and "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" respectively.
"My Angel" shows Stills as the great "Bluesman" he is -- "Bluesman," incidentally, is the title of one of the best tracks on Stills' "Manassas" album. Stills later recut a different "My Angel" on his 1975 "Stills" album. Another Stills gem is his lead vocal and guitar picking on the Springfield's version of "What A Day." It's far-and-away better than the Poco version that appears on "Pickin' Up the Pieces."
The previously unreleased mix of "On the Way Home" is clearly one of the best cuts on the entire boxed set. You hear one of the best examples of Stills' country picking and some great Bruce Palmer bass riffs that are obscured when you hear this song on the "Last Time Around" album.
I can't understand why neither version of "Down, Down, Down" was ever released until now. It's neat to see how one part of this song ended up as part of "Broken Arrow" on "Buffalo Springfield Again" and another became part of the "Country Girl" medley on "Deja Vu."
What can I say, the acoustic demos are grand. It's also good to get clean mixes of songs that were previously only available in bootleg form, such as the "Stampede" collection, as well as alternate takes of previously-released tunes.
As an avid fan of Stephen Stills and Neil Young, I can say this boxed set is well worth buying.
on December 18, 2001
The Buffalo Springfield box set is, in short, an absolute necessity for anyone interested in the history of rock and roll. The Springfield had a short, tumultuous history as a band, but their influence has stretched far and wide. Just think of it... Three tremendous musicians that went on to give birth, not just to solo careers, but to CSN, CSN&Y, Manassas, Poco, and Souther-Hillman-Furay.
In undertaking an anthology like this there is no way to win. Everybody will have an opinion on what should have been included and what should have been left off. Personally, I wish I could get my hands on every recording -- legit or bootleg -- as well as any video of their performances. The demos here are interesting in the sense of giving us a peek at how the songs were first presented in their raw form. I especially enjoyed Young's "Flying on the Ground...", Still's "Four Days Gone", and Furay's pure and simple "Sad Memory".
Stills and Young went on to greater fortune and fame after BS and sadly, Furay is sometimes overlooked as a result. Make no mistake about it; as this box reveals Furay could hold his own against two future giants. "What A Day" is a great Furay song, with a great arrangement, and well performed with Stills on the lead. (One of the interesting things about BS is how often the writer would not sing the lead on his own song...). My fav BS song beyond all doubt is "On The Way Home" written by Young and given an infectious arrangment and incredibly uplifting vocal performance by Furay.
I could easily go on and on... JUST BY THIS THING! YOU WON'T REGRET IT!!!
on August 30, 2001
Well after all this time, Rhino has finally released what Springfield fans have been craving for the last decade... a box set by America's greatest rock band. Too broad a claim? I'm prepared to stand by it. The Springfield were only together for a little over two years, but in that time they managed to produce a repertoire of original music that encompassed blues, country, psychedelic, folk and rock'n'roll (both classic and modern) all played with authority, verve and originality.
Of course, the group spawned three dynamic singer/songwriters who would later achieve greater fame -- Steve Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay. But in my opinion, only Young was ever able to improve on anything he did with his previous group. While Stills (with CSN) and Furay (with Poco) created decades of great music, their individual masterpieces can all be found on these CDs-- "For What it's Worth", "Bluebird", "A Child's Claim to Fame", "Rock'n'Roll Woman" and "Kind Woman"... classic songs that have withstood the test of time and sound just as fresh today as they did in 1967-68.
But if you're a fan you know all this and you've heard these songs already. So why get this box set? Well, I can't argue that it's a great value for the money, what with its superfluous "bonus" cd. (Thanks, Rhino!) And the godawful yellow cover and poorly designed single-page inserts certainly aren't going to win first place in any upcoming design contests. The artwork here is downright gecko (though the "scrapbook" styled booklet makes up for this with great photos and quotes.)
But the music! Unfathomably good. Put disc four away, focus on the the first three and listen to the development of a true American legend. True fans of the group will want this set specifically for the splendid outtakes that were unearthed for this compilation. Quite a few are demos that show how just talented the individuals who wrote them are (i.e. they sound great without any backing tracks, studio trickery or complex vocal arrangements). Others are completed or near-completed songs. The best is Young's "Down, Down, Down", a precursor to both the Springfield's "Broken Arrow" and CSNY's "Country Girl". The version featuring the entire band was a revelation to me, as it features interchanging vocal parts (Furay and Young), strong harmonies and a very progressive instrumental track for late 1966. Other newfound treasures are "No Sun Today" (maybe the only song they ever recorded from a writer outside the group), Neil's "Whatever Happened to Saturday Night" (again sung by Richie) and Stephen's original (much different) demo of "Hung Upside Down". Some of the other outtakes have already been available to fans off of a bootleg known as STAMPEDE. It's great to finally hear these tracks in remastered form, although the takes of "My Kind of Love" and "We'll See", both amazing songs, sound rushed compared to their Stampede! counterparts. ("My Kind of Love" is a different version than the earlier STAMPEDE take. "We'll See" is the same track as the boot, but sounds sped up... perhaps whoever compiled STAMPEDE thought it sounds better slower and a transposed down a key-- I'd have to agree.)
