July 30 – Buffalo Springfield Bow Out

Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around

This record seems to have defied the odds with how good it is.  Contract obligation albums have often not been the best representation of rock groups, and in the case of Buffalo Springfield, they had already gone their separate ways by the time this one was released.  The tracks had been recorded months earlier in late ’67-early ’68.  But producer Jim Messina, who also played bass and sang on a couple of songs, pulled a very good swan song album out of the void of participation by the others.

Buffalo Springfield.jpg

The other side of the coin for Last Time Around, released 50 years ago today, is that it is really more of a collection of solo songs.  The opening track, On the Way Home, is the only song with all five original members participating.  The lyrics to one of the tracks, The Hour of Not Quite Rain, were actually written by a fan who won a radio station contest, something that seems more fitting for a Monkees bio.  And even that’s an enjoyable listen to my ears.  The upbeat Latin flavored Uno Mundo, one of five Stills penned songs, features a rather dark lyric for such a happy sounding song:  Uno Mundo/Asia is screaming/Africa seething/America bleating/just the same.  Stills took a bit of a hit with critics, who wrote that his contributions weren’t up to his standard.  I don’t hear it that way; his other songs, Pretty Girl Why, Four Days Gone, Special Care (with Buddy Miles on drums), and Questions (which he later revived for on the CSN&Y song Carry On) are all fantastic tracks.

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It was the mercurial Neil Young whose participation was next to nil on this project.  Despite this, the two tracks he did write for the album went on to be classics:  I Am a Child and On the Way Home (the latter sung by Richie Furay on the album, though my favorite rendition is with Neil on vocals).  The closing track is Furay’s Kind Woman, a ballad for his wife who he is still married to today.  It’s a nice, peaceful ending to a tumultuous three years for a very heavily ego-driven band.

The album could be looked at as an embarrassment of riches considering how much great music they recorded on the first two albums and knowing where they were headed in the immediate future:  Furay and Messina would form Poco, the very influential early country-rock band, Neil would record his first solo record before rejoining Stills, along with Crosby and Nash, on their second album.  And Stills, before joining CSN and a mere two days before Last Time Around was released, would have his name featured on a highly acclaimed blues rock album with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield (which I wrote about here).

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. On the Way Home
  2. It’s So Hard to Wait
  3. Pretty Girl Why
  4. Four Days Gone
  5. Carefree Country Day
  6. Special Care

Side Two:

  1. The Hour of Not Quite Rain
  2. Questions
  3. I Am a Child
  4. Merry-Go-Round
  5. Uno Mundo
  6. Kind Woman

A very solid bio of the band is For What It’s Worth:  The Story of Buffalo Springfield (2004).  It was written by respected music history writer John Einarson with Richie Furay.  It seems like a pretty even-handed account of their story, and is bolstered by Furay, who appears to have been the most level-headed member of the group.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Time_Around

https://www.allmusic.com/album/last-time-around-mw0000310624

https://books.google.com/books/about/For_What_It_s_Worth.html?id=vIdR–aAoAsC

-Stephen

 

As May Fades Away, Pt. 1

It’s time to begin wrapping up another month of 50th anniversaries in the music world (with a couple of diversions) by tying up some loose ends.  I’ll spread this out over the next few days.

5/5/68:  Buffalo Springfield perform live for the final time

By the spring of 1968, the short-lived Springfield had had enough.  Artistic differences, drugs, etc., etc., had taken their toll, and after their gig at Long Beach Arena on the 5th, they split.  Richie Furay and Jim Messina subsequently compiled some tunes from ’67 and early ’68 into what became the third and final Buffalo Springfield album, Last Time Around.  Stills, Furay, and Young reunited as Buffalo Springfield for a few shows in 2010 and 2011, but plans for a tour in 2012 sputtered away with Neil being Neil.  A recording of the Long Beach Show from ’68 is available on YouTube, but the sound is so bad I’m not going to bother adding it here.

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Rhino Records will release a box set of the three studio albums at the end of next month which will include new stereo mixes of all three and mono mixes of the first two.  The mastering of this set was under Neil’s supervision, but so was the original Springfield box when he chose not to include Last Time Around (which he wasn’t around for when originally compiled in ’68).  I won’t be re-purchasing all this music, but I love this band.

5/13/68:    Manchester City wins the Football League First Division over Manchester United 

Fifty-year history repeated itself with the recently concluded English Premier League season, with Manchester City taking the top spot by an astonishing 19 points over second place Manchester United.  But in 1968, prior to the establishment of the Premier League when it was simply called the First Division, the title wasn’t decided until the final match of the season.  City won at Newcastle while United lost to Sunderland, giving City the title.  Coincidentally, City had a player named Neil Young who scored a couple of goals in that game (my apologies to my more knowledgeable friends who might read this if Young is a famous footballer).  United went on to win the European title a couple of weeks later.

1968 league win.jpg

There was a day when sports were just as important to me as music.  While I’m still generally aware of what’s happening in American sports, I don’t bother to watch or pay close attention unless one of the teams I’ve traditionally followed is playing well.  I don’t think I even qualify as a fair weather fan anymore.

However, as my interest in American sports has dramatically declined, I’ve found a new sports outlet over the past ten years or so:  English Premier League Football and its associated leagues and cups, including the Champions League.  I think one of the main reasons I enjoy following the EPL is because I can do so while ignoring all the off-pitch drama of the modern athlete armed with social media.  I realize controversies and drama exist with Euro footballers, but we’re just not bombarded with it in the states the way we are with contract disputes and legal issues of American athletes.  If that ever changes, I’ll be off sports completely.

5/14/68:  Lennon and McCartney formally introduce Apple Corps, Ltd.

John and Paul made their first stateside visit together since the Beatles’ final US tour in ’66 to introduce their new umbrella business organization, which they founded after the death of manager Brian Epstein.  A typically acerbic Lennon, now firmly under the yolk-of-Ono,  explained what the new company was all about at the press conference:

It’s a business concerning records, films, and electronics. And as a sideline, whatever it’s called… manufacturing, or whatever. But we want to set up a system whereby people who just want to make a film about (pause) anything, don’t have to go on their knees in somebody’s office. Probably yours.

Gosh, with such a concise business model and pleasant spokesman, it’s hard to understand why Apple was such a failure while they were still together!  Whatever.  Apple was a great idea, ahead of its time.  Unfortunately there were too many lunatics running the asylum.

68applePC1.jpg

That same day, they appeared on The Tonight Show, only it was guest-hosted that day by former baseball player (and one of my favorite baseball announcers of all time) Joe Garagiola instead of Johnny Carson.  It just didn’t work, and the boys (especially John) were visibly and audibly uncomfortable being interviewed by someone not exactly showbiz savvy.  An apparently drunk Tallulah Bankhead was the other guest, and she had plenty to say while John and Paul were on stage.  Unfortunately for recorded history, NBC had a practice of erasing their tapes after a period of time, thus the only recording we have is by fans.  There is a clip taken from a Super 8 camera on one YouTube posting, but the sound is awful.  Here’s the cleaner audio for posterity:

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/buffalo-springfield-final-concert/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Springfield

Buffalo Springfield remaster complete discography for new box set

https://www.google.com/search?q=Manchester+City+Football+League+Cup+1968&oq=Manchester+City+Football+League+Cup+1968&aqs=chrome..69i57.8667j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1968.0514pc.beatles.html

-Stephen