No, the nine minute version of "Bluebird" is not on here (Stills and Young reportedly can't stand it) and there is no live material either (again, Stills & Young didn't feel the quality of the live tapes in their possession was good enough to warrant release.) And they didn't tack on Furay's magnificient "In the Hour of Not Quite Rain" either. (Apparently, it was a Furay solo track and therefore not officially the Springfield, even though it was included on their last studio album LAST TIME AROUND.) So there's a number of things that keep this set from being "definitive", both musically and from a design standpoint. Yet listening to this set still leaves me overwhelmed that one group of five musicians was able to leave such a legacy over the course of just two years and two months. This is the greatest American rock music of all time, and that alone merits a five-star rating.
on August 7, 2001
Ever since I first heard that this box set was on the way, I have continually scanned the record store bins and the Atlantic and Elektra websites for information, feeling mild disappointment and resignation that nothing had yet appeared. So when the E-mail from Amazon.com came to let me know that "Box Set's" release was imminent, naturally I was excited and relieved.
And happy to see that I am not, for the most part, disappointed with the box's content. I said for the most part: I agree with the other reviewers that the "week-long" psychedelic freakout version of "Bluebird" and the Neil Young vocal on "Down to the Wire" are glaring omissions. We can always hope, of course, for a rarities disc that may correct these errors, and that will be a legitimate release rather than a bootleg. If anyone from Rhino Records sees my review, please heed my request! The only other places these tracks can be found is, in the case of the latter track, on "Decade," which could do with a remix and remastering job itself, and in the case of the former, I had to search on Napster to find the track...and we all know what's happened to Napster in recent days. (And yes, I am aware of the presence of Audiogalaxy Satellite, Aimster, Gnutella and the rest...but I digress.)
The demos are real treats on this box. It's interesting to see which songs never made it past the drawing board (the very earliest demos like "Hello, I've Returned" and "There Goes My Babe," and later tunes like "Words I Must Say" and "So You've Got a Lover," any of which could easily be plundered by an itinerant acoustic performer seeking rare songs to introduce to the public, much as Dylan's catalogue was plundered); also to see how other songs developed through stages ("Down Down Down," of course, began life as the melodic base that evolved into "Broken Arrow," including some of the lyrical content, and was later reworked into a song suite that appeared on the first CSN&Y LP, "Deja Vu"; "The Rent is Always Due" was the work in progress that finally became "I Am a Child"), and others that, though fully fleshed out, didn't quite pass the audition ("Neighbor Don't You Worry" and "We'll See," both good tracks featured as demos and final mixes that were finally excluded from the official LP masters of the first album and "Again").
And of course, it's eye-opening to hear the original versions of songs that appeared later in their writers' careers: Furay's "My Kind of Love," "Nobody's Fool" and "What a Day," all of which appeared on the first Poco album...and I actually like these originals, prefer them to the later versions. Young's "Old Laughing Lady," which appeared on his first solo LP, is much shorter here (as demos will be). Also notable is the fact that the vast majority of the tracks on the first three discs are mono mixes. They actually sound closer to what the band originally intended.
Finally, I noted the programming of the first LP on the fourth disc; this is actually the April 1967 reissue, with "For What It's Worth" tacked on as the opening track, replacing "Baby Don't Scold Me" from the December 1966 release (although this latter track is included as a bonus track). "Leave" originally appeared as track 3, side 1 of the 12/66 release; on the 4/67 reissue, it's track 4, side 2. And it's good to have both albums mixed at a level that sounds good. (I had copied the 12/66 album from Elektra's '97 reissue CD featuring both versions of the first LP, and the original CD release of "Again," to a MiniDisc, and noted the difference in sound level.)
This is quite likely the best box set that's been released in years. Highly recommended.
on July 31, 2001
As a first generation Buffalo Springfield fan, this box set has been a long time coming. Worth the wait, as well as the price. Neil Young; being the guiding force behind this project; and concidering what a perfectionist he is; I was amazed it was ever released at all. What makes this such a wonderful surprise is the amount of unreleased material. 37 tracks in all on the first three discs; including some great demos. All of which illustrate the raw talent of three incredible songwriters. To hear first takes of such complex songs, by such young men, is a revelation. These boys were barely in their twenties; singing and playing with the flair of seasoned professionals. Some of these rare cuts reveal the workings of songs not yet realized. A case in point: "The Rent Is Always Due" by Neil Young on disc 3. This songs melody is to become "I Am A Child", but contains entirely different lyrics. The same goes for "Down Down Down", which becomes the foundation to "Broken Arrow". Steven Stills shines bright on every cut he's on. The demos for "We'll See", and "Hung Upside Down", clearly show his capacity to rise above with both his singing, and guitar work. Perhaps some of the most enjoyable moments on these first three discs comes from Richie Furay. The demos of "Sad Memory", and "Words I Must Say" display his impeccable singing voice, and undeniable songwriting skills. Disc four completes the box; presenting the first two releases; complete, and in the original sequence and mix. Some may find the last disc to be redundant; as most of these songs appear on the other three discs. I like the fact that you can hear these songs as they were originally released; apart from the chronological order they appear on the earlier discs. This Box set is "hands down", the definitive collection on Buffalo Springfield. Compiled with a great deal of love and affection for both the music, and the fans alike.
on July 25, 2001
"Box Set," the retrospective four CD career retrospective of the Buffalo Springfield, has been rumored, announced and expected for so many years that it began to appear that it would never be released. Apparently a lack of interest from members Neil Young and Steve Stills delayed the project for over a decade. In recent years, though, Young came to view this turbulent period of his life with more appreciation than unhappiness. It was apparently through Young's recent efforts that "Box Set" finally emerged, and what we have is a thorough, perhaps, even exhaustive look at an important and influential rock & roll band.
Buffalo Springfield was a "can't miss" band that, sadly, just missed. Formed early in 1966, the five-man group featured three powerful singer/songwriters in Young, Stills and Richie Furay, all veterans of the '60's folk music scene who found more distinctive styles when they turned to rock. The Los Angeles-based band lasted just two years. They had a hit single (the magnificent "For What Its Worth") almost immediately, but the trouble began very quickly. Internal dissension, drug busts, poor management and a botched mix of their first album crippled the young band. By the second album the group was already fragmenting, with the three songwriters recording often recording their own tracks independently from the rest of the band. A third album was pieced together from leftovers and outtakes after the members had already gone their separate ways in May 1968. Despite this rocky history, Buffalo Springfield was way ahead of its time, successfully integrating rock, folk and country influences with some of the best songwriting of the era. They were among the most ambitious acts of their day, and when their efforts were successful, Buffalo Springfield were unbeatable.
So how can a group that survived barely two years be considered a legend? If the case can be made, the proof is in this set. Included here are classic tracks from all three albums, in the best sound quality possible, plus rare outtakes, demos and non-album tracks. The most memorable music here are those songs that have always been considered classics, including "For What It's Worth," "Mr. Soul," "Bluebird," "Broken Arrow," and "A Child's Claim To Fame," are still powerful music. If few of the other tracks reach those heights, it's because very little music does. There are revealing versions of songs by Stills, Furay, and, most significantly, Young, that were not released by the Springfield but reappeared later in their writer's career. "Box Set" should also go far to restore the musical reputation of Richie Furay, a terrific singer and songwriter who was strongly influenced by country music and who went on to form the seminal country-rock band Poco after Springfield had split up. Furay's excellent work here more than holds its own when compared to Stills and Young.
Sadly, no live recordings are included in this set. The band was at their best on stage, with Stills and Young already engaging in the monumental guitar duels that would be a major part of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's performances a few years later. Unauthorized live recordings have surfaced over the last three decades, and inclusion of some live cuts would have offered lasting testimony to their greatness as a live act.
There are a few other things to quibble about, as there usually are with these multi-disc retrospectives. There a lot of demos here, many of which are from Springfield's formative months. While they give some insight into the creative process and how the group's sound developed, not all of these songs are memorable. Also, the fourth disc offers only new remixes of the band's first two albums, a welcome and much-needed opportunity that the band did not have in 1966 and 1967. The music sounds great, but many of the songs appear in their originally-released versions elsewhere in the box. Perhaps this fourth disc should have been included as a "freebie," which would have kept the price for the package at $40 or less. Finally, the failure to include the rare nine-minute version of Stills' "Bluebird" (a guitar tour-de-force and a staple of FM radio when it appeared on a 1973 "best of") is hard to understand.
These concerns are minor, and "Box Set" is a fine and fitting tribute to Buffalo Springfield. The packaging is well-conceived, and the excellent booklet includes valuable essays and a slew of rarely-seen photographs. Buying this set is a no-brainer for fans of the group and its members, but casual fans are also likely to greatly enjoy "Box Set."
on July 18, 2001
I love the vaults. I've been waiting more than 30 years for this particular Box. The demos give a glimpse into what could have been. Even more amazing when you realize they only existed for 25 months or so. Sure, I wish they'd included "Hour of Not Quite Rain" anyway. I wish they'd included Jim Messina's "Carefree County Day." (Young does dis Messina for his mixing job on Last Time Around.) The completeist in me would like to have everything in one place. Plus the extended version of "Bluebird." But I'll settle for this. The new versions of "On the Way Home," "Pretty Girl Why," and even the mix here of "Down to the Wire," are all great. Even the silly "Kahuna Sunset" and "Buffalo Stomp" instrumentals made me smile. These guys had a lot of fun before the ego wars really got going. You can hear it on the early stuff. And best of all it's nice to see how many side men and bit players were on the tracks all along. That was a real revelation. Crosby on "Rock & Roll Woman" and all of these unknown folks like Bobby West, Gary Marker, alongside jazz names like Carol Kaye and Richard Davis.
At long last. Now if only somebody could find some live tapes someplace, or stumble over all of the missing TV footage. C'mon it must be out there someplace. They were on TV a lot.
My faith is restored. Yep, they should have been rich. A real shock to discover their managment ripped them off, and they never made any $ to speak of. That's the biz. But what they created is here to stay.
Thanks Neil, thanks guys, for making this happen.
on July 18, 2001
I just got this on release day so I haven't completely digested it yet; however, I can state that at my first listen, this thing is a treasure chest. As a fan of the band and its artists' subsequent work, I am overwhelmed to have such amazing sounding early demo's and studio tracks. The sound quality is great from the first track on. This doesn't mean that everything is crystal clear, but they have cleaned up these tapes as much as could be humanly, or digitally, possible. By way of example, the early demo's from June of '66 sound better than the current cd of "Harvest". It makes me freak with the expectations that I have for Neil's own ultimate remastering (of his cd's, Neil himself will be remasterd in 2210 AD).
The successful blend of the heard and the unheard helps with the fatigue that poorly compiled box-sets often suffer. The argument regarding the 4th cd being a repeat of items already on the box is valid; but ultimately this set should be viewed as discs 1-3. The 4th disc is an easy way to hear the 1st two albums.
Lastly, the night after I listened to this, I had a dream that I was riding in a convertable with David Crosby and Neil Young. We were all singing harmonies and rather enjoying our ride. Outside of the fact that "in reality" I'm not worthy, If this box set had anything to do with inspiring me to have such a cool dream, then it is a bargain at twice the price.
on July 17, 2001
I and a lot of other people were beginning to wonder if we'd ever see a Buffalo Springfield box set in our lifetimes. It's long overdue, but this seminal American band finally gets its due! This is what you get: an 82-page book with an historical essay (complete with footnotes), lots of photos and press clippings, a list of concert appearances, and discography; and four cds. The first three cds offer a chronological history of Buffalo Springfield's studio recordings, including a generous quantity of demos as well as album cuts, and unreleased recordings and alternate mixes. The demos alone are worth the price of the set. These aren't low-fidelity homemade demos, but excellent recordings, many of which "Doc" Siegel expertly recorded at the fabled Gold Star Recording Studios. The quality of these demos is warm and intimate(they positively shimmer!) and sound like they could have been recorded yesterday. Among the full-band cuts, there are too many highlights to enumerate here, but you will find treats such as Stephen Stills contributing lead vocals to "Down to the Wire" and to a pre-Poco, Richie Furay-penned "What a Day," as well as a mix of "On the Way Home" minus the horn track.
I have a few quibbles; somehow this set seems incomplete without the long version of "Bluebird" and Richie's strange, moody tour-de-force, "The Hour of Not Quite Rain." Dewey Martin's lead vocal in "Good Time Boy" is almost buried in the mix. And be aware that you will find no live tracks here; supposedly no concert recordings of acceptable quality could be found.
Disc four contains the band's first two albums, "Buffalo Springfield" (in mono) and "Buffalo Springfield Again" (stereo). Although this disc repeats much of what is on the first three discs, it is nice to have these two masterpieces available in 24-bit remastered form on one disc.
It's hard to believe that Buffalo Springfield's career was barely two years long, but its influence has been pervasive and enduring. This box set is a fitting tribute and celebration of one of the great rock & roll bands of all time.